As if there weren't enough choices to make at this time of year, competing video-game systems make life that much more complicated, offering a deluge of sophisticated new titles in the race to get an edge in the $7 billion home-video industry.
This season is particularly heated as once-moribund Sega reenters the fray with vigor. Its new Dreamcast system just topped the 1-million-units-sold mark since its debut in September, and it continues to unveil an impressive line of titles. The rush to get a technological advantage has pushed the level of onscreen graphic resolution to new heights.
But before you rush out to buy new video games, first consider which console to purchase. Dreamcast will cost $199. Sony PlayStation, which recently reduced its price, and Nintendo 64 retail at $99. Game Boy Color sells at around $80. The video games themselves range in price from $30 to $60.
Sony PlayStation brings back a favorite in "Spyro 2, Ripto's Rage!" a charming sequel to last year's hit title. A game rated "E" for everyone, it features the fully 3-D Spyro and his dragonfly sidekick continuing in their magical quest.
"CTR, Crash Team Racing" (Sony) is a fast-paced, kart-racing game that gives the others in the genre a good run for their money. "TS Trick'n Snowboarder" (Capcom) is a quick-reflex-dependent rush down the hill. Car racing and snow sports are popular themes this year.
Dreamcast games include "Rippin' Riders," another impressive snowboard ride. "NBA 2K" takes competition to a new level, allowing players to customize everything about the onscreen athletes, including their tendencies and body shape. It's a hint of things to come.
"Toy Commander" is a quirky navigation game inside a house full of living toys - think "Toy Story" with an edge. "Bass Fishing," along with a special casting rod, bets that older players will put up with a slower, more adult pace in exchange for a nifty concept and great graphics.
Nintendo weighs in with its own basketball game, "Courtside with Kobe Bryant," and several new titles for its popular Game Boy Color - "Pokmon Yellow," "Babe and Friends," and "Earthworm Jim, Menace 2 the Galaxy."
For games to be played on home computers, several intriguing entries from Eidos include "Omikron, The Nomad Soul," with music by veteran rocker David Bowie; "Tomb Raider, The Last Revelation," an update on the hit "Lara Croft" character; and "Braveheart," based on the Mel Gibson movie.
Many new educational CD-rom titles are available for computers, too. Some of the notable include a series from the venerable Dorling Kindersley label, called "Smartsteps" for kindergarten through second grade. Grolier has come out with its Millennium Encyclopedia edition.
Reminder: All video games are labeled for their content: Everyone, Teen, and Mature.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society