How Naomi Got Its Groove On

Sega's Dreamcast-compatible arcade board, Naomi, shakes things up in Tokyo.

The biggest news of JAMMA was Sega's Naomi arcade board. Naomi is a Dreamcast-compatible arcade board - Sega's cheap and high performance arcade solution. According to a Nikkei report, Sega will release Naomi in late November to Japanese gamers. It's been reported that while Naomi has the same level of capabilities Model 3 has, it costs about one-third the price.

Sega will release ten to fifteen titles for Naomi in the first year, and 20 companies including Capcom, Jaleco and Tecmo are already on the list as companies using Naomi. Sega is hoping to provide this to other companies which have their own CG boards - like Taito - and sell 100,000 units in three to five years. For developers, the cheaper board is a good thing. For Sega, if Naomi becomes a standard in arcades, this will be a strong backbone for the Dreamcast.

Before we tell you about the games, here are Naomi's specs:

CPU: Hitachi SH-4, 128-bit graphics engine, proprietary RISC CPU (running at 200 MHz, 360 MIPS/1.4 GFLOPS)Graphics Engine: NEC/VideoLogic Power VR2Sound Engine: Yamaha Super Intelligent Sound Processor - 32-bit RISC CPU (64 Channel, ADPCM).Main Memory: 32 MBGraphics Memory: 16 MBMedia: ROM boardsColors: 1.67 million color paletteFeatures: Bump mapping, fog, alpha blending, MIP-mapping, tri-linear filtering, anti-aliasing, environment mapping, and specular effects.Game port: JAMMA video.Optional CD-ROM drive

Naomi titles include:

The House of the Dead 2: Original SinBlood BulletDynamite Baseball

Current Naomi titles are all still in progress. But all were impressive.

No need to explain The House of the Dead 2, the sequel to Sega's popular horror gun shooter. With Naomi's processing power, it looks much better in terms of graphics and animation. Most importantly, Dead 2 is still just as horrifying. Although zombies are all energetic compared to the ones in the popular horror classic "Night of the Living Dead," that's a good for video game.

This time around, the game is set in a city. There are Medieval or Venetian style water courses and even contemporary buildings. There are six levels and much more branches than its predecessor. This version being shown was 70 percent complete.

Sega had another game in the House of the Dead series. Blood Bullet is a side story in the series where you beat the herds of zombies with fists and guns. The title looks very much like a Fighting Force clone. It looked good though, and is only 20 percent done.

Dynamite Baseball 98 is a baseball game featuring all the players in the Japanese baseball league. All the players have the facial features of their real-life counterparts. They are really lifelike--it's almost scary.

The interesting thing for one of the cabinets for Naomi is that it has two slots for the Dreamcast's Visual Memory System. As Sega already announced, there will be some kind of conjunction with Dreamcast/VMS/Naomi games.

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