by Ken Gagne

After a satisfying meal at Planet Hollywood, the Video Gaming Central staff divided: some to play Goldeneye, others to attend the Sega press conference. After some initial confusion of paperwork and mistaken identities, we were admitted into a fully catered lounge, where we were left standing amidst fruits, meats, and drinks for 45 minutes before the show began. And what a show!

Kevin Nealon, news anchor of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE fame, gave a wonderful performance of news, covering Sega, the White House, international affairs, and others. Announced was the government's decision to develop Dreamcast games, including Kenneth Starrcraft and Whitewater Rafting; also, the crowd was startled to learn that thousands of 32X's were recently unearthed at the Egyptian Pyramids. "It worked for us," an Atari rep weakly offered.

Other jokes are not appropriate for reposting here.

A collage of the history of Sega followed, displaying commercials from ten years ago ("Sonic 1! It slices, it dices!" And who can forget the Game Boy player whacking himself with a dead squirrel?) to today.  Finally, Bernie Stolar gave an unconvincing speech telling us little new regarding Dreamcast, but here's what we did glean:

Most important to those who are attending E3 but were not at this press conference was the revelation that Dreamcast will *not* be at Sega's booth this week.

DREAMCAST will launch with a $100 million advertising budget and will have store displays in 15,000 — 20,000 stores… including Kay*Bee. The target audience witll be young teens to mid-twenties, expanding later.  At the Fall '99 launch, there will be 10-12 titles, and 20-30 by the year's end. Familiar characters, inluding Sonic and Virtua Fighter, will appear in new situations. Among the third parties who are confirmed Dreamcast publishers are Acclaim, GT Interactive, Midway, Interplay, and Microprose. Konami was not mentioned, although they had been confirmed as Dreamcast developers.

Finally, it was time to see Dreamcast in action. A demo that first appeared at least week's Japanese conference, titled "Tower of Babel",  was shown as a flying perspective through a mountainside hamlet. No moving sprites, no action — just a changing view on a setting. Very disappointing. If this was all Dreamcast was capable of, I was ready to rule it out immediately.

That's when they showed… the game.

No name was given to it, but none could do it justice. It could best be described as Insector X, a Genesis title, in 3D. It's a third person perspective shooter in a world inhabited with giant scorpions, insects, and other monstrosities. It was breathtaking. The graphics are unparalleled by anything available on any system I've seen. This is the first time I've been left speechless since I first saw Super Mario 64.

Insector 3D showed 20% final system performance of the Dreamcast. 100% efficiency is beyond imagination. The only thing the American audience can do at this time is wait with bated breath.

This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Video Gaming Central (CompuServe), 25-May-98