Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly Issue #36
This week’s installment of the EGM reviews takes us forward to Issue #36 for July of 1992. Our cover art for this issue is Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight in Batman Returns – new Batman movie, new licensed games. A trend that would continue until The Dark Knight, which didn’t have any licensed games on consoles (phones don’t count). Our page count (for this issue) is 133 pages, though on the cover they bill “over 160 pages” – so unless my copy is missing an ad-insert, something is up. If anyone knows if my copy is missing pages or if it’s a misprint on EGM’s part, please let me know.
Anyway, our first ads are for Super Castlevania IV again, and then an ad for the Toxic Crusaders games (as in the film by Troma) for the NES, Game Boy, and SNES. What I want to know is this – with Nintendo’s draconian licensing policy for content in games, how the hell did a game based off a Troma movie get on a Nintendo console. They became famous for their use of over-the-top gore to the deliberate point of comedy, as well as grotesque character designs.
Insert Coin: This issue, Ed Semrad is taking a moment to talk about an entirely different magazine – and not to take pot shots at it. Electronic Games, a multi-platform gaming magazine from the days before the Crash is coming back from the dead, with many of the original writers returning for the second run. It’s not coming back through Sendai Publications either – it’s through a different company, Decker Publications. So, why is Ed plugging what is basically the competition – well, a few of their writers will be appearing in EGM’s pages, but mainly because they’re targeting a different audience than EGM – gamers who got started on the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Colecovision, and kept their systems through the crash and picked up the newer systems after the crash. These are the people who we, as gamers, can call our OGs – Original Gamers.
Interface – Letters to the Editor: We start off with a regretful announcement – the Street Fighter II arcade stick has been delayed until Fall. Speaking of Street Fighter 2 we get a number of Street Fighter 2 questions – why is it taking so long to come out in the US, what do the bonus stages look like, and what do those letters in the strategy guide from an issue or two ago mean? Well, the reason for the delay is thanks to our pals at Nintendo of America – the blood from the Japanese version of the cart (which was fairly minimal too) has to be excised, which means that Capcom USA has to go through almost every frame of the game to take out all the blood. We get a picture of the “Bricks” bonus stage, which involves smashing a giant pile of bricks, instead of smashing up a car (which I suspect was also Nintendo of America’s idea). We also get a description of the terminology we will come to know and use over the many years of gaming to come – C for Charge 2 seconds, U for up, D for down, L for Left, R, for Right, K1 for Short Kick, K2 for Forward Kick, K3 for Roundhouse kick, P1 for Jab Punch, P2 for Strong Punch, P3 for Fierce Punch.
We also get some letters complaining about Nintendo packing in a hint-guide with Legend of Zelda 3 (Link to the Past), which caused them to beat the game too quickly, thus wondering when the next game would come out. The editors are somewhat befuddled about bundling a full strategy guide as well – but not for what is now the standard reason “make extra money selling the strategy guide” but because it causes people to beat the game sooner. To be frank, were I still employed, I wouldn’t mind having a strategy guide bundled with a game like Zelda – where I don’t have to grind, because that way I can get through the game more easily in short stints, rather than losing my place over the course of a week – but that’s just me.
Brian from Michigan wonders if EGM got scooped in a fanzine which ran pictures of 3D Tetris and F-Zero 2. Sorry bub – the pictures came from a Japanese video game magazine which created the pictures to show what the hypothetical SNES CD-ROM would be capable of, and they were copyrighted by the Japanese magazine anyway, so the Fanzine shouldn’t have run the pictures in the first place because they were the property of the Japanese Fanzine. There’s a letter talking about the price drops for the SNES and Genesis, with the Genesis being down to $129 in ($195 in today’s dollars), and the SNES is down to $149 ($225.90) from $199 ($301.40). There’s also a question about Sonic 2, which the editors say will include Time Travel (no), and Sonic’s new friend, who has two-tails (and is named, wait for it, “Tails”).
Review Crew: As always, thus far, The Crew is Steve Harris, Ed Semrad, Martin Alessi, and Sushi-X.
- SNES Games
Street Fighter II (Capcom): I think everyone reading this has played Street Fighter II in one form or another, and if you haven’t, you can get Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix from X-Box Live Arcade or on the Playstation Network. Steve and Martin give the game 9s, Steve finding it an arcade perfect port (or as near as you can expect for a system at the time) and Martin goes a little further to say it’s the best cart available anywhere. Ed and Sushi give the game 10s, saying that the arcade version is one of the best arcade games since Pac-Man, and the home version is an excellent port (and it’s even better with an arcade stick). Overall: 38/40 – and is tied for the Platinum Award with TMNT IV
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time (Konami): Beat-em-up, currently being re-made for X-Box Live Arcade and Playstation Network with a HD makeover. The game gets 9s across the board, finding it a fantastic arcade port with great graphics and no slowdown. Overall: 36/40 – and is tied for the Platinum Award with Street Fighter II.
Super Bowling (American Technos): 7s from just about everybody except for Ed, who gives it an 8. Everyone finds it to be a decent bowling video game (really, there’s not much you can do with bowling aside from the controls for aiming the ball, a strength meter, and the game’s physics. Ed sums it up by saying that this is an excellent game to play when you have friends over. Overall: 29/40.
NCAA Basketball (Hal America): Basketball game featuring Mode 7 graphics to depict the court (though the rest of the arena is a nondescript space). 8s across the board for this game, finding it probably one of the most realistic basketball games on the market thus far, though I probably wouldn’t advise getting this over modern basketball games. Overall: 32/40.
- NES Games
Dragon Strike (FCI): One-on-one shooter thingie based on the AD&D Dragonlance campaign setting. Martin’s review score of a 4 sums it up, somewhat (though the other 3 scores are higher) – it takes a first person dragon flight simulator with air jousting (the PC version) and turns in into a top-down shooter with sluggish controls. Steve doesn’t find it totally lacking, but it’s still nothing special, so he gives it a 5. Ed and Sushi give the game a 6, considering it to be a decent shooter, that would have probably scored higher 2 years ago, both due to the technology and the games out at the time, but it’s just not even in the running to be the “current big thing” as of the publication of that issue. Overall: 21/40.
Mr. Gimmick (Sunsoft): Platformer. Sushi gives the game 4, basically saying it’s a good kids game, with a kids game’s difficulty. Steve and Martin give it a 5 for the same reasons. Ed is the outlier (pardon the math terminology, I’m watching Numb3rs while I write this, so my mind is going back to my math classes) with an 8, saying it’s a challenging game that calls for some technique and some serious challenge later on. From everyone else saying it’s easy all the way through – was Ed playing a different game, or did he just barely scrape through this one?) Overall: 22/40.
- Genesis Games
- Slime World (Renovation): An exploration search-and-destroy game that’s a port of an Atari Lynx game. Steve didn’t like the original on the Lynx, didn’t like this one that much either, and gives it a 4. Martin was a fan of the original, and while he likes the smooth, fluid graphics of the original, he feels that the controls lost something in the move to the Genesis and gives it a 6. Ed gives the game a 7, finding the graphics superior to the Lynx version (partially because you don’t have to squint at the screen on the Lynx), while retaining the same good gameplay of the Lynx version. Sushi gives it an 8, finding it to be a very solid action-maze game. Overall: 25/40.
- Dragon’s Fury (Tengen): Pinball simulation. Martin gives the game a 6, finding it to be a decent pinball game, but repetitive – since there’s only one table. Everyone else gives the game 7s, basically because they didn’t have the same problems with repetition. Overall: 27/40.
- Side Pocket (Data East): Port of a Pool/Billiards game from the NES to the Genesis. Steve thinks that the game could have been spiced up a bit more from the NES version, and that the game didn’t have a lot of improvements from the NES, though it’s still a solid game and gives it a 7. Everyone else gives it 8s, though Sushi comments that you can only aim the cue a limited number of angles. Overall: 31/40.
- Falcon (Turbo Tech.): Fighter flight simulator. Steve and Martin find that the game has awkward controls and poor graphics and sound, so they give it 4s, with Steve saying outright “some games shouldn’t be attempted.” Ed and Sushi find the game more along the lines of average, and give it 5s, though Ed wonders what makes flight sims so hard that nobody can put out a good flight sims on consoles (the short version is the controls can’t cut it yet). Overall: 18/40.
Last Resort (SNK): Side-scrolling shump – I’ve played it before and liked it, though I didn’t like the checkpoint system. Steve, Martin, and Sushi give the game 5s, as all the fast and furious gameplay from the arcade version of the game is gone, replaced with slowdown and flicker – oh, and there are only 5 levels and the game is about $200 in 1992 ($303 in 2009 dollars). Sushi-X says outright that the graphical difficulties cost the game 3 points (bringing it down from a possible 8.) Ed gives the game 6 – because apparently while he didn’t encounter the lag difficulties he did find the game way too short. Overall: 21/40.
- Game Boy
Adventure Island (Hudson): The platformer comes to a handheld console. Sushi really, really, really wants a color Game Boy and hates the graphics on the Game Boy Brick, thus the game gets a 5. Martin agrees that the graphics have problems, even with the Game Boy (particularly related to blur) but the rest of the graphics and and sound are good so he gives it a 6. Steve and Ed find it a good, solid game and give it 7s. Overall: 25/40.
- Game Gear
Aerial Assault (Sega): Side-scrolling shump (but not in space). Steve finds it to be dull and boring and gives it a 4. Everyone else gives it 5s finding it to be a average shooter (but not much better). Overall: 19/40.
Lynx Casino (Atari): Gambling game (with a variety of possible games you can play). Steve feels like it got old fast and gave it a 6. Ed and Martin finds it to be better than most of the other gambling carts on the market and give it 7s. Sushi considers it an excellent game in general and gives it an 8. Overall: 28/40.
We get advertisements for Out Of This World, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms II.
Gaming Gossip: Batter-up!
I’m going to call this a rumor – even though it really isn’t (sort of) – Q-Mann wonders what would happen if Sega and Nintendo called a truce. While the image he paints includes Mario on the Genesis, he also imagines Sonic on an Nintendo console (which now, in the current gen, we’ve finally gotten) – so I’m going to give this an Hit for the unintentional prophecy of this.
Sega is working on their own light gun peripheral for the Genesis (which Q-Mann warns him off from doing) – Hit! Say hello to my little friend, the Justifier, the first light gun released in the US that look like a real gun (Dirty Harry’s Revolver).
- Rumor has it that Atari is going to bundle Batman with the Atari Lynx – Miss! Though that’s only because I can’t find any information to confirm that.
Street Fighter II Champion Edition is being christened Street Fighter 3 – Miss! Street Fighter 3 doesn’t come out until the days of the PS1 and Dreamcast. Street Fighter II keeps it’s Champion Edition name, leading to a trend of Street Fighter II sequels and expansions (Super Street Fighter II, Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Street Fighter II: Electric Boogaloo…)
Streets of Rage 2 is due to come out! – Hit! Not much more to say here.
Batting Average: .600 – Nothing special, it’s just decent.
EGM Express: We get more information on the Sega-CD, which is to be bundled with Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, among 2 other games. Also, Virgin Interactive already has a CD version of Out Of This World, and Terminator slated to come out upon release. However, it’s slated to cost $299 in 1992 dollars (which is $453 in 2009 dollars, more than it currently costs for the Playstation 3)!
International Outlook: We start off with coverage of Wolf-Team’s Sega-CD version of Thunder Force, featuring fully animated cutscenes. Victor has mascot platformer Wonder Dog. Tonkin has an RPG called Light Fantasy. Hudson Soft has the strategy game Earth Light. Konami has another SNES RPG with Madara II. Victor is also porting Prince of Persia to the Sega-CD with anime cutscenes! The Super Famicom is getting another F1 racing game (we got a lot of those back in the day – we don’t get those quite as much anymore – we still get them, but we don’t get 5-6 Formula 1 titles every year). We then go to the Tips & Tricks column (which is dominated by Game Genie codes).
Leading Edge: We get another preview of Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, with the moves for all the boss characters.
Next Wave: We get previews of Shadow Of The Beast, which, going by the plot description, sounds like Altered Beast without the Greek Mythology, more angst, and better graphics, and for the SNES. The SNES is also getting Skuljagger: Revolt of the Westicans which, I should mention also has an umlaut on the u, to make it for metal. Capcom’s coming out with their own NFL Football game for the SNES (which doesn’t have a title yet). We also have a preview of Dragon Warrior IV for the NES, and Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin on the Game Gear.
Preview – Batman Returns: Very nice preview of the upcoming games for Batman Returns. However, I have to give them an “Epic Fail” for, on their “Evolution of Batman” timeline on the bottom, they mention the 1960s TV series but they don’t mention The Dark Knight Returns. I’ve got the DVD, I should probably watch it eventually (either that or trade up to the Blu-Ray.
EGM’s Olympic Hopefuls: The 1992 Barcelona Olympics are coming up, which means another wave of Olympic video games. Which means previews to see how well they fare, or if they trip over a hurdle and go flat on their face. In particular, we’ve got USA Basketball for the Genesis from Electronic Arts (which features The Dream Team, with Clyde “The Glide” Drexler representing for the Portland Trail Blazers!) Capcom has Gold Medal Challenge for the NES. US Gold has Barcelona ’92 for the Genesis and Game Gear.
In-Depth Previews: We start off strong with Axelay from Konami for the SNES – vertical scrolling shooter. Irem has the platformer Dinosaurs (no relation to the sitcom – Not the Mama!) THQ has the racing game Race Driving which features 4 cars, all licensed – 2 Lamborghinis, a Porsche 914, and a Corvette. The SNES is also getting the puzzle game On The Ball which is basically similar to the Chaos Emerald stages from Sonic 1. Acclaim has new Simpsons game, Krusty’s Super Fun House, which, in the grand Simpsons tradition parodies another game – in this case Lemmings, where the player has to lead all the mice in titular house to their doom. The NES has the parody shump Bee-52, where you play as a bee. Atlus has platformer Widget after the rather lame kids show from the early 90s.
Platformer Taz-Mania, based on the TV show focused around the Tasmanian Devil, is coming out for the Genesis, which looks okay. We’re also getting a licensed boxing game for the Genesis, with Mohammad Ali Heavyweight Boxing. Ali had already retired well before the game came out. There also is another fishing game coming out, King Salmon. The Genesis is also getting another strategy game with Warrior of Rome II.
The Turbografx-16 is finally getting some Master Higgins Action with New Adventure Island. We also get an ad for the Turbo Express (the portable version of the Turbografx-16 system – which looks a helluva lot like a Game boy, only black). The Neo-Geo is getting another shump with Andro Dunos. The Game Gear is getting a licensed Terminator game (Terminator I, not II). The Game Boy is also getting a port of Centipede – not much to say about this, it’s Centipede in monochrome. It’s also getting another action-platformer, Zen Super-Intergalactic Ninja. The Atari Lynx is getting an helicopter flight-sim Steel Talons.
We then get an in-depth strategy guide for Joe and Mac with strategy guides for levels 7 through 11 and the final boss. And that will wrap up the issue.