Trends Trends in technology
Cool games and auto gadgets. The season of gift-giving is just around the corner.

NNSL (OCT 28/96) - Kids - adults, too - are starting to drop hints about new video games, automobile equipment and that state-of-the-art screwdriver they just can't live without.

Soon you'll be strolling through the aisles, seeing little tots tugging at the hems of parents' jackets, begging them to buy Sega's new NHL '97.

Video equipment/Games

Pong was the first video game to hit the market in 1979. It involved swatting a rather slow-moving tiny square back and forth on a TV screen. Then Atari released a more high-tech model - the Atari 2600.

The worldwide popular Nintendo was released in the mid-1980s, followed by Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis in 1990.

That's when things in the video-game industry started to fly.

At birthday parties, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey was replaced with video-game competitions to see who was really the king of the video-game ring.

In the early days, graphics weren't astounding and the sound, well ... most games had the same monotonous bleep, except when you scored and the bleep got a little louder and faster.

In the past decade, video games and equipment have evolved rapidly and the age range of players has widened.

Video games now offer high-fidelity sound and three-dimensional graphics.

The hottest new system to hit the shelves is Nintendo 64.

"The Nintendo 64 is probably better in the long run for kids because it's cartridge-based and the kids can save games on the cartridge," said Dave Ramsay, owner of Microplay in Yellowknife.

The new machine came out about a month ago and Microplay has 300 back orders for Nintendo 64.

"We had 24 machines and they were sold in a couple of weeks. People were expecting the equipment for about a year and they knew when it arrived," said David Wowk of Microplay.

Earlier video game systems, such as Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation, had 32 bits of processing power. Nintendo 64 has, as the name implies, twice the power.

The control pad on Nintendo 64 has an analogue - or stick, which allows you to move 32 different ways, a quick-action trigger and four ports for the controllers, so you and three friends can play at once.

"SuperMario 64 and Pilot Wings 64 are the only two games now available for Nintendo 64. Cruising USA and Gretzky II are expected to be available soon and it's possible that eight to 10 games for the machine will be on the shelves before the end of the year," said Ramsay.

Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn are expected to release about 35 to 40 new games each by the end of the year.

This means that the number of available games will hover around the 150 mark.

Latest games blow your mind

These days you don't have to leave your chair to read a story, blow up a mountain or answer off-the-wall trivia.

That is, of course, if you have the latest and greatest versions of computer games and educational software.

A multitude of games, such as Quake and Doom, and interactive activities are available in stores and on the web.

The games on the web are often only simple versions, with a reduced number of levels. You have to purchase the complete versions.

"I think Quake will be one of the hottest-selling games this year," says Paul Cluderay of Microage.

"We ordered six copies of Quake and sold them in a couple of days and it's back-ordered nationally," he says.

"Quake has a medieval feel to it and it'll probably appeal to adolescent crowd."

Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and Trivial Pursuit have new versions available, but for those of you with an adventurous streak there's something new.

"You don't know Jack," is a adult trivia game with a different twist. The sound effects make you feel like you're on live TV with Pat Sajak and Vanna White.

The announcer's questions are peppered with sarcasm and the names of the categories and the questions are outrageous.

The categories include NASA and podiatry, oral hygiene and British landmarks, twelve arms and twelve legs and pre-juvenile delinquents.

This game is for those people whose sense of humor borders on the wild and wacky. Three people can play at once.

"Educational software has come a long way and the software by Broderbund is some of the best available for kids," says Cluderay.

Its line of Living Books is easy to follow and each page is interactive. You can even choose to sit and listen, rather than read.

The characters are colorful and, as the stories are read, words are highlighted. The stories can be read in English, Spanish and even Japanese.

Automobile Convenience
Remember the days when you had to wake up a half an hour earlier just to have enough time to pull on your winter wear, start the car, run back in the house, get ready, put on your winter wear again, and rush outside, only to discover the car stalled?

Well, you don't have to go through that any more with the new Remote Control Car Starter.

The product ensures your vehicle starts in sub-zero temperatures. And hey, you won't have to pay fees for plugging in your vehicle at work during winter any more.

Previously, command starts were available for automatic transmissions only. Now it's available for manual transmissions as well, in both fuel-injected and diesel vehicles.

"The difficulty with developing a command start device for manual transmissions was making sure that the vehicle wouldn't move when started when accidentally left in gear," said Jan Lavertu, general manger of Canadian Tire in Yellowknife.

A company called Prostart introduced the new remote-control car-starter in the spring of this year and it's got a number of new features, including an alarm and an anti-theft feature - the starter kill, which is armed or disarmed by locking or unlocking the door.

"We just installed our first one on a customer's car last week," said Lavertu.

"You need to have these professionally installed

and it takes a professional about six-and-a-half hours to complete the installation."

To purchase the device and have it professionally installed will cost you $499 at Canadian Tire.

And if you're into safety you'll want to pick up the new Autovox Auto Security System.

"The great thing about this new security system is that you have to get most systems professionally installed but this is one that you can install yourself," said Levertu.

"There's also a remote panic feature for your personal safety and as long as you have the clicker, you can set off the alarm," he said.

The system has a starter disabler and the vehicle can't be started when the system is armed.

So, if somebody breaks in, they won't be making a fast break with your car. You can purchase the alarm system for a cool $139.

Before you buy - give on-line a try

How many times in your life have you heard "Do your homework?"

What do you see? - Your mother standing over your shoulder with a stern look on her face or your prune-faced grade one teacher?

Well, doing your homework ain't a bad idea when buying computer software. Shopping around ensures you'll get what you want.

Now you can go on-line and download games, read reviews about new software and systems, get price listings, see what's coming soon and chat to fellow game-playing fanatics.

The best web site for getting information on games and systems is

This site offers news releases on the hottest games, reviews on games and video-game systems and tons of games to download. There's happypuppy news groups for those of you who'd like to chat with other game lovers.

Another web site for games is, which features puzzles, strategy, and action and adventure games from A to Z.

For parents and kids - check out

This site has oodles of shareware and freeware for kids, a dinosaur dictionary, time scavengers (famous events in history) and biographies of famous historical people.