Nintendo set up shop properly in Australia, unleashing a killer platformer while they were at it, Japan got new hardware from SEGA and Sony, and a franchise that would become an enduring gaming ode to car culture hit the starting line…
By 1994, the world had played a lot of platform games, and not much had changed in them save for slight improvements in their still very 2D graphics. British developers Rare had a plan to bring new life to the genre, and their Super Nintendo exclusive Donkey Kong Country was the conduit. While still essentially a 2D platformer, it was Rare’s use of pre-rendered 3D graphics that prompted reviewers and gamers to stumble for descriptive superlatives. That the game was supremely playable beyond how good it looked also helped quite a bit.
Before 1994 ended, Japan saw the release of two hot new “fifth-gen” consoles – console masters SEGA’s Saturn, and Sony’s first entry in the space, the PlayStation. Both had scorching launch arcade conversions, Virtua Fighter and Ridge Racer, respectively, and both companies were up for a ding-dong battle. However, while sales of the Saturn went gangbusters in Japan – it remains SEGA’s best-selling console ever there – the same couldn’t be said for its later overseas launch, where PlayStation basically kicked it to the kerb with slicker marketing, and more in-demand games.
Eight years after the movie Top Gun, Electronic Arts felt the need, The Need for Speed, as a title that might help the struggling 3DO console move more units. Complete with a Road & Track magazine license, the game showed respect to car addicts everywhere, with as much emphasis on realistic sound and handling, plus TV magazine-styled video presentation, as there was on allowing petrolheads to race the eight included automotive dream machines on three courses. Many in the series followed, the last (so far) being the 24th iteration, 2019’s Need for Speed Heat.