Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #35
We continue onwards with our EGM Recaps, with our review of EGM #35. I’ve also gotten EGM #15 as well from Retromags, but I’m going to hold off on that one for my next recap (as I’ve already unzipped this issue). Our game on the cover this issue is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4 – which has yet to received it’s subtitle of “Turtles In Time” though the time travel element is already evident in the cover art. Our page count for this issue is up from last issue, at about 180 pages. Our first ad of the issue is for Super Castlevania IV, and another ad for Hook for the NES. Now, before I get on to the articles, I just want to mention one little thing that either is an error on Sendai’s part, or a practical joke they did late – on the page for the editorial (Insert Coin), they have the credits for the magazine. For this issue, the credits are mirrored. Now, this issue is for June not April, so it’s not their prank. So, I have no idea what they’re doing here – hopefully they’ll explain later. Moving on…
Insert Coin – Editorial: Our column for this issue is by Steve Harris, about the upcoming Summer CES, which is for the first time open to the public. To Steve’s credit, he does not approach the news with the dread that you’d expect among modern game journalists, that the unwashed (sometimes literally) masses would flood upon the floor, and keep them from doing their job and playing the upcoming games so they could cover them (which is the train of thought that lead to the death of E3 in the first place). We’ll see the EGM editorial staff changes their tune.
Interface – Letters: So, we start right off with some letters about their EGM coverage. We get 2 letters lauding them for their in-depth coverage. Another person dismissing Street Fighter II as a mindless button-masher (Me: Kali!) – and he wants them to spend more time covering the Genesis rather than the SNES (I wonder if he’ll change his tune when Champion Edition comes out on the Genesis). We have another letter saying that Street Fighter II: Champion Edition will never come out in the home – Capcom told him so! (I look over at his copy of Street Fighter II: CE for the Genesis and laugh.) One letter saying that he’s selling his Genesis so he can buy a SNES so he can play Street Fighter in the home but is suspicious about the amount of coverage EGM is giving for the system, more than any other magazine is giving to the game, and he wonders if EGM got bought by Capcom. Finally, we get someone who points out a continuity error – Guile was born in 1960, but he’s billed as having fought for the US in the Vietnam War, when the last US troops were pulled out in ’75. Basically, there is one SNES version of the game in the US, and it’s at Capcom of USA’s headquarters, on the other side of the country from them (they’re either in the Mid-West or on the East Coast, Capcom’s headquarters is on the West Coast), and there are 2 mags much closer than them – there were no deals cut for the larger coverage. Which makes me wonder why, say Nintendo Power isn’t pushing the hell out of this game – it’s the hottest game at the arcades until Mortal Kombat gets out, and they get the console version of it before anyone else does, if anyone else does. But, anyway, EGM got the most coverage because they were willing to dedicate the most page space to that coverage. Oh, and as for the Age discrepancy – that’s Capcom’s fault, EGM’s just parroting Capcom’s background material.
We finally get some letters calling them on their April Fools joke, with one in particular talking about the delicious schadenfreude pie he had watching people who fell for the joke at his local arcade get 10 perfect rounds against M. Bison. We have a letter from someone looking for RGB cables (Component) for his SNES and Genesis, and is directed to Redmond Cable. We also get a letter about, basically, a reader using EGM to scam free games by plagiarizing cheat codes from EGM to send to other magazines to get free games. Kids, plagiarism is bad, don’t do it – you can get kicked out of school for it, and possibly even get sued! Also, we get a letter complaining that the original Genesis (the Altered Beast bundle) won’t work with the Sega CD – actually it’s not compatibility with the Mega CD in Japan. The Sega CD that will come out in the US will be compatible with all models of the Genesis. We get a letter about Final Fight Guy for the SNES, asking if that will include the missing character from the arcade version – in short no – if you want a two-player version of Final Fight for the SNES, you’re going to have to import it.
There’s a letter asking why Element Master from Techno Soft isn’t coming out in the states – it came out about the same time as a boat-load of other shooters, so you’re going to need to import it. We also get a letter talking about the new System-32 board from Sega. We get a bunch more letters about the Mega CD, asking for more information. Basically the US press has been cut off by Sega. We do get an update formally announcing that the Mega-CD is now the Sega-CD. They will be releasing a bunch of Genesis games on the Sega CD with multiple games on one disk, and they’re going to have a pack-in game, but it sounds like it’s a 3rd-party one (probably Sewer Shark).
We get an ad for vertical shump Strike Gunner from NTVIC.
Review Crew: Our lineup for this issue is still Steve, Ed, Martin and Sushi-X. On with the reviews!
- Rival Turf (SNES, Jaleco): Brawler. Sushi-X is not impressed by the graphics or the sound, and finds the Two-Player mode underwhelming, giving a 5. Steve finds that while the game aspires to the lofty heights of Street Fighter II and Final Fight, it stops short of mark, thus the game gets a 6. Ed and Martin give the game 7s, finding the game especially fun, particularly liking the ability to toggle the ability to damage the other player in 2-player mode. Overall: 25/40.
- Might and Magic II (SNES, American Sammy): Port of the PC RPG to the SNES. As with last issue, Steve and Martin don’t like this game, because they don’t like RPGs – but Martin hates RPGs more, so he gives it a 4, and Steve gives it a 5. Ed and Sushi, on the other hand, liked this a lot better than the NES port of the original Might and Magic giving it a 7, finding it to be an enjoyable hardcore RPG, with none of the faults of the graphical and sound faults the NES port of the prior game in the series had. Overall: 23/40 (if Steve and Martin had given had it a score on par to Sushi and Ed’s it would be a score of 28/40).
We get an ad for a PC game, which is surprising, considering the magazine. Specifically, Hardball II from Accolade for the PC, which looks absolutely gorgeous. The series continues until 2000, when it basically dies.
- Jack Nicklaus Golf (SNES, Tradewest): 5s right across the board. The general consensus is this is a solidly average golf game which does nothing new for the genre whatsoever. Overall: 20/40.
- Super Battletank (SNES, Absolute Entertainment): Steve and Martin give the game a 6, citing cool enemy design, decent graphics and control, but monotonous missions and environments. Sushi gave the game a 7 – apparently it’s not too soon for a game about war in the Gulf anymore, though he found the game to be a little monotonous. Ed gives the game an 8, considering it to be the most innovative new game to come out for quite some time. Overall: 27/40.
- PGA Tour Golf (SNES, Electronic Arts): Sushi gives the game a 4, finding the game insanely underwhelming, with no polish or bells and whistles to make the game different from the rest of the pack. Martin gives the game a 5, also finding the graphics underwhelming, particularly the lack of Mode 7 (though, Mode 7 doesn’t work quite that well for golf games – it doesn’t handle hills and gradients that well). Steve and Ed give the game a 6, finding the game ambitious but falling short in most of their attempts. Overall: 21/40.
- F-15 Strike Eagle (NES, Micropose): Not good scores. Martin and Sushi give the game 3s, as 8-bit systems really don’t have the processing power to handle flight simulators. Steve and Ed agree, but find it just better enough to merit it a 4. Overall: 14/40.
- MIG-29 (NES, Camerica): Another flight simulator. A 3 from Sushi as with the last game, again, being that Flight Sims, again, really don’t work out too well on 8-bit systems. 4s from Ed and Martin basically saying it’s a slight upgrade for Top Gun, which isn’t saying much. 5 is the score from Ed, who actually finds the game to be mediocre, which is a step up from bad, but is still not actually, you know, good. Overall: 16/40.
- Yoshi (NES, Nintendo): Character matching puzzle game (like Columns, or Dr. Robotnick’s Mean Bean Machine or a bunch of similar puzzle games that don’t directly rip off Bejeweled). Steve and Ed give the game a 4, basically finding it too similar to other puzzle games out at the same time. Martin and Sushi give the game a 6, finding it “a nice twist on the Tetris theme”. Overall: 20/40.
- Splatterhouse 2 (Genesis, Namco): Violent action game. Steve, Martin, and Sushi-X gives the game a 7, due to the good graphics and sound in the game, but difficult control and gameplay. Ed gives the game an 8 – finding it a fantastic sequel, being particularly glad that the game kept in all the blood and gore from the arcade release. Overall: 29/40.
- Cyber Cop (Genesis, Virgin): An attempt at a first person shooter on the Genesis. Now, at this time Wolfenstein 3D had been out for one month – though this game doesn’t use the exact same perspective as Wolfenstein (you don’t have your weapon in the frame, and you don’t have the same degree of view as you do in Wolfenstein 3D). By the way, Wolfenstein 3D does not get mentioned any of the Crew’s reviews at all. Steve and Martin give the game a 4, due do some graphical problems (the game uses polygonal graphics for the environments, instead of the sprite graphics from Wolfenstein. Sushi felt the graphics needed to be tweaked to have it work better and gave it a 5. Finally, Ed gives the game a 6, finding it not too easy, but not too hard that’s it frustrating, but still it’s leans toward the mediocre section of the scale. Overall: 19/40.
- Bulls vs. Lakers (Genesis, Electronic Arts): Basketball simulation game (much like Madden is for football). This game gets 8s across the board. The consensus is that the game is superior to the prior game in the series – Lakers vs. Celtics, and is the best basketball game to ever be on the market to date, and is one of the best games on the Genesis. Overall: 32/40 and receives the EGM Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
- Kid Chameleon (Genesis, Sega): Action platformer, included in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. Steve and Martin give the game a 7, finding it a very deep and generally well presented game, though Martin doesn’t like the sound very much. Ed and Sushi give the game an 8, with Ed finding a lot of depth there, particularly with the metric frak-ton of levels (1800+ actual stages), and with Sushi considering the game and the character to be on par with Sonic The Hedgehog. Overall: 30/40.
- Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego (Genesis, Electronic Arts): I can reasonably assume that everyone has played one game of this series, particularly if you were old enough to play the Genesis and SNES when they were current-gen systems (as I did). Martin gave the game a 5, finding the graphics not very intense and the music annoying (which is a weakness of the original game on the PCs, though I don’t know what you can do to improve the graphics except for maybe a crisper still picture). Steve gives the game a 6, finding it a little dull and leisurely, but fun. Sushi also finds it enjoyable, and finds the pack-in booklets (which, probably aren’t as in-depth as the booklets as you might find in the PC versions of the Carmen games, particularly the World Handbook and Book of Facts from the PC games, but I digress) very likable, giving the game a 7. Ed gives the game a 8, finding it to be a magnificent piece of edutainment (which, frankly, the Carmen Sandiego series is an excellent example of). Overall: 26/40.
- Winter Challenge (Genesis, Ballistic): The Winter Olympics game for this year’s games. Steve gives the game a 3, finding it repetitive, unoriginal, and a rehash not just in terms of what you’re doing in this game, but from other Winter Challenges as well, though he finds wiping out absolutely hilarious. Sushi and Martin give the game 4s, finding the graphics to be poor, the gameplay monotonous, and the wipeouts hilarious. Ed gives the game a 5, finding the controls to be a trial, and the graphics poor, but doesn’t say anything about monotony, or the wipeouts. Overall: 16/40.
- Mutation Nation (Neo-Geo, SNK): Beat-em up for the Neo-Geo. Steve and Martin give the game a 6. Steve likes the futuristic setting and the better graphics you get on the Neo-Geo, but finds the game is hurt by having unlimited continues! Oh, come on, Steve. I’ve gone over this before and I’m going to say it again – there is no good reason to limit continues. It’s just an artificial way of forcing you to start from the beginning – in the arcade version of the game you’d get as many continues as you had quarters, and thus could keep trudging through the game. Martin has the same complaint. I’d like them to extract their heads from their keesters. Fortunately, Sushi-X and Ed see the light of reason and give the game 7s, not because of the continues, but because of that whole thing where Neo Geo charges $150 for games, and plus some bone marrow. Overall: 26/40.
- Yoshi (Game Boy, Nintendo): Steve and Sushi-X give the game a 6, finding it a perfect fit to the Game Boy, as opposed to the NES. Martin and Ed give the game a 7, Martin because he finds it to be a great play on Tetris, and Ed… says “game review”. No, really, that’s it. Ed Semrad forgot to write a review. All it says in his review is and I quote (with the case identical) “game review.” Fail! Overall: 26/40.
- NBA 2: All-Star Challenge (Game Boy, LJN): One-on-one basketball game. 5s from Sushi and Martin. Sushi’s rating is more based on the faults of the system, how he doesn’t like black-and-white systems. Sorry, Sushi, we’re not getting a Color Game Boy for another 6 years, though we get some color on Game Boy carts through the Super Game Boy, which comes out in 2 years. Martin’s review is more informative – he finds the control to be poor for this type of game, and the sound and graphics are poor even for the Game Boy. Steve found it a okay basketball game, but feels it doesn’t scale down well to the size of the Game Boy Screen. Oh, and Ed gives the game a 6 and doesn’t have a review. Overall: 22/40.
- Nail n’ Scale (Game Boy, Data East): Platforming action-game. Sushi gives the game a 6, as he generally likes the game, except for the graphical difficulties. Everyone else gives the game a 7, finding it to be the sleeper hit of the year, and with some favorable similarities with Dig Dug and Lode Runner. Overall: 27/40.
- Basketbrawl (Lynx, Atari): Beat-em-up basketball game. Steve, Martin and Sushi give the game a 4, citing poor basketball game play, and poor fighting game play, which leaves just a poor game. Ed gives a 5 for similar reasons. Overall: 17/40.
- Rampart (Lynx, Atari): The Grandfather of Tower Defense games. Sushi gives the game a 6, finding he could never really get into it. Steve gives the game a 7, with it being an excellent translation of the Arcade game to a portable system. Ed and Martin says the same thing but they give it an 8. Overall: 29/40.
Quartermann: The Q-Mann has another at bat. Last time he got 50%. Let’s see how he does this time.
So, aside from the Sony Playstation, the 32-bit Giga Drive (aka the 32X from Sega), and the Atari Jaguar, NEC is working on their own 32-bit system, currently code named the Phoenix, which will be a disk-only system. Hit! – The system will be released as the PC-FX, but only in Japan.
Electronic Arts is also working on their own console system with Matsushita. I’m going to give this a Hit! – but Q-Mann isn’t 100% right. Matsushita has changed their name Panasonic, one of their former divisions, and they did come out with a system under the Panasonic division – designed by EA founder Trip Hawkins. The system’s name was the 3DO – and it sucked!
Rumors are saying that we may get a Genesis version of Street Fighter II. Hit!
Nintendo is reportedly removing the blood from Street Fighter II. Hit! – Nintendo’s prudish licensing policies would ultimately come to bite them in the butt when Mortal Kombat is released for the SNES and Genesis, with a way to unlock the blood on the Genesis. Genesis does what Nintendo’nt indeed.
The Verdict: 100% from the Quartermann this time. Oh, and for the record, if anything is omitted from Q-man’s column, it’s either because it’s not relevant to the game industry, (speculating about new seasons of TV shows), or not a rumor (complaining about a pack-in map for Zelda 3).
EGM Express: We get an in-depth preview of the Super Nintendo CD-ROM, which includes a co-processor to eliminate screen flicker on existing SNES games, plus being able to run games on CD ROM. Shame it was vaporware. We also get our first picture of Capcom’s first analog stick. I’m not calling it an arcade stick for a reason – the controller design we see here has very little to do with arcades, in part because, actually, this is probably the first ergonomic arcade stick. The stick is in 2 sections, each angled apart, similarly to the way that your hands and arms are angled when you type on an ergonomic keyboard. Now, the controller is wireless via infra-red, so this could cause some problems in actual gameplay (hopefully we’ll get a review of the controller in practice). We also get some blurbs about the console that will become the 3DO, a new video compression chip for Phillips CD-I, and Galoob working on a Game Genie for the Game Boy.
International Outlook: The titles of note this issue include Super Bases Loaded 2 from Jaleco (hopefully the series improved on the SNES), a port of Bionic Commando for the Game Boy, Kaiju fighting game King Of The Monsters from Takara, NCS has a SNES version of Prince of Persia, and one of the first of what is to become a trend of fighting games based on shonen anime that continues to this day – Ranma ½ for the SNES – which actually gets a stateside release! The characters we see in this version are Ranma Male and Female, Genma Saotome (in human form, not Panda form), Tatawaki, Kodachi, and Kohchoh Kuno, with Happosai as the final boss.
Bulletproof software has the puzzle game Pipe Dream, and Toho has the shump Super Aleste (set to be given the redundant title of Super Megaforce in the US). Taito also has Ogre Battle, which does eventually make it out to the US, and ultimately leads to successful Tactics Ogre series. Ogre Battle was fairly hard to find until the game came out on the Virtual Console.
Tips and Tricks: Not much of note here, except for a cheat to give you 5 extra credits for Golden Axe II (which is on Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection) by going to the holding down all 3 buttons on the options screen, then on the options screen, only holding down B and C while exiting the options screen, and finally starting a game normally. Oh, and the Konami code is used in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 to access the debug menu, which has a level select.
Leading Edge: We start off with an in-depth preview of Street Fighter II – Champion Edition, including a ranking chart for the characters (which has Ryu and Ken at the top of the rankings, followed by Guile, Chun-Li, and M. Bison). We also get coverage for the fantasy action-adventure game Dark Seal II, which is a little like Gauntlet, except it’s in an isometric perspective (which might make it more like the later 3D gauntlet games that Midway put out. Videosystem has a gorgeous looking vertical shump called Sonic Wings. Alpha has an action-platformer called Ninja Commando for the Neo Geo arcade platform.
Next Wave: Alright, now, on to the upcoming titles of note that are set to get a US release. First off, Super Battletoads, a port of the first game, which hopefully won’t be as controller-smashing hard.
We finally get another ad of note – Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds from Ascii for the NES – which sports some very nice, subdued black-and-white cover art that reminds me somewhat of the covers for White Box D&D, but not quite the same. Anyway, we get a preview for Super Star Wars for the SNES from Lucasarts. That’s right, they’re not Lucasfilm games anymore. EA has USA Basketball for the Genesis, which has you playing as any of a number of international teams, rather than the teams of the NBA. Maxi’s SimEarth game is also being ported to the SNES by FCI. Sunsoft has Death Valley Rally for the SNES. Virgin Interactive is putting out Prince of Persia on the NES. We also have a preview for Final Fantasy Saga for the Game Boy (which would get a name chagne to Final Fantasy Legend III).
In-Depth Previews: We get an In-Depth preview of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. The game includes a time-trial mode, which works on 3 different levels of the game (levels 1, 2, and 5), and a two-player versus mode (which probably will lay the ground work of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters). I must admit I have some pretty fond memories of this game – I played the hell out of it over at the house of the Troop leader of my Cub Scout Troop (her son had a copy of it). We get a flight sim for the SNES (one of the first one, I think), Aces 2: Wings High, which is a World War I flight sim. No representation for the Lafayette Escadrille (as seen in Flyboys), but the French’s own fighter pilots, but plenty of representation for the R.A.F. Mission types include dogfighting missions, low-level bombing missions against enemy command posts, and strafing runs against enemy troop and supply movements. We also get a preview of Hook, which appears to be missing Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams from the cover art. American Technos has bowling sim Super Bowling – though I could say that it’s probably more affordable to get your friends together and go to the Bowling Ally instead – though, to be fair, this is 1992 – there was probably still smoking in the bowling alleys. American Technos has brawler The Combatribes – which (in terms of still images) looks like a pretty good visual port of the Arcade game. Though the blood we’re seeing in the SNES shots will definitely be removed when the game gets a US release – this is Nintendo Of America we’re talking about after all.
Taito has Super Soccer Champ for the SNES. Yeah, we’ve now hit the point where now, if a game is on the SNES, it is (figuratively speaking – I think) contractually obligated to have “Super” in the. We have one of the first fantasy one-on-one fighting games (with weapons!) called Battle Blaze from American Sammy for the SNES. Hal has what I suspect is one of the first college basketball games, NCAA Basketball. Sticking with the basketball games, Virgin Interactive has Magic Johnson’s Super Slam Dunk. FCI has DragonStrike, which is, I suspect, the first licensed Dragonlance game to appear on the consoles – and probably the best. I haven’t played it myself, but it has to be the best because as far as I can recall, it’s only competition is Heroes of the Lance which quite possibly is the worst game to ever come out for the NES. Sunsoft has the mascot platformer Mr. Gimmick. Flying Edge games has Bart vs. the Space Mutants for the Genesis (which has some action platforming elements, and in the spirit of other Simpsons pop-culture references, has a nod to John Carpenter’s They Live).
We now have a preview of Shining Force, which is also included in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, and is one of my favorite strategy RPGs of all time. Yet another Olympic sports game is coming out as well, Barcelona ’92, which, as with many of the other Olympic video games, is probably going to suck horribly. Data East has a port of Side Pocket from the PC to the Genesis. Atari/Tengen has the slightly occult looking pinball game Dragon’s Fury for the Genesis – which would probably never fly on a SNES even if Nintendo of America hadn’t tried to kill Tengen.
Another ad to call attention to – there is an ad for a NES version of Raiden. Now, I’ve played Raiden – and it looks gorgeous on 16-bit, and 32-bit. However, these NES screen shots look horrible. Hopefully the game will get a SNES port later.
We also get previews of Todd’s Adventures in Slime World from Renovation, which is basically an action-platformer. There’s also a really lame looking fighting game for the Genesis called Fighting Masters. We also get a preview of Bonk IV: The Role Playing Game for the Turbografx-16 – that’s right – just last month we had a preview of Bonk III, which took the franchise to the future, and now, 1 month later, we’re taking the franchise all the way back to the cave-man days and we’re making it an RPG. I’m starting to suspect that the Turbografx-16 would be approaching Bonk over saturation. The Turbografx-16 is also getting a flight-sim of their own, Falcon, a port of the PC flight simulator.
Moving on to the Neo-Geo, we have a preview for Last Resort from SNK, a side-scrolling shump that I’ve played through GameTap, and I have to say that it’s absolutely gorgeous, and is incredibly fun. The Game Gear gets a shump of its own, Aerial Assault, from Sega, as well as a hand-held port of Barcelona ’92 from U.S. Gold. The Game Boy is getting road racing game Jeep Jamboree from Virgin which doesn’t look very good, and platformer Super Hunchback from Ocean, which doesn’t look too good either (but, in general, Ocean didn’t have too many good games). We also get an interesting twist on your standard falling blocks puzzle game with Square Deal, which, instead of having to match blocks of a similar color or shape, you instead have to form poker hands. American Sammy has a Zelda style adventure game called Rolan’s Curse 2 for the Game Boy. The Atari Lynx is getting it’s own casino game with Lynx Casino, which includes all the things you normally expect from casino games from this time – video poker, roulette, blackjack and craps.
Exclusive Preview of Konami’s Summer CES games: This article basically does what it says on the tin. Of note we have Cybernator, which is a side scrolling action game; NFL Football, which looks like it’s going to use the Mode-7 capabilities of the SNES to allow you to rotate the camera angle, and zoom in and out of the players (which is a first for Football games).
Strategy Guide: We get a meaty strategy guide for cave-man platformer Joe & Mac for the SNES, from Data East.
Finally, we wrap up the magazine with the ending cutscene for Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.