Where I Read – GamePro #30
Alright then, on to our next issue of GamePro – issue 30 for January of 1992. Our cover story is for the Hook licenced game. Being that movie licenced games tend to suck, I’m wondering about this game more than a little bit. I also recall that GamePro also did a cover story for Enter The Matrix. Hopefully, if the game sucks, they’ll have the guts to give it an appropriate score. Anyway, this issue is about 178 pages long.
Advertising wise, we start off with a 4-page gatefold ad for Konami games. Whew, there’s something you don’t see in gaming magazines anymore. Maybe a 2-page gatefold, but not a 4-page gatefold – which is actually a bit of a shame, because in this era of gaming magazines, we had a lot of decent ads, at least, jus t going from memory they had a lot of decent ads. We also get an Genesis vs. SNES ad, hyping the Genesis’ larger game library, compared to the SNES’ game library – which isn’t entirely fair, as the Genesis has been out significantly longer than the SNES.
Editorial: So, you wanna be a game designer? Apparnetly some Japanese game companies have started opening up their own schools of Game Design, to weed out the “loose canons” and “lone wolves” who come into companies and don’t know how to work as a team on designing a game. On the one hand, it is a fairly good idea. On the other hand, the Japanese game industry is running into problems with their own bureaucracy causing difficulty with their ability to compete and be creative (as this article by Andrew Fisch shows) and this might not help things.
Letters: Finally, we get someone expressing some reason regarding the console wars – specifically, calling for a truce! No-one’s going to listen, but it’s good that someone suggested it! We also get a question about NEC dropping production for the TurboGrafx-16 (they are, eventually, but fear not, because they’ll still be supporting the system, as well as putting out the TurboDuo – an all-in-one TG-16/TG-CD unit). We also get a question about NCAA Football games, and why there aren’t any yet (though there will be some in the future). We also get a question about why customers aren’t allowed into the Consumer Electronic Show – fear not, in 1992 CES is opened to the public.
Cutting Edge: We have coverage of Atari’s upcoming Jaguar console, which doesn’t have any information on the specifications announced yet, which they’re planning on releasing in 1993. They also have some information on the upcoming software lineup for the Sega CD, including a CD version of Phantasy Star IV (which was never actually released).
Hot at the Arcades: We have previews of Namco’s polygonal graphical shooter Starblade and Data East’s Captain America & The Avengers brawler, and Terminator 2: Arcade, which was an awesome game, which I remember playing in the arcade. Atari also has the racing game Road Riot 4WD.
NES Coverage: We have our featured preview of Hook for the NES, who looks rather iffy, particularly with, for example, the life meter in the sword duel between Peter and Rufio being depicted their crotches (which are admittedly wearing pants, but a traditional life-bar would have been more intuitive – and not as creepy as the crotches of an adult and a small boy. We move on to a review of Bucky O’Haire, a platforming shooter from Konami, based on the comic – which innovates a little by taking the change-characters mechanic from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I – and gets 5s in Graphics and Fun Factor, a 4 in Gameplay, and 3s in Sound and Challenge.
We then get a review of Treasure Master – this is one of those games where you have to beat the game to get a code to enter to win a $10,000 prize, a concept which, fortunately, died until Majesco briefly resurrected it with Advent Rising for the X-Box. Adventure Quest is a platformer which starts you off with four lives and no continues. The game gets 5s in Gameplay and Challenge, and 4s in Graphics, Sounds and Fun Factor. There’s also a review of the Flintstones’ licensed platformer, appropriately titled The Flintstones. Though, as a sign of the quality of the game, the plot features futuristic time-traveller Gazoo. The game gets 5s in Gameplay and Fun Factor, 4s for Graphics and Challenge, and 3 in Sound.
Next up is the McDonald’s marketing platformer MC Kids, which was covered on Angry Video Game Nerd (NSFW). Well, while the AVGN hates it, GamePro loves it, giving 5s for Sound, Gameplay, and Funfactor, and 4s for Graphics and Difficulty. They’re giving out a lot of 5s – I’m seriously suspecting score inflation, possibly to maintain access (EGM has often had problems with being cut off by the game companies they cover). Moving on to another marketing game, we’ve got Monster in My Pocket (no relation to Pocket Monsters), a game made by Konami to hype the toy line. This one is a hack-and-slash beat-em-up. Oddly, the game gets a 4 under Graphics despite comments on significant problems with flicker, and a 4 under Fun Factor, as well as 3s in Sound and Gameplay and a 2 for Challenge.
We have short reviews of Cyberball (a football game with robots, which gets a 4 under Challenge, 3s for Fun Factor and Sound, and 2s for Graphics and Gameplay), which they’re fairly harsh on. There’s also a short review of Rampart which gets 4s under Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Difficulty and Graphics and Sound get 3s. We also have reviews of two flight simulators. Activision has Ultimate Air Combat, which gets 5s for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Difficulty (which, hopefully, doesn’t mean that you can’t land in the game. The other game is F-15 Strike Eagle – from MicroPose, which had some problems translating their shooters over from the PC to consoles, which the scores for this game reflect – a Gameplay gets a 4, but everything else (Fun Factor, Graphics, Sound, Difficulty) all get 3s.
It’s followed with a preview for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for the NES, which looks okay (though if I had to choose between the NES version and Super Empire Strikes Back for the SNES, I’d go with the SNES version). We also get a preview of Lucasarts new NES game, Defenders of Dynatron City, which I’ve never heard of, and I’m probably not going to go out of my way to find (even emulated).
Featured Golf Games: Well, they’re getting a wave of upcoming golf games for various systems, and they’re giving us reviews of seven of them. We start off with True Golf Classics: Waialae Country Club for the SNES, which focuses itself on, mainly, getting just one golf course right – the Waialae Country Club on the island of Oahu. It uses a nice, 3 press system for measuring your swing (which I like, and I’d say is my favorite way of measuring the swing aside from the red-to-violet spectrum bar more games which has been adopted by current golf games, and it gets 5s for Graphics, Fun Factor and Challenge, and 4s for Sound and Gameplay.
Next up is Hole-in-One Golf, which is also for the SNES. Apparnetly it’s not based on any real-world courses, the sound isn’t so hot, and it has some problems with the swing mechanics (which golf games live and die by – well, that and the physics – which doesn’t seem to effect the review score as much as it would for me). The game gets a 5 under Graphics, 4 for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge, and 3 for Sound. Atlus has Golf Grand Slam, which takes a top-down camera angle over the behind the back of the golfer camera angle that we normally associate with golf games. The game gets 5s under Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge, and 4s under Graphics & Sound.
We continue is Greg Norman’s Power Golf for the NES. The game features the ability to make your own golf courses. The game gets 3s for Graphics, Sound, and Gameplay, and 4s for Fun Factor and Challenge. Then we’ve got a first-party golf game for the NES, with NES Open Tournament Golf. The game’s got some difficulty with distance measurements, but, anyway, it gets a 5 for Challenge, 4 for Gameplay, and 3s for Graphics, Sound, and Fun Factor. Moving on to the Atari Lynx, it’s getting Awesome Golf, which is a game title that’s setting up five billion bad jokes. The game scores are decent, but just going from the screen shots, the game commits the cardinal sin of black text on dark blue. Anyway the game gets 5s in Sound, 4 in Gameplay and Difficulty, and 3 in Graphics and Fun Factor. We also got some very brief previews of Super PGA Tour Golf for the SNES, Jack Nickelaus Golf for the SNES and Game Boy, and Ultra Golf from Konami.
Genesis Coverage: We start off with Golden Axe II, the sequel to Sega’s classic fantasy brawler. The game gets a 5 in Gameplay, 4s for Fun Factor, Challenge, and Graphics, and a 3 for Sound. We then get to the review of Road Rash… from a local DJ, Big Rick Stewart, who at press time was a DJ for KITS in San Fransisco, and is now a DJ for KFOG FM (still in the San Fransisco Area). No mention of his apperance in GamePro on his web page. Now, I don’t know how much of a gamer Rick is – he could be a big gamer, or not so much, so I’m not going to pass judgement (and besides, sometimes it’s good to get the perspective of a neophyte). Anyway, he loves the game and gives it 5s across the board.
Next up is Donald Duck in Quackshot, an action platformer game in the vein of the Duck Tails games. The game gets 5s across the board as well (they hand those out a lot). Then we move on to another action platformer in the form of James Pond II: Codename Robocod, which doesn’t score as well, getting a 5 for Challenge, 4 for Fun Factor, Gameplay, and Graphics, and a 3 for Sound. The Genesis is also getting a 16-bit installment of the California Games series, which gets 4s for Sound and Challenge, and 5s for Graphics, Gameplay, and Fun Factor. The Genesis is getting F-22 Interceptor, a combat flight simulator with polygonal graphics (as opposed to sprites like NES flight simulators), and they don’t mention that it doesn’t have the problems that other flight sims around this time have. The game gets a 5 for Difficulty, and 4s for Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, and Fun Factor.
There’s also the shooter Trouble Shooter, a Forgotten Worlds style guys (or in this case, girls) with Jetpacks shooter. I’m not a big fan of this type of shooter, mainly because the characters have a bit too large of a hit-box in this type of game than with your standard space-ship/mecha shooter like R-Type or MUSHA. They liked it though, and gave it 5s across the board. Electronic Arts has a space opera RPG – Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, which is developed by SSI, and I suspect was based of TSR’s Buck Rogers RPG system (looks online) yep, it was based on the Buck Rogers XXVC RPG. The game gets a pretty good score, with 5s for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Difficulty, and 4s for Graphics and Sound.
The Genesis is also getting it’s own software application (and before the SNES gets Mario Paint), which they review (and the review is favorable) but they don’t give a score for. Tengen also has RBI Baseball 3, which the staff likes, though they’re not a fan of the sound. The game gets a 5 for graphics, 4s in Gameplay and Fun Factor, and 3s for Challenge and Sound. There’s also a preview of the upcoming The Terminator game for the Genesis, which gets reviewed in Angry Video Game Nerd’s episode where he covers the first Terminator movie (NSFW).
SNES Coverage: We’re starting off with a review of Legend of the Mystical Ninja, which is actually not the first Goemon game – the first one was Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu for the NES, which came out in 1986 (literally translated as “Persevere Goemon! A Tricky Journey”). The game gets a 5 for Challenge, 4 for Graphics and Gameplay, and 3s for Sound and Fun Factor. There is also a Home Alone licenced game coming out for the SNES. I cannot see this turning out well, though they apparently didn’t totally hate it, giving it 4s for Sound and Gameplay, and 3s for Graphic, FunFactor and Challenge. The SNES is also getting another shump, in the form of Earth Defense Force from Jaleco, which gets 5s for Gameplay and Challenge, and 4s for Fun Factor, Graphics & Sound.
Another classic SNES title is also getting reviewed this issue, in the form of Actraiser from Enix, which is a combination of a strategy game and an action game. The game gets 5s across the board. We also have a review of Kemco-Seika’s new action-RPG Lagoon, which the reviewer find would work well for beginners, but experienced RPG players would have problems with – plus the dungeons are a royal pain in the neck to navigate. The game gets 4s under Graphics, Sound and Gameplay, and 3s under Fun Factor and Difficulty. There is a review as well of Lemmings for the SNES, which unfortunately isn’t as in depth as I’d like. The game gets 5s for Sound and Difficulty, and 4s with Graphics, Gameplay, and Fun Factor.
I’m going to take an aside for a moment to comment on GamePro’s review style again. In the review for this game and all their other game reviews, they spend over 5/6ths of the review describing the premise of the game, and how you play the game – which I admit is important – and then the remaining 1/6th of the review talking about their likes or dislikes of the game. Let’s compare this to a video game review from Bureau42 (admittedly, one I wrote, but bear with me), and one from 1up.com. In both of these reviews, the discussion of the premise of the game, and how you play the game is minimal, with discussion of the specific controls only being mentioned if it has an effect on the review score (either favorably or negatively). Instead, the majority of the review is, basically, spent explaining why the game recieved this score or series of scores, thus justifying the score, and giving meaning to the numbers (or letter, in the case of 1up.com). Gamepro, at this time, doesn’t do that. Consequently, while they spend more real-estate on each page reviewing each game than EGM, EGM’s reviews are more enlightening than GamePro’s.
Getting back to the reviews, Nintendo of America has ported SimCity to the SNES, though Will Wright gets some lip service with the character’s advisor character being named Doctor Wright. GamePro liked it, though they were a little bummed that the cart only had space for 2 save files. The game gets a 5 for Challenge, 4s for Gameplay and Fun Factor, and 3s for Graphics & Sound. We also get short reviews for Pilotwings, Populous, and F-Zero. The Pilotwings review is pretty favorable and gets 5s across the board, which they found a very interesting stunt flight simulator. The F-Zero review is lower than I anticipated, particularly considering how hightly F-Zero is held, getting a 5 for graphics, 4 for Sound, Gameplay, and Challenge, and a 3 for Fun Factor (which I found really suprising). Populous gets 4s under Graphics, Sound, Fun Factor and Challenge, and a 3 for Gameplay. We then get a preview of the mecha action simulator Ultrabots, from Data East, and developed by Nova Logic. The game looks a lot like Mechwarrior.
Neo-Geo Coverage: SNK’s console is out and it’s insanely expensive, so how are the games? Well, we start off with King of the Monsters, their Kaiju fighting game, which gets 5s for Graphics, Sound, Fun Factor, and Challenge, and a 4 for Gameplay. Next is the shump Ghost Pilots, which gets 5s across the board. The Neo-Geo is also getting the licenced game based on the anime Eight Man (of the same title), which gets 5s for Graphics, Sound, and Gameplay, and 3s for Fun Factor and Challenge; there’s also a similar brawler, only closer to the Final Fight formula, and visual style by the title of Burning Fight, which gets 5s for Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, and Challenge, and a 4 for Fun Factor – which, from the description in the review, might be because the game is difficult enough to make you want to throw your controller – which considering how much the system costs, might be something you’d want to refrain from doing.
There’s the baseball with robots game 2020 Super Baseball, which gets a 5 in Graphics, Gameplay and Fun Factor, 4 for Sound, and 3 for Challenge. They also have a knight dueling game called Crossed Swords which, from what we see in the coverage here, reminds me somewhat of Punch-Out! not in terms of the visual style or the racially insenstive stereotypes, but in terms of the camera angle. That may mean nothing, but maybe not. The game gets a 5 under Gameplay, 4s under Graphics & Sound, and 3s under Fun Factor and Challenge. They also give a run-down of some of the SNK games they’ve reviewed previously, and their ratings, which I’m not going to go in depth on. Instead, I’ll just put up an image of the page.
TurboGrafx-16 Coverage: On to the TG-16! Woo-hoo. We’re starting off with the Darkwing Duck licenced game, which was put out by Turbo Technologies Inc. (the NES and Game Boy versions of the game were put out by Capcom). The game gets 5s in Graphics & Sound, 4s in Gameplay and Challenge, and a 3 in Fun Factor. The system is also getting a Tennis game with Davis Cup Tennis – which gets 5s in Sound and Challenge, 4s in Graphics and Fun Factor, and a 3 in Gameplay. We do get one major game for the TG-16 getting a review though (there aren’t a lot of them) with Ys III, which gets a 5 for Sound, 4s for Graphics & Challenge, and finally 3s in Gameplay & Fun Factor.
Game Boy Coverage: Well, the Adventure Island/Wonder Boy franchise has come out for just about every other platform, now Hudson’s Adventure Island has come out for the Game Boy. The game gets a fairly decent response, with 4s in Graphics, Gameplay, and Challenge, and 3s in Sound and Fun Factor. There’s also a Game Boy one-on-one basketball game from EA, in the form of Jordan vs. Bird which gets 4s for Gameplay and Fun Factor, and 3s for Graphics, Sound, and Difficulty. There’s also an Attack of the Killer Tomatoes licenced game, which is apparently based on the cartoon show instead of the movies, and turns out like most licenced games with a 4 for Challenge (I suspect from the controls), 3 for Graphics, Sound and Fun Factor, and a 2 for Gameplay.
There’s also a licenced The Flash video game, presumably having gotten the licence after the TV series came out but before the show was canceled (when this issue was published, the show had been canceled). It’s apparently got a few controle problems though, particularly requiring the player to hold down A & B while pressing a direction on the D-Pad to trigger super-speed. The game gets 4s for Graphics and Sound, 3s for Fun Factor and Challenge, and a 2 for Gameplay. Continuing with the string of poor licenced titles, there’s the Home Alone licenced title, which gets average reviews, with a 4 for Graphics, and 3s for everything else. Just for good measure there’s the Beetlejuice licenced game from LJN (shudder), which gets 3s for Sound, Fun Factor, and Challenge, a 5 for Graphics, and a 4 for Gameplay. Plus Interplay is bringing a track meet game, creatively titled Track Meet which has the exact same score as Beetlejuice.
Game Gear & Lynx Coverage: The Game Gear coverage is significantly shorter, with each game getting a little less space. We’ve got two baseball games – the middling Batter Up from Namco (which gets 3s for everything except Sound, which gets a 2), and Sega’s own Clinch Hitter which gets 5s for Graphics & Challenge, a 4 for Fun Factor, and 3s for Sound and Gameplay. There’s also an Arkanoid clone called Woody Pop that gets 3s across the board (which is different). The Lynx has the futuristic football themed game Tournament Cyberball which is Football with robots (and gets 4s for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge, and 3s for Graphics and Sound), and platforming RPG Viking Child (which gets a 5 for Gameplay, 4s for Fun Factor and Challenge, and 3s for Sound and Challenge).
I’m going to take an aside for a moment to show off this cover art for a couple of Psygnosis’ Genesis games, namely Fatal Rewind and Shadow of the Beast, which are just fantastic, and while they’re creepy, again, they’re things that I wouldn’t mind hanging on my wall – and if anyone knows where I can get full sized artwork of these pieces, that would be awesome. It looks like they’re by Roger Dean, whose work you may recognize from many of the album covers from Yes albums, as well as being a part of Hypgnosis, the art group that Storn Thorgison was a part of when he did the cover art for a lot of Pink Floyd’s old stuff.. Though, there are some Roger Dean Art books, which might have some of his stuff from Psygnosis games, which I wouldn’t mind either. He’s got 3 in print that I could see at Amazon.com – Magnetic Storm, Views, and Dragon’s Dream. I’d love to go to a showing of his stuff, but unfortunately, the only one on the West Coast is in Los Angeles – if you’re there and you can make it, I highly reccomend it. Oh, and Tim Schafer, if you’re reading this – once Brutal Legend has come out, if you want to another rock themed game, how about a Prog Rock themed game, with levels inspired by the works of, say, Roger Dean, Storn Thorgeson, and the artists who have done various other Prog Rock albums? I’d buy it.
Alright, we’re getting into more column categories now. In their Gadget’s and Gear column/feature/thingie (it wasn’t there last issue, and usually gadgets are under the “Cutting Edge” column, so I don’t know if they’re going to do a regular column of this type for Accessories, or if this is a one-time thing. Anyway, we’ve got coverage of the Game Genie and it’s competor, the Pro Action Replay, and a multi-tap adapter for the Game Boy, allowing for 4-player multiplayer, which is apparently already supported by Faceball 2000, and the Game Gear’s TV tuner, which would no longer be useful in the US, now that broadcast has switched over to High Def – unless a 3rd party builds a HD Tuner for the Game Gear. There also are some previews of a selection of Game Boy lights, to make up for the system’s lack of a back-light, along with large, bulky carrying cases for your hand held systems, to make it easier for everything to get stolen all in one whack. We then move on to our Ask the Pros and SWAT Tactics columns, along with their Short Shots previews, of which the only thing of note is Sonic the Hedgehog for the Game Gear, and that wraps up the issue.