Where I Read – GamePro #10
Today we move on to the fourth of our GamePro recaps, skipping over a couple issue (since I don’t have that issue) to issue number 10, for May of 1990. This issue has some horrifically fugly early 90s-late 80s cover art, which almost made my eyes bleed. I really hope that GamePro’s cover art improves soon. The issue is about 100 pages long. The cover boasts 14 new game reviews, and I sincerely hope that they actually are reviews this time, instead of just glorified previews, which are incapable of taking a stand on a game and saying whether or not the game actually has problems.
Editorial: The editorial staff has learned that adults are playing video games as well, and thus they would like to welcome them to the magazine, and as they run a tips and tricks column (and as adults are apparently using lots of the pay tip lines), they feel confident that their more mature readers will find them helpful. Well, if their reviews and other content don’t improve, adults are probably going to drop them like they’re hot, and go to EGM instead.
Letters: Well, our letters column starts off with a few suggestions on how the magazine can be improved. Specifically, adding another page or two to the letters column, don’t interrupt the columns with ads and don’t overload the magazine with ads (all of which are good things to live by, and part of the reason why I found Thrasher Magazine accusing Tony Hawk of selling out to be a joke, considering that the issue in question had more ads than content, and half of them had Tony Hawk) and we get a request for a Critic’s Corner, so the staff can give their constructive by “untame” perspective of video games. I’ve been saying that for 10 issues! Okay, 4 issues, but they’ve covered 10 issues of the magazine. Well, they’ve added additional space to the letters this issue and they’ve added the GamePros Rate The Games section this issue, so we’ll see how this reflects my criticisms. We also get questions about asking for back issues of the magazine (since they don’t have a back issue inventory sheet yet) and about attending CES (remember, CES isn’t made open to the public until 1992). We get several responses from readers about the letter in issue 8 about tip columns (the one saying the column should be dropped) and we get overwhelming support of keeping the tip column intact. Again, I have to agree that while I don’t find the tip column useful, if you’re not going to use the tip column, don’t read the tip column. If you’re really tempted, rip it out of the magazine and recycle it, or tape it together or something.
Our first ad of note in the issue is for Super Hydlide for the Genesis, which appears to be a port of the NES rpg.
The Cutting Edge: This issue the gadget being discussed is the “Turbo Blaster” – which has nothing to do with the TurboGrafx system. It’s a dongle-ish device that hooks up to the consoles controller ports, and allows you to simultaneously give both players turbo, without needing a special controller, and specifically it lets you turn turbo on or off for individual buttons (so you can pop on turbo for (say), the fireball button in Super Mario Bros, without it also effecting the jump button as well. It also includes an slow-mo mode, however, I have to say that mode doesn’t seem as useful for most games, since it sounds like all it does is slow down performance. Anyway, the thing ran $39.95 in 1990 (which would be about $65.18 today).
Overseas ProSpects: Their import game they’re profiling this issue is Ultimate Tiger, the TurboGrafx version of helicopter shump Twin Cobra. In general, they like it and hope it gets licenced for a US release. That said, it’s a shump, so if there aren’t any hardware constraints keeping you from playing import games on your TurboGrafx (like a region lockout or something) you could probably just import the thing.
Hot At The Arcades: Our featured arcade title is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade – which was later released on the NES (and is currently available through X-Box Live Arcade). There is one error in the article – in one of the ProTips they call Shredder “Splinter”.
Adventures of GamePro: Apparently the last issue was more exposition and setting development than flimsy excuse for tips and tricks – the bad guys (the Darklings) are trying to take over the world, and they’re powering their invasion through people playing video games they control. It’s an original concept, I must admit, though I’m still not the biggest fan of the comic. It’s kind of growing on me though – when they’re not outright sticking with the various games, and going off on their own track. That said they are doing some game tip stuff here, related to beating the various bosses in Ghouls ‘n Ghosts – assuming you can get to the bosses. Next up, Tecmo World Wrestling – that will be interesting to see how they work out that one.
ProViews: Well, we still don’t have scores in our reviews, so, we’ll see how this goes. Our first review is of Metal Gear II: Snake’s Revenge for the NES – this is the “sequel” to Metal Gear that Hideo Kojima had nothing whatsoever to do with – as demonstrated by a villain named “Col. Vermon CaTaffy” who is working with the “Higharolla Kockamemie” terrorists at “Fortress Fanatic”. No, seriously, that’s Konami’s copy not something stupid GamePro came up with – they had an ad for it earlier in the issue. GameTrailers, when they did their Metal Gear Retrospective, did an excellent job of excising all this crap from their retrospective – and it’s not hard to understand why – though I doubt “Higharolla Kockamemie” or “Col. Vermon CaTaffy” appear in the game – the names are too long for the the NES to handle. All that said, that’s also something that only, and only the US offices of Konami/Ultra would come up with – Higharolla Kockamemie is a “parody” (in the sense that Glenn Beck is comedy) of Ayatollah Khomeini, and CaTaffy is similarly making fun of Libyan ruler Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi. Welcome to the 90s.
So, after taking a bit longer on Snake’s Revenge then was actually necessary, we move on to Ninja Gaiden II and Magic Johnson’s Fast Break. The Magic Johnson’s Fast Break review actually has some negative criticisms – specifically with the shooting controls, and some of the defensive controls (particularly regarding the lack of an ability for the players to block shots) though the criticisms are downplayed as being just nit-picks – sorry, being able to block shots is kind of important. The game is also one of the first sports games that I’ve noticed that has product placement – the Pepsi name and logo is all over the place in the game. It’s not as bad as the advertising-focused video games (Yo! Noid, for instance), but it’s still rather obvious. Next up (we’re still covering the NES) is Xexys, a game that looks like a combination of an action-platformer (like Mega Man) and shump – the only other game up to this point that did this (that I’m aware of), is The Guardian Legend. The next game up is a strategy game Wall Street Kid – which, from the description, looks rather daring and original for the period – it’s a business sim game, which also calls for you to manage your health, and your relationship with your character’s girlfriend, and keep making your payments on your house. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing a remake of this game – it could make for an interesting educational tool, and there is potential there to add some dating sim elements as well.
We have one game for the Master System, mascot-platformer Psycho Fox, and then on to the Genesis. First off, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, which is in both Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PS3 and the Sega Genesis Collection for the PS2 and PSP. There’s also coverage of Atomic Robo-Kid. Moving on to the TurboGrafx, there’s Bonk’s Adventure, and JJ & Jeff a translation of the Japanese game Kato & Ken which was based on the comedy duo of the same name. Something tells me the game would probably be funnier in Japan. Next up is the Atari 7800, and Ninja Golf – which is (unsurprisingly) about ninja’s playing golf.
Moving on to the hand-held systems, on the GameBoy we’ve got coverage of NFL Football, Space Invaders from Taito (which has most recently been remade as Space Invaders Extreme on the DS, PSP, and X-Box Live Arcade). The Lynx has Gauntlet: The Third Encounter, which is apparently designed to be played on the Lynx with the system on it’s side – considering the size of the Lynx, this could be very uncomfortable.
SWAT HotTips: Various game tips – again, I’m not going into too much detail here – if something catches my attention (like a use of the Konami Code or something), I’ll mention it. We do have a strategy for Revenge of Shenobi, specifically related to beating the game with Naoko still alive.
Short ProShots: Now here we have the previews that are more directly “previews”. The NES is getting (among other games0 monster-truck racing game Bigfoot (GraveDigger wouldn’t be the “face” of Monster Truck racing until the mid-to-late 90s), action-platformer Master Hu and the Drunkard Chu (how the hell did that title get past Nintendo of America’s censors!?), shump Metal Fighter, Dragonlance: Heroes of the Lance (I’ve already gone into how bad that game is), shump Starship Hector, port of the PC adventure game Maniac Mansion, Contra sequel Super C, and the sequel to Golgo 13 – The Mafiat Conspiracy (was it actually “Mafiat” in the original release, or was adding a “t” to the end of “Mafia” Nintendo of America’s idea?).
The Genesis is getting puzzle game Shove It! The Warehouse – which looks like it’s a series of box shoving puzzles – and may possibly be responsible for the hundreds upon hundreds of box shoving puzzles that would be inflicted upon gamers during the 64-bit generation of console systems. The TurboGrafx is getting Neutopia a Legend of Zelda clone. The Atari 7800 is getting action game Alien Brigade. The Game Boy gets puzzle game Daedalian Opus (though what the game has to do with Daedalus is beyond me).
ProNews Report: BDL Enterprises is working on a portable NES compatible system. While there is one on the market now as the patent has lapsed on NES compatible hardware, so we’re getting a lot of NES compatible systems out there, as of 1990, this is begging for a major lawsuit. From my research – the only BDL Enterprises in existance today is a construction company in Iowa, so it’s very possible that BDL did get sued by Nintendo and got driven out of business – and in this case I wouldn’t attribute evil to Nintendo – BDL should have known what it was getting into in this case – the hardware and software of the NES was significantly more proprietary than the hardware and software of IBM’s first desktop computer. Not much else of not here, except mis-spelling Enix as Inex. Inex actually was a software company in 1990 – but they were involved in business software, not game devlopment.
And that’s the end of the issue. For my Quality Control, I’ll try to hunt down a copy of Wall Street Kid, and see if that game is as interesting as it looked.