Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #50
The EGM recaps continue with isue #50, for September of 1993. Oh, what a cover story we have this issue! In this corner, we have Street Fighter II Turbo. In the other corner, we have Mortal Kombat – the two franchises that will define fighting games in the United States for the next few years. Once again, as a reminder, this issue is rather long at approximately 197 pages. So let’s begin, or, rather (considering the fighting game cover) – Fight!
Editorial: This issue’s editorial from Ed Semrad covers the differences between the SNES and Genesis versions of Mortal Kombat – the SNES version has all the good stuff (blood, some of the fatalities, etc.) removed, while the Genesis version is as close as possible to an arcade quality port for a home console system. Unfortunately, what is the gamer to do – shut up and take it. Unfortunately, the kind of multiple-console releases we see a lot of in the modern generation of gaming (and the one prior) had significantly more titles getting multi-platform releases than the 16-bit era, where, at this point in the generation, multi-platform releases were relatively new – not to mention the problems with Nintendo penalizing developers and publishers who went multi-platform. Now, this might be a good place to say that censorship places artistic restrictions on games – but at this point in gaming’s history the “Games as Art” movement didn’t exist particularly, so if you wanted to reference a title where content restrictions would restrict the kind of stories that could be told, you’d have to go to import games – for example, the Shin Megami Tensei series of games (which most US gamers wouldn’t know about anyway). So, we have a dilemma.
Letters: We start off this column off with a letter about cross licencing to the SNES – while we’ve gotten some SNES games coming to the Genesis, we haven’t gotten many going the other way. Around this point we, basically, get the rules for titles we might see go cross platform that we understand today – 3rd party games can go cross platform, 1st party games won’t. We also run into a problem with letter-art columns – plagarism – we have a letter about someone submitting a duplicate of a piece of envelope art that was originally run to EGM to GamePro. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten that far in GamePro yet, so I can’t particualrly spot the envelope art duplicates. Also, with remakes comes letters bitching about remakes. In this case, the complaint is about Super Mario All-Stars – well, you get the lost levels, and all the prior levels in the previous games get graphical makeovers, which makes a difference as well. The next letter also feels-complainy – it relates to their International Outlook column, asking why they bother publishing it when most people can’t get the games in Japan (well, often times the games get licenced for a US release – and now – in the current gen, there’s always the possibility of a game getting a rom translation patch!)
Review Crew: Same crew as usual – Steve Harris, Ed Semrad, Martin Alessi, and Sushi-X.
- Street Fighter II Turbo (SNES, Capcom): Street Fighter II: Championship Edition is coming from the arcades to the SNES, and it’s bringing a speed boost with it. The game is praised as “the perfect fighting game” by Steve, and “faster than the arcade” by Sushi. Oh, and Ed says “the best fighting game just got better”. Come to think about it, the only person who says anything negative about the game and doesn’t give any possible box-quote material is Martin, who observes that the barrel punching mini-game is missing, and there are a few minor details that are absent as well. In general though, Steve and Martin give the game 9s, and Ed and Sushi give the game 10s. Overall: 38/40 and it recieves the Editor’s Choice Platinum Award.
- Boxing Legends of the Ring (SNES, Electro Brain: Boxing game with something of a slightly behind the back perspective (sort like what you get in Fight Night, only Fight Night takes a bit more of a side view). Sushi & Martin give the game 5s, with Martin finding the animation choppy, and Sushi finding the controls awkward. Steve gives the game a 6 for good sound, but choppy and sometimes unresponsive animations and control. Ed gives it a 7, finding it one of the best boxing games to come out in a while, though he too considers the control unresponsive. Overall: 23/40.
- Cool Spot (SNES, Virgin): The 7-Up Mascot (who I liked, to be honest), got his own platformer on the Genesis, which did well, so they ported it to the SNES. Steve liked the game on the Genesis, and liked the game on the SNES, but he’s found the whole “7-Up Spot” thing is getting old, leading to an 8. Everyone else gives it 9s, lauding the improved graphics (the Genesis version had some scrolling problems), the solid control, and generally finding the game (*groan*) cool. *Sigh* Would it have killed you to change things up by saying the game “Hit the spot”? Overall: 34/40.
- Mortal Kombat (SNES, Acclaim): Well, Mortal Kombat has come to the SNES. The blood is gone. The fatalities are gone. This hurts the game’s score from everyone – heck, it’s everyone’s sole complaint about the game, with Steve, Martin, and Sushi giving the game 7s, and Ed giving the game an 8. Overall: 29/40.
- Rocky Rodent (SNES, Irem): Another mascot platformer. The game gets 7s from Martin & Sushi, with Martin finding the game generally fun and enjoyable (and with nothing negative to say), while Sushi finds the game a little too difficult, and lacking in variety (but still fun). Ed and Steve give the game 8s for basically the same reasons that Martin liked it. *Sigh* – GamePro has significantly more space in their reviews to actually explain what they think about games, often giving a review an entire page. However, instead they spend all of the review except for the last 2 paragraphs basically explaining how you play the game, rather than why they gave the review the scores they did. On the other hand, EGM has less space, but is generally more enlightening – except when, say, Martin, Ed, and Steve have no problems with a game, one of them gives the game a slightly lower review score than the rest of them – and doesn’t explain why. I feel like that if they had more space, or possibly if they even dropped the Famitsu Format, and spent the same amount of space as GamePro reviewing a game, with more comprehensive content, it’d be more educational. When/if I read all the EGMs or GamePros, I’ll move on to Game Informer or DieHard GameFan to see if I can get a contrast. Either that, or hopefully in it’s evolution, GamePro will start expanding the portion of their reviews that actually has analysis of the game and explains why they gave it the scores they did more. Anyway – Overall: 30/40.
- Super Mario All-Stars (SNES, Irem): It’s Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3 and the Japanese release of 2 (instead of the re-made version of Doki Doki Panic we got in the states). Steve, Martin, and Sushi give the game 9s, finding the games just as good as before, and stereo sound ie even better. Ed gives the game a 10 for the same reasons. Overall: 37/40 and it recieves the Editor’s Choice Platinum Award.
- Super Off-Road: The Baja (SNES, Tradewest): It’s an off-road racing game, though unlike the previous games in the series, the game uses Mode 7 graphics to shift the camera angle to above and behind the car, instead of a semi-isometric camera angle. Ed gives the game an 8, liking the change in camera angle, and some of the graphical tricks. Oh, and he likes being able to hit spectators. On the other hand, everyone else gives it 6s, due to choppy graphics and sluggish control. Overall: 26/40.
- Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck (Genesis, Virgin): As mentioned before, Chuck Rock is getting a sequel – one that looks a bit more like a Bonk rip-off. Steve & Martin give it 7s due to the game becoming repetitious towards the end, but otherwise being a solid platformer (and with Martin referring to the cuteness of the main charcter, and some of the dinosaurs, the way some of the students in Negima refers to Negi). Ed and Sushi give the game 8s, for good graphics and fun gameplay. Overall: 30/40.
- Jurassic Park (Genesis, Sega): This is something of an action platforming game based on the Jurassic Park movie (with levels letting you play as either Dr. Alan Grant or as a Velociraptor. The game gets 8s across the board, with the game also getting a lot of comparisons with Flashback, except with sprite-based characters instead of polygonal based characters. Overall: 32/40 and it recieves the Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
- Micro Machines (Genesis, Codemasters): The Micro Machines line of toys is getting a racing game. The game gets 7s across the board, mainly due to the graphics looking less 16-bit, and more 8-bit. Overall: 28/40.
- Mortal Kombat (Genesis, Acclaim): Now we get to the proper version of Mortal Kombat – the one with the blood intact (if you put in A, B, A, C, A, B, B on the Code of Honor screen). The game gets a 9 from Ed, commenting that the game is good, though it is hurt by the poor sound effects. Everyone else gives it 8s for similar reasons – and they also strongly reccomend getting a 6-button controller (I have one, by the way – unfortunately, I also don’t have a way to hook up my Genesis to my HD-TV without having to use a modulator or something similar – Speaking of which, I wonder, in the future of consumer electronic devices, we’ll have a string of gadgets that let you hook up older devices that required a RF connection to your HD-TV using a Composite connection).
- Shinobi III (Genesis, Sega): The 3rd installment of Sega’s legendary ninja series (if you owned a Genesis) has come out. The game gets 9s across the board, and is lauded for the bosses, graphics, and the game generally being fun (which I totally agree with). Overall: 36/40 and it gets the Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
- Super Baseball 2020 (Genesis, EA): This is a port of SNK’s arcade baseball game. Martin gives the game a 5, finding the graphics and sound toned down a fair bit from the Neo-Geo version of the game, and the controls definitely aren’t as good. Steve and Sushi give the game 6s, also due to the control and difficulty problems. Ed gives the game an 8 and doesn’t particularly mention any control problems. Overall: 25/40.
- Samurai Shodown (Neo-Geo, SNK): This isn’t exactly the first weapon-based fighting game series, but I’d say it’s the best until either the Soul Edge/Blade series or the Last Blade series, whichever comes first. The game gets 9s across the board, with the sole complaint being a problem with the scrolling from Sushi-X. Overall: 36/40 and it gets the Editor’s Choice Platinum Award.
- Mortal Kombat (Game Boy, Acclaim): A 6-button fighter is coming to a 2-button handheld, plus it has no blood (not that it matters in greyscale) and Johnny Cage is removed (as well as the hidden fighter, Reptile). Sushi gives the game a 4, finding it a poor quality port, with bad control, bad graphics, bad sound, just bad all ’round. Steve and Martin give the game 5s for the same reasons Sushi gives it a 4. Ed gives it a 6 for similar reasons, except he doesn’t have the problems with the graphics. Overall: 20/40.
- Mortal Kombat (Game Gear, Acclaim): Well, another version for a portable system, only this system has color, and blood, though this version is missing a character as well – Kano. The game gets 8s across the board, with the game losing points for choppy animations. Overall: 32/40 and it gets the Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
EGM’s Top 10: They’ve actually been doing this for a few issues, but I haven’t really felt like covering it until now. After much deliberation (not really), I’ve decided to cover it. This issue the list is “Top 10 Japanese Games We Want To See Here”
- Pop N’ Twinbee (SNES) – A comedy shump from Konami
- Breath of Fire (SNES) – Capcom’s main (if not their only) Role-Playing Game franchise (which does come out in the States, including a port for the GBA.
- Ranma 1/2 Part 2 (SNES) – The second fighting game based on the hit anime and manga series (which also makes it to the states).
- Final Fight Guy (SNES) – A re-make of the previous SNES versions Final Fight with just Guy – this does come out to the US, but only at rental places (like Blockbuster).
- Snatcher (PC-Engine CD/Duo) – Hideo Kojima’s adventure game ultimately makes it to the States in the form of the Sega CD port of the game.
- Cosmo Gang (SNES) – Galaga clone from Namco. Doesn’t get a US release
- Dragon Ball Z (SNES) – While we get a lot of Dragon Ball Z games come out in the states, the SNES games in the series aren’t among them.
- Gradius II (PC Engine CD) – This finally came out on the Virtual Console a few months short of a year ago.
- Salamander (PC Engine) – This is the PC Engine version of Life Force, which is probably the closest to the arcade version of the game.
Gaming Gossip: We’re getting a lot of lists in this installment of the recap. Anyway, let’s see what steaming platefuls of Gossip we’ve got this time).
- Super Street Fighter II is getting a name change to Street Fighter II – Hyper. Miss! It comes out as Super Street Fighter II, and then later Super Street Fighter II Turbo. We don’t actually get Hyper Street Fighter II until 2003.
- Sega is working on a new 32-bit system, the Sega Saturn. Hit! However, news of the Saturn’s pending release ultimately undermines sales of the Sega CD. However, they also say it will have full compatibility with the Genesis, which the Saturn actually doesn’t. However, the 32X does!
- Phantasy Star IV‘s release is being delayed. Hit! However, the 1994 release date that Q-Mann predicts is still too soon – the game doesn’t actually come out until 1995.
Short week this week, but Q-Mann didn’t do poorly – he got 2 out of 3, for a .666 batting average.
EGM Express: We’re starting out with coverage of Sega’s announcement, and Sega USA’s then president, Tom Kalinske’s brilliant announcement that “they could bring out a machine more or less tommorow.” *facepalm* – Tom, you didn’t learn anything from the death of Osbourne computers didn’t you? This is precisely why Osbourne (among other companies) died – you have existing systems on the market, and then announce that you’ve got another, even better system that’s almost ready to be on the market, and could be put out at almost any time. What happens after that is people don’t buy your existing systems on the market, because they’re waiting for the better model! Sushi-X also got a look at Super Street Fighter II, and the new characters in the game – Cammy, Fei Long, Dee-Jay, and Thunder Hawk. We also get a list of some of the titles that are coming out for the 3D0, with little of note except of a Star Trek: The Next Generation game from Spectrum Holobyte, and Mad Dog McGree.
Leading Edge: This issue the arcade games of note is the racing game Outrunners, the dogfighting game Air Combat (which I suspect becomes the Ace Combat series).
The Game Doctor: We have questions about multi-tap adapters for the Genesis – EA’s working on one, Sega made one and isn’t releasing it in the US (though Tengen may licence it for a US release). They weren’t, of course, compatible with each other, as they were developed completely separately.
International Outlook: The titles of note this issue is the mecha shump Bari-Arm. Sega CD has the adventure game Midnight Serenade. Takara has the mecha action game Armored Trooper Votoms, based of the anime, which is currently out of print as it was licenced by US Manga Corps/Central Park Media, and it hasn’t been re-licenced after CPM’s demise (not that that matters too much – Votoms was out of print even before CPM died, and they’d either lost the licence, or they didn’t have the money to bring it back into print). The PC Engine is getting Bomberman ’94.
Tricks of the Trade: Not much of note here, aside from the warps from Super Mario Bros II JP (including the backwards warps, and the Blood Code for Mortal Kombat on the Genesis and Game Gear.
Next Wave: Of note in the upcoming titles is Wing Commander: The Secret Missions, a Battletech game from Extreme that uses a similar camera angle to the Jungle Strike games, the helicopter shump Gunship, Lunar from Working Designs for the Duo (which is later ported to the Sega CD, Playstation, Game Boy Advance, and in the future to the PSP, mecha action game Mazin Saga featuring Mazinger Z. Out of This World 1 & 2 is coming out for the Sega CD.
Actraiser II Feature: We’ve got an interview this issue with Masaya Hashimoto & Yuzo Koshiro, the designer and composer (respectively) for Actraiser II. The questions are pretty softball though. In an article like this I wouldn’t be totally be expecting them to ask all the “tough” questions anyway as the game isn’t out yet. Under Shoe or Mielke’s tenure on EGM they might have done a second interview after the game had come out with some more specific questions after having played the game. Anyway, we get a preview of the game as well – apparently the “Populous” style god-game elements have been dropped from the sequel.
Aladdin Preview: We get a side-by-side comparison of the SNES and Genesis versions of the game – though as this is a magazine we can’t get an in-motion comparison. But seeing pictures side-by-side helps a bit.
A Day In The Life Of EGM: Before we got the 1up Show to show us the inner workings of the EGM offices (which has now, alas, been canceled), we have this photographic feature article showing the work that goes into an issue of EGM. It is definitely a cool article, and if Steve Harris’s new EGM changes up the way magazines come out the way he suggests, I look forward to seeing a similar article like this one showing how magazines in the new format come out.
EA Sports Feature: We’ve got some coverage of upcoming EGM Sports games on their 1993 lineup, including EA Sports Soccer, and EA NHL ’94 (with a contrast between the Genesis & SNES versions, with the SNES version apparently lacking Ron Barr’s analysis), NBA Showdown for the SNES, Madden ’94, and EA’s multi-tap for the Genesis.
SNES Coverage: We start into the system-specific coverage in this issue with a preview of Mortal Kombat. We also get some coverage of Namco’s creatively titled action racing game Battle Cars & Tradewest’s mascot action-platformer Plok. Electrobrain has Boxing: Legends of the Ring, with a few licenced boxers in it. Accolade has Brett Hull Hockey (which, looking at it, I notice has no fans in the stands at the rink in screen shots, though the game is only halfway done). Nintendo’s also got Wario & Mario, which is something of a predecissor (but not quite) to the Mini’s games. Konami’s got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, which I’m noticing has a super bar (and may be if not the first game with that feature, it’s one of the first). We get some coverage of the mascot platformer Rocky Rodent, which got reviewed earlier in the issue. Ocean is putting out a Dennis The Menace game licenced from the movie.
We also get screen shots for Super Off Road: The Baja, which was reviewed by The Crew this issue. There is also some preview coverage of F1 Pole Position from a little company in Canada you may have heard of called Ubisoft (which is, I think, making their first appearance in this magazine), and Nintendo has the Super-Scope game Yoshi’s Safari, one of the first rail shooters on the SNES to utilize the light gun.
Genesis Coverage: We start off the Genesis coverage with Mortal Kombat – the version with the blood intact (if you put in the code at at the Code of Honor screen). This preview also has the movelists for 4 the various characters, including the fatalities. Next up is Shinobi III, followed by Strider Returns, with Strider Hiryu trying to rescue his girlfriend from from the Evil Master. Yes, that’s his name. We also get some more screen shots and gameplay information on EA’s port of SNK’s Super Baseball 2020.
Sega CD Coverage: We’re starting off with some preview coverage of Sonic CD, the game that brought us Amy Rose. Shane Bettenhausen will probably say that this is where the Sonic Games really started going downhill. This game also includes the time-travel elements that were originally considered for Sonic II and later abandoned.
Neo Geo Coverage: We get more screen shots and some character analysis of the Samurai Shodown roster (this is, up until Guilty Gear came out, my favorite fighting game series).
NES, Game Boy & Game Gear Coverage: We start this section off with The Addams Family: Pugsley’s Scavanger Hunt for the NES, which is based on the animated series (which came out in the wake of the film and was part of the trend of more subversive animated series). We get some move lists for the Game Boy version of Mortal Kombat. We also get some coverage of Final Fantasy Legend III (aka SaGa III), which is almost done. Just for good measure, we get coverage of the Game Gear version of Mortal Kombat (this is probably one of the first games to get a multi-platform launch release that was this broad – the only systems that aren’t getting this game is the Turbo Duo, Lynx, and Neo Geo).
EGM Express: We get coverage of the upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog animated series based on the Sonic comic from Archie (which I read the hell out of as a kid – I’ve got all the issues of the Princess Sally miniseries), which is still being published. We’ve also got coverage of the upcoming Jurassic Park pinball table and some of the new upcoming motion control rides (like Back to the Future). Also, Rob Leifield is taking a hiatus from working on comics. Yay! Spike Lee is also going to be working on a comic for Dark Horse called Floaters. Huh. There’s also a rumor about Bruce Wayne being forced to give up the cowl to either Azrael or Bane (well, you’re part right). Oh, and Jurassic Park made boatloads of cash – but you already knew that.
Well, that wraps up this issue. Next issue will, in theory, be a Nintendo Power recap, either of their special strategy guide issue, or I’ll just skip that one and go to the next issue proper, or something.