Sega, not famed for its creation of deep games, has come up with what really amounts to a successor to Sonic the Hedgehog. Nights introduces a new character, Elliot Edwards. It comes from the same stable as Sonic and looks destined to be every bit as successful. Unlike Grand Prix 2 and Z, the developers kept Nights a secret. "We're glad, because it made the shock of seeing such an awesome title for the first time something quite tangible," says Sega Saturn Magazine. "Nights is everything it's cracked up to be. A real showcase for the Saturn, massively addictive and totally friend-impressing (unless they've got a Playstation, then they'll be sick)."
Mega Machines Sega is equally gushing. "I once wondered whether Nights was going to be eye candy without any hard playability, but it's not only an incredible game, it's a whole new genre of gameplay." As is its want to offer intelligent analysis, Edge says: "Sonic was a very focused game with a clear aim, making it easy to pick up and play. By contrast, a lot of the time Nights feels as if its gameplay has been made to fit within a set of technological displays of competance." Edge has a point. Nights may not yet make classic status, but it will have a damn good go at it.
Every now and again, publishers jump the gun and spout on about forthcoming releases, only to find that a game is not really ready to release either now or in the next three years. While the developers of Z obviously fell into deep sleep over the name of the game, everyone else was wondering when on earth it was going to be finished. Like Grand Prix 2, Z has finally made it to the shelf after a prolonged development life. Unlike Grand Prix 2, Z does not seem to have lasted the test of time during its gestation.
"It has suffered with the passage of time," says Edge adding "it looks positively prehistoric." Z is a 2D strategy wargame along the same lines as Command and Conquer and Warcraft II but Edge reckons that Z does not have "the depth or longevity" of its rivals. Although critical of certain elements of the gameplay, Edge recognises that the game's greatest asset is its artificial intelligence. "It was one of the major reasons for the release delays but in this case it was well worth it. The computer rivals the best non-human opponents strategy games have ever seen."
The strategy element of the game is also crucial. Edge suggests that Z has elements like building your own empire, that can slow the game down.
PC Zone is a little more enthused. It suggests it is like Command and Conquer, only harder, more strategic and more intense."
Microprose may have believed that Top Gun: Fire at Will would waltz on the back of the film's classic status, but it was sadly mistaken. The film was not a classic, unless you fancy fast jets, Tom Cruise's butt and drivel for a script. According to the reviews the game is also lacking depth. We are not looking for philosophy here, just some serious gameplay.
"The concept behind Top Gun is decent enough but the execution, like the variety between missions, is sadly lacking," says Playstation Plus. "A fun shooter to begin with, but ultimately a shallow and disappointing license."
Play+ is equally scathing: "Top Gun is a decent enough game, but it lacks involvement, long-term challenge and a convincing flight model. Gunship is far better and it doesn't subject you to cheesy B-movie acting." This cheesy acting and the FMV sequences are what both Playstation Plus and the Official UK Playstation Magazine believe are the game's interesting points. Play+ also notes that the sound is good quality, but this on its own will not make a great game. "It definitely doesn't take your breath away," says The Official UK Playstation Magazine.
Sometimes you can look at a game and think, "why?". But first glances can be deceptive as is obviously the case with Bust A Move 2. Acclaim's simplistic, yet colourful, cute and strangely addictive game, will not push the Playstation to its intended limits, but why should it when it doesn't have to? "If ever a game has proved that simplicity and playability are the two most important ingredients for a good game, Bust A Move 2 is it," says Playstation Plus. "It offers a potent blend of puzzles and two-player action to create one of the greatest puzzle games ever."
There is certainly nothing to compare it with, which in a sense smacks of pure marketing genius, especially as all reviewers seem to have missed their deadlines because they've been shooting coloured bubbles all night.
"The graphics are sickly sweet," says Edge. "You'll hum the ditties on the bus home and the gameplay is perfection. Sure, there's little here that gives off the sweet smell of 32bit, but with gameplay like this, who needs 120,000 polygons?" It could also make a few developers sit up and take note. The market is not necessarily always about slick motion video and fast moving special effects. Sometimes developers forget that this is first and foremost a games market, where playability is everything, and slick design and atmosphere is a welcome bonus.
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