Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read – GamePro #31

The Cover of GamePro #31

The Cover of GamePro #31

We continue with our GamePro recaps with issue 31 for February of 1992. Finally, we get 3 consecutive issues in a row. Hurray! May the streak be long and fruitful. This issue is fairly short – about 140 pages long, with a cover story of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III for the NES, which will hopefully get a bit more coverage than Hook got last issue (as a reminder, Hook got about 2 pages last issue). We also get an ad for Golden Axe II featuring a painting by Boris Vallejo, which is nice looking.

Editorial: No specific topic for the editorial column this issue, just a list of things that are to come and may be to come in 1992. They don’t really go into too many specifics, just a list. Meh.

Letters: Alright then, we get some letters about the differences between the SNES and Genesis versions of Ghouls & Ghosts. As we get more multi-platform games, being able to discern the differences between versions for various consoles becomes more important, and now with the modern internet, we get sites like GameTrailers, which make side-by-side comparison videos their business. We also get a letter asking when GameProTV is going to come out in Canada – not particularly likely, aside from the fact that they don’t bring on shows from the US unless they’ve already proven themselves, there is also a law regarding what percentage of the shows on the air feature predominately Canadian casts – unless that law hadn’t been passed by the time this issue came out. We get another calling for an article on Street Fighter II (which EGM will also cover the crap out of). We also get questions about games with an educational slant. Well, we’ll get Carmen Sandiego, SimCity, Sim Earth, and Civilization in the 16-bit generation. Unfortunately, we won’t get anything like that ever again until Civ Revolution for the modern game generation.

Cutting Edge: This issue they’re featuring the Sega CD, which is still known as the Mega CD, and is currently using the underneath model of the CD unit (the side model, the Mega CD 2 won’t come out until, oh, around 1993, 1994-ish. We also get some screen shots and general coverage of mecha action game Heavy Nova. Further we get some coverage of NEC’s Turbo Duo (still going as the PC Engine Duo) – which will allow you to play PC Engine CD games and standard PC Engine 16 games all in one unit, as opposed to the modular, multi-power supply monstrosity of the Genesis, Sega CD, and the 32X – which basically, if you’re running all of them, will require one separate power strip for all 3 enormous power plugs.

Hot at the Arcades: The notable titles being covered this issue is the sequel to Dragon’s Lair, the first major game to feature QTEs (Quick-Time Events), in that it’s one big QTE. The sequel is creatively titled Dragon’s Lair II. Technos has WWF Wrestlefest.

NES Reviews: Well, the 3rd Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is out and it’s our featured review., and they’re sticking with the successful brawler style of game, like in TMNT 2, and once again April is kidnapped (they should have a Frequent Kidnap Victim Mileage Card for female characters in video games). It gets a pretty good rating, though apparently it has some problems with not having health power ups regularly enough to make up for the punishment you’ll get. The game gets 5s under Graphics, Gameplay, Fun Factor & Challenge, and a 4 under Sound.

Speaking of sequels, Wizards & Warriors III is out, and it’s maintaining the action-platformer RPG formula, without being as infuriating as, as Nihon Falcom’s Dragon Slayer series, while still being interesting, though it’s still got limited continues and it doesn’t say if it has a password option or not (if it doesn’t I’ll hunt down the developers and stick my boot up their arse – I reserve the right to have the boot be on someone else’s foot), and the graphics aren’t so hot, though that doesn’t keep the game from getting 4s in Graphics and sound. It also gets 3s in Gameplay and Fun Factor and a 5 for Challenge (probably related to the limited number of continues). We also have a review of Captain America & The Avengers from the NES. The plot is a little… odd, with Cap and Hawkeye going to rescue The Vision and Iron Man from Red Skull. The game gets 3s for Graphics & Sound, 4s for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge.

Taito has the game Kick Master, a cleverly action game where you kick your enemies to death (there aren’t any weapons and no punch attacks, and as a bonus the likeness of Chuck Norris is not featured on or in the game in any way, shape, or form. I must admit the concept is intuitive, because in general, when it comes to fighting games, I tend to favor kick attacks over punch attacks, at least until I go into punch range, in part because kick attacks are “sexier”, and I don’t just mean in a purely sexual sense. Anyway, the game gets 4s for Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, and Fun Factor, and a 5 for Challenge.

We also have a port of PC RPG The Bard’s Tale from FCI (which, again, GamePro gives sole credit for, and I give them a solid “fuck off” for – GamePro, for mis-attributing credit, not FCI). Now, a lot of FCI’s ports of this type of RPG (like Pool of Radiance) were hit or miss, but I have to give them credit for including the option to have a mini-map on the screen at the same time as you play. This does clutter the display a bit, but it spares you the hassle of having to break out the graph paper that you would have needed for the PC version of the game. The game gets 3s for Graphics, Sound, and Fun Factor, plus a 4 for Gameplay and a 5 for Challenge. Camerica also has Bignose the Caveman a caveman game. Keep in mind, this is from Camerica, so it is an unlicensed game, and it is one of those companies which tried to circumvent the NES’s authentication chip by using electrical pulses to reset it, and hopefully fool it – and quite possibly fry it. GamePro doesn’t mention any of this. They do, however, give the game 5s for Gameplay and Challenge, and 3s for Graphics, Sound and Fun Factor. I’d recommend avoiding this game like the plague, just to avoid damaging your NES, as opposed to Tengen’s games, which reverse-engineered the chip and thus doesn’t need to get around the authentication by the equivalent of hitting the chip with a hammer.

JVC has a mini-golf game by the name of Mini-Putt, which gets a 3 for sound, 4 for graphics, and 5 for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge. We also have Talking Super Jeopardy from GameTek – which is, well a Jeopardy game that reads the questions off to you with significantly less enthusiasm than Ben Stein on Win Ben Stein’s Money. The game gets a 1 for it’s very sedate Graphics, 3s for Sound, Gameplay, and Fun Factor, and a 4 for Challenge, though ultimately, the problem with game show carts like this is often times you run into limited question lists – something which modern game show games from Jeopardy to You Don’t Know Jack address rather well. We also finally have a review of Hook for the NES, which is lauded with a 5 for Graphics, 3 for Sound, Gameplay and Fun factor, and a 4 for Challenge.

Genesis Coverage: We’re starting off with some brief previews of upcoming games, from Alisa Dragoon, to a 16-bit port of California Games, to David Robinson’s Supreme Court, to Dungeons & Dragons: Hollow World. Also of note is Galaxy Force II (which got reviewed by Ray Barnholt of the Retronauts blog at 1up recently), Golden Axe 2, Kid Chameleon, Double Dragon, Super Off Road, Warrior Of Rome II, first-person perspective RPG Black Crypt, Desert Strike, Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego?, Splatterhouse II and Warsong.

Now that we’ve got the list of upcoming titles out of the way, on to the actual reviews. First off is The Terminator, from Virgin Interactive, coming out just in time for the release of the second movie. AVGN didn’t like this game very much, but GamePro’s response is a little more favorable. The game gets 5s for Graphics & Fun Factor (really?), 4 for Challenge & Sound, and 3 for Gameplay. Next up is the RPG Rings of Power from EA. It’s much more of a PC style RPG, which is much more non-linear than, say, a Final Fantasy or Suikoden. The game gets a 5 for Fun Factor and Challenge (particularly because there’s more to keep track of), 4s for graphics & sound, and a 3 for gameplay (probably – though they don’t say it outright – because the PC control didn’t translate over to console control very well).

We’ve also a review of Warsong, which is a turn-based strategy RPG, originally titled Langrasser in Japan, and which was developed by CareerSoft, who is currently developing the Growlanser series. The game looks interesting, and reminds me a lot of Fire Emblem, particularly with not being able to replace the hero characters if they’re killed. Anyway, they give Graphics & Sound 4s, and 5s to Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge. We also finally get a review of what is probably one of the biggest franchises Wolfteam ever had – the Annet franchise, in the form of El Viento, featuring Annet Evans beating Al Capone and his evil Hastur Cultists in 1920s New York, in a Castlevania style action-platformer. The game gets 4s for Graphics & Sound, and 5s for Gameplay, Fun Factor & Challenge. We then have a brief strategy guide for Might & Magic: Gates To Another World.

SNES Coverage: Well, the Caveman craze continues with a review of Joe & Mac. They like it, and give it 5s for Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, and Fun Factor, plus a 4 in Challenge. We get another RPG franchise moving from 8-bit to 16-bit with Ys III: Wanderers of Ys coming to the Super NES from American Sammy & Nihon Falcom (as part of the significantly more comprehensible Ys series – unfortunately this one hasn’t been re-released as part of a newer platform yet in the US – it did get a re-release for Windows XP, Vista, and the PS2, but only in Japan. Presumably you can find a Japanese copy of it and then an English translation patch. Anyway, it gets a 3 for sound (the prior release was for the Turbografx-CD, which consequently had CD quality sound, 4s for Graphics, Sound & Gameplay, and a 5 for Fun factor.

We’ve also got a semi-through review of the port of Smash TV the SNES. They think the graphics aren’t quite at the cutting edge for the SNES, but they’re decent, and they give it a 4 for Graphics, and 5s for everything else. Nintendo’s also got it’s own first party tennis game in Super Tennis which looks good and plays great (5s for Graphics, Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge), but the sound needs work, getting a 4 for Sound. The SNES is also getting a port of Chessmaster from the PC to the SNES. Being that chess games are something of an acquired taste – if you don’t like chess you won’t like the sims – the game doesn’t score very well, getting 3s for Graphics, Sound, and Fun Factor, 4 for Gameplay, and 5 for Challenge. Super Off Road scores significantly better, getting a 3 for challenge, but 4s for Graphics & Sound, and 5s for Gameplay & Fun Factor. We also get a preview of Contra IV: The Alien Wars.

SNES Overseas Prospects: The title of note this time is Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, the first 16-bit Zelda game, and probably one of the most highly regarded games in the franchise, and we get a lot of screen shots, not a lot of analysis – but then again, nobody’s doing much analysis during previews yet.

TurboGrafx-16 Coverage: We get a review of Night Creatures from NEC, which is solidly mediochre, getting a 4 for challenge and 3s for everything else. There’s also an licenced game based on The Addams Family film, also from NEC, which has the player playing as… Tully Alford, the villain of the movie? Ohhkay. Anyway, the game gets a 3 for Graphics, 5 for Sound (it’s a CD game, so that’s not surprising), and 4s for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge. We also get a rundown of upcoming sports games for the Lynx. I’m not mentioning any titles because there aren’t any notable. before moving on to our next system we’re covering.

Game Boy Coverage: First up is a port of Mega Man II – it’s not a straight re-make, as Rush is included, but it’s pretty similar to the original, with 4 bosses from the NES version of the game, and then 4 from the sequel, Mega Man III. They find it a good game for those who are new to the franchise, but not or veterans, and give it 4s for Sound & Challenge (not suprising – if you beat the bosses in II & III, you’ll be able to figure out the pattern here fairly quickly), and 5s for Graphics, Gameplay, and Fun Factor. We also have a review of the first sequel to Metroid – Metroid II: Return of Samus and one of the first Game Boy games to include a save option instead of either using a password or just having to start from the beginning of the game. The game gets a 4 for sound and a 5 for everything else.

Just for good measure, on the Sci-Fi side of things, we’ve got the Star Trek 25th Anniversary game for the Game Boy. The game doesn’t do well though, getting 4s for Gameplay and Challenge, and 3s for everything else. The NES version, if I recall correctly, isn’t much better. There’s also puzzle game Crystal Quest – which tasks you to collect crystals on screen while avoiding enemies which is fun (getting a 5 for Fun Factor), but not much else (getting 3s for everything else). We’ve also got some ports of games for other systems – Super RC Pro Am, which gets 3s for Graphics, Sound, Gameplay & Challenge, and 4s for Gameplay & Fun Factor, and a port of Hook, which does pretty decent, getting 5s for Sound & Gameplay, and 4s for Graphics, Fun Factor, and Challenge.

Game Gear Coverage: The Game Gear has the shump Halley Wars, which gets 4s for Graphics, Fun Factor, and Challenge, and 3s for Sound & Gameplay, and an 8-bit version of Sonic The Hedgehog, which gets a 4 for challenge, and 5s for everything else.

SWAT Tips & Tricks: The usual tips, tricks, cheats & passwords. Not much, except for the hidden cache of power ups before the boss fight with Dracula in Super Castlevania IV. We also have a new feature, called Game Busters, which is basically the same as EGM’s Game Ending cutscene column – this time featuring the conclusion of Ninja Gaiden III. We’ve also got the Ask The Pro’s Column, and the Short Shots column – which of note in their 1-3 paragraph game descriptions is Final Fantasy II(IV), and that’s pretty much it. In their misc. news column, we’ve got Acclaim and GameTek signing on with Sega, and Nintendo loosening their licencing restrictions slightly (in terms of number of titles that can be released in a year, from 3 to 6, with a game that rates above a 30 in their internal rating system not counting towards the total. Sega is also suing Accolade for putting out unlicenced carts and passing them off as licenced, and Accolade saying that the text saying the game is licenced is caused directly by Sega’s own firmware on the Genesis. We also get a list of upcoming titles for the SNES in Japan in the coming year – titles of not including Super Fire Pro Wrestling, Mother 2 (aka Earthbound), Street Fighter II, Nobunaga’s Ambition, Romance of the 3 Kingdoms, Dragon Quest V, Romancing SAGA, Ultima VI, Wizardry V and Might & Magic II.

And that wraps up the issue. Tommorow we go on to a standard movie review. What movie? Well, I’ll leave that a surprise.