While the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 consoles got down to serious business, backed up with several top-notch game releases, SEGA were concentrating on opening something quite big in Sydney…
Japanese racing game fans got a nice Christmas present to go with their traditional KFC dinners in the form of Polyphony Digital’s PlayStation masterpiece Gran Turismo, originally subtitled The Real Racing Simulator. That was a bold claim, but the racer – which took five years to develop – delivered, offering realistic (for the time) racing in either arcade or more simulation-based modes. Still one of the highest ranked racers of all time, there were 140 real-world vehicles to collect and race on 11 tracks (22 counting their reversed variants). Aussies finally got to join in the fun in May of 1998.
Arriving two years after the James Bond movie of the same name, there wasn’t much expected from GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64. Then people got to play it… A first-person shooter with a dedicated single-player campaign, it combined shooting and stealth as the player stepped into the shoes of Bond, James Bond, to save London and the world from an economic meltdown. While that was super-fun, what really sold the game was the split-screen multiplayer, where up to four players could get their deathmatch on in various scenarios. Highly-awarded, it’s now seen as an important ground zero in the evolution of multiplayer shooters on consoles.
With the Mega Drive just deleted and the Saturn failing to take off outside of Japan, it may have seemed a strange time to open a bespoke SEGA-themed amusement centre in the heart of Sydney. However, on March 6, 1997 SEGA World opened at Darling Harbour, with a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog themed bits and bobs, the requisite plethora of arcade games and a selection of larger attractions that mostly eschewed any of SEGA’s many top-notch IPs. There was, however, the Sonic Live in Sydney musical, featuring Eggman crashing into, and subsequently trying to take over, Sydney. SEGA World closed in November 2000, and the striking red building was demolished in 2008.