Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthy: Issue #33

The cover of EGM #33

The cover of EGM #33

So, continuing with my EGM Recaps, I move on to Issue 33, for April of 1992. For those whose calculators are broken, that would be a 6-issue gap from Issue 27. Once I get issues that will fill any of these gaps, I will fill them. This is, currently, the first Street Fighter 2 cover for any issue of EGM I’ve done thus far. Not too surprisingly the art is provided by Capcom. As an interesting touch, it shows Chun-Li fighting Blanka, with Ryu knocked out cold in the foreground. I say that’s notable, because most of the other Street Fighter games after Street Fighter 2 have featured Ryu standing triumphant, as basically the mascot for the franchise. The issue is about 165 pages long which is a bit of a step down.

Our first ad for the issue is for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Manhattan Project – which is the first TMNT game to be put out by Konami, as Konami, rather than through the Ultra brand, which Konami used as, basically, a shell company/label to get more games out through Nintendo’s draconian licensing projects (which I’ve discussed at length in previous reviews). We get another ad shortly afterwards which is notable in a different respect. We have an ad for M.C. Kids, from Virgin Interactive – which is ignoble because it is a McDonald’s licensed game for the NES – we are reaching that point in the NES’s lifespan where, basically, the development teams that made the Castlevanias and the Legend of Zeldas, and the other classics of the 8-bit generation, have moved on to the 16-bit machines, which is what needs to happen if the 16-bit generation is going to thrive. Well, you know it’s April, because they’re fucking with us already on the “Insert Coin” page – the staff list is entirely in Japanese. Not all Kanji (I’m seeing what I think is Katakana), but all Japanese characters. So, if there’s anyone new this issue, you’ll have to tell me. So, let’s move on to the actual content, shall we?

Insert Coin: Steve Harris writes to us this time about the future of the game industry, with the 16-bit systems that are already out, and the CD-Rom systems to come, such as the Sega Mega CD, the Sony Playstation, and the Nintendo CD-ROM (snicker).

We get our first 16-bit wrestling game from the WWF – WWF Super Wrestlemania. Ahh, the SNES, on which everything is Super.

Interface – Letters to the Editor: Our first letter has to do with game reviews, and why some games get reviewed and some don’t – Well, due to the bluntness of their review scores some publishers have started blacklisting them – and thus they don’t have those publishers games to review. We also get complaints about the delays for Zelda 3 (AKA Link To The Past). They are more polite than to say “bitch to Nintendo”, but they basically say “There’s nothing we can do.” We also get a letter singing the praises of the Action Replay.

We get an ad for the arcade machine of Street Fighter IV Champion Edition. Now with 4 new characters (including, I presume, M. Bison, Vega, and Balrog), as well as the ability for characters of the same type to fight each other. Ryu vs. Ryu. Ken vs. Ken! We also get a 2-page ad for Final Fantasy II (Final Fantasy IV in Japan).

Moving on with the letters, we get a request for more coverage for the Neo Geo, which he’ll get this issue. We also get a letter about another magazine saying that Konami would be porting Darius (a Taito) title for the PC Engine on CD – the other magazine is wrong, wrong, wrong. We also get a couple of letters about glitches for Street Fighter II arcade, leading to basically one solid column of text just about glitches in the game. We get a letter, one of many letters to come, about getting into the burgeoning field of games journalism. We get letters for and against region lockout for CD-ROM games – the letter in favor of the encryption can best be described as “Foreign people are weird, and their games look funny!”

Following the letters column, we get a two-page ad for Desert Strike: Return To The Gulf.

Review Crew: This issue the Review Crew Column now has pictures to represent each of the 4 reviewers. Our Crew this issue is Steve, Ed, Martin, and Sushi-X.

  • Contra 3: The Alien Wars (Super NES – Konami): The latest installment of the Contra series. 9s across the board. Everyone lauds the game for excellent use of Mode 7 graphics, great sound quality, and they basically say it’s the best action game out today. The game gets 36/40 and is this issues EGM Platinum Award Winner.
  • F1 – Race of Champions (Super NES – Seta): Racing game taking advantage of the Mode 7 technology on the SNES. Steve it a 5, saying that the customization is great, while the racing is rather lackluster. A sentiment that is basically echoed by Sushi-X and Martin, though Sushi gives it a 5, while Martin gives it a 6. Ed loves the game and gives it a 7. Overall score is 23/40.

Brief pause here to mention an ad for a platformer called “Spanky’s Quest” in which the main character is a monkey. Spanky the monkey. I am not making this up. I’m pretty sure that’s not the Japanese title either. They added innuendo for the US version of the game and Nintendo, apparently, didn’t catch it.

  • Super E.D.F (Super NES – Jaleco): Sci-Fi side-scrolling shump. While Steve is a Shump fan he wasn’t impressed by the game’s execution, the backgrounds and enemies are repetitive (and those are the life-blood of shumps), though the weapons are nice, and gives it a 5. Ed also gives the game a 5, saying the game has a lot of potential, but it runs into slow-down, and limitations in changing weapons which kills the experience. Martin also observed slowdown and found the music didn’t always mesh, but he liked the use of Mode 7 graphics (which neither Ed or Steve mentioned – for shame), and the variety of weapons and power-ups and gives it a 7. Sushi-X loved the game, doesn’t say anything wrong with it, and gave it an 8. Overall – 25/40.
  • Xardion (Super NES – Asmik): Sci-Fi action-platformer. The main character looks like Samus Aran. Steve gives it a 4, saying he had many expectations for the game, and was let down by the game’s control, speed, and overall “technique”. Martin gives the game a 5 – finding the graphics choppy and the weapons dull, and the game generally failing to properly execute the ideas it tries. Sushi-X gives the game a 7, commenting that controls are choppy and the enemies are rather small and lackluster, but the game has an above-average execution of an average concept. Ed likes the game’s character selection and it’s “quest” and gives the game an 8. Overall – 24/40.
  • Bucky O’Hare (NES – Konami): Konami is still working on games for the NES, with this platformer based on the Continuity Comics character, created by Larry Hama (G.I. Joe). 7 from Steve, basically saying the game is a little too easy for his tastes. Everyone else gives it an 8, and basically the unifying reason for the lower score is the graphics. Overall – 31/40.
  • F-1 Hero 2 (NES – Seika): Racing game. Sushi-X gives the game a 3, because of clunky controls and blocky graphics. Martin and Steve give it a 5, Martin because he finds the genre repetitive and boring, Steve because he finds it very average. Ed gives it a 6 because he found it slightly above average. Overall score of 19/20.
  • Overlord (NES – Virgin Interactive): Top-down strategy game. Sushi-X and Martin gives the game a 4. Sushi-X finds that an 8-bit platform just doesn’t fit for this kind of strategy games, while Martin didn’t like the adaptation of the point-and-click interface on the 8-bit system. On the other hand, Ed and Steve give the game 7s, finding it to be a very good enjoyable strategy game.
  • Desert Strike (Genesis – Electronic Arts): 6s from Sushi-X and Martin. Sushi-X feels it’s too soon for this game, he likes the graphics and controls, but he doesn’t like the reference to Desert Shield/Desert Storm – If you thought this was bad Sushi, you’re going to hate Six Days in Fallujah, even if it comes out as more tasteful. Martin, on the other hand, likes the graphics and sound, but finds the controls choppy and the missions monotonous. Ed gives the game a 7, finding the game difficult, but still enjoyable and not too hard with practice (just so long as it isn’t like rote memorization I’m fine). Steve gives the game an 8, because he likes the action
  • Golden Axe (Genesis – Sega): This one is collected in the Sega Classics Collection and Sonic’s Genesis Collection. It’s a fantasy beat-em-up. 7s from Steve, Martin and Sushi. Steve considers it to be Golden Axe 1 with better graphics. Martin and Sushi agree, but they also feel the music and sound took a step down from the previous installment. Ed gives the game an 8, considering the game to be faithful, while being an improvement in a few respects. Overall – 27/40.
  • Sol-Deace (Genesis – Renovation): Side scrolling space shump. 8s from Ed, Martin, and Sushi. Ed considers the game to be excellent, save some minor flicker. Martin admits he was a little spoiled by the CD version (did it make it stateside?) but found the cart to retain the intensity and punch of the CD version, though some lag and flicker mars the experience. Sushi doesn’t consider it the bets shooter of all-time, but he does consider it pretty darn good (though he doesn’t like the name change). Steve gives it an 7 though, but he doesn’t have anything in his review to explain the lower score. Overall – 31/40.
  • The Duel (Genesis – Accolade): Racing game, with real licensed cars! Steve gives the game a 3, finding the inclusion of having to outrun the police an original twist, but finds the graphics and controls poor and generally finds the game dull. Martin and Steve give the game 4s. Martin complains about the car choice (something tells me that they would have included more cars if they had the space), and also finds the graphics and gameplay inferior to the PC version, and the same for Sushi. Ed says the same thing except he gives it a 5.
  • Super Off Road (Genesis – Accolade): Another racing game, this time with monster trucks. 5s from Sushi and Martin. Martin finds the graphics terrible, and the control portable, and the in fact the only thing positive he has to say about the Genesis version game is the digital babes – which makes me wonder why this didn’t get a lower score. Sushi loved the arcade version, but didn’t like the Genesis version due to choppy controls.
  • Ballistix (Turbografx-16 – NEC): It looks a bit like a puzzle game. Ed and Steve give a 4, Steve citing poor control and graphics, Ed citing control problems. Martin gives the game a 5, saying the game is average in every respect, save the sound and music, which is below average. Sushi finds the control poor, the creature design horrid, and the graphics and sound average, giving the game a 6. Overall – 19/40.
  • It Came From The Desert (Turbografx-16 – NEC): Adventure Game featuring Full Motion Video! Martin likes the idea behind the game, but the execution is crap and generally considers the game to be unfun and gives it a 4. Sushi and Steve give it a 5. Steve likes the video in the game, Sushi not so much, both find the long access times annoying. Ed, on the other hand, loves the game and gives it an 8, bucking the curve. Overall – 22/40.

We then get another ad worth mentioning, this time for its tastelessness – an add for Test Drive II/The Dual (which we’ve already seen reviewed) which essentially says the game is so exiting, that you’ll need to bring an spare pair of tighty-whities because you’ll shit your pants. So… have we done the “Sega Does What Nintendon’t” ad yet?

  • Tiny Toon Adventures (Game Boy – Konami): 8s from Ed, Martin and Sushi. The only fault they mention is some complaints about the game being slow by Martin. Steve gives the game a 7, citing the game being marketed to the younger set. Overall – 31/40.
  • Ax Battler (Game Gear – Sega): Action platforming spinoff to the Golden Ax series with some RPG elements. Martin doesn’t think the RPG parts don’t work that well and gives the game a 5. Sushi finds the lack of two of the members of the cast of Golden Axe missing hurts the replay value and gives it a 6. Ed and Steve, on the other hand, give it 7s, basically saying the game was an love-it-or-you-hate-it show. Overall – 25/40.
  • The Guardians (Lynx – Telegames): It looks like a bit of a Gauntlet clone. 5s from Martin and Sushi, Sushi finding it generally disappointing and Martin basically citing the weakness intrinsic with the Lynx platform as it’s faults, which says a lot about the Lynx that the platform’s own weakness knocks 5 points off the possible score! Steve gives the game a 6, basically describing it as a 1st generation RPG (I presume early NES level RPG). Ed gives the game a 7, finding it to be a very enjoyable, though simple, RPG. Overall – 23/40.

We get a horrible add for ASCII’s controller for the SNES, which demonstrates everything that was wrong about the early 90s – most notably the “This is you on ASCII” portion of the ad failing most epically at pulling off Twisted Sister’s look. We also get a great ad for Super R-Type.

Quartermann: Q-Man steps up to the plate once again!

  1. No CD release in the works for Road Rash 2. Hit! Road Rash II only comes out for cartridges on the Genesis, not the Sega CD.

  2. We will be getting a NES to SNES converter by Christmas. Miss! No such peripheral ever comes out.

  3. We will be getting a Mouse for the NES that will be compatible with multiple games. Hit!

  4. The Genesis will be getting a sequel to Shining in the Darkness, titled Shining Force. Hit! It’s one of the first strategy RPGs to come out in the US.

  5. The Genesis will also be getting a new peripheral which will allow 32-bit games that are arcade-quality versions some of Sega’s games, that will hook up into the Genesis, but will still allow the Genesis games to work, set to come out in 1994. Hit! The problem is that it doesn’t do very well, isn’t supported very well, and ultimately is rendered obsolete 1 year later by the Sega Saturn.

The Score: 4/5.

EGM Express: Capcom is still working on it’s 16-Meg cart for Street Fighter II for the SNES, we get a brief preview.

International Outlook: We get previews of (listing the games that either got a US release or interested me) Overhauled Man 3 for the PC Engine, Combatribes for the SNES, Vilgast for the SNES, Air Manager for the SNES (which gets a US release as Aerobiz), Uncharted Waters for the Genesis (which does not get a release, but some of the games of the series are released on the SNES), Rayxanber II for the PC Engine Super-CD (which gets a US release), Sega CD shooter Nobunaga and his Ninja Force (from Compile), and engrish-lishious titled RPG Aisle Lord (which is distressingly not set in a grocery store).

Could this mecha possibly be any more 90s?

Could this mecha possibly be any more '90s?

We get an ad for the mecha side-scrolling shump Xardion, which features a mecha design which practically looks like it was designed by Rob Leifield. We also get an ad from Micronet for their game Heavy Nova – or rather saying that they game sold out and they’re publishing more so please be patient.

Tips and Tricks: Now, I normally skip over this column, but there is something this issue that demands my attention – The famous Shen Long April Fools joke appears here. The prank that lead to Akuma/Gouki, as well as, with Street Fighter IV this year, the appearance of Ryu’s sensei Gouken, appears in this issue. Just to taunt you – they have a prize contest based on whoever can spot this year’s April Fools joke. I have the next issue, so we’ll see if anyone catches it.

We get an ad for Renovation System’s port of Wolfteam’s Genesis game Earnest Evans, the prequel to the Annet games.

Leading Edge: We’ve got some previews of games set to come to an arcade near you! We have Capcom’s fantasy brawler Knights of the Round. Sega has a helicopter sim (Air Rescue), and a Fantasy Brawler with anime cut-scenes (Arabian Fight).

Next Wave: Of note this issue is Might & Magic II for the SNES, Soul Blazer (a spin-off of the Actraiser series), and that’s pretty much it.

Previews & Strategies: We’ve now got our in-depth previews and strategies for various games.

The Street Fighter 2 preview has move-lists for all the playable characters, and also laments the lack of an arcade stick for the SNES. We also get a preview of the Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition arcade machine, including information on some of the more subtle differences between the editions aside from the addition of some new characters. Specifically, everyone except for Dhalsim and Guile got sped up, Zangief can move while he does the spin punch to compensate for his lack of projectiles, Blanka can cancel his roll animation (probably the first appearance of this in fighting game strategies) and his lightning attack also gives him immunity to projectile attacks. Chun Li also has a new kick as well. Ryu and Ken’s low short kicks have been slowed down, but the hit box for the fierce dragon punch has been increased. The damage for the boss characters (as playable characters) has also been re-balanced to put them on the same level as the rest of the characters. In single player M. Bison will still kick your but though. They also have an in-depth article on the character design for the game, including concept art sketches. Of note is that the original character design for Blanka looks like Tiger Mask, with the second iteration looking more like a ninja, before getting to the more familiar bestial character.

We get a preview of fantasy action-platformer Magic Sword, which has so many levels that the arcade version of the game gives you 3 continues per credit. We have a pair of racing previews, including F1 – Race of Champions, and Top Gear from Konami (which predates and is generally unrelated in any way with the BBC TV show). We also get a preview of Spanky’s Quest, where we learn that you attack your enemies by shooting bubbles at them. We also get a preview of the licensed Rocketeer game for the SNES, which combines what are basically “light gun” segment (only without the light gun) and shump segments. From the graphics the Swastika from the Nazi zeppelin in the last stage has been removed. Now, I know it’s there in the movie, which mean that the removal was at Nintendo of America’s insistence. God forbid that kids fight Nazis. I doubt there will be a Genesis version of the game though, with the evil Nazis left intact. We also get a preview of Thunder Force from Seta, and Might and Magic for the SNES. The latter appears to retain it’s first-person perspective so quarter-inch graph paper will be required.

We have Power Punch II from ASC for the NES, which looks like Punch Out with aliens. The NES is also getting MIG-29: Soviet Fighter. The title itself looks a little obsolete, as the USSR dissolved about 6 months before this was published. The game looks like it combines a top down vertical scrolling shump segments, and segments with the camera from behind like Super Thunder Blade. Something tells me this game would be better suited for the SNES instead of the NES. The NES is getting a lot of games at the moment, though the quality is going down hill. They’re getting another Formula 1 racing game with a major car manufacturer license – Ferrari Grand Prix Challenge. We also have a Blues Brothers platformer. I would prefer a Blues Brothers rhythm game myself.

The Genesis, on the other hand, is getting a port of Lemmings, the arcade Shump “Task Force Harrier”, the Cartridge version of Earnest Evans – a stripped down version of the CD version that Wolfteam put out in Japan, which had more graphical quality, sound quality, and animated cutscenes. The Genesis is also getting another RPG – D&D: Warriors of the Eternal Sun. There was a Let’s Play done of that game on, which can be found here. It’s okay, but it’s also classic D&D – Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling are classes. We a preview of Wolfteam’s shump Sol Deace, which is being released on a cartridge after the original version, Sol Feace was released on the Sega-CD in Japan. You know Sega, the Sega CD would do better if you’d taken all these games you’re porting from Japan that were originally released on the Sega CD, and kept them on the Sega CD for their US release. You’d have something to compensate for the Night Traps and Sewer Sharks to come.

The Turbografx CD-ROM is getting the RPG Cosmic Fantasy 2, which will include fully animated cutscenes, localized by Working Designs. Lunar isn’t out yet, so this is something of a landmark experience. Final Fantasy doesn’t get similar cutscenes until the Playstation – though, to be honest, I don’t know how you’d work similar cutscenes for Final Fantasy III/VI, particularly considering the number of party configurations. The Game Gear is getting an OutRun game – OutRun Europa. The Neo Geo is getting Soccer Brawl, one of many futuristic “real-world-sports-on-The Running Man” games from this period (such as Bill Lambere’s Combat Basketball). The Game Boy is getting action platformer Star Saver, and Top Gun: Guts & Glory (which, frankly, looks like crap), and Jack Nickelaus Golf. The Atari Lynx is getting a graphically toned down version of combat-jet-ski-racing game Hydra.

Finally, we get an in-depth strategy guide for Hudson’s Super Adventure Island, with strategies for all the bosses, as well as maps of the stages right before the boss – and that will wrap up the issue. Next recap will be issue 34 (unless I get a hold of one of the issues I’ve missed in the intervening time), where we’ll find out if anyone (as of the time the issue came out) figured out EGM’s April Fools joke.