Cast your dreams aside, temporarily

 

While the Japanese can enjoy playing Sega's new 128-bit Dreamcast console, the rest of us must wait until next year before we get our hands on it. Until then we have to make do with what we've got. Not that there's much to complain about - the IBM compatible PC, the Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 all provide excellent platforms for play. Not everyone will agree with the Nintendo 64's inclusion, but it sure beats Sega's currently available machine. Manufacturers often go on about the technical brilliance of their machines, but it counts for nothing if there are only 10 games available to play on it.

There have been many good games this year, some brilliant ones, and the odd turkey. There are undoubtedly more good games than bad, but who wants good games when you can have great ones? Here are just a few to float down the chimney:

Quake II was released quite early on in the year, but it's still the benchmark for first person shoot 'em ups. If you have the facility to play it in multiplayer mode over the Internet, it really comes into its own. Other competitors in this field are Unreal and the recently released Half Life. Of similar single player games, however, Goldeneye on Nintendo 64 is perhaps the greatest ever. Its interactive environment, with real James Bond style missions, won international attention. While Nintendo doesn't have as many games to offer as the PC or PlayStation, this game, along with a few others, proves that when Nintendo does get it right, the results are unequalled.

For fans of motor sport, there are first class games available on both the Playstation and PC. These include Gran Turismo, Toca Touring Cars 2, Colin Mcrae Rally, F1 '97, F1 '98 and the Need for Speed III. All of these are superb. All involve simulation, with the emphasis on realism rather than arcade fun, except for the Need for Speed III, in which you have to outrun the cops in your choice of supercar.

Tekken 3 and Mortal Kombat 4 are among the better beat 'em up games of the year, with Tekken 3 perhaps winning out on points.

Final Fantasy VII was probably the most talked about role-playing game of the year. It has a compelling story-line took forever to complete. The Legend of Zelda on Nintendo (released December 11th) is another role-playing game and was one of the most anticipated releases ever. For action, adventure and the odd fright, Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation is superb, but definitely not for the squeamish. Tomb Raider III featuring Lara Croft is released on both PC and Playstation and it's a sure-fire hit if ever there was one.

Football fans can choose from playing on the field with FIFA '98: Road to the World Cup, the more recent FIFA '99 or take more of a backseat and handle things off the field in Premier Manager. Links LS 1999 is a must-have for golfers, as is Everybody's Golf on PLaystation. For younger game-players, Spyro the Dragon on PlayStation is a real gem, and Banjo Kazooie on Nintendo was among the best. On PC, Hercules and other Disney titles are nearly always great fun. For kids with rhythm, Parappa the Rappa is pretty groovy.