Where I Read – GamePro #34
Well, we continue with the GamePro recaps with issue 34, for May of 1992. Our cover story is Splatterhouse II for the Genesis (though they forget the Roman numeral). The issue is pretty short, about 100 pages long.
Editorial: actually has some content, in this case regarding Nintendo’s decision to increase the amount of carts they’re letting their licencees put out for the SNES, with, basically, GamePro’s editorial staff saying this doesn’t matter, because it’s still not providing variety, with multiple, for example Golf carts coming out the same time (which is, by the way, a horrible example – these different golf carts often have a variety of courses with no overlap between them. Frankly, in my opinion, different genres of games have different thresholds for overkill. For example, you can probably get away with 2-3 different football (or soccer, for that matter) series, and I’d say that having that variety is a good thing. By having multiple football franchises, the developers have to work to make their game different, and generally work on improving their game, and working to build a better football game. When that happens, everyone wins. On the other hand, I’d say that the games market can support 7-8 ninja based action-platformers, because there’s a lot of different ways you can use ninja in your games. You can tell a post-apocalypic story, you can have the modern vigilante ninja, the urban fantasy demon-hunting ninja, the Sengoku/Jidagaki period ninja, etc. I’m not saying all these games will be good, but I am saying that the market can handle this many games without hitting saturation.
Letters: We get a couple differing letters on Edutainment games. One is from a gamer who is a psychiatrist and a woman (25 years old, almost my age, just a year older), who feels that more edutainment games should be developed, and parents should not dismiss the educational values of video games. The other is from a college student who is sick of edutainment games, and wants plays games for entertainment only. We also have someone whose Genesis power stick was, well, sticking. He opened up the system and discovered the inside was coated with black plastic dust (possibly from the joystick grinding against the spring) – cleaning out the dust (now more easily done with canned air) recovered the issue – and he voided his warranty in the process (though, on the bright side, this is how we learn about things, like why the Red Ring of Death is going on in X-Box 360s.
Cutting Edge: This issue it’s multi-game carts… which, as a general rule, are generally bootlegs out of Taiwan or Hong Kong, and circumvent the copy protection on the system using various means (in the case of the NES, it’s by using glitch pulses which could possibly damage the system). The two carts focused on in this article are definitely not licenced (one is by Camerica, which never made a licenced cart in their life), though they’re also using original games. They also look like absolute crap.
Hot at the Arcades: It’s Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, which supports mirror matches and has the bosses as playable characters, as well as some minor re-balancing tweaks.
NES Coverage: We’re starting off with Darkwing Duck for the NES. I loved this show as a kid, and I should really get around to watching it on DVD. They find the gameplay solid and the graphics and sound great, though they mourn the lack of a two-player option (but, really, who would you play as – Gizmoduck? 4 for Sound and Challenge, 5 for Graphics, Gameplay, and Fun Factor. Next up is Quattro Adventure, a 4-in-one cart from Camerica. They score each of the game’s seperately, I’m not going to bother listing all the scores, partly because it’s too much work and partly because they probably all suck anyway (and actually, going by the scores, half of them can’t break 3 on the fun factor (and one of them is under 3). Anyway, Race America, is a cross-country rally race game from Absolute, in a genre that would later be popularized by the Crusing series of games. The game’s got two different modes – drag race (which is done in split screen mode), and Road Race (which is done with either an behind the back camera angle – and would probably utilize Mode 7 graphics on the SNES – or a top-down camera angle, like with Spy Hunter). The reviewer (“Colorful Commentator” who could be anyone on the staff, and could even not be the same person twice), gives the game 3s for Graphics & Sound, 4s for Gameplay and Fun Factor (mentioning that the 2-player mode was the game’s strength), and a 5 for Challenge.
We’ve also got a reviews of Wally Bear and the No! Gang, which is an ultra-lame edutainment game designed to keep kids off drugs. Thank you, Nancy Regan. The game is also, by the way, unlicenced. So, on one side of the coin, we’ve got Narc, which shows that it’s okay to dress yourself up in a jumpsuit and wear a motorcycle helmet and gun down various drug dealers, particularly the black ones), and, we’ve got a light and fluffy platfomer that doesn’t particularly convey the message in a non-anvilicious fashion. This is something that I’m not certain even modern games have done well. Anyway, this gets a 3 for Sound, 4 for Graphics & Gameplay, and 5s for Fun Factor & Challenge. Next up is platformer Town & Country II: Thrilla’s Safari, from LJN (never a good sign), which is a mascot platformer featuring characters from Town & Country Surf Design’s merchendise. The game gets 4s for Sound & Fun Factor and 5s for Graphics, Gameplay, and Challenge. Finally, SOFEL (the guys who did Wall Street Kid has a fantasy platformer by the name of Dragon Fighter. The game looks good, but apparently controls poorly, and gets a 3 for Gameplay, and 4s for everything else. It also, apparently, goes for a lot of money on eBay.
So, Might & Magic I has come to the NES, and we’ve got a review of that too. The game gets criticized for it’s slow pase (particularly with relation to telling you where things are in the game. As much as I like old PC RPGs, I haven’t played this one, unfortuantely. They give it a 2 for Gameplay, 4s for Graphics, Sound, and Fun Factor, and a 5 for Challenge. We also get a preview of Might & Magic II for the SNES as well, which basically describes the plot.
Genesis Coverage: So, we start off with the Splatterhouse II – apparnetly in part 1 they didn’t wrap everything up, so they’re doing that now in part 2. Either that, or they did wrap things up in Part 1, and they ret-conned that for the US version of the remake, I dunno. Anyway, the game gets 4s for Sound & Gameplay, and 5s for Graphics, Fun Factor, and Challenge. Next up is Alesia Dragoon, a fantasy action game, which, in addition to having your standard hack & slash & magic stuff, there are also a series of monsters you can summon to fight alongside you (sort of like how the Summons work in some of the more recent Final Fantasy games). It gets a 4 for Sound and 5s for everything else. There’s the fighting game 2 Crude Dudes which looks like something of a spiritual successor to Bad Dudes. It’s even made by Data East, just like Bad Dudes. It also gets a 4 for Fun Factor and 5s for everything else. Next up is Wolf Team’s shump Sol-Deace (originally titled in Sol Fleace, in Japan), released by their US arm, Renovation. It gets 4s for Sound & Fun Factor, and 5s for Graphics, Gameplay, and Challenge.
SNES Coverage: We’re starting off Out Of This World for the SNES, an action adventure game that uses polygonal graphics. The controls look a little clunky though, taking two buttons to run (direction and Y), plus a 3rd button to leap. The game gets 4s for Graphics & Sound, and 5s for everything else. We’ve also got a couple Mode 7 Racers – F1 ROC from Seta – which gets a 5 for challenge, and 4s for everything else. The other is Top Gear, no relation to the hit BBC show… which didn’t exist yet (as much as I wouldn’t mind getting to play as The Stig). This game gets 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and 5s for everything else. We also get a preview of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, and Bulletproof Software’s semi-FPS Faceball. We also have a few more short reviews, of PGA Tour Golf (which 4s for Graphics, Sound & Gameplay, as well as 5s for Fun Factor & Challenge), The Rocketeer (which gets 5s for Graphics & Sound, a 3 for Challenge, and 2s for Gameplay & Fun Factor), and finally, Pit Fighter (which gets a 5 for Graphics, a 2 for Fun Factor, and 3s for everything else.
Simpsons Feature Coverage: We’ve got previews of a bunch of upcoming Simpsons titles for the Game Boy, NES, SNES, and Genesis. We’ve got Krusty’s Funhouse for the Big Two 16-bit systems, Bart’s Nightmare for the SNES & Bart vs. The Space Mutants for the Game Gear. No actual reviews though.
TurboGrafx & Neo-Geo Coverage: Well, CD comes before “Sixteen” and “Neo”, so we’re going with the TurboGrfx-CD games first, or rather, previews of them. We’ve got previews of shump Gates of Thunder, RPG Cosmic Fantasy II (whatever happened to the first game). We also have a list of some of the other upcoming titles as well, including Valis III & Loom (which is currently available through Steam, by the way). After that we move on to the Neo-Geo (yes, T comes after N, but N for NEC comes before S for SNK, so there, thppth)! First up is Fatal Fury, which introduces one of my favorite fighting game characters, (up there with Sol Badguy and Dan Hibiki – oh, and Ryu) – Terry “The Lone Wolf” Bogard. The game gets 4 for Fun Factor & Challenge (um… this is the game that created SNK Boss Syndrome), and 5s for everything else, which is good, because you’re paying $180 in 1992 dollars to get it. Next up is the brawler Robo Army, which gets a 3 for Fun Factor 4s for Sound, Gameplay, and Challenge, and a 5 for Graphics.
Handheld Game System Reviews: We begin with the Game Boy, and the flight sim Turn & Burn from Absolute, which puts you in an F-14 going up against MiG-29s and 27s. Oh, and you’re a navy pilot, which means you have to land on aircraft carriers. You know, most PC combat flight sims learned from this and ultimately gave the option to automate the landing part. Anyway, this gets 3s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and 4s for everything else. Next up is Ninja Gaiden Shadow, a prequel to the Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, which gets 3s for Sound and Fun Factor, and 4s for everything else. Konami/Ultra’s got a golf game, appropriately titled Ultra Golf, which gets a 3 for Gameplay, and 4s for everything else. Parker Brothers has ported its word-puzzle game Boggle to the Game Boy, which gets a 2 for Sound and 3s for everything else. Nintendo has also ported Kid Icarus to the Game Boy (the last version of Kid Icarus to ever come out, and Pit’s last apperance until the most recent Super Smash Brothers game.) It’s hailed as a good port and gets a 5 for Gameplay and 4s for everything else.
The Game Gear has what looks to be a strategy RPG in Crystal Warrior, though I can’t give a definite on that because the review isn’t too clear. They like it though – the game gets a 3 for Sound and 4s for everything else. There’s also another Golden Axe spinoff game, titled Ax Battler: A Legend of Golden Axe, which looks like Zelda II clone in the Golden Axe universe. They like it though, with the game getting a 5 for Challenge, 3 for Sound, and 4s for Graphics, Gameplay & Fun Factor. The Atari Lynx has Toki, a primate themed platformer, which gets a 5 for Graphics, and 4s for everything else. It’s also got the original Tower Defense game in Rampart, which gets 5s for Graphics & Sound, 4 for Challenge, and 3s for Gameplay & Fun Factor. Though, I, personally would probably reccomend getting a more recent Tower Defense game, like Pixeljunk Monsters myself.
Short Shots Previews: Of note this issue is the port of Pool of Radiance for the NES from FCI though, if you can find it, I’d reccomend getting the Forgotten Realms Silver Collection instead – it has the PC version of, basically, all the Forgotten Realms games prior to Bioware’s games that don’t suck (and a couple that do). There’s also the Wizardry-alike “Arcana” from Hal. The Genesis has the pool game Side Pocket, and the Game Gear has Out Run Europa.
SWAT Pro & Others: Not much of note from SWAT Pro, except maybe for a code for invulnerability, and an semi-easy way to get a pork chop in Super Castlevania IV (though it’s very time intensive – you have to jump on one of the treasure chests 255 times). For Game Busters we get strategies for the final boss fight in Batman for the Genesis, as well as the final cutscene, along with Final Fantasy II/IV for the SNES. In the new, we get information on Atari’s lawsuit against Nintendo for anti-competitive trade practices, and that wraps up the issue. Movie review tomorrow.