Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #29
Yay! This issue’s EGM recap gives us an opportunity to go back and fill one of the holes in the archive. In this case, we’re going back to issue #29, for December of 1991, and what a cover story we’ve got this time – Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link’s first 16-bit adventure. This issue is a rather substantial one though, weighing in at 255 pages. Let’s get started, shall we?
Editorial: The editorial column for this issue is from Ed Semrad, and basically is looking back at the year that was. Nintendo has finally thrown it’s not-unsubstantial hat (it might even be described as a Nice Hat) in the 16-bit ring with the SNES, and Sega’s jumped into the handheld arena with the Game Gear. Oh, and the future of gaming appears to be CD Gaming (which is more true than you’d think at the time).
Letters: Well, we get questions about whether the SNES will get a release of Street Fighter II. No, I’m sorry, it will not get a release, it will get many releases. We get a question about whether the Sega CD will be compatible with import games (nope, sorry – it’s the second system to follow NEC’s lead in blocking imports through the use of software region locking, instead of just making the Japanese cart a little too wide or something similar. We also get complaints about slowdown on the SNES – particularly with shooters like UN Squadron. The editorial staff’s speculation is that it’s got something to do with the greater popularity of RPGs on home consoles in Japan, instead of shooters. That’s not unreasonable.
Review Crew: We’re back to the original crew – Steve Haris, Ed Semrad, Martin Alessi, and Sushi-X.
- Final Fantasy 2 (Square, SNES): For those who don’t already know, this game was released in Japan as Final Fantasy IV, and was re-titled for the US release because we hadn’t previouly gotten Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III. Well, Martin doesn’t like RPGs of any kind, and this game is no exception – though he will give the game credit for the excellent graphics, and magnificent score, and gives it a 7. Sushi and Steve give the game 8s, with Sushi lauding the gameplay, music and story, and Steve (who also isn’t a big RPG fan) cutting the game a little more slack (or recognizing a little more quality from the game) than Martin did. Ed gives the game a 9, saying the game really takes advantage of much of what the SNES has to offer (just wait until Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III/VI). Overall: 32/40.
- SimCity (Nintendo, SNES): For some reason they classify this as an RPG, instead of “Strategy” or something closer to “city management simulator”. Sushi finds the game slow and tedious, and also isn’t pleased by the fact that you can’t trigger natural disasters on your own, to “stomp through the sandbox” and gives the game a 6. The game isn’t Steve’s cup of tea either, though he does appreciate the strategy it takes to succeed at the game, and gives it a 7. Martin finds the game a solid adaptation with interesting gameplay, giving the game an 8. Ed gives the game a 9, lauding it as a cerbral simulation of urban planning. Overall: 30/40
- The Blue Marlin (Hot-B, NES): It’s a deep sea fishing simulator like The Black Bass. Martin and Ed give the game 6s, and Steve and Sushi give it 7s, finding it a decent fishing game – but fishing games aren’t for everyone (and can get repetative). Overall: 26/40.
- Tom & Jerry (Hi-Tech Expression, NES): You play as Jerry trying to thwart Tom’s attempts at getting some fresher food. Sushi gives the game a 4 and Steve gives the game a 5, finding the game doesn’t do anything new, and what it re-does it doesn’t do well. Martin also gives the game a 5, finding the gameplay good and challenging, while the sound and graphics are average. Ed gives the game a 7, saying the game has a good combination of gameplay and challenge. Overall: 21/40.
- Pirates (Ultra, NES): This is a port of Sid Meier’s Pirates for the NES. Steve gives the game a 4, finding the game very repetative, with Sushi, Martin, and Ed leveling similar complaints, with Sushi and Martin giving 5s, and Ed giving a 6. I’d reccomend that they avoid the Civilization games out of all costs. Overall: 20/40.
- Mike Ditka Power Football (Ballistic, Genesis): Before Da Bears had their dry spell where they kind of sucked, Mike Ditka was almost as highly regarded as John Madden. This game, however, is no Madden, and we have agreement amongst the Crew on that. By “no Madden”, I mean that they refer to it as a “sad Madden ripoff”, and suggesting that Ditka review the games he puts his name on. Ed and Steve give it 5s, and Sushi & Martin give the game 4s. Overall: 19/40.
- RoadBlasters (Tengen, Genesis): Driving shooter. Martin thinks the game is almost as good as the arcade version, except the controls aren’t as good so he gives it a 7. Everyone else gives it 8s, agreeing with Martin about everything except the control problem, either because they didn’t have the same problem, or it simply wasn’t enough to be notable. Overall: 31/40.
- Quackshot (Sega, Genesis): Indiana Jones-ish action platformer featuring Donald Duck. Martin and Sushi find the game gets repetative towards the end, but otherwise is solid (though Martin likes Mickey more than Donald), and give it 6s. Steve and Ed say that the game plays very similarly to the Mickey Mouse games in all the right ways, and give it 8s. Overall: 28/40.
- Raiden Trad (NEC, TurboGrafx): Shump. They laud the graphics and the gameplay, though the sound is found lacking. The only disagreements are in the cores. 7s from Martin and Sushi, Steve and Ed give it 8s. Overall: 30/40.
- Jordan Vs. Bird (EA, Game Boy): We have a consensus on the game, though some disagreement on the scores. The general gist can be described in a poem – Roses are red, Violets are Blue. The sound and graphics are ass and the gameplay is too. Steve and Ed give the game 4s, and Martin & Sushi give the game 4s. Overall: 18/40.
- Stun Runner (Atari, Lynx): Port of the arcade game to the hand-held – the Lynx got a lot of these. Ed and Steve give it 5s, finding it a good port, but ultimately doesn’t hold one’s interest in the long term. That’s the problem, isn’t it, with ports of arcade games. The designer doesn’t want to necessarily hold your interest in the long term. They just want you to feed quarters in it and go away, so the next person can take their turn. Alternatively, you feed it your quarters, and either lose or win, and then come back later to see if your high score has been beaten – something that doesn’t work with portable systems back then. Nowadays you could either have a service you could fetch high-scores from, or it could query systems in the area and get high scores from them (which would probably work better in Japan). But without the connectivity options, and storage to save the scores in, it doesn’t work as well. Anyway, Sushi gives the game a 7, finding it a decent port as well, and if you liked the arcade version, you’ll like this. Indeed, Martin loved the arcade game, and he loves this version of the game as well, finding it one of his favorite games on the system, giving it an 8. Overall: 25/40.
Gaming Gossip: Quartermann comes on to the range again, with a big bucket of gaming gossip to tee off on. See, I’ve got other sports analogies I can use!
- Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is going to be a CD-ROM Game. Miss! There will be a Sonic Disk game, Sonic CD, but it won’t be Sonic II.
- The NES is going got get a Tape Drive. Miss! Even PCs have stopped using tape drives by now.
- A French company is working on a Master System-to-Game Gear adapter. Hit! We saw that in the last issue of GamePro.
- The Atari Jaguar is going to have an adapter for the Lynx. Miss!
So, 1 hit for 4 at bats/balls/whatever, for a .250 average. Not so hot at the moment for the Q-Mann.
EGM Express: We start off with our first specifications for the Playstation, with a sustained data transfer rate of 150 kb/sec and burst transfer rate (from the disk) of 600 kb/sec, an 8 Kb buffer, and an average access time of .34 seconds. This is dramatically worse than the specifications for the version that comes out in 1994. That version has a 64KB buffer, and a sustained transfer rate of 300 kb/sec. The design is also radically different than the drive that the EGM staff saw at the International Electronics Expo. We also get a glimpse of NEC’s dedicated disk system, which is designed out of the gate to play PC Engine CD games, and comes with a controller.
International Outlook: The titles of note from Japan this issue is Rockman World 2 for the Game Boy (which is released as Mega Man 2). The PC Engine CD-ROM is getting R-Type Complete, which is R-Type 1 with between-mission animated cutscenes (which didn’t get included in R-Types for the PS1). The PC Engine is getting a port of Ninja Gaiden I (from the NES) with 16-bit graphics. Awesome! The shump Thunder Spirits is coming out for the SNES. The Genesis is getting the swords-and-sorcery action game Dahna, Konami’s got Axelay for the SNES.
Next Wave: We have some screen shots of Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, though we’ll probably get something more in depth later. There’s also a few other titles that’ll come up later, like Lemmings and Super Off Road. We then get an Acclaim insert, which I’m including here, because it’s covering upcoming titles from both Acclaim and LJN.
Anyway, we continue on with the previews with, of note, Buck Rodgers for the Genesis (a port of the SSI RPG), and the Konami Star Trek game for the Game Boy. We also get an ad of note – for Die Hard a game retailer that specializes, among other things in import games. It’s also the company that put out Die Hard Game Fan.
Tips of the Trade: General Game Tips, as usual, and as usual I’m not going to go too into this.
Behind the Scenes at Sega – Part 2: This is a part 2 of an series of articles, of which part one is… still in one of the gaps in our archive. This installment is about the making of games for the Sega CD, as well as the development of the Sega CD in general, including our first glimpse of the CD-R.
In Depth Previews: We begin with coverage of Street Fighter II, with the roster, and move lists of the playable characters. We also have coverage of Total Carnage, the sequel to Smash TV. We also have their picks for upcoming football games, including Joe Montana 2 for the Genesis, a port of John Madden Football for the SNES and Game Gear along with Madden ’92 for the Genesis, Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES. There is also coverage of Mike Ditka Football for the Genesis. Moving on from the football games, we go into the SNES coverage with Super Castlevania IV, which features the ability to swing the whip in 8 directions, as well as twirl the whip and swing from it like Indiana Jones. Bandai’s got an Ultraman brawler as well.
We next get another insert, this one for Mindscape’s upcoming titles, before continuing with NES Previews, and coverage for Legend of the Mystical Ninja from Konami, and Mega Man IV from Capcom, Mario Open Golf from Nintendo. Acclaim’s got Bart vs. The World, and Absolute Entertainment has The Space Shuttle Project, a Space Shuttle flight simulator. We also have coverage of the Treasure Master “jackpot” game, in that if you beat the game you win a contest for a bunch of money. Konami’s also got their 3rd TMNT game – The Hyperstone Heist.
Continuing to the Genesis, we have the behind the back space shooter (like the much later Starfox), Galaxy Force 2. There’s also the Terminator side-scrolling action game (which got a rather negative review from the AVGN), and the mecha brawler Heavy Nova. The TurboGrafx CD is getting the B-Movie action game It Came From The Desert, an homage to the B-Movie Them!. Sega’s also ported Space Harrier to the Game Gear. The Game Boy’s got it’s second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game as well.
Featured Strategy Guide: We get notes for level 4 through 7 of Super R-Type, along with the start of their Streets of Rage guide, covering stages 1 through 4. This wraps up the issue. We’ll have a recap for a standard Nintendo Power issue tommorow – though the week after that will be a recap of a Final Fantasy I strategy guide. Fortunately, when this issue goes up, I’ll be in the middle of going to a family reunion, and I’ll have my DS with me, along with Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls. Hopefully, over the vacation I’ll be able to beat that (if not before then), and then do a proper review of Final Fantasy I once I get back from the trip.