Retro News: February 1997 – Virtua Fighter III On The Saturn!

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Hello and welcome to another issue of Retro News. This week, we’re onto the rumours of February of 1997, and the 32-bit/64-bit generation is in full swing (even if we’re still waiting for the N64); but what’s coming next according to gaming magazines? Let’s find out!

Computer & Video Games is up first, in issue 183 of the long-running mag. Rage Racer is the cover story with a preview, alongside Killer Instinct Gold and Fighters Megamix, but in terms of review; Contra: Legacy of War on PlayStation gets 3 out 5, SNES classic Terranigma gets 4 out of 5, and the SEGA Saturn port of the Atari Jaguar’s Tempest 2000 also gets 3 out of 5 – While on the page next to that review, the upgraded PlayStation version, called Tempest X gets an insane 5 out of 5!

This issue’s News pages features the first “tantalising” screens of the long-awaited Street Fighter III: New Generation, proving that Capcom can actually count higher than “2”. Wielding the power of the brand new CPS III board that can store data on CD for even better graphics and sound, these slightly blurry screens still look incredible.

Further down the page, is a pretty cool request from the British Film Institute, who want to create a national video games archive, asking for donations to help bolster their collection of 2000 titles and a selection of consoles at their Berkhamsted Archive. A quick Google Search doesn’t seem to bring up much information, other than the existing film and television archive, so who knew if this drive was a success?

It might all be about the PlayStation and Saturn right now, but Codemasters has just released a line of double-pack cartridges for the humble SEGA Mega Drive. For just £29.99 (approximately £50 today, adjusting for inflation), you can purchase carts containing Brian Lara Cricket and Pete Sampras Tennis, or Psycho Pinball and the original Micro Machines. If that wasn’t enough, the superb Micro Machines 2 is also just £20 (£32.94 in today’s money, and worth every penny).

Across the pond once more, and to this month’s issue 101 of the US-based mag, GamePro. The magazine spoke to Resident Evil’s Producer, Shinji Mikami to talk about Resident Evil 2 (in its early, scrapped form!). Meanwhile, the cover story of a Killer Instinct Gold review gets  decent review, with the mag hailing it as “the best fighting game on the N64”. Not exactly a difficult thing to achieve. Cruis’n USA gets a relatively mediocre review, whilst there is high praise for a certain Tomb Raider, and Bug Too!, the sequel to the Saturn platformer…

In their “ProNews” section, the big story relates to delays for multiple Nintendo 64 games, with Turok: Dinosaur Hunter now delayed until March 3rd (after already being delayed from November 1996 to January 1997. It would actually launch on March 4th, the same date as its European release. Ocean’s Mission: Impossible is also slated for a likely March or April release, after missing a planned Christmas 1996 launch (it ended up being delayed even further, until July 1997 in the US, not receiving a European release until September of 1997).

In the latest news from Japan’s Shoshinkai show (which shows you how long it takes news from the Far East to reach Western press outlets) the first prototype of the Nintendo 64’s 64DD add-on was revealed, promising to bolster the 64’s storage capacity and even allow players to create their own customisations and content for their games.

However, the Super Famicom wasn’t left out of the news, as there are plans for a new way to purchase SFC games that will soon be coming to Japanese convenience stores. Customers can purchase blank cartridges and download games from kiosks at a reduced price. This service did come to fruition, and I wish it could have come to the West!

It’s not all good news though, as Nintendo of America announced that it is halting support for the much-maligned Virtual Boy. No more marketing efforts will take place, and no more new games are to be released. This happens barely half a year after the system’s Summer 1995 launch, with two final games (Bound High and Dragon Hopper) no longer seeing a release.

Back in Blighty for issue 5 of Mean Machine PlayStation, the latest incarnation of the magazine. Soul Edge is the big cover review, getting a whopping 95%, Tobal No.1 gets 91%, Parappa The Rapper gets 83% and Rage Racer received a 94% score in a cracking month for PS1 owners!

Street Fighter III is also featured in this month’s news in the usual salivatory fashion, but the more pressing news for PlayStation is the first screens of the eagerly-awaited Tekken 3. Because it’s running on a new Namco-developed board, the mag suggests it is an impossible port to the PlayStation, but history shows us that it was absolutely not impossible, and quite an impressive port as it happens!

Staying with Mean Machines, but shifting sideways to their SEGA-based counterpart for Issue 52, and the big cover stars are the girls of Fighters Megamix with a huge preview of the game. JRPG Dark Saviour is the main review, this issue – Earning a 90% score or its troubles. Tunnel B1 is an average game with an average 78% score, and the classic Die Hard Trilogy gets 92% for its take on John McClane’s cinematic exploits.

In terms of news, the main talking point is an interview with Andy Mee, SEGA Europe’s Director of Marketing & Sales. It’s mostly a yawn-fest, but he does announce that the brand new Virtua Fighter III is coming to SEGA Saturn, and also feature a hardware upgrade in the form of a cartridge bundled with the game that fits in the console’s slot and will give the system the oomph to play the latest 3D fighter. This is all absolute bull plop of course, and Virtua Fighter III wouldn’t get a home port until the Dreamcast.

And on that bombshell, we bring another bout of news trawling to a close. Next week, expect a look through the news of February 2002 and a whole new batch of magazines, spouting all manner of fake news! Check out last week’s post if you missed it, and the archive of Retro News for more!

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