Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Buried Game Treasure: Next Generation Magazine CDs

(Originally published on 1UP.com and Tumblr. Now I'm posting this again, refined, on my own blog because I don't give a damn anymore.)

The front disc envelope of
Next Generation (Sept. 1997)
featuring Cupid probably praying
for a giant meteorite to drop on
to Mother Earth anytime now.
Remember those times when you bought a shrink-wrapped magazine from a supermarket or a bookstore, and you got a free disc of cool stuff inside them? Back then, the internet was this underdeveloped, yet still awesome tool to find the latest news on anything in general at the time, especially gaming news. Yet, anything through a crappy dial-up connection (remember that too?) would take forever for things — like videos — to finish downloading onto our PCs, so for a lot of us we resorted to these discs that came with image and video previews of upcoming games.

A few years years ago, I discovered an ISO on my hard drive called the Next Generation - September 1997, an example of disc containing such cool content. These were discs that were distributed in copies of Next Generation Magazine when you bought the magazine at the time. Included in this particular disc were lots of low-quality 320x240 MOV videos of PlayStation, Sega Saturn, & Nintendo 64 games that were featured at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) at Atlantic, Georgia in mid-June of 1997.

I've found many clips of many different games in their prototype forms, including Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Mega Man Neo (Mega Man Legends), and Sonic R, all in their pre-release glory. The following videos have been edited to correct the contrast issues the videos had when it was first produced. They looked terrible (view this comparison: twitpic.com/9d1v6q).


This old early prototype footage of Crash Bandicoot 2 features several differences that indicate how early into production this game was when it was first announced at this convention. The video above features brief annotations that go over said differences, including the original HUD font used from Crash 1, different object placements, etc. There's more footage where that came from too (give it a watch too).



This footage of Sonic R features what appears to be a slightly (don't quote me on that, watch and decide for yourself) stage layout at the end of the stage. Different HUD (this was a common beta trait from those days, wasn't it?), and character icons, camera angles, etc. There might be a better quality version on YouTube somewhere, but I didn't find it until after this video was uploaded then.


Next up, sp,e old prototype footage of one of my closest-to-heart games ever, Mega Man Legendswhich was known at the time as Mega Man Neo. Just like the first two, this video includes annotations that accentuates the various rudimentary differences that indicate just how early into production this 3D Mega Man title was when it was first quietly announced at the time. It's amazing seeing how much content and concepts were experimented on this game, it doesn't even strongly resemble the final game know today.


Last but not least, another valuable video I found was an video interview of former CEO of Nintendo of America, Howard Lincoln. Topics discussed in this interview include the Nintendo 64's early performance in the west of that year and their strong relationship with Rareware, the developers of Donkey Kong CountryKiller InstinctBanjo-Kazooie, and GoldenEye 007. You know, really great games.

Backside.
As the internet grew to become the multimedia world it is today, the necessity of CDs packed with videos shrank as sites like YouTube and Google Video took over to allow users, fan communities, and media and game companies to upload videos without worrying about their own bandwidth and file sizes. I remember Nintendo Power coming packed with DVDs of trailers and such, but that was like in 2006 just as YT got around. YouTube and the internet has really made our lives easier.

Before I forget, I can't remember where I found the ISO in the internet originally, but in case the download source is no longer available, here's an ISO of the disc that's now readily available at the Internet Archive. I hope you guys get something neat out of this.