Where I Read – GamePro #35
So, onwards with our GamePro recaps. Our next issue is #35 for June of 1992. This issue is at a semi-average length of 117 pages long, and it’s cover story is Taz-Mania for the Genesis. That’s right, it’s the early 90s, and now the Tazmanian Devil has the most marketing muscle of the Looney Toones. Not Bugs, not Daffy, not Tweety, not Sylvester, not Porky, not Elmer.
Editorial: Well, they’ve changed the rating system again, from a 5 point system to a 10 point system. Sort of. It’s more a 5 point system with half-points in-between. I’m more of a integer guy myself. To make things a little easier, they’ve also stopped giving a “point” score for difficulty, instead giving a brief descriptor – which is good, because on the number system difficulty was working on an entirely different scale from everything else. Well, we’ll see how the new system works out. Oh, and they’ve also added a new sports section, instead of doing semi-annual sports issues.
Mail: Our first letter is related to cross compatability between Phillips CD-I system and Nintendo’s “upcoming” SNES disk system, and rumors of plans for a color GameBoy. I suspect Nintendo is working on a Color Game Boy, though I know we don’t get it until around 1998-ish, and Sushi-X wants one even more than he wants a ninja pony. Also, they get called on a slight goof on their April issue, when they billed Jordan Vs. Bird as being for the SNES instead of being for the Genesis. We also get a letter bitching about Nintendo not putting out a 8-Bit converter for bringing NES games to the SNES (speaking of a pony), and a letter wanting to contact some of the “GamePros”. I still find obfuscating the reviewers identies through the use of false identites a little questionable – it feels like they’re trying to build popular identities for various writers and get readers to follow them, but to do it in such a way that the writers are disposable, and possibly making it difficult for writers to find work elsewhere, because the writers themselves aren’t actually getting credited for their work. Now, I could be (and I hope I am) totally wrong, but that’s the impression that editorial decision gives me.
Cutting Edge: This issue, they’re writing about cheat systems and other hardware add-ons. They start off with the Action Replay, including some particular focus of the Pro version of the unit, which is designed to help you create certain cheats by, for example, finding the right variable used for controlling the number of lives in the game, so you can more easily create your own cheat codes. We also cover the Game Genie a bit, and STD Entertainment’s Handy Kit for the Game Boy (the company might want to change their name). Anyway, the Handy Kit comes with stereo speakers, a magnifier, and a light. It’ll also probably make the Game Boy twice as bulky and half again as heavy. Oh, and then before we move on to the next article, if the cover art didn’t make your eyes bleed, we get some god-freaking-awful interior art promoting the magazine some more.
Hot At The Arcades: Sega’s got Arabian Fight, an Arabian Nights themed brawler (as if you couldn’t tell from the title), and Data East has a nice looking Star Trek pinball table.
Feature Article on Brawlers: This article does what it says on the tin – and, since we’ve now got a 10-point scale, divided into 4 categories, they now give the scores for each category underneath the picture. So, we’re starting off with Mystical Fighter for the Genesis. It’s something of a Golden Axe style fantasy brawler, with a feudal Japanese setting. The game get’s critizied for a lack of obstacles and repetative gameplay (it’s a brawler – we don’t get an actual combo system for these type of games until last gen and current gen). They like the graphics thought – the game gets 4s for Graphics & Control, and 3.5s for Sound & Fun Factor, with Intermediate difficulty. Next up is Battleblaze for the SNES, which is more of a fighting game than a brawler with, like Golden Axe, a fantasy setting. The game gets a 5 for Control, 4.5s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and a 4 for Sound, with Intermediate difficulty.
We continue to Rival Turf for the SNES from Jaleco (which is in no way related to Rival Schools from Capcom). Apparently it has some interesting Mode 7 graphics effects in travelling sequences, but it’s not clear how they’re used (rotation, guys getting knocked towards the screen, what?) and it gets 4.5 for Control, 4s for Fun Factor & Graphics, and a 3 for Sound with a Intermediate difficulty rating. SNK has the brawler Mutation Nation for the Neo-Geo (by the way, I’m surprised that this is the only one they list – if you wanted brawlers, fighters, and shumps, the Neo-Geo was your system, it didn’t have much of anything else). Anyway, it gets 5s for Graphics & Control (not surprisng, as the Neo-Geo had arcade quality graphics, plus its stock controllers were arcade sticks, which are perfect for this type of game), a 4.5 for Sound, and a 4 for Control, with Advanced difficulty (with arcade gameplay comes arcade difficulty, at a level that guzzles down quarters like Zigra chowing down on people – yes, I just referenced a Gamera movie).
Pit Fighter has gotten ported from the arcades (and SNES/Genesis) to the Game Boy. Something tells me that didn’t work out well, their scores not withstanding. The game gets 3 for Sound, 4s for Graphics, Control & Fun Factor, and has Intermediate Difficulty. As a tie-in with the article we have a preview of Street Fighter II for the SNES (which will turn out well – it’s Street Fighter II after all), and Super Double Dragon, also for the SNES (and which also looks pretty different from all the prior versions of Double Dragon I’ve seen).
NES Coverage: We’re starting off this section with coverage of Lucasarts’ super-hero action game Defenders of Dynatron City. The game apparently has some serious graphical, sound (tune re-use), and control issues (particularly related to aiming), leading to 3s for Graphics, Sound, & Control, and a 3.5 for Fun Factor, with apparently intermediate difficulty. Next is a review of Pool of Radiance. I used to play the heck out of the PC version of this game as I got into it after having got into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and it’s one of my favorite RPGs – though I tried the NES version and wasn’t too fond of it myself. The reviewer, on the other hand, had never played Dungeons & Dragons before, had no familiarity with the combat system or anything so, for example, is complaining about characters “attacking out of turn” or “being attacked out of turn” without “being allowed to defend themselves” (the initiative system doesn’t particularly work that way). Though, the graphics (both from personal experience and in the screen shots) are not as good as the graphics in the PC version of the game. It gets 1.5s for Graphics & Sound, 3s for Control & Fun Factor, and the difficulty is rated as “Advanced”.
Camerica has the chopper shump Fire Hawk, which actually looks decent (making it one of the first Camerica carts to catch my interest), with the game getting 4s for Graphics & Sound, a 4.5 for Control and a 5 for Fun Factor… and an Expert rating difficulty (so don’t play this with a controller you like). However, to bring things back into balance, Camerica has the fighter flight sim Mig-29, which gets more average ratings (though, in my experience, flight sims really don’t work that well without some sort of stick, whether it’s an arcade stick, analog stick, or flight stick). The game gets 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, a 3 for Sound, a 3.5 for Control, and an Intermediate difficulty rating. Electro Brain has the platformer Stanley: The Search for Dr. Livingston, which is basically an adventure platformer, which gets 4s across the board and a beginner difficulty rating. On the other side of the coin, we have a mascot themed platformer based on The Blues Brothers (several years after the first movie came out, and before Blues Brothers 2000 came out) from Titus Software, which gets a 4 for graphics, 3 for Sound, and a 2s for the sluggish control and low fun factor, with an Expert difficulty ranking.
The Sports Page: This is the first dedicated sports gaming column I’ve encountered in the magazines I’ve recapped thus far. We’re starting off with another first Sports Talk Baseball for the Genesis, which was the first sports game to have spoken commentary by a recognizable commentator (Lon Simmons, voice of the San Francisco Giants). For the record, I wouldn’t have minded if they did a similar sports basketball game, with, say, Bill Schonley’s voice (Bill being the Voice of the Portland Trail Blazers). The game gets 4s for Graphics, Control, and Fun Factor, and a 4.5 for Sound, with and Advanced difficulty ranking. We’ve also got side-by-side reviews of Baseball Stars II for the NES and for the Neo-Geo, which is the first time I’ve encountered this as well. I hope that as the console wars go on, we’ll see more articles like this. Well, the NES version of Baseball Stars II was not done by SNK, but by a different company, Romstar, and had little to no changes from the original, aside from being able to shift your outfielders to the left or right, depending on who was at bat, and gets 3s for Graphics & Sound, and 5s for Gameplay & Fun Factor, with an Intermediate difficulty rating. Baseball Stars II for the Neo-Geo, on the other hand, is made by SNK, and as the Neo-Geo has far superior graphical hardware, looks great (and even has some animated cut-scenes). The game gets 5s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and 4.5s for Sound & Control, with Intermediate Difficulty.
Culture Brain has Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 for the SNES, which gets a 2 for sound, a 2.5 for graphics, a 3.5 for Fun factor, and a 4 for Control, with Advanced Difficulty, which probably from the game’s ultra moves (like being able to jump miles into the air to catch home runs, or basically throwing flaming fastballs. We also get some info on upcoming baseball games, in Relief Pitcher from Atari and Extra Innings from Sony, both of which are going to arcades.
Genesis Coverage: Alright, so, we’ve got another Dungeons & Dragons game, this one based off of Classic Dungeons & Dragons (or Compendium edition), Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun, which is set on the hollow world of Mystara, one of TSR’s most gonzo settings for any game. The main criticisms here are more related to the story, finding it one-dimentional, with little explained about the setting (well, TSR wrote a boatload of books about about the setting, all of them crazier than the other, so I doubt you’ll be able to fit that much content into this). The game gets 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and 4.5s for Sound & Control, with an Advanced Difficulty rating. Next is the action game Atomic Runner from Data East. The game is a sort of Strider-style of action game, except Strider Hiryu had something of a life bar, while Max, the main character of this game gets killed in one hit. The game gets 5s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and 4.5s for Sound & Control though, with and Advanced difficulty rating.
Next is the Steampunk Shump Steel Empire from Flying Edge (which is mis-labled as being a NES game – shame on you), where you can either go through the levels in the slower or heavily armed airship or in a bi-plane. The game looks great in the pictures and gets a 5 for Graphics, and a 4 for Control and a 4.5 for Fun Factor, but only a 3.5 for Sound. The difficulty is, apparently, adjustable, but it’s not clear what changing the difficulty does (Bullets do less damage? Enemies deal more damage? You face more enemies? Enemies shoot more? Inquiring minds want to know!)
Test Drive II: The Duel has come out, with the choice to race one of three licenced cars. The game gets 2.5s for Sound & Control (apparantly there’s no Automatic Transmission option), a 3 for Graphics, and a 3.5 for Fun Factor, with intermediate difficulty (though I recall the games having some serious Rubberband AI problems.) We continue to Valis, which is coming out in the US after the second and 3rd installments. This is a sort of slash-em-up action game (like Strider or Castlevania). The game gets 5s for Control & Fun Factor, a 4.5 for Graphics and a 4 for Sound, with Advanced Difficulty. We also have another Wonder Boy game, with Wonder Boy in Monster World, which, well, plays like a Wonder Boy game does (think Adventure Island, with some adjustments). The game gets 4s for Sound & Control, and 4.5s for Fun Factor & Graphics, and the difficulty level is Advanced. We finally get to the preview that was featured on the cover Taz-Mania, based on the cartoon series. We get some images of the gameplay (it’s a platformer).
SNES Coverage: Come the halfway point, we get to the SNES, and to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time, which (as I’ve mentioned previously) is as of this writing being re-made for XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade) and PSN (PlayStation Network). I played a lot of this game at a friend’s house as a kid as well. Though, this version of the game has a new level “Technodrome: Let’s Kick Shell!” which the arcade version didn’t have, along with the mode 7 driving stages). The game gets 5s for Control & Fun Factor, a 4.5 for Graphics and a 4.0 for sound, with adjustable difficulty (changing the difficulty changes the number of continues you get. Next is Super Battletank: War In The Gulf, a M1-A1 simulator. The game gets a 2.5 for sound (though whether that’s releated to the quality of the sound-effects of the lack of a soundtrack is unclear), a 3 for graphics, and 4s for Control & Fun Factor, with Advanced difficulty. The SNES is also, finally, getting a release of the shump Raiden, as Raiden Trad. It has Adjustable difficulty (though it doesn’t say what the different difficulty levels change – lives, continues, number of bullets fired, etc), and gets 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and 3.5s for Sound & Control. The SNES is also getting another shump the Genesis already got in Thunder Force III The game runs into some slowdown problems when you get a lot of bullets and enemies and other sprites on screen, and the levels that replace the dropped levels from the Genesis version don’t look as good as the other levels in the game. Nonetheless they give it a 4.5 for Graphics, 4s for Sound & Fun Factor, and a 5 for Control.
True Golf Classics: Pebble Beach Links is (sort of) what says it is on the tin. It’s a golf game with the Pebble Beach course (which, around this time, everyone was using in their golf games), and it gets a 3 for Sound, 4.5s for Graphics, Sound & Fun Factor, with an Advanced difficulty rating. Kemco also has a port of the explosive (as in it involves bombs) puzzle game Kablooey, which gets 3s for Control & Sound, and 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, with Advanced Difficulty. Koei also has Romance of the Three Kingdoms II, which gets 3s for Graphics & Sound (though you don’t need a lot for this type of game), a 4.5 for Control and 5 for Fun Factor, and an Advanced Challenge Level. Just as an aside, I wouldn’t mid if we got another PC version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, taking some interface cues (if not overall design cues) from Civilization IV.
Other System Coverage: The TurboGraphic CD is getting video shooter adventure game thing It Came From The Desert, which is a sort of 50s monster movie parody/homage/thing. The game gets 5s for Graphics & Sound (though it probably would be considered butt ugly now), a 4 for fun factor, and a 3 for Control, with intermediate difficulty. The Neo-Geo has the football game Football Frenzy, which is a more arcadey football game (defense only has one play, and you can always see what the offence picks), and gets a 2 for Control, 3 for Fun Factor, and 4s for Graphics & Sound. It’s also getting a sort of Mutant League Soccer game (which would, technically, make it “Mutant League Football” outside of the US), except you’re playing as robots and cyborgs instead mutants. The game gets 5s across the board, with Intermediate difficulty. The Game Boy has another flight sim (ugh) in Top Gun: Guts and Glory – I’m surprised they got that many licenced games out of just one movie. The game gets 3s for Graphcis & Fun Factor, and 4s for Sound & Control, with intermediate difficulty. Sony also has a game based on the (eventually) cult hit Hudson Hawk, in the form of a semi-mascot platformer. The game gets a 5 for Graphics, 4s for Sound & Control and a 4.5 for Fun Factor, with an Advanced difficulty rating.
Data East has the puzzle platformer Nail and Scale, which gets a 3 for Sound, 3.5s for Graphics & Control and a 4 for Gameplay, with Intermediate difficulty. There’s also a Spy Vs. Spy game from Kemco, which works similarly to the PC game, where you play one of the 2 spies, attempting to gather 5 secret documents on each level and escape. The game gets 3s for Sound & Control, with a 3.5 for Funfactor and a 4.5 for Graphics & Advanced difficulty. Though, I’d kind of say that Team Fortress 2 has kind of filled the Spy vs. Spy gaming niche at the moment. Jaleco also has the word puzzle game WordZap, which tasks you to create words out of a jumbled collection of letters (sort of like Boggle or Bookworm Adventures. The game gets 4s for Graphics, Sound & Control and a 4.5 for Fun Factor, with Intermediate difficulty. At this point we get a really awesome ad for Star Control II
Moving on to the Game Gear, we have OutRun Europa (which adds a storyline to the game where you’re playing as a super-spy trying to retrieve secret documents that were stolen from you). The game gets a 3.5 for Sound, 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and a 4.5 for Control, with Advanced difficulty. Flying Edge has George Foreman’s KO Boxing, which is, well, a boxing game. The game gets a 2 for Control a 3 for Sound, a 3.5 for Fun Factor and a 4 for Control, with Advanced difficulty (which may be aggrivated by the poor control). The Lynx has the basketball game Basketbrawl (which has been reviewed previously by EGM, which liked it), and gets solidly middle-of-the-road scores (sort of) – 2.5 for Fun Factor, 3s for Graphics & Sound, and a 3.5 for Control with a Beginner difficulty level. It’s also getting a port of the arcade speedboat shump Hydra (no relation to the Marvel Universe bad-guys), which gets 4s for Graphics & Sound, and 4.5s for Control & Fun Factor, with Intermediate difficulty.
Short Pro-Shots, SwatPro: Of note this issue is Felix the Cat & Gargoyle’s Quest for the NES, poker puzzle game Square Deal for the Game Boy. No particular cheats of note. The Game Breakers guide is for the final boss-fight in Donald Duck in Quackshot.
News: Of note this issue, Lucasarts demoed Super Star Wars for the SNES, Battletoads is getting a (extremely more violent) arcade version, as well as a neutered SNES version of the arcade port, and SETA is working of a Wizard of Oz game (which turns out to be absolutely abysmal.) Meanwhile, in the saga of Accolated vs. Sega, the judge in San Francisco’s district court ruled against Accolade in their suit against Accolade putting out unlicenced Sega software, and claiming that it was licenced (even though that text was put on the bottom of the screen by Sega’s firmware for the console). We also get announcements of a boatload of other upcoming titles, which I’m not going to list off in their entirety, and that wraps up the issue.