1995 Winter CES Commentary by:
Michael Lambert (mike@bend.ucsd.edu)

Sega Comments

Hiya. I just got back from CES, and wanted to share what I saw. This post contains Sega information (other systems are located in the Atari, Nintendo, 3DO, and misc newsgroups as appropriate).

To let you know where I'm coming from, I do own a Genesis, and have since Sonic came out. I do not own a Sega CD, or a 32X, but I do own a Nintendo and 3DO. My philosophy towards video games is that I don't care what system it's on so long as it's a good game. I'm no company's advocate. Even though I do own a 3DO, I don't hate the 32X or think it sucks.

Everything from here on out is my opinion. Opinions were gathered from watching, playing, and listening to other players and designers. I had a very limited amount of time at CES, so on average I had only a few moments with many of the games. This is so you take everything with some reservation -- there's no way to measure depth of play or lots of neato features. I think that many of my first impressions are valid, but there are bound to be games that I mis-judge since I didn't have lots of time to spend on any one.

Phew! Done with the formalities. On with the show, in a general order of most impressive to least.


My favorite offering for the Genesis was this RPG title. It's not aturn-based RPG like the Phantasy Star series, but an action-based title,similar to Zelda on the SNES. However, unlike Zelda, the characters are animated very nicely. It reminded me of Aladdin, but the characters were smaller (this is, after all, an RPG and not a platformer).

I love this type of game, and am really excited at the prospects. There isn't exactly an overload of RPGs of any type on Sega, so this shouldmake lots of people happy. If the gameplay is as involving as the visuals, this one will be a killer. Expected release date is a bummer though -- December. Ugh.

I have a little blurb included with the (nice) catalog I got from Sega. This will be a 16 MB game, with a save option. Nothing else of any substance is printed in the sheet, but the pictures are awesome! Huge, beautiful boss creatures. I didn't see any at CES, but the pics make me wish I had. I'll be waiting impatiently for this one.


That's right! Bomberman on the Genesis. As the Sega catalog I pickedup says, "finally"! Looks and plays like you'd expect, although Bomberman seems a bit smaller here than on, say, the TG16/Duo. However, there is better detail with the smaller characters. Colors were nothing to write home about (the level I saw had a hideous brown color), but it's not that big an issue with Bomberman.

Bomberman works with the Team Player adapter (I assume this is Sega's adapter -- I didn't see it, as there was only one controller on the unit). It's 8MB and available February. Most of this info is from the catalog, since there weren't any Sega reps that I saw to ask.


This one's a mixed bag. It's the only Sunsoft product which really stood out. That's good. It's just a fighting game, though. That's bad (there were *tons* of fighting games). It's an extremely good-looking fighting game, though. That's good. It's waaay to easy. That's bad.

The graphics are easily the best thing about it so far. The characters are all big, and colored brightly. The characters are much bigger than the SNES version, and the colors suit the characters better. The SNES uses more colors in the game, but the characters look less like the comic book/animated Justice League with which I'm familiar. Graphics are very good, and I did a double-take when I saw the game was on a Genesis.

However, the game's difficulty must have been set on Ultra Moron or something, since I breezed through the game without losing a fight. I would actually consider myself poor at fighting games -- I like them, but I'm just not very good at them. I didn't beat any of the other fighters I played at WCES -- I didn't even come close. The difficulty and AI needs a lot of work here.


The texture mapping on Metal Head is the single most impressive thing about the game. The buildings, and especially the streets look really good. However, the game looks to be a variant on Doom, and I can't be too charitable there, as every company and their mothers had Doom clones at CES. This was not one of the standouts, either.

It had some neat bells and whistles, like a rear-view mirror and a transparent auto-map, so that you can view the map while you're walking around. The game itself just didn't do it for me, though. Also, far-away buildings just "pop" into view. At all times you see a generic cityscape in the distance, and when you get close to an actual building, it just pops in. This is not good, and detracts from the realism.

Since comparisons with Iron Soldier on the Jaguar will be inevitable, I'll just say this. I own neither a Jag nor a 32X, but I think between the two, Metal Head has more impressive graphics but Iron Soldier has more impressive gameplay. Hopefully Sega will work on making the gameplay more inventive, as well as fixing the pop-in problem.

The catalog says this one's 24 MB. No other real information.


This was a fun shooter, and I was glad to see that the wacky setting and plot have not been revamped for American tastes. To describe this gamewould be very difficult (you are a girl, with bunny ears, riding some sort of bicycle-dragon thing -- need I go on?), but it plays well.I found it a bit easy, but I don't know what setting it was on and it was only level one, so there very well may be a harder challenge here.

I didn't get to hear the sound since it was turned down so low. Bummer. Shooter fans should like this. In a show with a million Doom clones, fighters, and platformers, this was a fun diversion.


I like DS9 a lot (well, I *did*, anyway -- I think this season has been awful compared to last year) and this game looks ... okay. Nothing to write home about in the graphics or sound department. Unlike the ST:TNG game, this one is more of a third-person adventure, where you control characters (the flyer says that Sisko, Odo, Kira, and Bashir are controllable characters, but I only saw Sisko.) Characters are taller than your average platform variety, but not a lot of detail. Nice parallax effects, but it has a kind of hollow feeling. I was excited when I saw it, but I didn't leave excited.


The first time I went by this, it was occupied. Looks like a Sonic game, but the colors were nice. I meant to go back to it, but never made it, so I can't really say anything much about it. After hearing some other comments on it, I'm sorry I didn't go back and see it.

The catalog says there are 25 rounds in "5 huge 3D levels" and that it's 1 or 2 players cooperative. New characters, 24 MB, available in Spring. Screenshots are good, but not mind blowing.


This is the 32X game. It was there, but I don't really care for motorcycle games, so I really didn't pay attention to it. If it's any consolation, I ignored 3DO Road Rash too :)

The catalog says there's 1 and 2 player modes on 12 tracks with 3 classes of bikes and 3 levels of difficulty. "Available now." 16 MB.


Somehow I missed this one. The Sega area was very strange in that some areas were really congested (around the entrance to the closed-off area, where lots of people milled by) and others were almost desolate.


How could I possibly say anything of consequence about this game since I only had a few moments to look at it. The reason I mention it is to assure those waiting patiently for it that it was there.


This Playmates title is supposedly based on a "highly successful" role playing game, with which I'm not familiar. The game itself is a Contra clone, with lots of added gore. For example, when you shoot an enemy with your machine gun, first their head pops ``off. The decapitated badguy falls to his knees, blood soaks his body, and then he gets up and starts shooting wildly. You have to pump more lead into him until he explodes. Lovely.

The game itself is okay, with the gore being the only thing of note. A bit annoying when I got to a water area. I much prefer Gunstar Heroes, thanks.


Let's see. He's a star. He's a rising star. Ri-star. Get it? Barf. Granted, at this time in my life I have a bias against platformers, as I am currently platformed-out. Nevertheless, I just have to ask why? The last CES brought us EWJ and DKC, platforms with innovative gameplay and graphics, respectively. Why are we covering old ground? Why is Sega, of all companies, giving us an ultra-cutesy platformer when there's already a glut of them? Thanks, but no thanks.

While I'm bagging on platform games, let me give a raspberry to Sunsoft.You can see my misc post for more details, but let's just say I wasunimpressed, to say the least, with the gaggle of licensed-character platforms at their exhibit. I won't waste my breath describing them, seeing as they all looked like the same game. Boo hiss.


This 32X game was, as far as I can tell, an unplayable demo. I went up to it twice. The first time, the screen was garbled and the cart had crashed. The second time I saw an unimpressive display of bouncing purple aliens, who did nothing if you messed with the control pad. The Sega catalog claims this will be a musical adventure (whatever *that* is) but this doesn't look like the kind of game anyone is waiting for.

The catalog is very vague -- I hate meaningless marketing drivel so I won't repeat it here -- don't worry; there's not much to get out of it. Looks like a platformer (ugh), 24 MB, available in spring.

I expected to see far more 32X games than I did. I expected Sega to make a show of how well-supported the 32X would be. Metal Head looked very nice, but wasn't an impressive game as a whole. Nothing I saw really made me want to go out and buy a 32X at this point.

The catalog lists 21 32X games, 6 of which are CD games. They are: Metal Head, Tempo, Motherbase (looks a bit like Viewpoint, 16 MB, Winter), Doom, Star Wars, Cosmic Carnage, Afterburner, Space Harrier, Motocross, Stellar Assault (looks a bit like Starblade, 24 MB, Spring), World Series Baseball (24 MB, Summer), College Basketball (24 MB, Spring), Virtua Racing Deluxe, Golf Magazine (24 MB, February; CD, Spring), Fahrenheit (CD, Spring), Wirehead (CD, Spring), Surgical Strike (CD, Spring), Midnight Raiders (CD, Winter), Power Rangers (CD, Spring), and Chaotix.

All the CD games (except golf) have pictures with the caption" Screen image not yet digitized" which leads me to believe these games are far from ready or they are all FMV type games -- which is the lesser of two evils?

Looks like Rocket Science is releasing every thing they've got onSega CD, 32X CD AND Saturn. 7 titles, most Q3 or Q4 so you'll probably better off waiting until E3 to hear more about them.

The thing I liked least about Sega was the new advances on thetoddler crowd. While I know that young children are an important (and profitable) market segment, I have to ask at what cost? Sega seems to be making a push for the kiddies in order to take over more territory from Nintendo, but will this happen at the expense of the older, more mature crowd that Sega has always played to in the past? The Sega catalog I picked up dedicates a section of its own to kiddie games, and I hate to think that development on these games is taking time away from PS IV, Beyond Oasis, and 32X games, for example.

Overall, Sega's booth was way too laid-back to really get excited over anything. Sega closed off a big part of their area to media and certain buyers only, and I didn't get to go in. The Sega representative I talked to assured me that everything on the inside was also on the outside, but I have a hard time believing that. Why would they need to closeit off if that were so? Also, I saw zero in the way of designers or Sega reps showing off or explaining the games. Maybe they were all on the inside, too, but that does nothing but hurt them, IMHO.

I agree with those who said that this CES was lacking oomph. I saw some solid Sega games that I want to get as soon as they come out, like Beyond Oasis and Mega Bomberman. The rest, though, was just okay. Wish we had seen more of the Saturn -- there *was* a Saturn present, playing VF, but Sega didn't bring it. VF was nice, but a not perfect. For the first title, it's a pretty good job. The Saturn has a lot to worry about with the Playstation, though. DGHF had a booth displaying it playing Toshinden, which was utterly amazing. Much better than VF in just about every way. Of course, Sony didn't bring the Playstation in themselves, so they lost out too -- gives the Saturn 6 months to break out the killer titles to wow the American public. I imagine the next show will be a lot more exciting, as the next-next generation consoles go for the jugular.

Hope you enjoyed this CES report. Questions/comments appreciated.

- Michael

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