Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read: Electronic Gaming Monthly #40

The Cover of EGM #40

The Cover of EGM #40

Next up on the EGM Recaps is issue #40, for November of 1992. The cover story for this issue takes us a long time ago, to a galaxy far, far away, meaning Super Star Wars for the SNES. This issue is pretty big, weighing in at (approximately) a whopping 277 pages long (not including Electronic Boutique’s catalog, which I’m skipping). Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael novel The Summer of the Danes is shorter than that (224 pages). Our first ad of note in the issue is for Contra Force, the last NES Contra game.

Insert Coin – Editorial: Well, the topic of the issue this time is Video Game Piracy. Thanks to new accessories that allow you to copy game information right off the cartridge, piracy has moved form the PC realm to the Console realm as well. However, EGM is taking a stand against piracy, and if you come across a retailer selling the hardware used to pirate games, send the information to EGM at a certain address, and they’ll do something unspecified. Now, as I’ve mentioned, most of my Quality Controls are recorded using an Emulator. Basically, my stance on emulation is this – if you can get the game legally, at a price you can afford, then do it. I don’t have a Wii, so Virtual Console is not an option for me. If I did have a Wii, I’d be using Virtual Console for any game on Quality Control that’s listed on Virtual Console, and I’d be recording the video using a capture card. But I don’t have a Wii, so I can’t. So, that said, buy the cartridge, if you can find it. You’ll be supporting your fellow gamer in this tough economic times, and it will also (hopefully) build the market for 3rd party retro console machines like this baby from Think Geek, that lets you play both NES and SNES games. Who knows – if this sells well, once the patents expire we might get a similar gadget for the TurboGrafx-16 (& CD-ROM), and Sega Genesis (and Sega CD, and 32X).

Interface – Letters: We get some more letters right off on the Sega CD, particularly related to what titles are coming out in the US and which ones aren’t with different magazines saying different things. The explanation is fairly simple – Sega can’t make up their goddamn mind! There also are articles about some arcades which basically have rip-off Street Fighter II machines that, for example, allow Sonic Booms to thrown in mid-air. We also get another letter about the WonderMega, and one asking if the Playstation is dead. Further, Nintendo of America is hyping to their customers that their upcoming CD-ROM system (snerk) was going to be 32-bit (snicker), and run for $200 (chuckle). Considering that the SNES CD-ROM never came out, and considering just about every other CD-ROM system cost more than that, I wonder if this was a plan by Nintendo of America’s marketing department to keep the rabid fanboys loyal, by basically selling the fans a bill of goods, and then expecting them to spread the hype through word-of-mouth. We also get a call for more content on Mortal Kombat, as well as someone providing information on how to do some of the Fatalities (Scorpion’s, Raiden’s, and Sonya’s).

Review Crew: We learn a bit about the Review Crew’s (1992) taste in music. Steve’s a bit of a classic rock guy (Zeppelin, The Stones and The Floyd), Ed’s more of a Beach Boys guy, Martin likes some of the newer stuff (ZZ Top, Tesla (whoever they are), and John Mellencamp), and Sushi, in keeping with his persona, likes J-Pop (though he doesn’t call it that).

  • Super Star Wars (SNES, JVC/Lucasarts): The game gets 9s across the board, and is lauded for it’s good graphics, sound, and gameplay though Steve has some minor problems with the controls and general execution. Overall: 36/40, and the game gets the EGM Platinum Award.
  • Blazeon (SNES, Atlus): Shump. Martin finds the game extremely mediocre, with it being difficult but with poor graphics and sound, and gives it a 5. Everyone else gives it 7s, because of the game’s interesting mechanic of being able to capture enemy ships to steal their weapons. Overall: 26/40.
  • Wordtris (SNES, Spectrum Holobyte): Puzzle game where you try to form words with letters dropping from the screen. Steve finds the game doesn’t hold up to Tetris very well and gives the game a 5. Martin finds the game enjoyable, but feels that it takes the Tetris falling-blocks thing a little too far, and gives me a 6. Ed and Sushi gives the game 7s more enjoyable and original, though they find the dictionary isn’t as expansive as it should be. Overall: 25/40.
  • Amazing Tennis (SNES, Absolute): Tennis simulator. Sushi feels that the game’s learning curve a little too steep for his taste, and gives it a 5. Steve finds it to be a decent game and he gives it a 6. Ed and Martin gives 7s finding the game significantly easier to learn than Sushi did, and they kind of like it, though tennis games aren’t their thing (with Martin referring to it as “enhanced ping-pong”). Overall: 25/40.
  • Spindizzy Worlds (SNES, Asciiware): Maze puzzle game. Steve and Martin give the game 7s, with Steve finding the game frustrating but enjoying the graphics and sound, while Martin likes it a lot, finding it reminded him of Marble Madness. Ed and Sushi find the game to be very addicting, and making you think a lot, and give it 8s. Overall: 30/40.
  • Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SNES, Quest): Square’s attempt at a beginner RPG. The game gets 7s from Steve, Martin, and Sushi, who laud it as being an excellent beginner RPG, though not much for more advanced players. Ed finds the game has something for gamers of all levels, and gives it an 8. Overall: 29/40.
  • Super Mario Kart (SNES, Nintendo): The first major cart racing game. Martin finds it to be a worthy follow-up to F-Zero, and Sushi finds it equally enjoyable, so both of them give it 8s. Steve and Ed give the game 9s, as they find it incredibly enjoyable. Overall: 34/40, and it wins the Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
  • Felix The Cat (NES, Hudson Soft): Platformer featuring the cartoon cat. The concensus is that the Felix the Cat license, and particularly its associated bag of tricks helps keep the licenced platformer fresh. Steve, Martin, and Sushi give the game 7s, and Ed gives the game an 8. Overall: 29/40.
  • Tyrants (Genesis, Virgin): Something of a real-time (but not quite) strategy game. Martin thinks that game is a little too similar to Populous (which he didn’t like that much), finding it incredibly repetative, and got fairly boring and gives it a 4. Sushi generally agrees with Martin, though he gives it a 5. Steve and Ed like it considerably more and give the game 7s due to its intellectually stimulating gameplay. Overall: 23/40.
  • Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football (Genesis, Sega): Martin and Sushi give the game 7s, finding it not as good as Madden, but a good thing to tide you over until the next Madden game comes out. While Ed and Steve don’t find the game as good as Madden, they do think it takes several steps towards catching up with Madden in terms of quality, and they give it 8s. Overall: 30/40.
  • LHX Attack Chopper (Genesis, Electronic Arts): Helicopter simulation. Steve basically says that flight sims still aren’t working quite right on consoles yet, both in terms of graphics and controls, and gives it a 5. Everyone else like it a little more than Steve, but still find it average and still have problems with the controls, but otherwise thinks its okay, and give it 6s. Overall: 23/40.
  • Air Zonk (TurboDuo, Hudson): Futuristic 90s twist on Bonk. Steve, Martin, and Sushi give the game 7s, finding it to be a good twist on Bonk, and actually able to stand on its own without being attached to the Bonk franchise. Ed gives it an 8 for pretty much the same reason. Overall: 29/40.
  • Gate of Thunder (TurboDuo, Hudson): CD-ROM Shump. Steve and Sushi give the game 8s, for excellent graphics, sound and control, and Ed and Martin give it 9s for the same reasons. Overall: 34/40, and it wins the Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
  • Lemmings (Game Gear, Sega): The classic puzzle game goes to handhelds. Steve never liked the Lemmings games, and has gotten sick of them being ported onto every system, and while he considers this a decent port, it’s not for him, and gives it a 5. Martin likes Lemmings a little more, and considers it a decent port, giving it a 6. Ed and Sushi give the game 7s, finding to be a very enjoyable port, and very enjoyable. Overall: 25/40.
  • Joe & Mac (Game Boy, Data East): Cave-man themed action-platformer. Sushi-X would have liked this game if it wasn’t on the Game Boy and gives it a 6. This is why you need a broader selection of reviewers, so if you’ve got a critic who hates the Game Boy with the fires of a thousand suns, like Sushi does, you can make sure he isn’t reviewing Game Boy games, so the game doesn’t get lower scores just because of the system. Martin gives the game a 7, finding the graphics and gameplay decent, though the screen gave him headaches. Steve and Ed gave the game 8s, finding it superior to the NES verion of the game. Overall: 31/40.
  • NFL Football (Lynx, Atari): Steve finds this to be a poor overall football game, and gives it a 4. Martin finds it a little more average, rather than just poor, and he found the NFL licence a plus, so he gives it a 5. Ed and Sushi give the game 6s, due to choppy graphics, and poor control. Overall: 22/40.

Top 10s: Not much of note this issue with the top 10 lists, except for the fact that Street Fighter 2 is no longer in the top spot for the SNES, replaced by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.

Gaming Gossip: Quartmann has yet more rumors to monger. Now, last issue Sushi got a .667 for his batting average, so we’ll see if he can improve this time.

  1. As was mentioned in the letters column, Nintendo has dropped the Playstation and is planning to stick with cartridge games, with the corporate culture tending on the side of “Disk games are a fad.” Hit! While Disk Games are not a fad, whoever in Nintendo’s corporate politics is pushing that “next generation is a fad” thing (I’m suspecting it’s Howard Lincoln), prevails here, because unlike with 16-bit hardware, Nintendo does not put out a disk system until the Gamecube, and that’s only after the N64 ends up struggling for market share, as many of their former 3rd parties moved over to the Sony Playstation (including Square).
  2. Nintendo is working on a new chip, called the Super FX chip, which will allow the SNES to handle polygonal graphics. Hit! The most famous game to take advantage of this is, Starfox, though Pilotwings and Doom use the Super FX chip as well.
  3. Quartermann doubts that the Atari Jaguar will have a 64-bit processor and polygonal graphics. Miss! It does have a 64-bit processor and polygonal graphics. The system still sucks, but it’s got the polygonal graphics and the 64-bit processor. The system still isn’t very good though.
  4. There are apparently two SKUs in the works for what will become the 3DO, the previously mentioned Cable TV SKU and the Disk System SKU. I’m still not finding any details on the Cable TV version of the system, though I am finding information confirming that Time Warner one of the major shareholders early on, presumably for setting something up with their cable service. So, I’m giving this a Hit!
  5. Q-Mann takes a series of pot-shots at GamePro before wrapping up the column. He actually does one little bit of TV speculation – we’ve got the second half of the Time’s Arrow 2-parter, and Q-Mann speculates we’ll get more Q this season – Hit! Q makes an appearance on the episode True Q, involving a girl who is the child of two Q who had chosen to take Human form.

And the batting average: 4 hits out of 5 at bats, for an average of .800. We have an improvement.

EGM Express: Well, we get confirmation about a page later of Q-Mann’s rumor about the Super FX chip, as well as the Super-NES 32-bit extension unit (which never comes out). We also have a feature on the upcoming modem peripheral for the Genesis, the Baton Teleplay Interactive System, which they don’t have a physical version of, and I can’t find any information on it ever having come out.

Leading Edge: The featured arcade game this issue is Virtua Racing, an arcade game using Sega’s Model 1 arcade board, from Sega-AM2 (who would later put out Virtua Fighter), as well as Galaxian 3, an on-rails shooter with anime style video (off of laser-disk and pre-rendered graphics). We also get Namco’s Final Lap 3, and Bucky O’Haire.

The Game Doctor: Alright, we get letters this issue about turning Street Fighter II SNES into Street Fighter II Champion Edition (sorty, can’t be done). We also got a question about how CD-ROM game systems work. As an aside from the Doc, he’s getting so many letters that there’s some spill over to his column in Electronic Games as well. So, if it doesn’t show up here, it might will show up there (and vice versa).

International Outlook: Of the notable Japanese titles this issue is Rushing Beat 2 from Jaleco (a brawler), Dragon Quest V (the first Dragon Quest game for the SNES, and didn’t come out in the US until the remake for the DS), Time Gal (a sort of anime version of Dragon’s Lair), Populous II, Fist of the North Star 6 (before there were hundreds upon hundreds of DBZ, or Naruto, or Bleach games, there were hundreds upon hundreds of Fist Of The North Star games) as well as Chase H.Q. 2.

Tricks of the Trade: We’ve got tips and tricks for various games in here, though there isn’t much of interest.

Next Wave: The upcoming titles for US release of note are Sunset Riders (a side scrolling shooter sort of) for the SNES, as well as Terminator 2: Arcade for the Genesis (which is a light gun game), and a Dragon Lair game for the SNES that isn’t one long Quick Time Event (of the Press Left To Not Die variety). The Genesis is getting a Marvel brawler based on The Avengers (titled, appropriately enough Captain America & The Avengers), and Shinobi 3.

Sega Force: Well, we’ve got more inserts. Yay – not. We start off with a letter from Thomas J. Kalinske, president and CEO of Sega, hyping their upcoming lineup. We then get an multi-page article hyping their upcoming lineup. We then get a list of a bunch of their past titles hyping those. I hate reviewing these ad inserts, and I thank God that modern game magazines don’t run these bloody damn things anymore!

Game Previews: We start up with our big game previews of Super Star Wars, as well as an article on the Expanded Universe (which has just really gotten started with Timothy Zahn’s first trilogy of novels). Among some of the other titles of note are Death Valley Rally (where you play as the Road Runner trying to get away from Wile E. Coyote. We’ve also got Spider-Man & X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge, which features, from the X-Men, Cyclops, Storm, Gambit, and Wolverine. They’re also making a 3rd Q-Bert game, which is basically Q-Bert with more detailed sprites and more high-res backgrounds. There’s also Wing Commander for the SNES, along with Super Valis IV and Super Mario Kart. Mechwarrior has also come to the SNES. Sunsoft’s got an interesting helicopter Shump called Firepower 2000 (no relation to the RPG Twilight 2000.

Moving on to the Genesis, we also have even more coverage of Sonic The Hedgehog 2, and the first coverage of Streets of Rage 2. We also have coverage of Madden ’93 (though they don’t have any info on what’s been changed between versions), and Ninja Gaiden for the Genesis. The Sega CD is also getting a mecha fighting game, Black Hole Assault, and a port of Secret of Monkey Island, plus Final Fight CD (with Guy back, all the levels being back, and the two-player co-op being back).

The extremely lame ad for Power Moves

The extremely lame ad for Power Moves

Of note on the TurboDuo, it’s getting another adventure game of its own, with Loom, which is one freaking depressing game. During this, I also want to mention an ad we get for Power Moves from Kaneko for the SNES, which is notable because it contains no images whatsoever of the game being played, with crude drawings taking the place of gameplay images. We also have Dragon Slayer being relased in the US (which is actually Dragon Slayer IV, and is the first game in the Legend of Heroes series, the Falcom episode of Retronauts spends a good few minutes trying to wrap their head around the Dragon Slayer cronology and failing horribly.)

Of note with the NES, we’ve got Mega Man 5, with Dr. Wily making his return (being that the Russian/Soviet Villain isn’t going to work anymore, what with the Cold War being over and all), and picture of a few of the Robot Masters (Wave Man, Charge Man, Gyro Man & Star Man). We’ve also got a preview of the NES version of Batman Returns, along with Krusty’s Fun House, along with Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six, and a port of Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny. Finally there’s also a Young Indiana Jones Chroncles action-platformer.

Going on to the Game Boy (and other portable systems), we’re getting Super Mario Land 2, which introduces the new series character of Wario. Also, Bonk is coming from the Turbografx/TurboDuo to the Game Boy as well. The Game Gear is getting Alien 3 – sorry – Alien^3. We’ve then got a preview of Mickey Mouse 2, which, because of the combination of backdrop and font, is really hard to read. The Lynx is getting an incredibly pixelated version of Pit Fighter.

The rather hard to read preview of Mickey Mouse 2 for the Game Gear

The rather hard to read preview of Mickey Mouse 2 for the Game Gear

EGM Lifestyles: The stories of note this issue is Superman dying, forever, at the hands of Doomsday! (Snerk) There’s also Home Alone 2: Lost in New York coming out. Deion Sanders is also going dual-class (if you will) between Football and Baseball, much like Bo Jackson. Further, a whole much of US and Japanese Video Game Magazine editors got in a game battle royal in Japan thrown by Micronet of Japan. They should totally do those today! EGM also has their What’s Hot thermometer scale, which is similar to Wired Magazine’s “Wired, Tired, Expired.” On the hot end is the upcoming Election (this is 1992 which means it’s Bush vs. Clinton), Comic Book Artists (with the hated Rob Liefeld being mentioned), and on the cold side is “Happy Endings in Movies” – I have to say I need to have a balance between my Rocks Fall Everyone Dies endings (such as The Departed) and the Rah-Rah We Won Endings. I don’t mind pyrric victories too much though. We also get a feature article on the rise of Laserdisks for movies, and all the nifty stuff they can introduce like films in their original aspect ratio, deleted scenes, and audio commentaries! All stuff that carried over to DVD and to Blu-Ray.

Game Over: We get the ending cutscene for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV, and that wraps up the issue. Next up in my recaps will be Nintendo Power #7, bringing the power into its second year, with coverage of Mega Man II.