Dennou Senki Net Merc

From Sega Retro


Dennou Senki Net Merc
System(s): Sega Model 1
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Number of players: 1
Release Date RRP Code
Arcade (Model 1)
¥? ?

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Dennou Senki Net Merc[2] (電脳戦記ネットマーク) is an arcade game developed by Sega with assistance from UK-based Virtuality. It is the only game created for the Sega Net Merc (セガ ネットマーク) system (a Sega Model 1 arcade board adapted for virtual reality), so the two are often used interchangably.


Dennou Senki Net Merc is an on-rails shoot-'em-up game, in which players use a large gun controller to fire at enemies. Being a virtual reality game, players are also given a VR headset (a "MVD" or "Mega Visor Display"[3], similar to those found in the VR-1), allowing for their head movements to be tracked in real time and therefore see a full 360 degree view of their surroundings.

Players are always stood facing in one direction behind the gun controller during gameplay. The complex nature of the system means that a member of staff was usually on hand to assist users with the headset.

The Sega Net Merc system consists of a Mega Visor Display being attached to a 3SPACE ISOTRAK II[4] head and motion tracker and a specialised cabinet.



Since its conception in 1985, Virtuality had been exploring the commercial use of virtual reality for several years when the Net Merc project began, and had already seen a great deal of success with its 1000CS and 1000SD systems in the early 1990s. Though the games were often primitive, Virtuality machines were an enticing prospect for arcade venues on the decline, and were well received by the general public, who until this point had largely been unaware of the concept. Virtuality was one of the driving forces behind the early 90s VR craze, likely even inspiring Sega of America's own VR attempt with the Sega VR in 1993.

However, while accepted by the public at the time, the 1000 series was restricted by the technology, being powered by Amiga 3000 computers and running, on average, at about 20FPS with a low screen resolution. While the 1000 series was able to convey a virtual world, the world was small, consisting of flat shaded polygons and simple geometry. The 2000 series was able to address some of these concerns by switching to Intel 486 IBM PC compatibles in 1994 (followed by the lesser-known Pentium-based 3000 series).

As evidenced by the likes of Virtua Racing and Virtua Fighter, the signficiantly more expensive Model 1 board could produce higher resolution graphics and more polygons than most PCs at the time, all while maintaining a 60FPS frame rate. The Net Merc project was a combination of Virtuality's previous VR technologies and Sega's once-cutting edge arcade board.

The project was developed in the offices of Sega AM3, with two programmers (Andy Reece and Stephen Northcott, a former programmer at Incentive Software) and two artists from Virtuality in the UK. Roughly 70 units made it into production, the vast majority of which never left Japan.

Dennou Senki Net Merc first appeared in public at the Amusement Machine Show 1994 as TecWar,[5] before re-appearing at AOU Show 1995. It is thought to have changed its name to avoid potential conflicts with William Shatner's TekWar novels (and subsequent video game).

However, by 1995 the relatively simplistic graphics generated by the Model 1 board (compared to say, the Sega Model 2 game Sega Rally Championship which was also on show at AOU 1995) were seemingly not well received[6], and while the game made it into production, it is not considered to have been as popular or influential as Virtuality's earlier works.

The 3SPACE ISOTRAK II was manufactured by Polhemus Inc.[7] a technology company specialised in motion tracking that was founded in 1969 by Bill Polhemus[8]. Originally known as Polhemus Navigation Sciences[9]), it was based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before moving in early 1971 to the town of Colchester, Vermont.

Magazine articles

Main article: Dennou Senki Net Merc/Magazine articles.

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External Links


Sega VR Games
VR-1 | Dennou Senki Net Merc
Sega Mega Drive
Nuclear Rush | Iron Hammer | Matrix Runner | Outlaw Racing