Sega Shows Off!

Sega lets us play Rally 2, Space Channel 5, Crazy Taxi, and one really odd Japanese title on good ole US soil.

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Last night at an event sponsored by Sega and Sega/CSK president Isao Okawa, Sega took the opportunity to unveil a great number of Dreamcast related surprises. To begin with, behind a glass case was the much-discussed zip drive for the Dreamcast. Resting comfortably underneath the Dreamcast, the zip drive is probably the biggest zip drive you'll ever see, encompassing the same external dimensions of the Dreamcast (read: it's the same width and length as the DC). Inside the glass case was also a zip disc with the Dreamcast logo emblazoned on its label, along with an ethernet cable for use in lieu of the Dreamcast's modem. Sega is apparently serious about the expandable nature of the Dreamcast, an attitude reflected in the prominent display of its Dreamcast microphone (the same one packaged with Vivarium's Seaman game), along with the Dreamcast digital camera (a prototype). Hooked up to each of the two monitors were a digital camera and a microphone. Although we encountered a little trouble with the setup due to the text being entirely in Japanese, it was clear that Sega intends to offer video/audio conferencing over the Internet via its multimedia console. The quality was equivalent to a QuickTime movie and may make the Dreamcast the most sociable of all the next-generation consoles.

Several new titles were also on hand for event attendees to play. Crazy Taxi looked every bit as good as the arcade version. Fortunately it played as well too. But unlike the arcade version, Crazy Taxi has a ton of different modes to extend the games longevity. In addition to the normal arcade mode, you can play a 5-, 10-, or 15-minute version of the game. There are also story and training modes that are much cooler than their textbook names can possibly describe. A couple of monitors had the American release of Sega Rally 2 percolating while another monitor featured Sega's upcoming Bust-A-Groove killer Space Channel 5. Space Channel 5 (designed by Sega Rally creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi) puts you in control of a young heroine attempting to save people from aliens by dancing. It looked extremely awesome and could be a very popular title among all kinds of gamers. The oddest thing on display was a virtual fish tank that featured a touch-screen monitor (much like an ATM, but more responsive) that fed 3D fish every time you touched the monitor. While the backgrounds looked like scrolling 2D bitmaps, they lit up very realistically. The fish looked completely real, however, and moved incredibly lifelike. It's not known whether this will ever become a game, as it offers even less to do than Vivarium's Seaman title. One producer said it was a "very Japanese product that will almost certainly stay in Japan." Lastly, there was a Shen Mue demo on display in one corner, but we decided to wait until Sega's ready to show us a bit more than a dart game and a facial demo before we invest any more time in Yu Suzuki's "masterpiece."

After all this techno-wizardry on display, we were about to pack our things and head for the hills, when we discovered that Isao Okawa had one more surprise for us. Lucky bastards that we are, every attendee who covered the event walked away with a free Dreamcast, a copy of Sonic Adventure, a VMU, some SegaSoft stuff, a few Okawa Foundation booklets, and a box of Godiva chocolates. One thing's for sure, Sega sure knows how to get us to play with our Dreamcasts.

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