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Game network could be headed for America


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 28, 1998

With the flood of new cable channels, you'd think someone would have come up with one dedicated to many young people's favorite pastime. No, not sleeping. Video games.

That may be changing.

A cable channel dedicated to the gaming industry hit European airwaves this month. Over here, Game One, a 24-hour game network, reportedly could be lighting up American tubes in the near future. Infogrames Entertainment and Canal Plus, Europe's leading digital broadcaster, put the project together, calling it video games' answer to MTV, and gearing programing toward 10- to 25-year-olds.

The channel has six staple programs, including daily news on the hottest new video games; a show called Level One, which helps gamers through the first stages of the latest titles; and Warp Zone, which shoots to further legitimize the game industry by highlighting the convergence of games and movies.

* * *

A three-day Zelda Summit this month gave game reviewers an early peek at Nintendo's newest Zelda game, Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Nothing but rave reviews ensued for this hugely hyped game, which follows our hero Link's life from childhood through early adulthood.

Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's in-house genius and the mind behind Donkey Kong, Mario and Yoshi, produced the latest Zelda adventure, which goes on sale Nov. 23. Gamers who hope to get a limited gold-cartridge edition will have to pre-order the game.

* * *

Only three years after Sony introduced its 32-bit system, Sega's 128-bit Dreamcast is very close to reality, at least in Japan.

The system takes its place on Japanese store shelves Nov. 20, with a U.S. release scheduled for fall 1999.

It has some impressive specs. The veritable mini-computer runs at 200 MHz and is capable of shifting 1-million polygons a second. It also has a 64-bit sound card, a 12-speed CD-ROM -- to reduce game load times -- 16 megabytes of RAM and a 33.6 modem. Also, Sega alleviated software programing difficulties by basing the Dreamcast's operating system on Microsoft Windows CE operating system.

Sega has plenty of titles in development, including Virtual Fighters 3, Daytona USA 2, Godzilla and a Sonic adventure game. There also are plenty of frills in store for Dreamcast purchasers, including the Visual Memory unit, a hand-held data storage device that features a mini-monitor. Find out more about this anything-but-sleepy machine at the Sega Zone (http://www.sega-zone.com).

* * *

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, due out in October, will be the first Nintendo 64 game to use the 4-megabyte RAM expansion cartridge, which plugs into your N64 and enables higher resolution graphics. The expansion pack will be released in November and will sell for about $30, Nintendo said.

The first N64 steering wheel is on sale. Madcat's model runs for $39.99.

* * *

Sony has signed a deal with Disney to gain exclusive publishing rights for the A Bug's Life video game, which is based on Disney's computer-generated feature film. The game should be released around Thanksgiving . . . For more industry news, check out these cool video game Web sites: www.gamefan.com, www.next-generation.com and www.ign.com.

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I am interested in hearing from online gamers for an upcoming feature. Send e-mail to robbguid@ufl.edu.

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