This month in gaming history: August 1995

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

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1995 was all about the incoming new generation of consoles and the looming wonder of virtual reality.

The “next generation” of the console wars began abruptly as Sega ships the first wave of their 32-bit Saturn console. All 30,000 sell-out immediately, despite not having a massive promotional campaign at its launch.

“Unwary players nationwide were browsing through their local video game shop when they simultaneously slapped their foreheads and exclaimed ‘Hey – Saturn!’ Game Players magazine writes in their news section. They theorize that the system’s install base could pass 600,000 by the end of the year.

Saturn’s Marketing Manager Tim Dunley said in an interview with Game Players “We’re definitely going to be the number-one next-generation system by the time Sony comes out … from what I’ve seen on the internet, people are ready to unload their 3DO’s!”. While Sega spokesperson Terry Tang said they would tear their competition’s guts inside-out and eat them from breakfast.

Dunley told Next Generation magazine that the surprise early launch was to draw a line in the sand against Sony, their number one competitor. Sony’s Steve Race said the move was to see “who blinks first?” to Next Gen. In their article about it, they hypothesize that the surprise launch will work in the Saturn’s favour having their new system on shelves first and generating some hype.

Sega was off to a hot start versus Panasonic and Sony and had a visible presence on store shelves already, but things didn’t exactly pan out for the Saturn as easily as the company predicted. Sony’s Playstation and the Nintendo 64 proved to be too stiff of competition, among other issues.

Tim Dunley now works for the American Institute of American Studies. On his bio page, it says “he oversaw the development and launch of a $400 million line” but doesn’t say what the line was.

As for Terry Tang, my internet sleuthing didn’t turn up much on Sega’s hypeman, other than old press releases promoting deals like free games with systems at discounted prices through 1995.

The machines were rolled out early ahead of their official launch “Saturnday” September 2nd.

WATCH: IGN’s “History of Awesome” 1995 goes in to good detail about why the Saturn was less than an “out of world” experience.

Nintendo’s 32-bit Virtual Boy was released this month. Game Players called it “mysterious”, but were excited for the virtual reality console and it’s launch of titles which included 2 Mario games (one a tennis game, the other inspired by the original arcade game), a space-shooter called Red Alarm, a futuristic robot boxing game Teleroboxer, and a pinball game, because who doesn’t love pinball. These were all made by Nintendo and tried to use 3-D elements, with 100 other developers and third-party publishers set to contribute to the library.

Nintendo’s VP Peter Main said in an interview that they planned to ship 1.5 million hardware units and 2.5 million software units by the end of the year. Their plan was to outsell the 3DO and Atari’s 64-bit Jaguar in five months, but they weren’t even close.

According to Game Pro magazine, Nintendo only sold 770,000 units by December, the same month the system was discontinued. Players weren’t impressed by the black-and-red visuals, the clunky graphics, or the fact you had to slouch awkwardly to play it.

WATCH: Gaming Historian on “Virtual Boy”.

Atari tried to bust out their own VR headset in ’95, called the Jaguar VR. Set for an Xmas release, the $300 headset was going to be combined with the now-reduced $159.99 Jaguar system (Virtual Boy had a $179.99 price-tag). It was going to play games in full-colour and it was also reportedly to only weigh a pound. The controller was to be sold separately, though the Jaguar’s original controller would also work. Atari said it’s ‘V-Trak’ technology would eliminate any lag-time for players’ 1:1 experience and move in real-time to your head movements.

It never made it to store shelves and Missile Command was the only game developed for it. You can watch footage of a beta version of the game HERE. The Jaguar was off the market the following year.

The headset was made in conjunction with UK-based Virtuality who made virtual reality machines for arcades. Their assets were sold to other companies, like Arcadian Virtual Reality and DigiLens. You can also find similar VR products made with what looks like their assets from companies like Phillips.

Virtuality was also working on a project called Elysium for IBM at the time and IBM was also working on a VR baseball game with Interplay for the Saturn and Playstation.

Interplay’s VR Sports director of marketing, Cutis Broome said in an interview that a VR hockey game was right behind. The VR Baseball franchise hit the field in ’96.

VR would go pretty dormant until a new resurgence in popularity in the last couple of years.

WATCH: Virtuality Zone Hunter.

Game Players magazine had a few interesting rumours published in their Aug ’95 issue. One is that Atari was planning to sue Sony for selling the Playstation for a much lower price in the US than in Japan ($200 lower).

The magazine cites an interview with it’s cousin Next Generation magazine who spoke to then Atari president Sam Tramiel who said he’d pursue litigation “in an nanosecond”.

I tried to dig up as much as I could about the lawsuit, but apparently it never made it to the courts. Defunct Games.com interviewed ex SEGA leader Tom Kalinske who said – “Whatever the case, Atari opted against bringing this lawsuit to light, which is probably best for everybody.”

Game Players also dropped rumours about LucasArts’ possible upcoming N64 game set in the “Star Wars” universe between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back”. That game would be the beloved “Shadows of the Empire”.

They wrote: “You reportedly take the role of an inter-galactic bounty hunter as you pilot a brand-new ship through space.”

WATCH: Let’s play “Shadows of the Empire”.

Also Game Players dished that a Nintendo insider told them so much was cut from Donkey Kong Country that the remains could be repackaged for Donkey Kong Country 2. This also reportedly happened with Mario Galaxy and Mario Galaxy 2.

Top 10 US Games:

10: Virtua Fighter (arcade).
09: Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Genesis).
08: Mortal Kombat II (Super Nintendo / Sega Genesis).
07: Secret of Mana (Super Nintendo).
06: Earthworm Jim (Super Nintendo / Sega Genesis).
05: Doom (Sega 32X).
04: NBA Jam: Tournament Edition (Super Nintendo / Sega Genesis).
03: Killer Instinct (arcade).
02: Final Fantasy III (Super Nintendo).
01: Donkey Kong Country (Super Nintendo).

Top 10 Japanese Games:

10: Tukru Super Dante (Super Famicom).
09: Gunner’s Heaven (Sony Playstation).
08: Daytona USA (Sega Saturn).
07: Tekken (Sony Playstation).
06: Virtual Hydlide (Sega Saturn, published by Sony).
05: Jumping Flash! (Sony Playstation).
04: Fatal Fury 3 (SNK Neo Geo).
03: Chrono Trigger (Super Famicom).
02: Super Bomerman 3 (Super Famicom).
01: J-League Super Soccer ’95 (Super Famicom).

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My interview with TSN’s “Cabbie” Richards

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

CABBIE

“Cabbie” Richards hosted the first ever “Sports Trivia Night” at the Cariboo House Tuesday.

It wasn’t just the first for the fine establishment, but also a first for the TSN personality.

We get into that and more, in this interview:

Lots more going on tonight as celebrations for the Winter Games, including hip hop trio “A Tribe Called Red” at the BCLC centre stage Wednesday night, as well as alternative folk rock group “All Mighty Voice” at the Art Space at 8 p.m..

(Photo courtesy Norm Coyne of Citizen Events).

Not all on same page in “Je Suis Charlie” debate

Sunday, January 11th, 2015

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Three media experts in three fields; Andrew Mack, SFU Professor of Human Security, along with Alfred Hermida, UBC Associate Professor in Journalism, and Guy Gilchrist, cartoonist working on the “Nancy” comic, give their thoughts on how these events have been covered, and whether or not “Charlie Hebdo”‘s infamous imagery should be re-produced as a stance against censorship and terror threats.

Cirque du Soleil does Prince George

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

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After blowing PG minds since New Year’s Eve, Cirque du Soleil’s final two shows hit CN Centre Sunday (1:30 & 5:00 p.m.)

One of the show’s trampoline acrobats, Hiroi Tokuma gave us a quick interview after her practice.

Prince George students vote for mayor

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

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Some students at Peden Hill Elementary in Prince George took part in a class project where they vote in Saturday night’s municipal election.

I paid them a visit to get their thoughts for 94.3 The Goat & Country 97FM news….

Potholes and Plotholes

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

sinkhole What appeared to be an inconvenient pothole in Prince George actually sank into this giant sinkhole in about 90 seconds according to the city’s Communications Officer. It’s made for a good news story, as any sinkhole large enough to fit an excavator inside it would, but also a good bit with 94.3 FM’s The Schwartz and a very Canadian-sounding Russian.

Here’s where the fun begins ….

Phoners and Boners

Friday, June 20th, 2014

new4thave   While not at work, I spend the odd Thursday night over at the local University radio station on their hip-hop show “The Kinetic Flow (North)” with my high school pal Dave aka Mr. Burns (we also started that very same show in Nanaimo back in 2001).

[audio http://hqprincegeorge.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/phoner.mp3]

So Mr. Burns was away for this past show and I took the reigns, turning over the phone lines to the residents of Prince George to get their thoughts on the impending transform 4th Avenue from one-way traffic to two-way (they do that a lot here, apparently).

Pictured: An image from the city on what 4th ave will hypothetically look like once construction is complete and bicycles hit the pavement.

Wrasslin’ with emotions

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

pretentious

Every now and then I get to make an appearance on the air at 94X in a non-news fashion. Given how many people on holidays I am in the position to do the morning news run which is rough in itself, but one half of the morning show tag-team THE SCHWARTZ also flied solo, so he brought me in to play straight-man on his segment on the legitimacy of wrasslin’.

[audio http://hqprincegeorge.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/NERDS.wav]

I still need to write up a pro-wrestling themed sports story for my noon newscast.

The sound of the chain-gang

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

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I always hear about contests where people kiss a car or do stand in a glass chamber for hours on end to win something, now I finally get to witness it outside my office.

Here’s our chat:

Space Odyssey

Monday, April 7th, 2014

HadfieldI had the pleasure of meeting Canada’s premier astronaut and seeing him in action with his fans. Colonlel Chris Hadfield landed in PG this past weekend to educate kids, sign books, and luckily talk to media.

More here:

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I was a little dumbfounded as to what to ask, but a good ol’ friend of mine who is a huge Hadfield fan came up with a great (and fun) question.

Any post about Colonel Hadfield is pretty much incomplete without this YouTube video that made him famous.