Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #2

Alright, and now we begin with Issue 2 of EGM, where some giant steps have occurred with the magazine bringing it towards the format which we’ve all come to know and love. Just a quick mention on the masthead changes before we go to the cut – Ed Semrad is now an associate Editor, and they’ve changed how the game reviews work by rather than separating the reviewers by console, they’re separating them into a console group and a PC group. The Console group is made up of Donn Nauert, Jim Allee, Ed Semrad and EIC Steve Harris. The PC group is made up of Brad Andrews, David Harris, Brad Walker, and K. C. Maxwell. Oh, and now the US National Video Game Team are now the only Strategy Consultants (though, on the other hand, maybe their previous strategy consultants who weren’t on the US National Video Game Team joined the team).

Normally I won’t comment on the ads for this, but I want to mention that the first two pages of the magazine, as soon as you open it, are a big ad for Tengen games, with the familiar black cartridge design without the Nintendo Seal of Quality. The schism has occurred!

Insert Coin – Brief editorial telling us about the fantastic changes in the magazine.

Letters – We get a letter asking for more details on the Mega Drive, Super Famicom, and PC Engine. Funny you should ask, we have a whole feature article on the next generation of gaming consoles! Also, we get a request for hits and tips for Mega Man 2, and questions about whether the Chip release is bogus or not. No the chip shortage is not bogus, and there’s a 2 page strategy guide in this issue.

Review Crew – Finally, the video game reviews have adopted the Famitsu format of 4 reviewers each scoring the game on a 1-10 ratio. The Review Crew is the Console Group, so – let’s run down the reviewed games.

  • NES Games:

    • Guerrilla War – Top-down shooter in the vain of Ikari Warriors by SNK. Steve thought it was too easy because of the unlimited continues but gives it a 7. Ed liked it and gave it a 7. Donn thought it was easy as well and also poo-poos the unlimited continues and gives it a 6. Jim liks it and his only gripe is some screen flicker and gives it a 7. Oddly, they rate the difficulty for the game as “Average”. Anyhoo, overall score for the game is 27/40.

    • Ironsword: Wizards and Warriors II – Steve likes it despite some precise jumping puzzles – 7. Ed feels it’s better than Wizards & Warriors I in every respect – 8. Donn, like Steve finds the jumping to be a fault but still thinks it’s good – 7. Jim still has problems putting his negative thoughts into words, he finds no fault but stops short of giving it an 8, giving it a 7. The overall score of the game is 29/40.

    • Fester’s Quest – We’ve got our first negative review! Steve’s review is basically it’s not an exceptional game and gives it a 5. Actually, it gets 5s across the board with the primary gripe being pain-in-the-ass boss fights with skippable-to-easy regular enemies. Overall score of 20/40. The Angry Video Game Nerd spent most of an episode with his game, though his views on the game differs from the EGM staff’s views. The video is here.

    • Mega Man 2 – Across the board 8s. Jim thinks the game is easier than the first one, as does Donn. Ed feels that it’s harder than the first game though. Overall score of 32/40.

    • The Three Stooges – Basically this is a collection of mini games, which was little out of the ordinary at the time, as opposed to now, where they’re insanely common on Nintendo consoles. Ed loved it and gave it an 8. Jim thought it was okay and gave it a 7. Steve and Donn are indifferent and gave it a 6. Overall score of 27/40.

    • Adventures of Lolo – Opinions are generally favorable, with 7s from Steve and Jim, and 8s from Ed and Donn. They don’t particularly have anything unfavorable to say about it. Overall score of 30/40.

    • Operation Wolf – One of the first arcade light-gun games comes to the NES. The general view from everyone except Ed is that the game controls better if played with the controller instead of the Zapper. Ed, on the other hand, prefers the Zapper. Just as a note to explain this – Operation Wolf had two control schemes, both of which used a controller – Joystick mode, which uses the controller to move the cross-hairs and fire guns and throw grenades, and Gun mode, where you fire with the Zapper and use a controller plugged into the system to throw grenades. Anyway, Ed gave it a 7 and everyone else gave it a 6, with an overall score of 25/40.

    • Q*Bert – It’s Q-Bert. Steve adores this game and gives it a 7. Everyone else is not impress and is particularly disappointed with only having one screen. Ed gives it a 3, Donn and Jim give it 4s, for a overall score of 18/40.

    • Mappyland – Mascot platformer. The scores are an odd mix again. Ed gives it a 4, primarily due to the game’s kiddy theme, saying that the game would not be fully appreciated by those under 16 (his words). Donn and Jim give it a 6, Donn faulting it for the pacing, Jim for the graphics. Steve gives it a 7, with his main concern being the ease of the game. Overall score of 23/40.

    • Flying Dragon – A beat-em-up from Culture Brain. The game is excoriated for washed out graphics and poor control, except for Donn, whose review is, in it’s entirety, and I quote “Just another karate game.” 4 from Steve, 5 from Ed, 4 from Donn, 5 from Jim, with a overall of 18.

    • Hydlide – A role playing game from FCI. Steve isn’t the biggest fan of RPGs but doesn’t think it’s all bad and gives it a 5. Ed can’t remember what the game was about but he liked it more than Steve and gives it a 6. Another 6 from Donn who finds it rather grindy, and Jim gives it a 5, saying he found it confusing. Overall score of 22/40.

  • Sega Master System:

    • Alex Kidd in High Tech – Steve found it way too slow and tedious and gave it a 5, everyone else liked it and gave it a 7 – overall score of 26/40.

    • Reggie Jackson Baseball – Everyone liked this and I have to say the screen shot they used looks good. Steve, Ed and Donn gave it a 7, Jim gave it a 6 though I can’t see from his review what he saw in his game that made him like it less than the other four, though Jim specifically mentioned the aluminum bat sound effect. Anyway, overall score is 27/40.

    • Galaxy Force – It’s a 2 & ½ D fighter game ala After Burner. Ed liked though he thought the technical limitations of the Master System hamstrung the game, and the other reviewers agree, though all four reviewers disagree on what technical limitations were the problem. Steve gives a 6, Ed gives a 7, Donn and Jim give 5s for a total of 23/40.

Next Wave – The games being covered this time is Double Dragon II, which is being released by Acclaim this time instead of Tradewest, POW from SNK, Thundercade from Sammy, and Super Dodgeball from CSG Imagesoft (affiliate of Sony).

Press Start – Still parroting press releases, the most notable of which being Beeshu’s ambidextrous arcade stick, the Gizmo. What the hell ever happened to Beeshu? If anyone knows what happened to them, post something in the comments.

Gaming Gossip – More rumors from the Q-Mann. Some of his rumors will be covered elsewhere in the magazine, but I’m going to count those anyway. NEC is re-naming the PC Engine (calling it the TurboGrafx 16, the Mega Drive is being called the Genesis, and American Technos is going with Acclaim to handle the US release of Double Dragon 2. So, we’re at 3-0 to start. A US release of Dragon Quest is rumored, scheduled for December ’89 – Nintendo will not confirm or deny (this does come out with a name change to Dragon Warrior, 4-0). The epic saga of Tengen and Nintendo continues – while Tengen has cracked Nintendo’s authentication scheme and has secured the ability to manufacture and distribute their own NES games without the Seal of Approval – Nintendo is now trying to rip Tetris out from under them, and they’re going out to Russia to get it (5-0). Finally, there are rumors of a NES game based on Total Recall being made – 6-0, and the game is bad. Just ask Seanbaby. So, Q-Mann got 100% today, with an overall score of 11-1.

At The Arcades – This week the arcade release of Tetris from Atari gets covered.

We finally get an untitled feature with the technical details of the Super Famicom, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and Turbografx 16. The coverage is fairly thorough and technical – but that’s all they’ve really got are technical specs, as no games for those systems are out yet. They cover the Konix Slipstream as well but as I mentioned for last issue’s recap, it didn’t come out. They’ve got a nice picture of their force-feedback chair though.

Dare to Compare – This time they’re comparing peripherals, the Power Glove and the Broderbund U-Force. Basically they are described as being “different” for both better and worse. I’ve already posted the link to the Power Glove episode of AVGN last issue, so I won’t post that one again. However, I will point you toward the AVGN episode covering other NES peripherals, including the U-Force, which you can find here.

Tricks of the Trade – Basically this is a cheat column, with strategies for Mega Man 2, including the recommended boss order. They’ve also got strategy guides and level maps for Guerrilla War, Gyruss (with boss strategies for just about all the bosses), Stealth ATF, Ultima, Altered Beast, Kings Quest and Vigilante. Finally we get our PC reviews, which don’t use the Review Crew system or the Direct Hit-Near Hit system from last issue. So, they appear to have liked TV Sports Football, Test Drive II, and they seemed indifferent to Galactic Conquerors and they liked Combat Course.

And that’s Issue 2 of EGM. We finally have the formation of the Review Crew, in it’s original lineup. They’re still covering PC Games, only now without any sort of scoring at all. Also, we’ve got Ed Semrad now on the Editorial staff. EGM has become recognizable for the format that we’ve come to know and love.