Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #27
Moving on with the EGM Re-Cap to Issue 27. The cover of this issue features “Super Mario Brothers 4”, which would be later released as Super Mario World, as well as screen shots of Terminator 2 Arcade and the Lucasfilm Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back games (Lucasarts hadn’t officially been formed yet). Our page count for this issue is taking us to the 200 page area.
The first ad of the issue is Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge for the Game Boy. Whether fortunately or unfortunately, this is one of the Castlevania games that has been removed from the canon, followed by an ad for F-15 Strike Eagle for the NES – most of my prior experience with actual fight sims on the NES demonstrated that the NES didn’t work for that genre at all. We get an ad for “Treasure Master,” another NES game – with one of the hooks for the game is that if you beat the game you get a password you can use to enter in a drawing to win fabulous prizes like tickets to a concert or sporting event of your choice, a fully outfitted entertainment center (which, going by the description, would have been pretty good rig up until HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, at which point you’d have to replace the TV with one that had HDMI connections)
Insert Coin: Ed Semrad hypes the longer page count, and comments that it’s going to get longer. They’re adjusting with the times, but they consider themselves ahead of the game with regards to the competition. Apparently game publishers have gotten a little more forgiving with regards to negative review scores thanks to the popularity of game rentals. Though, once upon a time I recall that video game publishers and developers viewed game rentals with the same degree of doom and gloom that they view used game sales with now. The difference being that digital distribution was highly impractical and there was no way to put muscle on retailers to get them to stop renting games, particularly since the retailers had already told the movie industry what to do about their complaints on movie rentals.
Ad for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I think one of the first god-awful licensed movie games, as in an abomination in the eyes of God level bad.
Interface: We get letters asking about why excluding Canadian readers from contests (they don’t) and asking about the differences between the Super Famicom and the SNES, specifically referring to the pin configuration (it’s identical, though the cartridge shape will be different so you may need to shave some off the Super Famicom carts to get them to fit. We also get praise for their coverage of the Mega-CD/Sega CD from last issue, as well as their TurboGrafx-16 insert.
Ad for Super R-Type, the SNES port of R-Type 2, as well as the Game Boy ports of R-Type and Kung Fu Master.
Review Crew: The Crew this month is Steve Harris, Ed Semrad, Martin Alessi, and Sushi-X
Snow Brothers (NES – Capcom): Something of a puzzle platformer from Capcom. Steve and Martin both give it a 6, commenting on similarities to Bubble Bobble, though Steve thinks the game gets monotonous after a while, and Martin isn’t too impressed with the graphics and sound, even for the NES. Ed and Sushi both think it’s a good piece of mindless entertainment, with Sushi drawing some parallels to Mega Man – 7. Overall score – 26/40.
Frankenstein (NES – Bandai): Adventure-Platformer. IIRC this ended up on an episode of Angry Video Game Nerd. The scores aren’t totally awful. Steve, Ed and Sushi give the game a 6, and Martin gives it a 5, but all their points are the same – the game is incredibly average in almost every single respect. Overall score of 23/40.
MicroMachines (NES – Camerica): Racing game – I think I remember playing this one in grade school. The game gets an 8 from Steve, Ed, and Sushi because it controls well and is exciting to play. Martin says the same thing but only gives it a 6. Overall – 30/40.
Bo Jackson Baseball (NES – Data East): You remember Bo Jackson, the Football player who was also playing pro baseball as well (and wasn’t particularly that great at it). Sushi, Martin, and Steve give it a 4, with Sushi giving the box-quote, “Bo Don’t Know Video Games!” due to the poor graphics, sound and controls. Ed gives it a 5, citing redundancy as it’s main fault, saying that you don’t need to put out a new sports game every year – ahh… the naive days before EA put out Madden every year.
Super Spy Hunter (NES – Sunsoft): I’m kind of surprised to see 8-bit games on a Nintendo platform with “Super” in the name, especially considering the number of games that would come after the SNES came out with “Super” in the name. 8s from Ed and Sushi, citing running into the limitations of the 8-bit hardware. 7s from Steve and Martin, commenting that the graphics look kind of washed out, or “Pastel” as Martin puts it (well, it isn’t the ’80s anymore.)
Star Wars (NES – Lucasarts): Real mixed bag of reviews for this action-platformer. Sushi-X gives it an 8, but all he says to justify the score is that the game is “hot”, and he’s a big fan of the movies. Steve gives it a 7, citing the combination of RPG elements as well as various other themes making for a solid game. Martin gives a 6, finds the side-scrolling action sequences lacking, commenting that it’s “a good cart but lacks elements that wold make it a great cart.” Ed gives it a 4, finding the game to monotonous, and lacking in almost every regard the magic from the movie. I wonder what they would have thought of the unreleased-in-the-US Taito Star Wars game? Overall – 25-40.
Impossimole (TG-16 – NEC): Looks like it’s a mascot-based action-platformer. Ed and Steve give it a 5, Steve saying it lacks personality, and Ed commenting that it’s too easy for long-term players, too hard for kids. Admittedly, I don’t know game development logic, but that doesn’t sound like an entirely horrible place to be in, all things considered. Anyway, Martin and Sushi give the game a 3, due to the imprecise controls, combined with the difficult jumping (which is actually more damning than Ed and Steve’s criticisms). Overall – 16/40.
Raiden Triad (Genesis -Micronet): Raiden II, on a Neo Geo machine, thought it was a gorgeous Shump. All 4 members of the crew say the game is unoriginal. However, Ed and Steve say it’s still gorgeous on the Genesis, and very nicely balanced and give it an 8. Martin gives it a 7, feeling like it was toned down too much from the arcade version, particularly the difficulty (was the game re-balanced for the Genesis?). Sushi-X can’t get past the lack of originality, and gives the game a 6. Overall score – 29/40.
Speedball 2 (Genesis – Arena): Futuristic sports game, and a port from the PC. Sushi criticizes this game for lack of creativity, and Ed criticizes it for poor presentation and they both give it a 5. Steve and Martin expand on that, citing poor control, and no music whatsoever, and give it a 4. I predict that Sushi’s head will explode when the second Madden game comes out. Overall – 18/40.
Home Alone (Game Boy – THQ): Behold the rise of the crappy movie licensed games. Again, Ed and Sushi give the game a 5, Ed saying the game needed better control and more variety, and Sushi calling it all-around average, saying that a funny and successful movie like Home Alone needs a better licensed game. The thing is, I don’t know how you might be able to do a good Home Alone game. Not that it can’t be done, but it would be really hard. Steve finds the game slow, tedious and not very funny, and gives it a 4. Martin is less forgiving, giving it a 3, due to bad music and the game as a whole needing more work. Overall – 17/40.
A.P.B (Lynx – Atari): The general consensus here is that the game has decent gameplay, mediocre graphics, and a poor presentation due to the limitations of the Lynx. Steve, Ed and Sushi give the game a 6, while Martin gives the game a 5. Overall – 21/40.
We’ve got an ad for Actraiser for the SNES (the first SNES games I’ve seen advertised), and Dragon Quest-er-Warrior III for the NES.
Quartermann: Everyone’s favorite Video game dirt-digger and rumor-monger is back.
Only the first wave of SNESs will have 100% compatibility, done as – Q-Mann says “a poke in the eye” but a middle finger would work too – to importers. Miss! Throughout the SNES’s lifespan, the US and Japan shared a common region, with the main barrier stopping users from using Japanese carts on their US system being the cart design.
Sony Imagesoft yoinked some of Capcom’s talent for their game adaptation of “Hook”. I can’t find anything to confirm or deny this, so I’m calling it a Hit! For now.
There will be different publishers for the Batman 2 (Batman Returns) licensed movie games for the SNES and Genesis. Konami will be publishing on the SNES, Sega will be publishing for the Genesis. Hit! The Konami version of the game will be the best received – until the Sega CD version is released.
Ninja Gaiden 3 will be released for the Lynx – Hit!
Overall, 4 at-bats and 3 hits for 75% accuracy. Not bad.
Electronic Gaming Express: New column (sort of). We have a article about, basically, Game Gear, Game Boy and Atari Lynx “wide-bodies” designed to be hooked up to a TV screen either for testing games in progress or demonstrating games for the system at a retailer. This concept would become popular enough for Nintendo to put out the Super Game Boy, as well as a similar peripheral for the Game Cube – as yet no peripheral along those lines has been put out for the DS, and Sony with their later PSP would have the functionally included out of the box in their PSP – no bulky hardware required.
We get an ad for Videomation – THQ’s new paint program for the NES – Mario Paint had yet to come out.
International Outlook: For the PC Engine CD-Rom we get previews of fantasy action game Valis 4, which looks interesting, which (at least on the PC Engine) features fully animated and voiced cutscenes. From some research the game series was decent, if handled properly (in other words, not making it end up like X-Blades) it could stand a revival. We then have Prince of Persia also for the PC Engine CD-ROM, which is basically a port with updated graphics and sound. We have a preview for Detonator Orgun (misspelled as Detonator Organ) for the Mega Drive CD/Sega CD, which is an visual novel video-game adaptation of the anime – thanks to the rise of the CD-Rom, we’ll also be seeing the rise of the Console Visual Novel. We also have a preview of shump “Steel Empire” for the Mega Drive. We also get screen shots of Forgotten Worlds Deluxe for the PC Engine CD-Rom, which looks like an expanded version of the original shooter. Rastan is being ported from the Master System to the Game Gear – eventually the ports will go the other way. Mega Drive/Genesis is also getting Alisia Dragoon, another fantasy beat-em-up, and the Game Gear is getting it’s first RPG, Eternal Legend. The Game Boy is getting a horse racing game, Winner’s Horse. Mega Drive/Genesis is getting an upgraded port of a Master System game – Fantasy Zone, re-titled “Super Fantasy Zone”
We get an ad for the Light Boy, one of the first 3rd party peripherals to address the original Game Boy’s poorly lit screen, as well as a carrying case to help you store your Game Boy, Light Boy, additional batteries, an AC adapter, and extra game carts.
Feature Preview – Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Arcade): We get a preview of the upcoming light gun game, as well as the upcoming pinball table. That’s right, we’re getting a preview of a pinball table. When was the last time you saw that happen in any magazine, much less a video game magazine. Now, I haven’t played T2 Arcade myself, but I’ve seen the machine and it looked like a lot of fun, and actually I wouldn’t mind seeing the game on the Wii’s Virtual Arcade channel. If they were to toss in the unit art, as well as the promotional flyers, the better (and all the other bells and whistles that MAME supports). The preview hypes the use of models and video from the movie in the game. I must admit, when I first saw the game, Mortal Kombat, which used similar technology was already out, so I didn’t think much of it. However, this is coming out before Mortal Kombat, which makes the use of video more significant – tech-wise.
Super Famicom Times: We get a preview of Fantasy beat-em-up Musha, which looks interesting.
We get an 4-page fold-out ad for the Genesis ports of Hardball, Star Control, and new titles Turrican, Onslaught, and Mike Ditka’s Power Football (with cover art by Boris Vallejo).
Sega Times: This is, basically an advertising insert, made by the EGM staff – it’s different from the Super Famicom times due to having a distinct and separate cover and page count. For the record, I’m not a fan of inserts, particularly ones like this – not just because it makes formatting these recaps a little difficult, but also because the content is questionable, in terms of it’s reliability – I’ve always associated them with advertising, instead of actual journalism. Anyway, the section is lead off with a letter from Thomas J. Kalinske, CEO of Sega (Mr. Kalinske has since become Vice Chairman of the board of Leapfrog Enterprises). Next we get an ad for Toejam and Earl. Next is basically a list of all the platforms that Sega has put out. We then get an ad for Atari/Tengen’s various releases for the Genesis. Next is a list of “Genesis Classics”, basically a list of most of the games in the Genesis Catalog, thus far, sorted alphabetically.
And in the middle of this, we get a two-page ad for what has now become the longest running franchise in the history of sports gaming – Electronic Arts’ John Madden Football, which does not yet have a date on it, and at this time has not traded in his coaches headset (if he’s got a coach’s headset) for an announcer’s headset. Of note we also get a two-page ad for a space sim/strategy game called Starflight, with the ad featuring art that looks like it’s by Vincent Di Fate. We get a preview of some upcoming Sega titles, none of which really stand out. We then get an insert for Sega Games from Renovation. That’s right, we have an insert for an insert. Lame. The style of this is different as well, reminding me a lot of Die Hard Game Fan. We get previews of El Viento, from Wolfteam (one of DHGF’s favorite game developers), Wind Rush, Final Zone, Dino Zone (a pinball game), Gaires (shump), Arcus Odyssey (Isometric action fantasy game), Gain Ground (Action/Evasion strategy game), Granada (Shump), Beast Warriors (Isometric fighting game), Master of Monsters (fighting & strategy game hybrid), Valis III, Arrow Flash (shump), Syd of Valis (a spinoff of the Valis series with super deformed characters and a sense of humor), Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (action-RPG), Vapor Trail (shump).
We get an ad for Valis III which looks really bad, as does the US Box art, which features a character who looks absolutely nothing like the game’s protagonist. And… we are out of the insert. We continue going through EGM’s list of upcoming titles, and then get another insert-within-an-insert, for titles from Treco Games?!
So, once that insert ends the Sega insert carries on with it’s previews. We also get a 3-page ad (presumably with 1 fold out page) for Road Rash. Whatever happened to that franchise. Considering how everyone else is resuscitating old franchises, you’d think someone would want to bring back Road Rash, presuming that Wheelman doesn’t scratch the relevant car-combat-and-racing-mix. We then move on to the new model of the Master System, the Master System II, and the upcoming games for that. We also get as part of the insert a comic, made in-house at EGM, giving the back-story for “Sonic The Hedgehog” – it’s probably reasonable to assume that it’s non-canon. Alright, we’re finally out of the insert.
Next Wave: And now we get to the proper previews! Enix is bringing Dragon Quest III to the US as Dragon Warrior III. Hal is putting out shump Hyper Zone for the SNES, adventure game Day Dreaming Davey for the NES, and action-platformer Darkman.
We have our first ad (that I’ve seen) for the Neo Geo. Arcade-quality ports, at an arcade cost.
Moving on, Sunsoft has platformer Uforia and Electrobrain has action-platformer Ghoul School for the NES. For the TurboGrafx, NEC is making action game “Silent Debuggers”, and Working Designs has action-platformer Kadash. Oh, and by action-platformer, I’m referring to games like Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, or Metroid, where combat is a bigger element of gameplay than, say, Super Mario Brothers or Sonic The Hedgehog.
Anyway, THQ is doing movie-to-game adaptations of Home Alone (reviewed this issue) and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes for the Game Boy.
Next, we move on to Tricks of the Trade. This isn’t an April issue, so there isn’t anything particularly of note here in terms of the cheats and tricks, in terms of things I need to recap. There’s still some useful stuff here (like the 99 lives glitch from Super Mario World). Normally I don’t mention the ads for retailers, but we get an ad here for a retailer by the name of Die Hard which specializes in only selling import days. Ahh, the halcyon days when you could import games from Japan and run them on your console without needing a mod chip (which, thanks to the DMCA, and attempts by publishers to stop game importing, is illegal).
Finally, now move on to our multi-page previews/reviews. I really don’t see a reason to have these separate from the Review Crew segments, but they’re not going to do this differently for quite some time. Well, I understand having them somewhat separate because each one is a mini-strategy guide. But anyway, after that we get maps of the first two zones of Sonic The Hedgehog (Green Hill Zone and Marble Zone), and that’s the end of the issue.