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MODEL KOMBAT; New weapon launched in computer game war.

Nintendo last night unveiled its next generation N64 console, sparking a computer games price war.

Market leader Sony immediately hit back, saying it will slash the price of the best-selling PlayStation by pounds 70 to pounds 129.99 later this month.

Experts say the N64 gives Nintendo's SuperMario character the cutting edge in the battle for the pounds 10billion video games market. The pounds 250 machine is twice as powerful as its rivals, creating far more realistic 3D graphics.

Computer games fans will be rushing to the shops today as N64 goes on sale across Britain. But many will be disappointed as only 20,000 are available.

One expert said: "It will be a Buzz Lightyear syndrome."

Nintendo have sold 4.5million N64s in America and Japan. But the makers cannot keep up with demand. Marcus Hawkins, editor of GamesMaster magazine, said: "The Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation have become mainstream.

"There is a lot of excitement about N64, but it will appeal more to the older, hardened games fan than to young kids.

"Price is going to be a major factor in the war between Nintendo and other manufacturers." The N64's cost has raised eyebrows. On top of the basic pounds 250, it is pounds 30 for an extra controller and up to pounds 70 for games.

Sony executives clearly hope their price-cutting strategy will be a winner. But one insider said the games market had reached saturation point.

The expert said: "So many games are on the Internet it's amazing. Technology will allow us to play complex games on our TVs in a few years."

NINTENDO 64

PRICE: The basic console costs pounds 249.99 with controllers to let up to four people play an extra pounds 30 each

AVAILABILITY: Limited, makers cannot match demand

GAMES: Only three so far, but graphics are superb

VERDICT: The 64-bit processor sets the standard

N64 REVIEWED

Games fan Jonathan Stewart has played the ``brilliant'' Nintendo 64.

The marketing executive, 28, said: "The games respond so quickly it's unbelievable. This new console really is 3D, it's the business.

"It is the first 64-bit console and you can really tell the difference. For years figures on the screen have looked like figures, now they look like real people. There's a real sense of perspective.

"I'm sure they'll come down in price but they're very expensive and there is a limit to the number of games you can play."

SONY PLAYSTATION

PRICE: Being cut to pounds 129.99

AVAILABILITY: Sony make a million every month.

GAMES: Plentiful, from pounds 20

VERDICT: Fighting to stay top

PLAYSTATION REVIEWED

Playstation will remain a favourite, says Jonathan Stewart.

He said: "It's been the business for so long, it's hard to know how the Rolls Royce of consoles is going to be beaten.

"There are tons of brilliant games that have great graphics and are easy to play. Kids love it. The games are easy to load and cheap to buy.

"If they're cutting the price it will be the machine to have.

"The N64 is so superior technically, but if you're talking about a console everyone can play then this is the one."
COPYRIGHT 1997 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:White, Stephen
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 1, 1997
Words:526
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