I remember the Summer of 1993 very well. It was when AM2 launched their first three revolutionary 3D titles across
arcades worldwide, starting with the legendary Virtua Racing and what has now become a religion: Virtua Fighter.
The Model 1 board was the best technology around, and, in the Torquay Summer heat, I pushed my way into the huge
arcades to try and get some of this AM2 hot stuff. Amongst the masses of 2D crap there I found these amazing titles
from Sega R&D: and the rest is history. All the best titles since that first Model 1 game have turned up on the Sega
Saturn, in one form or another. Virtua Racing was out by the following Summer on the Megadrive, and using the SVP chip
inside the game, the graphics were pretty special - for the Megadrive. Utilising the same principle as this 3D chip, Sega
released the 32X as an add-on for the Megadrive, and unsurprisingly, AM2's Virtua Racing appeared in a 'Deluxe'
incarnation. The 32X failed, however, because it was an add-on - and add-ons don't work for the mass market. And so
the Sega Saturn was released. I also distinctly remember the day of July 8, 1995. To the local Electronics Boutique
I trekked, and paid 400 smackers to get more of these awesome conversions - and to get my hands on Virtua Fighter,
which, until now, had been unavailable in the home. It was awesome. Although Virtua Racing turned up a little late,
and the conversion work was carried out by Time Warner Interactive (not AM2), Virtua Fighter delivered all the gameplay
of the arcade game, and the B-Univ music and crisp sound effects were mind-blowing. The graphics didn't quite match the
clean, solid polygon graphics in the Model 1 game, but I was quite happy to be playing VF in my home.
So what was next after the two Virtua games? Daytona USA, also around in that cool Summer season, came to the Saturn
with stiff competition in the form of Namco's Ridge Racer. Now, we all know that Namco's titles are shallow imitations
of Sega's stuff, but the Saturn Conversion of Daytona was proof that, at the end of the day, the Saturn was damn hard
to program for. The first Model 2 conversion for the machine, the on-screen palette was on the 'bright' side, the frame
rate sedated and the textures very low-res.