Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #44
With this installment of my EGM recaps, I encounter yet another gap in my archive, 3 issues long this time, bringing me to issue #44 for March of 1993, and we’ve got one heck of a cover story – Starfox, which I would say is number 5 on Nintendo’s top 5 first party franchises. The others, would, by the way, be Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Pokemon, in no particular order. Oh, and this little fighting game from the arcades called Mortal Kombat has come to home consoles, but that franchise isn’t going any where, is it? (That was, by the way, sarcasm.) This issue is 163 pages long, which is down a fair bit from the previous issues that were nearly 200 pages long.
Insert Coin – Editorial: Well, CES has come and gone, and Nintendo won. Sega didn’t particularly have any playable demos of their games there (particularly for the Sega CD), and the ones they did were ones with cartridge graphics but CD music (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I’m playing Suikoden right now on the PS1, and that description sums up that game fairly well). Further, their existing peripherals (the Menacer) isn’t getting any new games, and they didn’t have any games to go with their Activator motion controller (though, to be fair, the Activator is probably up there with the Power Glove in terms of ambitious motion controllers that didn’t quite work).
Interface – Letters: Sega’s been talking and boasting about the Sega Genesis’ “Blast Processing Ability” – and we finally get the question asked by a reader “what is it?” – and the answer is: Sega isn’t giving us a straight answer, so we don’t really know, though supposedly it allows for Sonic to be as fast as he is in Sonic The Hedgehog 2. We also get a thank you for the Christmas card that was sent with the December issue of EGM. Oh, and Bill (O’Reilly), it said “Happy Holidays”, not “Merry Christmas” – your head can explode now. They also got a trick sent in from one of their Canadian readers. Unfortunately, apparently the letter got set on fire at some point in the shipping process and was thus damaged. There is also a letter about a NES version of Street Fighter 2 – at present the only NES version in the works is a Thailand bootleg, though apparently Capcom is working on one, though from what I’ve determined, it never came out, not that I’m surprised.
We also get some letters in support and attacking an editorial column Ed Semrad wrote for the previous issue of EGM attacking Nintendo over how they’ve handled the publicity for their SNES CD-ROM. As I don’t have that issue, I can’t speak for what was written. It apparently got the Nintendo fanboys in a tizzy though, with claims of bias on the part of EGM in favor of Sega. This leads to another letter about whether or not Nintendo’s going to come out with the SNES CD-ROM or not, and at Winter CES Nintendo has reversed their position and announced that they weren’t doing a SNES CD-ROM Drive, and while Nintendo of America didn’t outright say that “CD-ROM is a fad” (they no longer have the control over the console market that would have let them get away with that) they imply it pretty strongly. We also get a letter on upcoming console RPGs for the Genesis, with discussion of Shining Force (probably one of the more popular strategy RPGs to make it to the states), and Phantasy Star IV. We also get letters on the various releases of Mortal Kombat (the Nintendo versions won’t have blood, the Genesis versions will, but the Genesis controller won’t have 6 buttons until the Sega CD comes out).
Review Crew: Same lineup as usual.
- Lords of Thunder (Turbo Duo, T.T.I.): This is a shump, and a sequel to Gate of Thunder. Steve & Martin give the game 8s, lauding the graphics, gameplay, boss design and music, though Martin feels the game doesn’t have as much “technique” as the prior installment in the series. Ed and Sushi give the game 9s for basically the same reasons, with Sushi lauding the game as being the best game for the Turbo Duo. I’d probably hunt down a copy of this game, except I don’t have a Turbo Duo, the older systems are rather expensive, and nobody’s put out a version of the Retro Duo NES/SNES (which you can get through Think Geek) for any of the TurboGrafx systems (be it the TurboGrafx-16, TurboGrafx CD-Rom, or the Turbo Duo) yet. Overall: 34/40 and the game receives the Editor’s Choice Gold award.
- Super Strike Eagle (SNES, Micropose): Another fighter fight sim for the SNES. It certainly scores better than most NES flight sims did, though it still didn’t do great. Steve and Martin give the game 6s, being not too impressed with the game’s dogfighting, though they like the graphics and sound quality. Ed and Sushi don’t have quite the same problems with the controls and give it 7s. I have to say that I generally need some sort of stick for most flight simulators. It doesn’t even have to be a full joystick, sometimes the analog stick on a PS2/3 controller or on the X-Box controller will work just fine – a D-Pad doesn’t work for me. Anyway, Overall: 25/40.
- Football Fury (SNES, American Sammy): Football game without an NFL licence which, basically, plays like NFL Blitz, but not Blitz: The League – a more rough & tumble version of football. Steve is not impressed with the way the game actually plays – finding it sluggish, though he liked some of the graphical stuff, but not enough to save it from a 4. Martin had similar complaints as Steve, but, from the way the review reads, the game’s playbook managed to get it another point. Ed, on the other hand, likes the game, thinking it’s a good rough-n-tumble soccer game, and gives it a 7, while Sushi gives it an 8, and is surprised this game would ever come out on a Nintendo console (it may be violent, but it’s not that violent). Overall: 23/40.
- Toxic Crusaders (SNES, Bandai): I still don’t get how a game based on a Troma property can end up on a Nintendo console during this period – but then again, the fact that a kids cartoon series was made based on a Troma film blows my mind. All that said, Steve observes that the game has some a major pacing problems (either that or it’s got some graphical slowdown problems) and gives the game a 5. Martin also finds the game slow and uneventful, with average music and dull boss fights, and gives it 6. Ed considers the game to be good for younger players and gives it a 7, while Sushi considers it to be one of his favorite titles for the SNES and gives it an 8. We’ll see what he thinks in a couple years when Super Metroid comes out.
- Sim Earth (SNES, FCI): Will Wright’s Planet simulator has come out for the SNES – and EGM’s staff credits it as being a FCI series rather than a Maxis series. Howsabout no. Anyway, the game gets 6s from Steve, Ed, and Martin – and basically, from what we can get out of the review their main argument against the game is that it’s a sandbox – it’s a game that doesn’t really have a defined end, that you can play for basically forever, much like SimCity (being that the ability to play this game forever is kind of the point of the genre, I’d consider reviewing it down for this would be kind of missing the point). Sushi, on the other hand, really likes the game, though he finds it slower than SimCity (not surprising, considering that it runs on Geologic time instead of normal human time) and gives it a 7. Overall: 25/40.
- Hardball 3 (Genesis, Accolade): Another baseball game in Accolade’s long running Genesis & PC series. Sushi doesn’t like the controls, or the graphics, and can’t understand the obsession with stats in sports games – presumably, he isn’t a Baseball fan – and gives it a 3 (see my similar complaint with their reviews of RPG games, if you don’t like baseball, you’re probably not the guy to be reviewing a baseball game). Martin and Steve also give it 4s, with similar complaints about graphical and control difficulties, though the AI controlled play-by-play apparently works out well. Ed, on the other hand, loves the game, giving it 7s (though he finds it too stat heavy). Overall: 28/40.
- Risky Woods (Genesis, Electronic Arts): Action platformer. Sushi gives the game a 3, citing horrid controls and corny graphics. Steve and Martin agree with Sushi, giving it a 4, though as apparently the game is a PC port, they consider the game’s flaws intrinsic to PC games – well, wait two months. No, seriously. Wolfenstein 3D comes out 2 months after the date on this issue, and Doom comes out in December of the following year. The golden age of PC gaming is coming. Ed Semrad gives the game a 5, recommending that you try before you buy. Overall: 16/40.
- Roger Clements MVP Baseball (Genesis, Flying Edge): Another baseball game (duh). Steve and Sushi give it 6s, finding it to be a decent game, but not great, with Sushi wishing there were more animations in the game instead of stats (well, stats take up less space, but I’ll leave that aside). Martin and Ed give the game 7s, considering it to be a solid baseball cart that strikes a good balance between stats and gameplay, but not a great baseball cart.Overall: 26/40.
- Championship Pro-Am (Genesis, Tradewest): Arcade racing game from an isometric standpoint. The game gets 7s across the board, and a lot of comparisons with the game’s predecessor, RC Pro-Am, favorable ones at that, particularly lauding the game’s control and graphics. Overall: 28/40.
- Road Avenger (Sega CD, Renovation/Wolfteam): Basically, this is kind of like Dragon’s Lair, except anime, and a bit of a Chase HQ theme to it. The Dragon’s Lair style of the game control leads to Martin giving the game a 6. Sushi also isn’t too fond of the controls, but he loves the graphics and sound, and gives it a 7, citing that he’d like to see more games like this, but with better control. Steve and Ed love the game, giving it 8s. Yahtzee, what with his hatred of “Press X To Not Die”, would probably hate this game – but then again, it’s also Japanese, and I haven’t found a single Japanese game that he’s actually liked, with the sole exception of Silent Hill. Overall: 29/40.
- World Sports Competition (Turbo Duo, TTI): It’s a Track & Field Sports game like Konami’s Track & Field series. The game doesn’t get the same reception the Track & Field series received though, collecting 6s from Steve, Ed and Sushi, who laud the variety of the events, and mentioning that it’s fun to play with other people, it doesn’t hold one’s interest when playing in single-player. Martin liked the game a little more, and didn’t find it as lacking in replay value, and gave it a 7. Overall: 25/40.
- F-117A Strike Fighter (NES, Micropose): Yep, the NES is still getting games, and it’s still getting flight simulators. The game gets 4s from Steve and Martin, who rightly cite the game’s poor control and graphical quality (really, there weren’t any good flight simulators for the NES. Sushi is disappointed with the licencing of plane names (um, Sushi, flight simulator fans like having actual real world planes in their games, even if the games aren’t set in our world, like with the Ace Combat series, and he and Ed find the game generally average, and give it 5s. Overall: 18/40.
- Breaktime (NES, FCI): Pool game. Ed, Martin, and Sushi find it to be a very good pool game, and one of the best in quite some time, though they think it can be better, particularly considering that the SNES has been out for quite some time and we can see what it can do. Thus they give it 6s. Steve gives the game a 7 for similar reasons. Overall: 25/40.
- Flintstones (Game Boy, Taito): Platformer licenced off the Hanna Barbera TV series. Sushi gives it a 5, because it’s on the Game Boy. No, seriously – he says outright that if it had been on a different platform he would have given it a 7, but because it’s on the Game Boy, he gives it a 5. You know what, I’m going to give this two point totals – one for what it should have gotten, had Sushi not hated the Game Boy so much, and one for how much it actually got. Moving on, Steve and Martin give the game 7s, finding it a good solid platformer, though Martin has some problems with the blurring as well. Ed gives an 8, saying that the game is one of the best platformers since “Mario 2” (I presume he means Super Mario Land 2). Overall: It should have got 29/40, but actually got 27/40.
- Arch Rivals (Game Gear, Flying Edge): 2-on-2 basketball game, port of a game from the Genesis. Martin finds that it looks good, but the control isn’t nearly as good as the control from the Genesis version of the game, and gives it a 5. Ed and Steve like it a little more, but they are disappointed by the absence of the combat from the gameplay that was part of the game’s schtick, and give it 6s. Sushi loved the original, and loves being able to take the game with him and gives it a 7. Overall: 24/40.
- Dinolympics (Lynx, Atari): You got a Track & Field game in my Caveman game. You’ve gotten a Caveman game in my Track & Field game. The game gets 6s from Steve, Martin, and Sushi, finding it has a nice mix of humor and good gameplay. Ed gives it a 7 for similar reasons. Overall: 25/40.
Gaming Gossip: Quartermann is going to bat once again.
- According to Q-Mann, the Sega CD-2 and Genesis 2 (new models of the Genesis and Sega CD) will not come out in the US. Miss! Both come out – and in fact, the Sega CD-2 is the only version to come out in the US (the side-mounted model instead of the model that sits entirely underneath the Genesis), and I own one of the Sega Genesis 2 models. He also mentions some technology Acclaim that was, basically, a MoCap suit.
- The SNES CD-ROM is Far from Vaporware! Miss! and Duke Nukem Forever hit it’s original release date!
- Capcom is going to merchandise the crap out of Street Fighter II. Hit! and his only hit of the night.
Results: 1 for 3 with an batting average of .333. Ooh, not good.
EGM Express: Pioneer is announcing it’s new system, the LaserActive, which apparently is advertising modules that will allow it to play… Genesis and TurboGrafx games?! That can’t be right. (checks online) It’s right. Damn. That’s like Samsung putting out a Blu-Ray player with optional – officially licenced – add-on modules that would let you play X-Box 360 or PS3 games – oh, and it played games for it’s own system as well. Though, the expansion modules for the LaserActive were significantly more expensive than the systems that they were (basically) taking the place of. We also now have the specifications for the SNES CD-ROM Drive, which isn’t coming out using technology that Nintendo said is feasible in the future for gaming. Yeah. I’m going to ignore that bit, because it’s like reporting the specifications for Duke Nukem Forever, only less funny, because while Duke Nukem Forever (and Daikatana before it) had the constant promises of 3D Realms and Ion Storm respectively about how the game was coming out and how awesome it was going to be, the saga of the SNES CD-ROM was much more on-again, off-again. Consequently, while the saga of the Duke and of Daikatana was marked by promises of “Just look how great the game is going to be, you’ll see,” as demonstrated by this Penny Arcade strip, the saga of the SNES CD-ROM can be described as “Development Hell”.
Leading Edge: In the arcades, the titles of note are a brawler from Konami by the name of Mystic Warriors that looks interesting, rail-shooter Wild Pilot, and dinosaur fighting game Dino Rex which predates Primal Rage.
The Game Doctor: We get questions about using rechargeable batteries on the Game Boy (they don’t generate enough voltage, and you shouldn’t combine them with regular batteries), the SNES CD-ROM, and asking what a “sprite” is.
International Outlook: – Well, I’m missing a couple pages of my magazine – specifically in this section, so I’ll start with what I do have, and what I have is a game called “The Fearsome Fortress” which I can’t find anything about particularly, though it looks interesting. Banpresto also has Battle Soccer, which is sort of like Super Robot Wars, the soccer (sorry, futbol) game. The Sega CD is also getting a version of Sim Earth, plus the Genesis is getting Golden Axe 3.
Tricks of the Trade: We’ve got our tricks column, which I’m not going to go too in depth on.
In-Depth Previews: Well, while Starfox is on the cover, our first preview of the issue is for Mortal Kombat, with side-by-side comparisons for the SNES and Genesis versions. That said, the SNES version is further along, but the SNES version doesn’t have any of the blood that was a big part of the game’s appeal, and there is also a version in the works for the Sega CD. We’ve also got a preview of MechWarrior for the SNES, which is set to have cut-scenes, which is a nice change. I don’t know if the game’s going to have salvage or not, or whether the plot’s going to be focused on fighting the Clans or the Inner Sphere civil war (until the clans invaded and everybody had to unite to fight the Clans). The SNES is also getting a pretty nice looking Tiny Toon Adventures platformer. I must admit I liked Tiny Toon Adventures, but in retrospect I like Animaniacs more. There’s also a game being made based on the Amblin Entertainment cartoon Family Dog (which I never watched so I know nothing about what it’s about.
Virgin has the Hockey game Super Slap Shot, which doesn’t appear to have the NHL licence, though they’re still using a lot of cities that have NHL teams. Unfortunately, I don’t watch Hockey as much as I’d like, so I don’t know how pass judgement on how this game looks. We also have a preview of Final Fight 2, which finally has a 3 character cast and simultaneous co-op, as well as borrowing some of the lineup cues from the Streets of Rage games – Big tough (and slow) brawler character (Haggar), quick and agile female character (Maki), and male character that’s more towards the middle (Carlos). And now we’ve got an ad for a game that I’m really looking forward to, for a property that’s close to my heart – Shadowrun, for the SNES. The Genesis version was a little closer to the running experience, but the SNES version had a slightly better story and a better ending. Shoot straight, watch your back, and chummer, never cut a deal with a dragon. Moving on to Starfox, which is the first game to use both Mode 7 graphics and feature the Super FX chip, allowing for polygonal graphics as well. Tecmo’s got Super NBA Basketball which as stat tracking for the players in the game, which is nice. The SNES is getting a Batman Returns game (as will the Genesis and Sega CD).
The Genesis is getting Splatterhouse 3 (which is apparently going non-linear, though they’re also including a time limit, so I don’t know how well that will work out. It’s also getting the 7-up themed platformer Cool Spot, and Rocket Knight Adventures from Konami. We also have a preview of Hardball III, which features not only very deep stats, but also a team and logo editor! We also have a preview of the X-Men action platformer (which I still remember had you starting in media res, which I thought was new at the time). There’s also a preview of Mutant League Football, which is sort of like Blood Bowl running on the Madden engine, and with no similarities with the Warhammer universe. There’s also Outrun 2019 coming up, along with Rolling Thunder 3 (which I always found had the coolest passwords).
We also finally have a preview of Sonic CD and Silpheed CD, along with Final Fight CD, which includes some of the risque content, the blood, the female enemies, Guy, and two-player co-op. You know, all the stuff that made the original good. We also have a preview of the aforementioned Batman Returns for the Sega CD, which includes some pretty awesome animated cuscenes and driving sequences. We also have some stills of Road Avenger, though for a game of that nature you need to see it in motion, and I don’t feel like hunting down the images right now. We’re also getting a CD version of Joe Montana NFL Football, now with poor quality video of Joe Montana!
The Turbo Duo is getting a sequel to Shadowgate titled, creatively enough, Beyond Shadowgate, which also drops the first person perspective for a 3rd persion perspective. Plus, since the Turbo Duo (like the TurboGrafx-16 and Turbo CD before it), tends to get a lot of Shumps, we’ve got Terraforming for the system, along with Legend of Hero Tonma, which is no relation to the Legend of Heroes series, so you don’t have to worry about the Dragon Slayer franchise over-complicating itself even further for you (because lord knows that the Dragon Slayer franchise is significantly more comprehensible than String Theory).
The NES is still scraping by with Tiny Toon Adventures 2, Battletoads & Double Dragon (two debatable tastes of even more debatable compatability), and an 8-bit version of Final Fight titled, Mighty Final Fight. Apparently this version could be arsed to include Guy, in addition to Cody and Haggar, though it doesn’t say about the two-player co-op. If it had the two-player Co-op too, I’d laugh. The Game Boy is also getting the platformer Kid Dracula, and one of the more fondly remembered Game Boy games – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, which will probably be the only Game Boy game that Sushi will give less than a 7 too, not because the game is bad, but because he hates the Game Boy more than Anonymous hates Scientology. For that matter, Milon’s Secret Castle is coming to the Game Boy as well – I’ve seen the Angry Video Game Nerd review of the NES version, and I think I’ll pass on the Game Boy version, thank you. The Game Gear is getting a Spider-Man game, in the form of Spider-Man and the Return of the Sinister Six, and Arch Rivals, which was reviewed in the Review Crew section this issue.
EGM Lifestyles: Sony is putting out it’s first mini-disk player (and eventually will put out the Diskman, once the price for CD player hardware goes down), as and we also get a picture of one of the Goomba’s from the Mario Bros’ movie – and thus one of the first movies of the shit-shake that is to come, as well as Archie Comics’ upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog comic book (which is still running). We also have a bit of a rumor on the upcoming Aladdin animated series (which, alas, does not feature the voice of Robin Williams). Our feature article, though, is about Whilce Portacio and Brandon Choi’s upcoming comic from Image, Wetworks, which could not be more Iron Age in it’s appearance if you put Rob Liefeld himself on it. This looks absolutely god-awful.
And with that, we rap up the issue, and tomorrow we’ll move on to Nintendo Power, and, hopefully, some significantly better artwork. Knock on wood.