Where I Read – GamePro #33
Well, the streak of GamePro issues continues unabated. The next issue of GamePro is issue 33 for April of 1992, featuring Michael Jordan (who is not wearing a number on his uniform in this picture) on the cover. This issue is, again, fairly short – about 100 pages long.
Editorial: Finally we get some actual journalism in the editorial, relating to responses to questions posed to Nintendo of America regarding the SNES. First, related to the lack of backwards compatability, and whether or not an adapter will be shipped to allow older NES games to be played – they consider it inappropriate to sell an add-on adapter, instead we include all the cables necessary to play both (thus, if you sold your NES to upgrade to the SNES, and hoped for backwards compatibilty like the Genesis or TurboGrafx systems, we can make more money off you when you buy a new NES.) Also, some SNES games around launch have been experiencing slowdown and other framerate drops – this is because of the systems 4 CPUs working togeather to provide a superior graphical experience (in other words, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature – I thought Nintendo had actually learned something from the last video game crash, and all the crappy, buggy games being put out by companies like Intellivision, which is the company that coined the phrase). They also hype their CD-ROM add-on, which never comes out. Now, they don’t do the next step here, which is draw the necessary conclusions (Nintendo of America is an asshole), and respond as appropriate – Nintendo hasn’t changed their tune, in spite of their settlement with the FTC. However, from what I understand, the Debug systems that they use to review the pre-release code for games are basically property of Nintendo, so if they do say thing negative, in theory Nintendo could pull the consoles, and they wouldn’t be able to review games until months after they’d hit shelves, potentially killing them.
Letters: We start off with a request for advice on buying arcade cabinets. Unfortunately, nowadays cabinets are harder to come buy in the US, because less companies are making them (because arcades are dying), so it’s more cost effective to build your own arcade cabinet with a Linux PC, MAME, some arcade dumps, and your own cabinet. We also have a question about the annual sports issue, asking if we’re going to get one this year – be patient, normally the issue comes around #5 or #6. We also get a question about the Game Genie, and whether it will damage your NES. They say though, though since it uses a glitch pulse to get around the NES’s restrictions, in theory it could damage the NES, but not in the way they describe (by making it so you can’t use the NES without having the Game Genie in the system).
Cuting Edge: This issue the new technology of the future is online play using a modem. Mind you, this is a dial-up modem, so it doesn’t work too well for gaming. We’ve got one in the works from Teleplay for the NES and the Genesis (which, apparently, will also be compatible with IBM compatible keyboards and printers). Toronto company “The Game Channel” has service similar to the later Sega Channel in the works as well. Both of these are, frankly, inferior to a conventional dial-up modem and a PC (at least for this period). If you want digital distribution, you need a big fast connection and some significant storage. Not having DRM helps but it’s not required.
Hot at the Arcades and Winter CES Games: Konami’s got a western shoot-em-up (not quite a brawler) called Sunset Riders (which is pretty difficult), and we’ve got what appears to be concept art of Micropose’s upcoming giant robot shooter Battle Of The Solar System or BOTSS for short. We also get a run-down of a bunch of the notable SNES and Genesis games shown at Winter CES. Of note is Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun & Kid Chameleon. The SNES has the RPGs Arcana from HAL, Dungeon Master from JVC, The Golden Empire from Culture Brain, and Garry Kitchen’s Super Battletank from Absolute (which they hype by saying “Create your own War in the Gulf!” – I predict that last phrase, by the way, will lead to linking by Neo-con bot blogs.) There’s also Railroad Tycoon from Micropose (bringing another Sid Meier game to home consoles).
NES Coverage: We’re starting out with a review of King’s Quest V for the NES, the second game in the series to get ported to a home console (the first installment was ported to the Master System). Now, while I like adventure games, this is a Roberta Williams game, as opposed to my favorite series, the Gabriel Knight series (which is by a different designer), and the Sam & Max series (which is by Lucasarts). Judging by the review, the game runs into a lot of the problems Roberta Williams adventure games run into, such as extremely obtuse puzzles (such as needing to use custard pie to get out of an ice cave). No word in the review on how much pixel bitching is involved in solving the game – my bad, they do cover it but very briefly. The game gets a 4 for Gameplay, and 5s for Graphics, Sound, Fun Factor & Challenge.
Capcom’s also put out their second GI Joe licenced game, in G.I. Joe: The Atlantis Factor, which uses a multi-path style similar to their prior game Bionic Commando, but without the enemy patrols and less overall levels, but with the addition of multiple characters to choose from, each with different strengths, weaknesses, and weapons. The game gets 3s for Sound, Fun Factor, and Challenge, a 4 for Gameplay and a 5 for Graphics. Koei has put out an fantasy strategy game in the style of Rot3K and Nobunaga’s Ambition titled Gemfire. Why can’t we get such a broad variety like this for Dynasty Warrior clones (not to mention getting a broader variety of strategy games) – hopefully following the Koei Tecmo merger, we’ll get some fresh IPs (or revivals of older Koei IPs). The game gets a 3 for Sound, 4 for Graphics, Gameplay, and Fun Factor, and a 5 for Challenge (unsurprising, considering that Koei’s strategy games have been complicated enough that you really need to read the manual so you don’t fall completely on your face while playing – though by all rights they should be bundled with a Civilization sized manual/book.) We’ve also got a Wacky Races licenced platformer, with no races to speak of, just platforming with Mutley (who is technically one of the villains – sort of like playing a Tom & Jerry game as Tom), the game gets 3s for Sound, Fun Factor, and Challenge, and 4s for Graphics & Gameplay.
Big Basketball Blowout: We’ve got coverage of a bunch of basketball games for various systems. We start out with a preview of Bulls vs. Lakers from EA for the SNES & Genesis. Sega’s also got an first party basketball game with David Robinson’s Supreme Court. I thought David Robinson was the Backboard Admiral? IBM PCs are also getting Michael Jordan Flight from EA, with digitised characters. Hal’s got NCAA Basketball for the SNES with licenced teams (but not players, of course – NCAA rules wouldn’t allow that). LJN also has a NBA licenced one-on-one basketball game in NBA Super All-Star Challenge, with one player for each team in the NBA (as opposed to EA’s Jordan vs. Bird, which we get a review of in this section, which just has Jordan & Bird). There are a bunch of even shorter previews, aside from the one review, which we’re going to move on to. EA’s got Jordan vs. Bird One-on-One for the SNES. The game gets 4s for Sound and Fun Factor, 5s for Graphics & Gameplay, and a 2 for Challenge because the AI is pathetic.
Hext up is the hand-held systems, we start off with a review of Double Dribble: Five On Five for the Game Boy, which is possibly the first five-on-five full court basketball game for the system. I don’t know how they can handle 5-on-5 teams on the system’s small screen, but apparently they did it. The game gets a 5 for challenge, 4s for Graphics & Sound, and 3s for Gameplay & Fun Factor. We’ve also got previews of a couple other basketball games for handheld systems, but nothing really of note.
Sega Genesis Coverage: We’re starting off with a review of Kid Chameleon. They like the graphics for the game, as well as the strategy for choosing the various hats for the various challenges you face. The game gets 4s for Sound, Gameplay, and Challenge, and 5s for Graphics & Fun Factor. Next up is Renovation/Wolf Team’s Castlevania/Strider style platformer Earnest Evans. GamePro’s reviewer “Abby Normal” (whoever that is), does draw comparisons with Strider, but finds the game greatly inferior to Strider, particularly due to the sluggish control and animations. That said, the game was originally released for the Sega CD in Japan, but as the Sega CD hadn’t come out in the US yet, it was released on a cartridge, which can’t have been good for the game. The game gets 3s for Gameplay and Fun Factor, 4s for Sound & Challenge, and a 5 for Graphics. Now, considering the complaints about the animations, I might consider bumping the graphical score down a notch, but I haven’t played the cartridge version of this game yet. EA’s also ported Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego to the Genesis. From the sounds of things, it’s a solid port, which I would expect – the first system I played it on was an Apple IIe in grade school, which was about the same system power level, though the system’s graphics were limited to VGA. The game gets 4s for Graphics & Sound and 5s for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge. You know, I wonder why we haven’t got a second renaissance of Edutainment games like Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail on the Wii. Considering one of the system’s primary audiences right now is Moms with Kids, it’s a good system for it.
Sega’s got a primate-themed action platformer in Toki Goes Ape Spit, a title that would never fly on the SNES, even though the game doesn’t have any overt profanity in its title, though it gets close enough for Government work. The game gets 5s for Graphics & Challenge, and 4s for everything else. We’ve also got an action-Arkanoid game, in the vein of the later Sonic Spinball and Metroid Pinball, except with Arkanoid, titled Devilish. Apparently the game changes things up even further by having you control two paddles at once, with the lower paddle moving in tandem with the top paddle (which can also move in any direction, while the lower paddle is locked on the X axis.) Anyway, the game gets a 3 for Challenge and 4s for everything else.
SNES Coverage: Well, the Super Scope is out for the SNES, giving the system a light gun. We don’t actually have any score for this review, with the review mainly beng focused on the gun rather than on the bundled package of mini-games that came with it. Asmik has the mecha action platformer Xardion, the game with the 90s-licious mecha design I posted an image of in a previous recap of EGM. The game is, apparently, decent, getting 3s for Sound and Gameplay, and 4s for everything else. I’m starting to suspect that a game will only get a 2 if something is abysmal, and a 1 if, under that category, the game would be bad even in a prior console generation (in the relevant category). We also get a preview of Out of This World for the SNES.
TurboGrafx, Game Boy Coverage: The TG-16 has the action game Ballistix, from Psygnosis. Alas, no pictures of the cover art (which, presumably, would be by Roger Dean, as they hired him when they founded the company to do the cover art). It’s like football but harder than heck and with an obnoxious way of playing it. They give the game 4s for Sound, Gameplay and Fun Factor, and 5s for Graphics & Challenge. We then move on to the Game Boy and Batman: Return of the Joker. Batman Returns hasn’t come out yet, so we’ve basically got a rushed game to fill the gap between movies with a Batman game to get people’s dollars, since the franchise is fresh in people’s minds. It sounds like the game is significantly cheaper than the Batman game for the NES, which is unfortunate. The game gets 3 for Sound & Fun Factor, and 4s for everything else. Capcom’s got Snow Brothers Jr. which reminds me of Ice Climbers but with bosses. The game gets a 5 for Fun Factor, 4 for Graphics, and 3s for everything else. FCI’s got Ultima’s first venture onto a handheld system in Ultima: Runes of Virture, which apparently is Richard Garriott’s favorite incarnation of the series on consoles and Hand Helds – I’m going to need to find a copy of this (as in an actual game boy copy – and possibly pick up a Game Boy Advance SP for good measure. Now, GamePro gives the game 3s for Graphics & Fun Factor, 4s for Challenge and Control, and a 2 for Sound. I, on the other hand, am probably going to try to hunt down a copy to play it on (and get some AAs for my old grey brick Game Boy).
Game Gear Coverage: The Game Gear has the action platformer Popils from Tengen, which gets a 5 for Challenge, 4 for Gameplay & Fun Factor, and 3s for Graphics & Sound. It’s also getting a port of the shump Fantasy Zone, which gets a 5 for Graphics, 3 for Sound, and 4s for everything else.
Overseas ProSpects: Nintendo in Japan is working on Tetris Bombliss for the NES and Game Boy. Basically, it’s Tetris but with bombs (like Tetris Attack), plus the ability to set up pre-built puzzles to stump your friends when they come over. Now, this game actually gets a review score, which is nice – it gets 5s for Gameplay, Fun Factor, and Challenge, and 4s for Graphics & Sound, though I’d say it looks fine to me.
SwatPro: Cheats and tricks, with nothing (again) of major note this issue, with a couple exceptions. We’ve got information on how to get the Spoon Dagger and Kokkol’s weapon stash in Final Fantasy II/IV, and a cheap way to grind from Wanderer’s of Ys (basically, positing Adol in a certain area in the mine, and then rubber-banding the attack button down on the controller – or using a wrench – and walking away for a bit.)
ProNews: Nintendo is in the process of buying the Seattle Mariners, Capcom is putting out the Championship Edition of Street Fighter II, with playable bosses (which I’ve covered previously), Software Toolworks is going to put out a series of eduatinment Mario games, which will (ultimately) include Mario’s Time Machine & Mario is Missing on home consoles. The console games that were part of this deal were covered by the Angry Video Game Nerd. Anyway, we also get warned off of calling 1-800-GamePro. I couldn’t find out who actually used to have that number, so if anyone knows anything about this, please let me know.
And that wraps up this issue. Tommorow is another movie review, and next week I’ll continue with the EGM recaps.