The Summer Consumer Electronics Show, the annual rite of spring turning to summer, was held in late June in Chicago, IL, profiling what's coming to gamers everywhere this fall and into Christmas. For the first time in many visits, I left this C.E.S. wondering about its future - particularly the longevity of the event. This show might be noted more for who 'wasn't' attending rather than who was present and what games were on display. Accolade, Electronic Arts, Origin, and even Sega were no-shows at this year's main event. Next year, Summer C.E.S. will be held in Philadelphia (???) instead of Chicago. Go figure. No offense to Philly fans, but Philadelphia doesn't exactly strike us as major convention town. Summer C. E.S. in Orlando? Now we're talkin'!
Well, let's get the games! As per tradition, I cover C.E.S. company by company, and not only give you quick impressions of the games on display, but will also try to briefly give any other product news that we're privy to and is 'legal' to print at this stage.
Upfront, my favorite computer game of the show? No contest - Lode Runner from Dynamix, hands down!
My favorite video game of the show? Also, no contest - Earthworm Jim from Playmates, for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo.
21st Century Entertainment - This British company is on top of the computer pinball world right now and was displaying their CD-ROM version of PINBALL FANTASIES. More tables, more fun. Nuf' said. Coming in '95 we can expect PINBALL ILLUSIONS and even later than that, watch for PINBALL WORLD.
Access Software - UNDER A KILLING MOON is obviously Access' main attraction right now and it's into the home stretch (finally!) now. It's up to 3 CDs now and it's dicey as to whether they'll be a fourth. Access is really betting the farm on this one. The video quality and overall production values are really high. As a truly interactive movie, this one delivers. LINKS 486 (?) won't make it out in '94 due to the delays in Killing Moon, but it's going to rock! 24-bit color support, on-course animation, network support, up to 1024x768 resolution... It will have it all. For the next Links 386 Pro course, watch for BIG HORN, from PGA West. KAPALUA, a JAMAICA course, and TROON NORTH have also been video taped, so they're in the queue too.
Accolade - While not on the main show floor, Accolade did rent out a nice suite at the Sheraton for their product showcase. HARDBALL 4 looks very nicely done in high-res 640x480x256. The animation appears smooth and it's loaded with stats. A solid competitor to Front Page Sports: Baseball. NICKLAUS GOLF: GOLDEN BEAR EDITION is the long-awaited sequel to Signature Edition. Surprisingly, it runs in Windows (high-res) and makes quite a jump in aesthetics. It is beginning to rival Links 386 Pro and includes the course designer as well. ALL PRO VIDEO FOOTBALL on CD-ROM is coming this fall and includes live video footage of over 600 different football plays and situations. Interesting approach to armchair quarterbacking. Barkley's SHUT UP AND JAM is also coming from the cartridge to the PC this fall, as is BRET HULL HOCKEY '95. There hasn't been much competition to Gretzky 3 for a while so this new product is welcome. Finally, BATTLE ISLE 2200 on CD-ROM is on its way to these American shores soon. It's a high- quality military strategy game. Accolade has also released several of their popular sports games on a single CD-ROM too.
Activision - Not present on the show floor, Activision was privately showing the status of MECH WARRIOR 2: THE CLANS. It's slated to hit the shelves now in September. Cross your fingers. Coming early next year is PLANETFALL: THE SEARCH FOR FLOYD, done by the partnership of Steve Meretzky and Eddie Dombrower. A NEW ZORK ADVENTURE is on tap for '95 as is a CIA thriller, THROUGH THE EYES OF A SPY. No word yet on whether Activision will pick up SIMON THE SORCERER 2 yet, but they have confirmed their plans to develop SHANGHAI 3: GREAT MOMENTS.
Ahead, Inc. - This new player in the PC Entertainment camp is really making a lot of noise in the business. (Pardon all the copious puns!) They are developing a game/pseudo-air guitar simulation where you actually play a phony guitar (life-size) and jam with Aerosmith. It's really a lot of fun. VIRTUAL MUSIC should be out in October. For Van Halen-wannabees, this one is a keeper.
American Laser Games - ALG was showing off more of their action/video shooting games. MAD DOG 2 is almost out, as is CRIME PATROL. Later in the year, watch for SPACE PIRATES and DRUG WARS. ALG is also moving 3DO into the arcade with some coin-op work.
Amtex - This pinball developer is branching out soon. In addition to ROYAL FLUSH, FUNHOUSE, and 8-BALL DELUXE 2.0 (high-res, no scrolling), Amtex is also hard at work on a fishing game called GONE FISHIN'. They are also poised to release their new SAILING SIMULATOR late this summer as well. Of course, more pinball tables and even a PINBALL CONSTRUCTION SET is also in the works.
Avalon-Hill - AH was proud to show off many of their new strategy and military simulations. Right around the corner, we can expect the PC version of CRUSADER. The next World at War game will be STALINGRAD, slated for this fall/winter, followed by the famous BATTLE OF THE BULGE. Soon to appear will also be 5TH FLEET, ADVANCED CIVILIZATION (no relation to Sid Meier's work), BLACKBEARD (roam the seas as a pirate), and THIRD REICH. Late this year (fingers crossed), watch for Atomic Games' BEYOND SQUAD LEADER. Definitely one not to miss. If you're into strategy games, particularly of a true-to-life military slant, Avalon-Hill is the place for you.
Bruce Artwick Organization - BAO has picked up all the flight-sim products since Mallard's demise this past spring. This includes the new scenery add-ons slated for Flight Simulator 5.0 (Washington D.C., San Francisco, and the new LAS VEGAS and PORTLAND), plus the long-awaited TOWER and FLIGHT SIMULATOR FLIGHT SHOP. Expect even more scenery for FS5.0 later this year too. Additional city airports for Tower are also under consideration. BAO is also the main developer on SPACE SIMULATOR 1.0, being marketed by Microsoft.
Bethesda Softworks - DELTA-V was the highlight product for Bethesda at C.E.S. It's been texture-mapped since last showing and was on display in a very fancy Thrustmaster cockpit and VFX-1 VR helmet. Very impressive stuff. Watch for it on September 1st. NCAA ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR 2 is close at hand. Expected in September also. Finally, the sequel to Arena has been announced - it will be called ELDER SCROLLS: DAGGERFALL. It should be shipping in early '95.
Broderbund - The company has taken a strong foothold in the kids edutainment market and is firming that up with CARMEN SANDIEGO JR. EDITION, ALIEN TALES, AND MATH WORKSHOP this fall. Rumors are strong that Jordan Mechner will be back soon with PRINCE OF PERSIA 3 this fall/winter too. No confirmation yet.
Capstone/Intracorp - Capstone is maintaining their strategy of strong T.V. and movie licensing with their games. They have acquired the game rights to ZORRO, RESCUE 911, and FLINTSTONES vs. THE JETSONS CHESS. In addition, they are planning to release CD-ROM versions of CORRIDOR 7, ULTIMATE BRIDGE MASTER, and ULTIMATE GRANDMASTER CHESS. We can also watch out for their action game, BODY COUNT, plus the biggest selection of card games ever seen in a computer game, ANYONE FOR CARDS? Capstone is pulling out all the stops this year.
CH Products - CH is getting closer to their shipment of their CH RUDDER PEDALS this fall. The pedals differ from Thrustmasters in that they slide vertically forward and back instead of pivoting along an axis. The CH THROTTLE and VIRTUAL PILOT PRO are still in development but are tracking for a fall/winter release.
Cyberdreams - The makers of Dark Seed and Cyberrace are discussing their plans to develop more titles based on famous author's work. Harlan Ellison's I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM is slated next, followed by HUNTERS OF RALK, DARKSEED II, and RED HELL.
Deadly Games - With M4 Sherman Tank now shipping, DG is now looking at PC versions of their successful Mac games, BATTLE OF BRITAIN and U- BOAT. The latter should prove to be strong competition to Dynamix' Aces of the Deep.
Domark - Flight sims are definitely the rule with Domark this year. Based on the successful design of Flight-sim Tookit, Domark will be releasing WORLD WAR 2, featuring major air battles of the second world war. Later in the year, watch for TEST PILOT and FST 2.0. Domark is also prepping SEMPER FI: MARINES AT WAR, combining the best elements of air combat with full ground combat. Mike Singleton's landmark RPG, LORDS OF MIDNIGHT is nearing completion. Using the voxel technique first seen in Comanche, this RPG has graphics that will knock your socks off. The story is engrossing, the characters and combat interesting...this one will be a winner.
Dynamix - Dynamix is really rolling them out this fall/winter and has my pick of Best of Show at C.E.S. I admit, LODE RUNNER is my favorite game of all time, but this remake by Jeff Tunnell as his team is nothing short of spectactular. I could play this game for an eternity. Plus the level builder/painter is amazingly easy and fun to use. Could be game of the year. FRONT PAGE SPORTS: BASEBALL is close to sliding into home base. Pat Cook as done a tremendous job with this title. The variety of camera angles in mind-boggling. The new FOOTBALL PRO '95 is slated for a September release and should have all the players on their new teams. No word yet on what sport Pat will tackle next. Don't bet on golf. The NBA wouldn't surprise me though. The new Metaltech series has had a change of plans. First out the door will be METALTECH: EARTH SIEGE which has more a team play/strategy element to it. METALTECH: BATTLEDROME will be more of a Mech toe-to-toe slugfest. Earthsiege should be out in September with Battledrome to follow in November/December. ACES OF THE DEEP is still on track for a fall release. This WW2 sub game sets new standards for realism on the high-seas. ALIEN LEGACY should be shipping by the time you read this. It's an interesting blend of Masters of Orion and Outpost. An outerspace strategy game, it should be shipping in August. Finally two strategy games fill out the Dynamix product offering. BATTLE BUGS (long ago known as Army Ants) and THE INCREDIBLE MACHINE 2 are slated to come out this late summer. No word yet on a sequel to Krondor, but I'm not holding my breath.
Electronic Arts - EA wasn't at the show, but we did get a rundown of the major products coming this fall/winter. THEME PARK should be shipping now. This Sim-Amusement park should appear on many different formats this fall, including 3DO. The long-awaited sequel to Chuck Yeager's Air Combat is now confirmed. AIR SUPERIORITY should be load of fun. NEED FOR SPEED is slated for this fall also. No word yet on the genre this will fit in, but expect some high-adrenaline rush from it. NOCTROPOLIS, the gritty film noire game is now slated for November. A couple of new titles, MIND PIRATE and MAGIC CARPET are also expected late this year/early next. The EA Kids label is heating up with more titles like COUNTING ON FRANK, SESAME STREET: NUMBERS, THE JUNGLE BOOK, and AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS.
Empire Software - The guys from the U.K. are in development on DAWN PATROL: THE FIRST AIR WAR, a WWI flight-sim in SVGA. No sacrifice in frame-rate either. DREAMWEB and CYBERSPACE (3 years and counting...) remain in development. THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR is a new strategy game slated for early next year.
Gametek - Gametek has begun a partnership with a new developer, Take 2, for some stunning CD-ROM products this fall. Watch for HELL: A CYBERPUNK THRILLER, BUREAU 13, and STAR CRUSADER this October. Gametek has a Doom clone, QUARANTINE, in development now, and watch for FIRST ENCOUNTERS, their sequel to Elite 2: Frontier.
Gravis - The peripheral and Ultrasound guys were showing off their new PHOENIX FLIGHT AND WEAPONS CONTROLLER at C.E.S. This sucker has more buttons than I've ever seen before on a controller. You can program virtually anything on it. ULTRASOUND MAX is now shipping as is the PERSONAL PIANO SYSTEM, competitor to The Miracle from Software Toolworks. The VFX-1 VR HELMET won't be out until Christmas. Save your pennies as this baby's going to cost you.
GTE Interactive - Seems as though everybody wants into the games business and GTE is no exception. Watch for PC versions of JAMMIT (Street Basketball), C.A.R.S., and FX FIGHTER (Mechs), this fall/winter.
Hi-Tech Entertainment - Coming from Hi-Tech this fall/winter will be the PC version of SUPER STREET FIGHTER 2, MEGAMAN X, ALIEN 3, and SMASH T.V. Watch for these arcade classics starting to show in November.
Humongous Entertainment - Putt Putt and Fatty Bear will have a new partner this fall when FREDDI FISH shows up in THE CASE OF THE MISSING KELP SEEDS. Two new eyclopedias for kids will also be coming from Humongous this fall. JR. ENCYCLOPEDIA: THE FARM and THE AIRPORT are expected in October.
id Software - DOOM II: HELL ON EARTH. What else is there to say? More monsters. 30 plus levels, wild, drive-you-up-the-friggin'-wall levels from the crazed demented mind of John "no more cheeseballs!" Romero. QUAKE will rock you to the core in '95. Stay tuned to Game Bytes for more on this later.
I/Motion - ALONE IN THE DARK 3 *and* 4 are now in the works. The cinematic action continues to impress while the animation and story continue to be improved. PLANET SOCCER is without a doubt the finest soccer simulation done to date on the PC. Very smooth scrolling action and loads of fun. Don't miss this one. SHADOW OF THE COMET 2 (sequel) will make it's appearance in early '95 too.
Impressions - Made quite an impression (sorry, I couldn't help myself) this year. This company has several very intriguing new strategy games in the works. It looks like we won't see BREACH 3 until October (sigh) now. LORDS OF THE REALM looks to be an interesting feudal/medieval England strategy game, resembling Kingmaker from Avalon-Hill. Later this fall we can play pirates on the high seas in HIGH SEAS TRADER, military commanders in FRONT LINES, and even a utilities conglomerate magnate in POWER HOUSE. You have to give style points to Impressions for creativity. Also coming later this summer are more in the CLASSIC series; first JACKPOT (casino), then PINBALL. Kids encyclopedias on CD are also in the works.
Interplay - Woah! This company is announcing some major new software and is taking the term 'multimedia' to a new level. In the now omnipresent 'Doom-like' category, we have DESCENT coming. Flying a hovercraft-like vehicle, you blast away in a first-person perspective. VERY well done, I might add and loads of fun. DUNGEON MASTER 2: SKULL KEEP should be appearing this fall also for PCs. STONEKEEP.... it's still cooking. What more can I say? It looks gorgeous. If the game doesn't ship this early fall, don't expect to EVER see it. STAR TREK: STAR FLEET ACADEMY has been delayed until early '95. It's a Wing Commander-like game, and less adventure than the previous Interplay-Star Trek games. Interplay is rolling out the multimedia CD titles this fall. Watch for SIMANT, BRIDGE DELUXE CD (Omar Sharif), MARIO TEACHES TYPING, MARIO'S GAME GALLERY (don't laugh,...these two are GREAT!), ZOMBIE DINOS FROM PLANET ZELTOID, and later on SIMEARTH. In the category of 'big' new titles, on the first night of the show we attended the unveiling of CYBERIA. It looks great, has amazing graphics and perspectives, but it was a bit early to judge gameplay. Still, it is expected this November. The other big new title coming is KINGDOM: THE FAR REACHES. It's a giant RPG/Adventure and looks to be huge! Interplay is also bringing VOYEUR from the Philips CD-I machine to the PC. I'd rate it a definite PG to PG-13 title. Finally, we should be seeing STAR REACH imminently. It's been expected for many months now.
Koei - This company has a couple of new titles brewing still. CELTIC TALES: BALER OF THE EVIL EYE is due VERY soon now. It's in the classic Adventure/RPG category. We can also watch for the PC version of OPERATION: EUROPE in the wargame category. Still undetermined if we'll see the PC versions of UNCHARTED WATERS: NEW HORIZONS and AEROBIZ SUPERSONIC.
Legend Entertainment - Bob Bates was showing the status of his latest creation, SUPER HERO LEAGUE OF HOBOKEN (should be hilarious!) as well as the progress on DEATHGATE, Legend's first CD-ROM-only game. The graphics and animation were simply stunning. We might be seeing a title based on the REDSHIFT series next year from Bob and company.
Looking Glass Technologies - Like id Software, this new (but established) self-publishing company just impresses the heck out of me. The developers of the Ultima Underworld series are about to spring the most fantastic flight-simulation on us you've EVER seen. FLIGHT UNLIMITED was simply outstanding and deserves a Game Bytes Best of Show award. Brilliant work and we can expect more outstanding new titles from these brilliant programmers as they begin to publish their own works independent of Origin. FLIGHT UNLIMITED ADD-ONs are planned as well.
LucasArts Entertainment - As usual, Lucas was on top of their game at C.E.S. TIE FIGHTER is now shipping as will be the new STAR WARS SCREENSAVERS very shortly. Two new games made their appearances at C.E.S. In the "we want to capitalize on Doom" category, LucasArts is preparing to launch DARK FORCES, an action/shoot'em up in the first-person perspective. You play a Rebel forces spy who has nabbed the plans to the death star and now you've got to deal with a legion of Stormtroopers and others to make your escape. Due out this winter. Also coming this November will be FULL THROTTLE, an adventure in the mold of previous LucasArts adventures. You play a Harley- ridin' rogue in this great piece of game writing.
Maxis - With the success of SIMCITY 2000, it is no surprise that Maxis is working on building more add-on products for this brilliant piece of programming. SIMCITY 2000 DISASTERS is already out now, but watch for CITIES OF THE WORLD and URBAN RENEWAL to follow. Both require SimCity 2000 to operate. For younger Sim'ers, Maxis is preparing SIMTOWN. Not quite the level and depth of SimCity, SimTown will let youngsters build their own home town and worry more about the pizza parlor than tax structures. Later next year, we can look forward to SIMTOWER, a simulation of building, running and managing a Skyscraper.
Mediavision - Though Quantum Gate and Critical Path were quite stunning visually, they left a lot to be desired from a gameplay standpoint. Mediavision isn't giving up yet. QUANTUM GATE 2 and THE DAEDALUS ENCOUNTER are the next two projects in the works and the company is promising a lot more puzzle-solving and character interaction.
Megatech - KNIGHTS OF XENTAR (previously known as Dragon Knight 3) is still slated for this summer (August) and a follow-on product is expected this November. Don't hold your breath.
Merit Software - The guys in Dallas are certainly on a roll. They have signed up some very big new projects, not the least of which is CYBERJUDAS from the developers at D.C. True. Cyberjudas is the follow-on political intrigue product after Shadow President. Merit has also signed up Future Vision to a series of new products. HARVESTER will undoubtedly generate the most controversy this fall with its very graphic depictions of death and horror. THE FORTRESS OF DR. RADIAKI is another is a long-running series of Doom-like games with pretty smooth controls and a wide variety of monsters to deal with. COMMAND ADVENTURES: THE ROGARIAN AGENDA is in the works for this fall (STARSHIP 2.0 is also now available which effectively finishes the game that was erroneously released earlier). Watch for a pretty exciting new flight-sim to be published through Merit called FIGHTER WING. The ground terrain was pretty stunning. SINK OR SWIM (puzzle game) is now shipping. Finally, watch for THE PSYCHOTRON, G-NOME, and TUNNEL RAT also from Merit this fall and winter. These guys are definitely on a roll.
Microleague - Plenty of budget titles are expected from Microleague this fall/winter, and a few bigger projects as well. SABRE TEAM looks to be an interesting depiction of an action/tactical military game. Their TIME-OUT SPORTS series should be adding FOOTBALL and BASKETBALL to their lineup as well. They are also starting to tout the early '95 release of MICROLEAGUE BASEBALL 5.
Microprose - With their partnership with Spectrum Holobyte, Microprose was slightly more quiet than in recent years. They have several new projects in the works, but nothing of the scale and quantity of past years. Sid Meier's COLONIZATION was unveiled at the show and while it has Sid's polish and imagination to it, I can't help but wonder if it will have the same appeal as Civilization did. Colonizing North America might appeal to North American's, but what of the rest of the world? Several of the previously released Microprose titles will also show up in CD-ROM format this fall. FLEET DEFENDER, WORLD CIRCUIT, SUBWAR 2050 and 1942 are among the leading candidates. Fleet Defender will also enjoy an expansion pack with more missions this fall. Those who have fallen in love with Master of Orion will undoubtedly enjoy MASTER OF MAGIC, a medieval fantasy/strategy game. Remember Coaches Club Football? Football is back from Microprose in ULTIMATE FOOTBALL (Accolade and Mike Ditka might argue about this title, so don't rest your hopes on it) with full NFL and NFLPA licenses. The animation was very cool so the ante has been raised again. 1944: ACROSS THE RHINE is progressing nicely. It will likely be the most advanced tactical tank game to be released in a long while. Other projects in the works, though not committed on are F-15 STRIKE EAGLE 4, SILENT SERVICE 3, M1A1 TANK PLATOON 2, and WORLD CIRCUIT 2. These are ALL definitely 1995 products, if they make it out the door at all.
Microsoft - The big boys in Redmond are certainly viewing the entertainment world with a wanting eye. Though their partnerships with BAO and other developers they should be making quite a mark for themselves this year and next. SPACE SIMULATOR 1.0 should be shipping by September and it looks spectacular. FLIGHT SIMULATOR will continue to be rev'ed and an increasing amount of dazzling scenery will be released over the short to medium term also. We may even be able to design our own within the next 12 months.
Micro Sports - Dave Holt and crew have been busy finishing up Pro League Baseball '94 and it's now out on the market to a pretty warm reception. Word is that Dave will be redoing football again this fall and will also be taking on PRO LEAGUE BASKETBALL next.
Mission Studios - Previously known as Velocity Development, Mission Studios is now an affiliate of Interplay and is preparing a couple of very significant releases. JETFIGHTER 3 is now well into development and is expected to ship very late this year. The texture-modelling used for the ground terrain looks very impressive and this could be a landmark flight simulation. Derek Smart's BATTLECRUISER 3000 A.D. is in the home stretch and should be shipping by late July or August. The detail in BC3K is stunning and though its been in development forever, the wait should definitely be worth it. Finally, BOBBY FISCHER TEACHES CHESS is a tutorial/game that not only gives a good game of chess, but improves the human's game as well.
New World Computing - The 'Might and Magic' guys are certainly gearing up for a big '94 and '95 with many new projects in the works. ZEPHYR is moving along nicely for an October release. This is a first-person perspective hovercraft combat challenge with network and modem play and is a LOT of fun. QUEST FOR THE ORB CD-ROM has now been released with full voices for all the main characters. I was particularly struck with MULTIMEDIA CELEBRITY POKER with fully digitized and animated characters sitting at the table with you. Actors will play famous characters playing various games of poker. Overall, VERY well done. IRON CROSS is a new military strategy game due out in the early fall, while SPACEWARD HO! IV takes the original and expands on it innovatively. A new fantasy RPG is expected out this fall from an affiliate developer of New World called Dreamforge. Other New World affiliate developers are also busy with titles such as EMPIRE DELUXE 2, GRANDURE, WITCHWORLD, and HAMMER OF THE GODS. CD versions of Vegas Games Deluxe and Empire Deluxe have also just been released. HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC has been slightly delayed until the October timeframe.
Novalogic - The 'Comanche guys' are hard at it, preparing for a September 1st release date of their new voxel-based tank simulation, ARMORED FIST. Their next major release won't be until mid '95, a VR/punk RPG called HARD WIRED.
Ocean - With their affiliation with the British developers, Digital Image Design (DID), Ocean is continuing to push into the PC realm with the fall release of INFERNO. Building on the graphical impression of TFX, Inferno takes flight simulation from space down to planet surfaces and into large structures for a very impressive ride. DID is also working with Ocean on IRON ANGEL, their flight simulation sequel to TFX. Also expected this year is CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE, a spy role-playing game.
Origin - Significant by their absence, Origin wasn't present in any capacity at CES, but their product lineup remains the same. Due out next is WING COMMANDER ARMADA, delayed slightly but expected in August. The same can be said for SYSTEM SHOCK. BIO FORGE and WINGS OF GLORY are not due out until mid-fall or early winter now. Criticism has been of one voice concerning the arcade elements in Ultima 8 and it has caused Origin to go back to their drawing boards to reevaluate what will be in ULTIMA 9: ASCENSION. One thing is certain: don't expect until the 4th quarter of 1995. WING COMMANDER 3 is still on track for a late '94 release, but I wouldn't pin the hope of the world on that date. This is a massive project beyond anything Origin has done before with cinematics, live video and real actors (including Mark Hammil and Tim Curry). Origin will likely see the fruits of Andy Hollis' labor in early '95 with a state-of-the-art helicopter (Apache) simulation. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess.
Papyrus - The Indycar Racing folks aren't stopping with with Indy circuit. At C.E.S., they debuted their next masterpiece - NASCAR. What a treat this will be! Imagine all the detail of Indycar Racing, but in SVGA! That's what NASCAR will bring to us. Now all that detail at a playable frame-rate won't be without its high hardware requirements. Expect to need a Pentium- based machine to play (and enjoy) NASCAR at the high resolution. NASCAR could make it out by this November.
Paramount Studios - Paramount is expected to join the fray in a big way this fall with new titles, many of which come from their affiliated developer Cyberflix. JUMP RAVEN AND LUMICUS are now available on the PC (previously available on the Mac only). Coming this fall are VIPER, STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE 9 - THE HUNT, SKULLCRACKER and DUST: TALE OF THE WIRED WEST.
Psygnosis - Since being purchased by Sony, Psygnosis has been busy doing what they do best - develop innovative games like Lemmings. The next installment, LEMMINGS 3, will be out this fall with larger lemmings and more cute skills. Out now are HEXX and THEATRE OF DEATH. In the action and adventure category, Psygnosis will be bringing out DISCWORLD, NOVASTORM and ECSTATICA.
Q.Q.P. - Bruce Williams and his crew are certainly busy these days with the impending release of several new games. Coming very soon are ZIG ZAG and THE PURE WARGAME: VOL. 1. BRIDGE OLYMPIAD is out now, but we'll all have to wait a bit longer (September?) for THE PERFECT GENERAL II. THE LOST ADMIRAL DELUXE remains pushed out until '95 and there is no current development status on CONQUERED KINGDOMS II.
Readysoft - Readysoft has just started to ship ROBINSON'S REQUIEM to the North American market. Slated for this fall are GUY SPY II: TERROR OF THE DEEP and SPACE ACE 2 for the ReelMagic board. Late in the year, we can look for KING'S RANSOM.
Rocket Science - If there is one company that has caught the Venture Capitalist eye, it's definitely Rocket Science Games. Their first two games, LODESTAR: THE LEGEND OF TULLY BODINE and CADILLACS AND DINOSAURS are coming along well and show off the company's impressive resume. The gameplay is still a question mark, but we'll be in for a heckuva ride on these two titles. DARKRIDE remains pushed out until '95.
Sanctuary Woods - Disney Software gave up the very impressive WOLF RPG game and Sanctuary Woods has received the rights to publish the game. Also coming from SW is the sequel to The Journeyman Project. Entitled, BURIED IN TIME, this game should be coming out in early '95.
Sierra On-Line - Sierra is definitely evolving into a different kind of entertainment provider. They are not abandoning their classic Sierra adventure, evidenced by the coming releases of KING'S QUEST 7: THE PRINCE- LESS BRIDE, SPACE QUEST 6, GABRIEL KNIGHT 2 and QUEST FOR GLORY 5. However, they are making a major commitment to the development real-acted stories, debuted in PHANTASMAGORIA. The game was introduced at C.E.S., but there was just not enough of the game present to make a real judgement. One thing is for certain - Sierra has made a major commitment to live multimedia with their construction of a multi-million dollar film studio. Voice talent has been secured so we can expect a CD-ROM version of FREDDY PHARKAS. Also coming this fall/winter is INCA 3, GOBLINS 4, DR. BRAIN III, and VELTION. Finally, Al Lowe's real political colors come to the surface in his political satire cartoon and arcade game, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. In this hilarious spoof, Bill and Hillary go Whitewater rafting, among other things.
Simon and Schuster Interactive - This was a surprise. This company in the games business cemented my belief that the games industry has really caught the eye of major information and entertainment providers. S&S will be making their debut with a couple of interesting projects. MACBETH: THE GAME is an interesting way to 'play' Macbeth as well as learn in depth the story of this Shakespearean classic. My favorite was the STAR TREK INTERACTIVE TECHNICAL MANUAL. Not really a game, but a tremendous way to view and 'learn' the inner workings of the Starship Enterprise. Very slick! S&S will also be introducing several childrens entertainment products this fall. ALISTAIR AND THE ALIEN INVASION, THE MAGIC LABYRINTH OF I.M. MEEN and MY FAVORITE MONSTER are all slated for this early fall.
Sir-Tech Software - Let's make this quick - no, there won't be a WIZARDRY 8 this year. It will likely be at least until late '95 before we see the next installment. However, progress is good on their next two releases - JAGGED ALLIANCE and REALMS OF ARKANIA II: STAR TRAIL. Both are due out this October/November. A WIZARDRY TRILOGY 2 CD-ROM is available now. It contains the previous 3 episodes of the Wizardry legacy.
Software Sorcery - As you all know, I'm a big fan of this talented company. Since their distribution agreement with Time-Warner has been extended to even more products, they can concentrate on growing their development staff and leave the distribution nightmares to Time-Warner. Not a bad arrangement. Since AEGIS has been successfully introduced, SS is working hard on their next title PHOENIX FIGHTER (previously know as Dead Zone). It's a marvelous blend of Wing Commander, X-Wing, Doom, and more, all rolled into one. Plus it's strictly an SVGA CD-ROM-only game. Very classy stuff here. FANTASY FIEFDOM remains on the books for a late '94 release. Then we're off to their next major military sim - FAST ATTACK, a gritty true-as-you-can-get submarine simulation. Other titles expected in '95 are BUCCANEERS (Pirates done right), TRAPMASTERS (treasure hunting), and possibly even CARRIER AIR GROUP (combined naval and air combat carrier simulation). We might even get to see JUTLAND II and even a very cool SAILING SIMULATION too.
Software Toolworks - ST has just shipped their latest Chess masterpiece, CHESSMASTER 4000 TURBO CD-ROM and it might be the chess game to end all chess games, at least graphically speaking. ULTIMATE DOMAIN CD-ROM is also slated for this summer. Their next major game will be DRAGON LORE, a fantasy RPG that was very impressive at the show. It got a long of second glances. ST also is continuing their tradition of releasing very impressive multimedia titles such as the upcoming HOW MULTIMEDIA COMPUTERS WORK, U.S. and WORLD ATLAS 5.0 and MANIAC SPORTS (extreme skiing, etc.).
Spectrum Holobyte - Spectrum is now starting to slowly lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the details of FALCON 4.0. As expected it will have a totally revamped ground-terrain engine and an increased emphasis on multi- player, both network and modem. Not expected, however, until spring of '95. We will get a glimpse of what F4 might be all about when SH releases TOP GUN late this year. Focusing almost entirely on air-to-air combat, TOP GUN is expected to be built on a subset of the F4 engine, minus much of the campaign engine. There is no commitment to any particular combat aircraft beyond F4 at this time. SH is close to shipping their two multimedia titles devoted to combat aircraft, both WWII era and present day. WILD BLUE YONDER: VOLUMES 1 AND 2 should be shipping in July and August. It's been a while since we've had a puzzle game as addictive as Tetris was, but BREAKTHROUGH just might be the new standard bearer. Similar in style to Tetris, BREAKTHROUGH involves dropping blocks from the top, but adds color elements to the game instead of purely shapes. It's a LOT of fun. Finally, SH is still progressing on a fall release date for their mega RPG, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION - A FINAL UNITY.
S.S.I. - Whew! What a lot of new games! SSI is definitely forging ahead with approximately 10, count'em ten, new titles over the course of the next 6-9 months. RENEGADE: BATTLE FOR JACOB'S STAR was very impressive in SVGA. It's very Wing Commander/X-Wing like, but has very smooth, high-resolution graphics. DARK SUN II: WAKE OF THE RAVAGER, MENZOBERRANZAN and SKY REALMS OF JORUNE: ALIEN LOGIC are the next major fantasy RPGs coming from SSI. In the omnipresent Doom-like category, SSI will be introducing CYCLONES in early fall. In the SSI military strategy game category, watch for PANZER GENERAL this year and MARTIN'S D-DAY in '95. GREAT NAVAL BATTLES 3 and OPERATION OVERLORD should appear in early '95 as well. Finally, SSI isn't forfeiting its place in the sports category either. Their NHL HOCKEY game continues in development and should be released in spring of '95. SSI also has an impressive 3DO title in the works called SLAYER. Almost reason enough to go buy the machine.... almost.
Three-Sixty - Now that HARPOON 2 has been shipped, we can anxiously look forward to the PC release of VICTORY AT SEA and the HARPOON 2 SCENARIO EDITOR. Other H2 BATTLESETS are also planned. Their TICONDEROGA Aegis- class cruiser simulation has been canceled (at the hands of the successful release of Aegis).
Thrustmaster - The peripherals masters were debuting their F-16 stick at the show. What a beast this will be! It's got more buttons than I have memory cells, so expect the flight-sim jocks to just eat this one up. Thrustmaster had some very interesting prototype work shown to me behind closed doors that might eventually interest Links 386 Pro players a great deal! Stay tuned.
Time-Warner - TW scored a big hit in the games business with the signing of Software Sorcery, but they're not stopping there. They also landed the PC version of RISE OF THE ROBOTS, a new ray-traced fighting game from Mirage. They also have the full distribution rights to all games developed by Tsunami Media. RETURN TO RINGWORLD has just been shipped on CD-ROM to the gaming public. Plus TW has an absolute ton of multimedia titles on the way this summer including, WOODSTOCK: 25TH ANNIVERSARY, SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5, THE ESSENTIAL FRANKENSTEIN, ROBOT CITY, and TROUBLE IS MY BUSINESS among others.
Trimark Interactive - This newcomer to the games business is making a modest start by getting the CD-ROM rights to publish TORNADO with the DESERT STORM CAMPAIGN. Also coming this fall are BLIND DATE and two children's titles, THUMBELINA and THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES. Finally, Trimark is working on another new flight simulation called VISUAL FLIGHT CONTROLLER. No further details on this one now.
U.S. Gold - Typically a cartridge game producer, U.S. Gold is making a few interesting PC titles this fall. Forever in the vaporware category, U.S. Gold has picked up the fascinating strategy/RPG title DOMINUS, originally expected from Asciiware. They are also using their World Cup license to produce WORLD CUP USA '94 (soccer) and WORLD CUP GOLF: DORADO BEACH.
Velocity Development - Not to be confused with Mission Studios, this company is producing the Spectre products and is continuing that tradition with the soon-to-be-released SPECTRE VR CD-ROM. Two other action games slated for this fall are QUARANTINE and JET SKI OR DIE.
Viacom New Media - The MTV and Nickelodeon crowd will be getting three new titles from Viacom this fall. ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK: ORPHEO'S CURSE will debut first (adventure), followed by MTV'S CLUB DEAD and NICKELODEON'S DIRECTOR'S LAB.
Virgin Games/Westwood Studios - The last company on the report may also be among the best, if not THE best, in deliving amazing new titles this fall. So many outstanding products! Starting with the earliest, watch for THE 11TH HOUR, the long-awaited sequel to The 7th Guest, to appear late this summer on many different platforms, but PC first. BENEATH A STEEL SKY CD- ROM (adventure) is due out imminently. H.A.W.C. (helicopter flight-sim) and D-DAY: OPERATION OVERLORD (military strategy) are expected in August, while CANNON FODDER (strategy/puzzle) has just started shipping in North America. Get ready for the onslaught of major new products in the October/November timeframe. We can expect KYRANDIA 3: MALCOLM'S REVENGE (adventure) and COMMAND AND CONQUER (strategy) from Westwood Studios, the latter being the long-awaiting sequel to Dune II. K3 will come out directly on CD-ROM with full voice. In November/December, watch for MECH COMMANDER, a mech-fighting/tactical battle game, TRANCEMISSION, a psychedelic multimedia experience, LOST EDEN (strategy) and CREATURE SHOCK with absolutely STUNNING Silicon Graphics-generated artwork. Finally, for boardgame players, watch for the CD-ROM computer game versions of TRIVIAL PURSUIT and CLUE.
As a final footnote, the latest phone message from XOR states that NFL CHALLENGE PREMIUM EDITION is in beta and will be released for the PC in late July. It's kind of sad, but now, probably nobody cares!
This C.E.S. definitely marked a new beginning for the show. Next summer marks the beginning of the Consumer Electronics Show Interactive Exposition. No more crowded spaces to be shared with the car stereo, T.V., and radar detector producers. Strictly games and multimedia. This is a good move, but it may be too late to satisfy the vendors. Plus, the debut show in Philadelphia doesn't strike too many people as a good move. Time will tell. The games business is still definitely on a high but the games themselves are vastly different than what was on display only a few years ago. Games are now 'productions', have mega-budgets and a lot more is riding on the line than was previously the case in the late 80's and early 90's. Don't misunderstand - we'll still be playing games for a long time to come, but evolution that normally is hardly noticeable is very apparent in the products that were on display at this C.E.S. There's a lot more pizzazz in these games, sometimes at the expense of gameplay. My advice - vote for your favorites with your wallet. Just because some mega-billion dollar company has sunk untold millions into a "game", it's worthless if it doesn't get you involved or isn't fun. We'll be doing our best to provide you with the best source of critical reviews once these games prepare to ship. If you have any questions about any titles in this report (or some that you've heard of that aren't reported), please feel free to send email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, 74431,1144 on Compuserve, or RossGBytes on America On-Line.Ross Erickson