Where I Read

Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly Issue #39

Cover for EGM #39

Cover for EGM #39

We’ve got a 1 issue gap in my EGM issue count. Specifically we’re missing issue 38. No biggie. Unlike this issue, which is over 200 pages long! (You see what I did there?) Our cover story is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV – except now it’s coming to the Genesis. The FTC said “Mr. Lincoln tear down this wall!” and (though it was to avoid major financial damages) he did. This issue was published October of 1992. Our first ad of the issue is for Konami’s port of King’s Quest V for the NES. That’s right we’re still getting NES games even though the SNES has been out for quite some time.

Insert Coin – Editorial: EGM has done it’s second major re-structuring of it’s run, particularly with some new columns and so forth, as well as changing some of the look of the magazine. However, they’re still committed to provide the best of games journalism.

Interface – Letters to the Editor: Well, we’ve got another letter about that bloody Street Fighter 3 rumor, which has been debunked in previous issues of the magazine (which doesn’t help if you’re a newsstand reader), though this time the variation is that it’s an RPG. Only, it’s not, it’s Capcom World 2, a trivia arcade game (which isn’t coming to the states). We also get some requests for recommendations for a good arcade stick. What gets recommended is the Triton Gamemaster, which doesn’t have an analog stick, looks clunky as hell, but it does let you program moves in. I’ll pass, and go with an analog stick and turbo fire over an controller that doesn’t have an arcade stick for my fighting games, thank-you-very-much. We also get a suggestion for a Street Fighter II art contest, which leads to the magazine’s having an envelope art contest. I must admit that I’ve always liked envelope art contests. Sometimes the art stinks, but occasionally something really clever comes through. We also get a request to stop covering Street Fighter II. Being that it’s the biggest story in the game industry right now, particularly when the game stops becoming a console exclusive for the NES, and the Genesis gets it’s version, I’d say that it’s perfectly reasonable to point and laugh.

We also get complaints about game designers churning out too many sequels, and doesn’t the film Game industry get any new ideas anymore? As you can tell from my strike-through, this complaint is not new to ’91, and it’s probably as old as media. There was probably some guy around a campfire in ancient Greece bitching about how Homer can only tell stories about the Trojan war and the aftermath and doesn’t he know any stories that aren’t related to the Trojan war?! Fortunately, the editors don’t get so similarly snippy, and instead remind the reader that there are new IPs coming to consoles, either originally to consoles or being ported from computers, Out of this World for instance. We’ve also got a nice letter of the issue, asking the magazine to include a copy of their featured game (at no additional cost). Now, while this is rather difficult to do with console systems (and full games are never particularly bundled with video game magazines), over time, as home consoles switch to disks systems, we eventually do get demo disks bundled with magazines (something that, as floppies and CDs became less expensive, had already been done with home computer magazines).

Review Crew: While the general structure of the magazine has been fine-tuned, the Review Crew line-up remains the same – Steve Harris, Ed Semrad, Martin Alessi, and Sushi-X. One minor little note – each issue they have each member of the Crew write a bit about what they’re playing, watching, or doing. Steve’s current favorite TV show is Star Trek The Next Generation, and his favorite character is Worf, though he keeps getting punked out each episode. Martin, on the other hand, is a big fan of MST3K. Anyway, on with the reviews.

  • Mario Paint (SNES, Nintendo): It’s a paint game for the SNES, which also as a music tool as well – probably making it one of the first “non-games” to come out for the SNES. Steve, Ed, and Sushi-X give the game 8s for just being a solid piece of software, with Martin giving it a 9 for a similar reason. See, modern games journalists – programs coming out for home consoles that aren’t standard games can, in fact, be called something other than “not-a-game”: they can be called “software”. (I’d write that with Kirby letters, but unfortunately WordPress doesn’t work that way. Overall: 33/40, and it’s the Game of the Month.
  • Humongous (SNES, EA): Action platformer with a “shrunk” theme. Steve gives it a 6, basically saying that the only thing that the theme does that makes it different is having different objects in the levels. Sushi and Martin think that the enemies and obstacles are easy to avoid or defeat, but the levels and characters are designed pretty well, though Martin finds the graphics choppy in places, and they give it 7s. Ed enjoyed it, though he thinks that experienced gamers would find it rather easy and gives it an 8. Overall: 28/40.
  • Super Buster Brothers (SNES, Capcom): It’s basically Space Invaders in a mascot shumps’ clothing. Steve Harris recognizes it for what it is and gives it a 4. Ed and Martin still find it very addictive and enjoyable and give it 7s, as does Sushi, who gives it an 8. Overall: 22/40.
  • Test Drive II (SNES, Ballistic): Racing game, this time taking the Test Drive series from circular tracks to road rally races. Steve and Martin give the game 5s, basically finding the game dull, without any real sense of speed. Ed and Sushi have the same complaints, though they give it 6s. Overall: 21/40.
  • Super Batter Up (SNES, Namco): Baseball game, with a major league license. It apparently also has poor graphics and horrible controls, which really undermines the game’s performance, leading to a 4 from Sushi and 5s from Martin, Ed, and Steve. Overall: 19/40.
  • Gargoyle’s Quest II (NES, Capcom): Action/RPG that’s a sequel to the spin-off from Ghouls & Goblins (Gargoyle’s Quest) that was released for the Game Boy. Again, we’ve got a basic consensus here, except this one is favorable – with the Crew agreeing that this game does a good job of bridging the gap between the action game and the RPG, with Sushi, Martin, and Steve giving 7s, and Ed giving an 8. Overall: 29/40.
  • Power Blade 2 (NES, Taito): Action Platformer. Sushi and Martin consider it a little better than the first Power Blade, but it’s still not good, and give it 5s. Ed and Steve think the gameplay is decent, though the graphics and sound are still pretty poor and they give it 6s. Overall: 21/40.
  • Greendog (Genesis, Sega): Action Platformer. Steve and Ed laud the game’s original themes, both in it’s look and how it sounds – but the controls leave something to be desired – 6s. Martin and Sushi agree that the game is rather awkward in it’s control, but they still found to be pretty enjoyable and give the game 7s. Overall: 26/40.
  • RBI Baseball 4 (Genesis, Tengen): Atari’s hallmark baseball series is now in it’s 4th installment. Ed doesn’t have any problems with it (he only says favorable things), but he gives it a 6. Steve and Martin also consider it a solid baseball game and give it 7s, with Sushi giving it an 8 (mentioning that the fielding controls are solid as well. Hmm… I may want to hunt down a copy). Overall: 28/40.
  • Cosmic Fantasy 2 (TurboGrafx CD-ROM, Working Designs): RPG. Sushi finds the controls rather awkward and that it needs “spunk and attitude” (Dear God no) and gives it a 6. Fortunately, he’s alone in the need for Attitude. Martin and Ed enjoy the game, giving it 7s for it’s graphics, gameplay and numerous sub-quests, and Steve giving an 8 for the same reasons. I wonder what happened to this franchise? Overall: 28/40.
  • Soldier Blade (TurboGrafx 16, Turbo Technologies): Shump. Sushi considers it to be a generic shooter without anything in it’s story, weapons, enemies or music to distinguish it from the competition, and gives it a 6. Everyone else agrees, though they do find a few of the levels interesting, interesting enough to give the game 7s instead. Overall: 27/40.
  • Chuck Rock (Game Gear, Sega): Action platformer, port of the console game. The consensus is that the game is an excellent example of a successful port from 16-bit to 8-bit, they just can’t agree on whether to give the game 6s (Ed and Martin), or 7s (Steve and Sushi). Overall: 26/40.
  • Star Wars (Game Boy, Capcom): While Lucasarts had been around for several years, they still hadn’t gotten around to doing Star Wars games on their own yet, hence this action-platformer coming out from Capcom. That said, if you’re going to make an Action Platformer, Capcom are the guys to go to. All that said, Sushi still can’t stand the Game Boy hardware, and Martin’s on his side here as well, and they give the game 6s while imploring Nintendo to make a new Game Boy, preferably one with Color – sorry guys, but you’re going to have to wait a few years. Ed, on the other hand, likes the game, and gives it a 7, with Steve giving it an 8 for the same reasons, and that they managed to work around the Game Boy’s limitations to make a good platformer. Overall: 27/40.
  • Knight Quest (Game Boy, Taito): RPG. Martin isn’t to excited by an RPG on a hand-held, and the lack of variety doesn’t help things any, so he gives it a 5. Steve, Ed, and Sushi give it 6s for the same reasons – though Sushi says that if Nintendo doesn’t get a new hand-held out soon they’ll end up getting passed by the Lynx and the Game Gear. Um… sorry Sushi. Overall: 23/40.
  • Pinball Jam (Lynx, Atari): Portable Pinball game with 2 boards. Steve, Ed, and Martin like having 2 pinball boards on one cart, but the size of the display limits the gameplay experience, so they give it 6s. On the other hand, Sushi loves this game and gives it an 8. Overall: 26/40.
  • Shadow of the Beast (Lynx, Atari): Action game. Again, we’re getting some general consensus here in all but the ratings. In this case, the consensus is that the game is a solid port, though the sound quality is lacking, though it still looks great. Ed gives the game an 8, while everyone else gives it 7s. Overall: 32/40.

Gaming Gossip: Once again, Quartermann has an at-bat, with another month of gaming industry rumors. For issue #23 (the last issue I reviewed), he got .600, but for issue #37 (the last issue before this one I reviewed), he got a 1.000. Let’s see if he does perfect this time.

  1. Well, the San Mateo Software Group’s upcoming game console is dropping CD-ROM support. Further, they’re planning on having the console basically be on an on-demand model – you would get the system through your cable company, and instead of paying $200+ in 1992 dollars, you’ll pay a $5-$10 monthly fee, and be able to download the games you want for the console – though the games are saved in RAM, so when you restart the console you’ll lose your progress (good luck with RPGs) – sort of like the Sega Channel, which would come later. Being this console is released under the name of 3DO, which was a disk system – Miss!
  2. Sonic the Hedgehog is getting his own Saturday Morning Cartoon show, one that might put him in direct competition with Mario’s own cartoon show. Well, Sonic does get his own cartoon, but it doesn’t come out until 1993, a year after Super Mario World got canceled. I’ll give him this one. Hit!
  3. For that matter, Super Mario Bros. is getting it’s own live action movie, starring Bob Hoskins of The Long Good Friday (an excellent gangster movie by the way), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Dennis Hopper. Hit! – the less said about this, the better.

2 out of 3 hits, for .667 – a step down from issue #37, but still not bad.

EGM Express: Sega’s CD Peripheral is almost ready for release in the US, and EGM has finally gotten their hands on the release model, and has literally taken it apart to give you the necessary scoops. From what they tell us, it’s still pretty similar to the Japanese Mega CD, with some software adjustments. We also know a few of the upcoming titles for the Mega CD, when it’s released, including Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. Among the other announced upcoming titles (or at least pictured upcoming titles) are Wing Commander, Cobra Command, Sonic CD, Ecco the Dolphin CD (currently just called Dolphin), Cool World, Ultima Underworld, Final Fight, and oddball Japanese puzzle game Switch. Just to do some fact-checking, Ultima Underworld ultimately doesn’t make it out for the Genesis (though it is released in Japan for the Playstation), though the rest of the list does get released for the Sega CD in the US.

Sega is also working on their own light-gun peripheral to go up against the Super Scope, called the Menacer. EGM has a list of a few of the upcoming titles that will support it, most of which are pretty forgettable, except for Terminator 2 Arcade. Additionally NEC is getting ready to roll out the TurboDuo, the next incarnation of the TurboGrafx platform, with support for the TurboGrafx CD-ROM, as well as, it looks like, TurboGrafx-16 games as well. Presumably they’ll be phasing out the older TurboGrafx platforms in favor of the TurboDuo. Also, Capcom and Konami have announced that they will develop games for the Sega Genesis, which changes the entire face of the console war at that time, as one of Nintendo’s long-time strengths in the war was their licencing deals, which allowed them to keep Capcom and Konami (and the weight those names carried) behind their console, whereas now Genesis owners would be able to say “I’ve got Final Fight too”, “I’ve got TNMT too” and soon – “I’ve got Street Fighter II too.” So, the question now is, what is the next front of the Console war going to be?

Leading Edge: Ohh, do we have a big name in terms of upcoming arcade titles this issue – Mortal Kombat! Well, that answers my question – until Nintendo lifts their restrictions on what you can or cannot depict in your games, this is going to be the next battle line – the SNES, with market saturation and the graphical edge, but with major content restrictions of what you can or cannot do in a game, or the Genesis, with not as good graphics, but more freedom to do what you want to do in your games.

The Game Doctor: The Doc’s letter of the month this issue is about the upcoming SNES CD peripheral (which never comes out), asking about whether the system will have region locking? The Doc’s answer is, basically I don’t know. If it did come out, considering the way things went with disk systems in general in the years to come, the SNES CD-Rom probably would have region locking (we haven’t really seen an end to region locking until the PS3 recently, and even then, you have to have a Japanese PSN account in order to get patches for games imported from Japan). We also get a question about how the Sega CD can add scaling, rotation, zoom and improved sound to the system, without adding additional colors or a better screen resolution. The Doc’s answer (aside from telling us that he’s a wrestling fan – the writer of this letter is from Brooklyn Park, MN, which at this time Jesse “The Body” Ventura was mayor of) basically says it was a cost-saving measure, it would cost more to include a GPU that would allow for higher screen resolutions and more colors, which would in turn have to be passed on to the consumer. Ultimately though, the lower screen resolution and number of colors would effect the Sega CD’s performance, particularly with regards to full-motion video.

We also get questions about the future of 8-bit – 8-Bit isn’t quite dead for home consoles, but it is dying, though it will endure on hand-helds until the release of the Game Boy Advance, which will bring 16-bit to hand-helds. However, the Doc goes one step further, predicting the demise of the current generation of home disk systems (and the then-current generation does die, with the first set of home disk systems to catch on being the Playstation and Saturn, followed by the Dreamcast).

International Outlook: We’ve got another big title to start this one off too – Final Fantasy V (which, isn’t officially released in North America until it’s part in Final Fantasy Anthology for the Playstation.) While this isn’t the first Final Fantasy game to use the Job System, it’s probably the Final Fantasy game with the largest expansions to the Job System until Final Fantasy Tactics. Enix has another RPG of their own that they’re working on for the SNES, Ernald from Enix (which is later released as 7th Saga). There is also a Record of Lodoss War RPG being brought out for the PC-Engine CD-ROM. I must admit I’d like to play this (and if you know where I can find a translated ROM of the game, please feel free to post it in the comments.

Tips & Tricks: Nothing particularly of note here. There’s some character vs. character stuff for Street Fighter II SNES, but that’s about it.

Next Wave: Our notable previews for this issue include a port of Wing Commander for the SNES, as well as a basketball game from Tecmo for the NES. We’re getting yet another port of Smash TV, this time for the Game Gear. Acclaim has a licenced baseball game (with Roger Clemens name on it) for the SNES. Flying Edge has Super Wrestlemania for the Genesis, and it’s also getting a licenced Tale Spin game (with no flight sim or shump elements pictured). Finally, Arena is also working on an Alien 3 game for the Game Gear.

Featured Previews: We’re starting off with Out Of This World for the SNES, a port of the excellent PC game. We’ve also got Blazeon, which looks like a Shump in the R-Type mold. Next up is Mecha Action game Metal Jack, based on the anime series Armored Police Metal Jack. I’m going to have to check that series out. Is it licensed? No, nor has it been fansubbed. Crap. Next up is Wordtris from Spectrum Holobyte (which I recommend passing on in the present, in favor of, say, Bookworm Adventures Deluxe). There’s also Skuljagger (with an umlaut on the “u”). The game looks like it wants to be a kiddy action platformer, with chewing gum as power-ups, but on the other hand we’ve got a gratuitous heavy metal umlaut. David Crane (of A Boy & His Blob fame is also making a tennis game.

Seta’s also got a fantasy themed action platformer, called Musya. Asciiware also the puzzle-action game “Spindizzy Worlds” which looks like a spiritual successor to Marble Madness, except with a top instead of a marble. We also get an ad for Dragon Warrior IV, which has since been re-released for the DS under the original Dragon Quest IV title. We also have a preview of Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest which basically tones down the games for people who have never played an RPG before. It’s also the only Final Fantasy game we’ll get after Final Fantasy IV/II until Final Fantasy VI/III comes out in the US.

We now have a preview of Toxic Crusaders, probably the only Troma franchise to get a game on a Nintendo Platform based on it (hell, probably the only Troma franchise to get a game adaptation ever). We also get a preview of Enix’s next title to get a US release, Soul Blazer. Meanwhile, on the still-on-life-support NES is getting a 3rd-party software infusion in the form of Hudson’s new Felix The Cat platformer. I must admit that I was never particularly into the Felix the Cat short cartoons, but I did see the animated feature that was on regular syndication on the Disney Channel (and I liked).

Next up is a preview of Dragon Warrior IV (with the franchise still being on the NES), with information on the first 3 chapters (focused mainly on the first 2). Also, Mega Man endures on the NES, with Mega Man 5 (which is available as part of the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for PS2, GameCube, or classic X-Box, but is not available yet for Virtual Console. Meanwhile, on the Genesis, we get another preview of Sonic The Hedgehog 2, with pictures of a few of the new levels, including the new version of Scrap Brain Zone. There’s also the strategy game Tyrants, which looks like a Real-Time Strategy game, but I’m not sure. We also have a preview of NFL Sports Talk Football Featuring Joe Montana (aka Joe Montana Football 3). There is also a shump called BioHazard (no relation to the Japanese title of the Resident Evil games), with an interesting twist, that you’re playing an insectoid creature, fighting other similar creatures.

We also have brief previews of mascot shump The Gadget Twins (which I haven’t played), and Predator 2, which I have (and it’s really freaking hard). EA’s also got a chopper flight sim, LHX Attack Chopper, with an ad (and a cool one too) right next to it for Namco’s World War 1 flight simulator Wings 2: Aces High. Tecmo’s got a soccer game, appropriately titled Tecmo World Cup (if they did a NCAA basketball game, would it be Tecmo Final Four or Tecmo March Madness. We also have screen shots of Cobra Command for the Sega CD – it’s a rail-shooter like the Rebel Assault games. Next is Alien 3 which I’ve played – it’s basically a Metroidvania style take on the movie, with the addition of the weapons from Aliens. It’s not half bad, really.

Moving on to the TurboGrafx systems, Future Bonk has a name, and has been released. The game’s title is Air Zonk. Okay, it works, sort of. Basically, it’s Bonk, except in the future, and you beat enemies with weapons instead of just bonking them with your head, and the character design is (as I mentioned in a previous article) Really Freaking ’90s. If this was the mid-to-late ’90s, the title of the game would be Zonk Xtreme! (or maybe Xtreme Bonk!) There’s also the fairly generic shump Dead Moon, and, since it’s being ported and re-ported to every other system, the original Prince of Persia (which has been re-ported yet, again to X-Box Live Arcade and the Playstation Network).

On the Neo-Geo, they’re getting a release of Art of Fighting, which features sly rip-offs/homages to Ryu and Ken of Street Fighter II – Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia, who have similar move lists (but, to their credit, aren’t pallette swaps), with information on 7 of the 8 opponents you will fight (Mr. Karate is kept a secret). We then move on to the portable systems with Batman Returns for the Game Gear, as well as Lemmings and Streets of Rage. The Game Boy is getting Black Bass Lure Fishing, and caveman themed platformer Joe & Mac. The Lynx is getting NFL Football & action-platformer Switchblade II.

Strategy Guide: The big strategy guide for this issue is for Super Axelay, a Shump that was reviewed a few issues ago. Apparently they covered the first 3 levels last issue, and this issue they have maps for levels 4, 5, and 6. I have to say, I find the maps a little more of use here, at least for games that I’m going to play (not that I’m not going to pick this up), due to not being able to take your time with a level as much in a shump.

EGM Lifestyles: New column! This is basically some of the “in theatres/entertainment” stuff that has also been in Nintendo Power, which I’ve also glossed over there, as while it provideds an interesting slice of the times, it just hasn’t been that interesting. This feature is a little more interesting, with discussion of Robocop 3, a planned Spiderman film (we don’t get that until many years later), and a 5th Superman movie, which we don’t get until Superman Returns. We also get rumors about a Street Fighter 2 movie (already?) Additionally, Wizard Magazine is celebrating it’s 1st anniversary. Congratulations, it’s about 17 years old now (3 more years and it’ll be old enough to drink).

Additionally, FASA has produced a few Battlemech cockpit simulators, and has them set up at various locations around the country, particularly in their home city of Chicago (which, those Shadowrun fans will know ends up eating dirt in the Bug City sourcebook). As far as TV is concerned, Fox is launching Batman: the Animated Series, and the 90s X-Men series. Meanwhile, on cable, we’re getting dedicated channels for animation (the Cartoon Network), and the Sci-Fi Channel. We also get a feature article on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the about-to-beginStar Trek: Deep Space Nine (though the article says that Ro Laren will be joining the DS9 cast – um, no, though I did like the character. Ahh… my childhood.

Our featured ending cutscene for the issue is for Super Adventure Island. That’ll also wrap up the issue, without any additional coverage of the Genesis Port of TMNT IV. Pfui!