PlayStation2: The future of online gaming

The 27 titles due out this month in Japan range from the curiously bland Let's Play Mah-jong to the very different Drum Mania and Stepping Selection, and the unique real-time simulation game, Kessen.

Drum Mania is a music simulation title that comes with its own electronic drum kit. Anybody who has ever fancied themselves as a drummer in a famous band can now test their skills by playing with some of the world's best groups, just by following the prompts on-screen. And while the drummers are thumping away at their plastic kit, the would-be dancers can be going through contortions following the music in Stepping Selection. This dance karaoke title comes with a map covered with half a dozen or more coloured pads on which the player must step in time with the music video running on-screen. If you get sick of the music on one disk, don't despair: there will be plenty more disks to choose from once you get back from the chiropractor.

Kessen is a strategy game set in ancient Japan and is based around forces of mounted warriors. While the player can manoeuvre their forces from the usual top down perspective until the battle begins, once the fight is engaged the action takes place at ground level with each of the fighters on horseback. The action includes jousting, sword fighting and a range of other actions designed for the battle.

New games are expected to come thick and fast. Seven new titles were announced at the festival including Onimusha, Maximo, Extermination, Dark Cloud, L'Arc-en-Ciel, Dead or Alive 2, and Armoured Core 2. By the time PS2 is released in Australia in the run-up to Christmas, there will be many more titles, including some developed in Australia. An Adelaide-based developer recently signed a $5.5 million deal to develop two as-yet unnamed titles for Sony Computer Entertainment.

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David Hellaby

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