Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #3

EGM Issue #3 review

We’ve got our first Fabio cover, for Wizards and Warriors II: Ironsword, that is also their game of the month. Now, the game is surprised me as that was reviewed last month, which makes me wonder, somewhat, why they didn’t choose a game that was reviewed this month, but, anyway, let’s get started, shall we?

Insert Coin: EIC Steve Harris lets us know about even more changes. Specifically they’re dropping PC coverage entirely and “broadening their focus” to just video games, which I find an odd choice of words because, technically, that’s tightening their focus.

Letters: The letters are still carefully chosen. This time we’re getting a letter complaining about the coverage of PC games (that’s what hacker magazines are for), and for Nintendo games (that’s what Nintendo Power is for) and demanding more coverage of 3rd party consoles. Their response is diplomatic and repeats the dropping of coverage of PC games, and additional coverage of the new 16-meg consoles.

Review Crew: – Again, your review Crew is Steve, Ed, Donn and Jim.

  • NES:

    • POW: This is a bit of a shoot-em-up/beat-em-up from SNK, where you play as a, well, POW trying to escape from behind enemy lines. Steve gives props for the graphics, sound and level design, but is disappointed by the lack of multi-player and gives it an 8. Jeff feels that it’s the best brawler thus far this fall beside Double Dragon 2, yet it’s not spectacular (which says something about the competition) – 7. Donn and Jim also give it a 7, with Jim commenting on how repetitive the game is. Overall, it gets a 29/40.

    • Friday the 13th: A classic movie-to-game adaptation by LGM – classically bad! The Steve describes the game as boring and dull and gives it a 3. Ed’s harder on it with a 2. Jim and Donn are slightly more merciful and each give it a 4, for 13/40 overall. The AVGN doesn’t like it very much either.

    • Hoops: Probably one of the first street-ball games. Steve likes the more relaxed feel of the game, over pro basketball games – 7. Ed thinks it’s okay, but inferior to Double Dribble – 6. Donn agrees and adds that it’s hard to tell who has the ball when everyone’s up close – 6. Jim on the other hand finds it monotonous, cartoony, and all in all inferior to Double Dribble in just about every respect – 5. Overall score of 24/40.

    • The Guardian Legend: Adventure Game/Shooter hybrid. Steve thinks it’s above average – 6. Ed finds it to be a semi-derivative Blaster Master clown with shooter elements – 5. Donn finds the adventure elements drag the game on longer than it should have been – 6. Jim has the most favorable review and says the shooter and adventure elements are combined very well and gives them a 7. Both Jim, Steve and Ed compare it to a game called Zanac. I’ll have to check that out. Anyway, the overall score is 24/40.

    • Stealth ATF: Flight Sim ala Top Gun. Steve really hammers the game for the lack of realism, particularly with the graphics, and annoying music – 4. Ed is more forgiving, criticizing it more for the lack of variety – 6. Donn’s criticisms are that the game is very monotonous – 4. Jim basically criticizes it for all of the above – 3.

    • Airwolf: Licensed game based on the TV show – got 4’s across the board, primarily for the monotony. 16/40.

    • Thundercade: Shooter with a motorcycle. Steve comments that the graphics are fairly murky – 6. Ed also thinks it’s okay and gives it a 6 for the same reasons. Donn sort of agrees but also finds it rather short – 6. Jim finds the graphical limitations to be a deal breaker and gives it a5. Overall score of 22/40.

    • Super Dodge Ball: Basically you’re playing Dodge-ball in fancy arenas. Steve finds the graphics rough, the game easy, but liked the special moves – 5. Ed doesn’t like the game as much as Steve, faulting flicker and repetitive game-play – 3. Donn finds that the Power throws make the game too easy – 5. Jim played it in the arcades before playing it on the NES, and faults the power throws, but otherwise thinks it’s decent – 6. Overall – 19/40.

    • King’s Quest: A console port of the Sierra adventure game. Steve doesn’t like the genre anyway and the game doesn’t do anything to change his mind – 4. Ed likes it a helluva lot more, saying it’s easy for a vet, but great for the average player – 7. Donn also says it’s pretty good all around, but he doesn’t like it as much as Ed – 6. Jim finds it “a nice change from the typical RPG” (though I never considered it an RPG) – 7. Overall – 24/40.

  • Sega Master System:

    • Rastan: The Conan-esque action game from last issue. Gets 6’s across the board. Steve faults it for difficult controls, as does Jim. Ed and Donn basically average. 24/40 overall.

  • Sega Genesis:

    • Super Thunder Blade: Basically, it’s Afterburner with a helicopter. Steve finds the game to be tedious with sluggish controls and bad graphics – 5. Ed doesn’t like it much more, just 1 point more – 6. Donn also doesn’t like the graphics and brings up bad flicker problems in addition to the choppy graphics – 5. Jim must have been playing a different game, because he thought the game was awesome – and that the graphics in particular were spectacular, though he was having problems with the controls – 8. 24/40.

    • Space Harrier 2: Shooter – Steve considers it superior to the original Space Harrier but only in the sense of improved graphics and more levels – 6. Ed compares it favorably to Super Thunder Blade, but without the flicker, and gives it a 6. Donn liked it a lot and his only negative is the similarity to the first game – 8. Jim liked the game, but his main beef was that the game is shorter and easier than the first game – 7. Overall score is 27/40.

  • NEC Turbografx-16:

    • Vigilante: Brawler/shooter. Steve considers it a faithful translation of the arcade version for better or worse, as it’s short and easy, particularly with 3 continues – 7. Ed also says it’s a faithful port, but it’s still an average beat-em-up – 5. Donn and Jim both give it a 6, citing the ease and genericness of the game. Overall score of 24/40.

    • The Legendary Axe: Fantasy beat-em-up. Steve gives EGM it’s first 9, with nothing negative to say about the game whatsoever. Ed is a little harsher, but saying that it’s everything Rastan should have been – 8. Jim and Donn also give it a 8 for exactly the same reasons. Overall score of 33/40. This should have been Game of The Month instead of Ironsword, and it would definitely would have put a feather in the cap of the Turbografix-16.

  • Nintendo Game Boy:

      Super Mario Land: Steve likes it but faults it for being significantly shorter than Super Mario Bros – 8. Ed also gives it an 8, but without cited faults, as does Jim. Donn doesn’t list any faults either but gives it a 7 instead. Overall score of 31/40.

    • Alleyway: Breakout clone for the Game Boy. Steve thinks it’s okay, but thinks it needs power-ups (ala Arkanoid) – 6. Ed is not impressed and flat out suggests you should save your money – 3. Donn agrees with Steve’s review as is Jim, though Jim gives a 5, while Donn gives another 6. Overall 20/40.

    • Baseball: It’s a baseball game. Ed, Donn and Jim give it a 7, saying it’s good, though bare bones. Steve didn’t like it and considers it far too easy in addition to being feature light and gives it a 4. Overall score is 25/40.

Next Wave: Games being covered this time are Double Dragon 2, Twin Cobra, Ninja Gaiden 2. Master System gets Ultima IV, Scramble Spirit, & Dead Angle. Turbografx 16 games being previewed is R-Type, Deep Blue, and Dragon Spirit, all shooters.

Gaming Gossip: It’s time for Quartermann’s 3rd at-bat. As of last issue he was 11-1. First at bat is the rumor that Sega is losing Activision and Parker brothers as licensor for the Master System. I’m calling this one for Q-Mann as Parker Brothers left the video game industry entirely along with it’s parent company – Tonka, and Activision didn’t do any games for the Master System after this. (1-0). Atari’s purchase of Epix hand held system is mentioned, which became the Lynx. (2-0). Also, the lawsuit between American Tecnos and Acclaim vs. Tradewest over Double Dragon 2 has ben settled with Tradewest holding the rights for the first game, and the PC version of Double Dragon 2. According to Wikipedia,, though, Virgin Mastertronic handled the PC release, so I’m ruling against the Q-Man. (2-1). According to Q-Man, Nintendo snubbed the Super Famicom and poo-pooed 16-bit systems in general. I cannot yet get confirmation of this (if you know anything about this, lemmie know.), but I’ll give Q-Mann credit for this one. (3-1). Q-Mann considers Dragon Warrior to be inferior to Ultima – I’ll disagree, as at least in Dragon Warrior you can run away from the enemies! (3-2). Q-Mann also poo-poos Nintendo Tetris as being inferior to the Tengen Tetris, and reports that Nintendo is trying to take Tengen’s version off the shelves. (4-2). Nowhere near as good as his last outing, putting him overall at 15-3.

We now get one of our features, the preview of the Konix Slipstream, now called the Multi-System. As I’ve mentioned previously, this is vaporware – it never came out. We go a bit more into the technical specs – the system has 256k of Ram, running an Intel 8086 processor, which was used at the time for a lot of home computers. Games for the system would ship on floppy diskette as well, instead of a cartridge. As far as peripherals go, in addition to the force-feedback chair, the system ships with a configurable control rig with options for both a joystick and steering wheel (with pedals). Going from this, the similarities with the Phantom are more blatant, as the Phantom was also attempting to be a bit of a hybrid between the home console and the PC – a console you could play PC games on. As yet, they’re also both vaporware, unless the Phantom finally does come out (or, far more likely, some hobbyist decides to build a Konix Slipstream for shits and giggles).

International Outlook: This time they’re previewing Gradius 2 for the NES – not Lifeforce, but the real numbered sequel, with pictures of all the bosses, and news on a new feature in this game – the ability to set up your fighter’s load-out at the start of each level (which would later be used in, among other games, the SNES version of UN Squadron).

Tricks of the Trade: Aside from various one-off cheats and hints has strategy guides for POW, Wonder Boy II.

Game of the Month: For better or worse, Wizards and Warriors II gets its honors.

Behind the Screens: A new feature where EGM asks various representatives for 3rd party publishers the same question and gives their answer. This issue they’re asking them for their thoughts on the new consoles, particularly the Turbografx-16 and Genesis, that were unveiled at CES that year. Now, at the time this issue was published, Nintendo had not been sued for unfair business practices for manufacturing less cartridges for companies who made games for systems other than Nintendo systems, or otherwise crossed them, and they were currently in the process of making an example of Tengen by not only beating the living shit out of them in court, but also taking their biggest selling property – TET-Fucking-RIS from them. This is just following a CES where, according to Q-Mann, Nintendo publically poo-pooed 16-bit systems in general, hitting both Sega and Turbografx in one fell swoop. So, the publishers do the natural thing to do in a situation like this – not only do they kiss Nintendo’s ass, they use tongue. Seriously, their responses are practically all the same. In a nutshell they all are: “We are skeptical about the success of the Genesis and the Turbografx-16. If they get some good big-name titles from 3rd party publishers who aren’t us, then they may succeed. The Game Boy is a fantastic system and we eagerly anticipate developing for it. Not so much for the Lynx.” I’m kind of picturing the representatives looking like Tom Waits as Renfield from “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” screaming professions of loyalty to his master from the asylum cell.

We then get a series of previews for the upcoming games for the NES, Master System, Atari 7600, Turbografx-16, and Genesis. The NES gets in-depth previews of Super Sprint, Marble Madness and Skyshark. Master System gets Spellcaster and Wonder Boy III. Atari gets a port of Commando, Turbografx 16 gets The Legendary Axe (which was reviewed earlier this issue), and the Genesis gets a run down of the entire lineup.

At The Arcades: The game this month is “Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters,” which is abbreviated as EPROM. Clever… only not. Basically, it’s like a sci-fi Gauntlet. The issue is wrapped up with a new feature called Game Over, which has screen shots of a game’s ending cutscene. This time it’s Mega Man 2.