Press release: 1997-08-05: Console Network Gaming Becomes A Reality -- Sega Saturn Net Link Games Now Shipping

From Sega Retro

This is an unaltered copy of a press release, for use as a primary source on Sega Retro. Please do not edit the contents below.
Language: English
Original source: (archived)


REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- (August 5, 1997) --
Sega® of America made video game history today announcing the release of the first next-generation console games to allow online play. "Sega Rally ChampionshipTM" and "Virtual OnTM" for Sega SaturnTM Net Link will be available starting August 5. Sega of America is the only company to offer an Internet-ready video game peripheral that allows users to play video games head-to-head online.

These first two games and the upgraded Internet browser will be bundled free with the Sega Saturn Net Link peripheral and the Sega Saturn Solution Pack at retail. The games and browser will also be available bundled together as a combined three-pack at Electronics Boutique (available now) and via Sega's 1-800-329-SEGA number (beginning August 15th) for $24.99.

"Net Link titles give Sega Saturn users a new way to enjoy our fast-action arcade-style games with their friends, whether they are next door or across the country," said Bernard Stolar, chief operating officer, Sega of America. "We've just taken in-home arcade gaming to the next level."

Net Link games boast fast frame rates (same as the stand alone versions), low latency (approximately 50 milliseconds) and high-speed full-screen action. Sega Saturn Net Link also offers players customized online World Wide Web-based game lobbies to assist with player matching, including a detailed user database called the Guest Book. Net Link-enabled titles allow players to taunt their opponents before and after gameplay using alias personas and code names which are displayed when an online game connection is established.

"Sega Rally Championship," the polygon-based 3D arcade smash hit, offers a two-player full screen racing challenge. Featuring four different courses, three hot cars and varied track surfaces, Sega Saturn Net Link players will feel the speed as their cars become airborne or fishtail in the loose gravel in this off-road racing game.

"Virtual On," the high-speed 3D robot fighting game, allows two players to run, fly and shoot heavy artillery or battle hand-to-hand in networked play. Players select from eight detailed polygon Cyber Troopers, each with its own weapons arsenal and special features. The game also includes 10 arenas, complete with barriers which players can use to hide behind and jump on to gain strategic advantage over the competition. Players can also customize the colors of their troopers to their liking, an option that was unavailable in the original version of the game.

Sega Saturn Net Link was launched in November 1996 as the only Internet-ready next generation video game console peripheral. Priced at $99.99, the Net Link peripheral allows for online gameplay and full Internet access, including World Wide Web searches, real time IRC chat, e-mail and a variety of other online services.

The updated Sega Saturn Net Link Web Browser is completely HTML 2.0 compatible and has improved keyboard functionality, including cursor key movement control and simplified keystroke interface. Other significant upgrade elements allow IRC chat, support for "frames" and the ability to e-mail "saved game" files to other Sega Saturn Net Link owners.

Sega Saturn Net Link has two preferred Internet service providers (ISPs), Mpath's WebBulletTM Internet Service and Concentric Network Corporation, and is also compatible with most standard ISPs. The updated browser disc will take users to the Concentric Network to become a registered member while any Sega Saturn Net Link game disc will bring users to the Net Link Zone where they have the option to register with WebBullet. Each Sega Saturn Net Link preferred Internet access partner offers gamers one free month of service, more than 200 local dial-up telephone numbers, and monthly rates of $19.95 for unlimited access. If Net Link users already have accounts with another ISP, it is not necessary to start a new account to play games.

Sega Saturn Net Link touts a 28.8 kbps modem with a newly-upgraded, custom-designed Internet browser optimized for television display. Today, there are more than 15,000 Sega Saturn Net Link units in use across the country.

Sega of America will release the following titles in 1997 for Sega Saturn Net Link: "Sega Rally Championship," "Virtual On," "Saturn BombermanTM," "Duke NukemTM 3D" and "Daytona® USA CCE."

Sega of America is the arm of Tokyo-based Sega Enterprises, Ltd., responsible for the development, marketing and distribution of Sega video game systems and software in the Americas. Sega Enterprises Ltd. is a nearly $3.6 billion company recognized as the industry leader in interactive digital entertainment media and is the only company that offers interactive entertainment experiences both inside and outside the home. Sega of America's World Wide Web site is located at