Hands On With 989

We make the trip down to sunny San Diego to scope out some of 989 Studios' latest games.

We trekked down to San Diego, Calif., to attend 989 Studios' Gamers' Day. There, editors were treated to first looks at some of 989's upcoming games and to a demolition derby. Here are some hands-on details on the games.

Twisted Metal 4TM4 doesn't stray far from the formula that's made it a long-running PlayStation hit, but enough improvements have been made to make it interesting. Even at this early state, the game looks like it will turn out far better than the lackluster Twisted Metal 3. The physics have been tweaked a bit to allow more high-flying car stunts, and you'll be able to customize your car and character. While it didn't seem to be present in the current version, you'll be able to pick your wheels, engine, weapons, call sign, colors, and body style. Cars bang up very well as they're damaged, and the game has very nice fire and explosions.

The game is said to allow up to eight players, but whether this will translate into eight-player simultaneous play is unknown (and pretty unlikely). Twisted Metal 4 is scheduled to ship in November.

Cool Boarders 4Real-life snowboarders enter the fray in Cool Boarders 4, which is scheduled to ship in late October. The graphics looked pretty good and the game moved at a nice, fast pace. Trickmaster mode will give players long, jump-filled courses, which will be perfect to learn all the game's new grabs. Events in the game's main mode are downhill, half-pipe, slope style, CBX, and big air. Each mountain (there are five in all) will also contain a hidden special event that must be unlocked. Real snowboarding clothing, snowboards, and accessories will be represented in the game, coming from manufacturers like Billabong, G-Shock, K2, Burton, M3, and more. The game will have over 30 boards, and you'll also be able to create custom snowboards, as well as custom riders.

Supercross CircuitEveryone seems to be getting into the motocross act, and 989 is no exception. The company's entry into dirt-bike racing is Supercross Circuit. The game will contain real riders, bikes, and tracks. The graphics are pretty good, but what really sets this game apart is the sheer speed at which it runs. The blazing speed gives the entire race a very frantic feel. Two-player split-screen mode doesn't sacrifice any of this speed, either. Stunts and tricks are done with simple button presses. Supercross Circuit is currently scheduled for a November release.

NBA ShootOut 2000ShootOut 2000 looks like it's on the right track, though it could still use some tweaking. Also, the game seems to run a bit on the slow side, but hopefully that will be fixed by the time the game comes out in November. The feature that really makes ShootOut 2000 interesting is the create-a-dunk feature. You can create 12 dunks for your created player. Creation is handled similarly to creating moves in Fighter Maker, though it's been simplified quite a bit. You only have to create a middle frame for your dunk, and the PlayStation fills in the rest. With this, you can create all sorts of double pumps, windmills, and 360s. You can also bend your player's limbs to all sorts of crazy angles and make some pretty unrealistic dunks, but don't expect any NBA Jam-style flips. According to a 989 representative, the dunk-creation mode will likely be tied to a dunk-competition mode in NBA ShootOut 2001.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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