Our GamePro recaps continue again with our coverage of issue #40, for November of 1992. Our cover story is Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (which was EGM’s cover story two months prior). The issue weighs in at about 200 pages in length, oh, and for the record, the cover art still sucks.
Editorial: Finally, we get another editorial with content. 1992 is Atari’s 20th anniversary (which makes 2002 the 30th), and so the Editorial column is taking a brief look back at Pong, before leading to a look at where we are now, and what’s to come. It’s very well written, and while it’s stuff that’s been said by a lot of people before, it’s not describing what’s been covered in this issue by the Table of Contents, so that’s a nice change right there.
Letters: First up is a letter from Fake Link. That’s right, before Twitter lead to Fake Celebrities twittering about what they eat, who they met with, etc. (along with, for example, Fake Professor Layton), we got Fake Video Game characters writing into video game magazines, though there was nothing viral about these letters. We also have letters asking for an explanation of the difference between Bits, and Bytes, along with a letter asking if the Phillips CD-I and the SNES CD-ROM will be compatible (well, if the latter came out, the plan would be that they would be inter-operable – but, as we all know, the SNES CD-Rom never came out). We also get a letter requesting that if the 16-bit section of the magazine be increased, that the 8-bit section be increased proportionally. Um… less 8-bit games are coming out. Now, in theory this would lead to longer reviews of the 8-bit games that are coming out. However, if the description of the game ends up being short – that leads to a lot of review saying (quite possibly) how bad the game is. Now, while I wouldn’t mind getting, in a video game magazine, the equivalent of Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses, such a review would probably horribly sour the developer and publisher on the magazine, and piss off the fanboys – though, if the company being soured was, an unlicenced publisher (Wisdom Tree, for instance), the damage would probably be pretty minimal.
Cutting Edge: So, it’s the early 90s, so what’s the future of gaming? Virtual Reality, with all the clunky headsets, gloves, and motion sickness that it entails. This issue features the fantasy RPG Legend Quest, which has what just might be the worst name in the history of all RPGs, including Quest 64.
Hot At The Arcades: Street Fighter II now has some serious competition, in the form of the bloody, gory fighter Mortal Kombat. The preview makes some 50s B-Movie level remarks about the game not being for the squeamish or weak of heart – but to be honest, the blood in the Mortal Kombat games has never, ever, ever been realistic. The only time the damage model for the game has ever had any pretence of being realistic (come to think of it) was in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, where the game was forced to scale back the damage to reflect the game’s “T” rating, with the damage in the game being more in terms of facial brusing and other sorts of injuries, rather than the gallons of spouting blood from the other games in the series.
Special Feature – Fantasy & RPG Previews: So, they’re lumping the fantasy games and the RPGs togeather. I’m not sure what to think about that – admittedly even to day non-fantasy RPGs are few and far between on PCs and Console (the only non MMO RPGs that I can think of that weren’t fantasy that came out in the past 10 years are Fallout 3, Mass Effect, Stalker and… that pretty much covers it). Anyway, the notable games we have in this article are Eye of the Beholder for the SNES and Genesis, and Dungeon Master for the SNES, Pirates! Gold! for the Genesis, Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny for the NES and Ultima VI: The False Prophet for the SNES. We also get a preview of the upcoming Dark Sun: Shattered Sun RPG, based on the extremely gritty AD&D Setting. More imporantly, they’ve got an interview with the late E. Gary Gygax, who talks about his first new game after leaving/being fired from TSR, Dangerous Journeys. However, being that this is a video game magazine, the article focus on video games.
NES Coverage: Speaking of RPGs, our first review is of Dragon Warrior IV, a review which propigates the myth that Enix is limited in the days it can sell Dragon Warrior carts on. For those who aren’t familiar with the game series, the game is the one where you have 5 different chapters, with the first 4 introducing various potential members of the party in different plot arcs, and the 5th bringing all of the plot arcs togeather. The game gets 3s for Graphics & Sound, and a 4 for Fun Factor, and a 5 for Control. Next up is Power Blade 2, which is apparently a semi-decent game, with the game gets a 3 for Sound, 4 for Graphics & Fun Factor, and a 4.5 for Control. There’s also Street Challenge, a Track & Field game featuring the cast of River City Ransom. Unfortunately the game doesn’t do very well, with a 2 for Sound, a 2.5 for Control, and 3s from Graphics & Fun Factor. We also get a preview of Mega Man V.
Feature Preview of the Sega CD: We’re getting a fairly meaty, in-depth preview of the Sega CD. I’m impressed with the quality of the preview. We get a lot of meaty, crunchy detail about the systems specifications – the kind of detail we’d get in a feature article in EGM, of all magazines. I’m impressed. If only we could get this much meat in their reviews (specifically related to why they gave the game the scores they did). Anyway, we also get a bunch of screen shots and notes on some of the upcoming games for the system.
Genesis Coverage: So, we now get our preview of Sonic The Hedgehog 2, followed by a review of Tyrants an strategy game with an Ancient-World setting. The game gets 4s across the board. Speaking of strategy games, we’ve got a review of Gemfire from Koei, their European-style Fantasy Strategy game, though they mistakenly call it an RPG. They like it though, it gets a 3.5 for Sound, 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, and a 4.5 for Control. Next is the action/mascot platformer Greendog that has a bit of a… slacker theme (the main character is a surfer/inline-skater/ultimate-frisbeer), who likes to munch on fast food and soda, and if this game was out today, they’d have him even more of a thinly veiled stoner. Anyway, the game gets a 4.5 for Control, and 5s for Graphics, Sound & Fun Factor. Data East also has the pool game Side Pocket. The game gets a 3 for Sound, 3.5 for Control (which is unsurprising, most of the good pool games I’ve played have had either analog stick control or mouse control), and 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor. We also get a preview of Dolphin, which later becomes Ecco The Dolphin. We also get a preview of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist.
SNES Coverage: We’re starting off with Road Runner In Death Valley Rally. It’s apparently got some major difficulty problems, but not enough to really hurt it – it gets a 5 for Graphics, and 4.5s for Sound, Control & Fun Factor. We’ve also finally gotten Super Star Wars, which they really like (it gets 5s across the board). Next up is Spider-Man & X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge from LJN (*shudder*), which gets 5s for Graphics & Sound, and a 4.5s for Control & Fun Factor. Next up is action game Skuljager: The Revolt of the Westicans, a swashbuckling platformer with (judging by the screen shots) 8-bit level graphics. They like it though, giving it a 4.5 for Graphics & Control, and 5s for Sound & Fun Factor. ActRaiser has gotten a spiritual sequel (a proper sequel would come out later) in SoulBlazer, which is more of a standard RPG without the strategy and god game elements of ActRaiser. It still turns out okay, with a 5 for Control, a 4 for Graphics, and 4.5s for Sound & Fun Factor.
The other half of what would become Square Enix has also put out Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, a sort of RPG-lite, to introduce beginners to the genre, in a easier to handle fashion, without having to deal with the heavy character customization that would come along later in Final Fantasy V and on. While it’s aimed for beginners, it still gets a good score, with 4s across the board. It’s affordable too, running it at $39.99 in 1992 dollars. (They’re listing the prices, so if they’re notable for the system I’ll mention them). There’s also a review of puzzle game Super Buster Brothers from Capcom, a bubble popping puzzle game. They like it though, giving it 4s for Sound & Control, a 4.5 for Graphics & a 5 for Fun Factor. Just for good measure, they’ve also got one of the more god-like God games until the release of Spore – SimEarth. From the sound of things, it’s a decent port of what would be a pretty sophisticated title, and it gets good scores, with 5 for Control, 3.5 for Sound, 4 for Graphics & a 4.5 for Fun Factor.
Irem has put out, basically, their answer to Contra in the form of GunForce. The game looks like it’s got a few new tweaks (like being able to hyjack enemy vehicles), while having it’s own little issues (according to the ProTips, the normal gun with a turbo-fire controller is the God-Gun as far as rate-of-fire is concerned). The game gets 3s for Sound & Control, and 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor. We also get previes of Capcom’s next Disney game, Mickey’s Magical Quest. I wonder, if Capcom had kept the Disney licence to today, if we would have gotten a Disney vs. Capcom fighting game. Ryu vs. Mickey! Felicia vs. Goofy! Pete vs. Gokui/Akuma! Anyway, we get an addition to their Street Fighter strategy guide, with move lists and combos for Ryu, E. Honda, and Sagat, with screen shots from the game and bad art. Speaking of bad art, we also get a double-sided 6-fold poster with portraits of all the characters.
Special Report – SNES CD Rom: Alright, this is vaporware, but we can at least see what the system is boasting. At this point in the add-ons “lifespan”, the system is billed as being a 32-bit system, with Absolute, EA, Square, and Sony Imagesoft promising to support the system (despite wide-spread rumors that Sony was already taking their dev-work on their previous version of the CD-ROM system and using that to get started on developing the Sony Playstation). Oh, and American Laser Games has already decided to port some of their own games to the system as well, including (naturally) Mad Dog McCree. Oh, and Gallagher’s got a light gun game. Why?! Did Seinfeld get a game? Did Friends get anything other than a trivia game? How about the Blue Collar Comedy Tour? Come to think of it, the only comedian who got a game that I can think of other than Gallagher was Beat Takeshi, and not only was it a bad game, but it was famously bad game – a kuso-ge.
TurboGrafx Coverage: First up is Cosmic Fantasy 2 for the Turbo-CD, and before you ask, Cosmic Fantasy 1 didn’t get a US release. If the graphics, sound, and control are worse than the current installment, that would make sense, as this installment gets 3.5s for Graphics & Sound (which is significant, as this is a disk game), a 4 for Fun Factor and a 4.5 for Control. Loom has also been ported to the Turbo CD, but we only get a preview this issue, with the promise of a review later. This is not the end of the TurboGrafx section though, just of the disk games. Next up is a review of Air Zonk, the future, X-Treme version of Bonk. The game gets, unfortunately, a 2.5 for Sound, a 4.5 for Control, and 5s for Graphics & Fun Factor. Westwood and SSI have also put out a D&D RPG for the TurboGrafx-16 in Order of the Griffon, which gets a 2.5 for Sound, a 3.5 for Control, a 4 for Fun Factor and a 4.5 for Graphics.
Overseas ProSpects: Our OverSeas Prospects column this issue also features a TurboGrafx RPG, Lunar: The Silver Star, a RPG for the TG-CD, which is later ported to the Sega CD, Playstation, and eventually the PSP. We also get coverage of Exile, which, particularly after reading the Wikipedia article, really interests me. I’m tempted to pick up a copy of this, in one form or another. It’d be nice if we got a new version of the Genesis or Turbo Duo with Composite or S-Video connectors (as I doubt this game will get a US Virtual Console release, though I’d be pleased if it did). We also have a preview of the Wizardry-style RPG Aisle Lord, which has a rather Engrish title. We also get brief blurbs on Dragon Quest V for the SNES, and Final Fantasy V, neither of which gets a US release on the SNES. Elnard, on the other hand, we do get, under the title of 7th Saga. We also get mention of Phantasy Star IV and Shining Force for the Genesis, and Land Stalker, and Ys IV for the TurboGrafx.
The Sports Page: Well, it’s winter, that means it’s time for the hockey games. EA has NHL Hockey ’93, which introduces a manager mode, while retaining the good control, graphics and sound from prior games in the series. The game gets 5s for Control & Fun Factor, and 4.5s for Graphics & Sound. This review gets followed up by a run-down of upcoming hockey titles, but little-to-no discussion of the titles themselves. We do get a review of a soccer game though – Goal! from Jaleco, for the SNES, which is a more action oriented soccer game than a strategy oriented soccer game. They give it a 3.5 for Graphics, a 3 for Sound, a 5 for Control and a 4.5 for Fun Factor. Nintendo’s brought out their own soccer game as well in Super Soccer, which they find to be a better footy game in the graphics and sound department, though it’s not quite as good in control – the game gets a 4 for Graphics, 3 for Sound, a 4.5 for Control and a 4 for Fun Factor. Taito also has a more-arcadey soccer game in Super Soccer Champ for the SNES which changes things up by being a 6-on-6 soccer game, and also being more of a higher-scoring game. It gets 4s for Graphics & Control, and 3s for Sound & Fun Factor. The Genesis, on the other hand, has World Trophy Soccer from Virgin Interactive, which has the FIFA licence, and decent graphics, but bad controls. How bad are the controls? The game gets a 2 for Controls, but it gets a 4.5 for Graphics and a 3.5 for Sound. This doesn’t save it though from a 3 for Fun Factor.
Neo-Geo Coverage: SNK has their answer to Street Fighter 2, or their first attempt at an answer anyway – World Heroes. They like the game, giving it 4.5s for Control & Fun Factor, and 5s for Graphics & Sound – but this won’t be SNK’s successful answer. Fatal Fury will fill that position.
Game Boy Coverage: We get another licenced game for the Game Boy in the form of The Jetsons from Taito, which looks like it might almost be an re-dress of another platformer with Jetsons sprites. The game gets a decent review though, with 4.5s for for Sound & Fun Factor, and 4s for Graphics & Control. THQ has also put out a Rocky & Bullwinkle platformer. I’m not too fond of the graphics – some of the screen shots have Rocky blending into the background enough that I can’t tell where he is. They don’t seem to have any problems though, they give it a 4 for Graphics, as well as for Control, a 3.5 for Sound and a 4.5 for Fun Factor.
Game Gear Coverage: First off, Batman Returns has been ported to the Game Gear and is getting 4s across the board, except for Fun Factor, which gets a 4.5.
Lynx Coverage: The Lynx is getting a pinball game in Pinball Jam, with adapatations of 3 Bally pinball tables, which don’t look so hot on the Lynx’s small screen. The game gets 4.5s for Graphics & Control and 5s for Sound & Fun Factor.
GamePro Awards ’92: We get the list of Nominees for the 1992 GamePro awards, with 6-12 games getting nominated in each category. Rather than listing the massive number of games, I’m going to put an image of the ballot up. Hopefully we’ll get the results either next issue or in the Janurary issue, so and I’ll run down my analysis that issue. As far as my picks go…
- Action-Adventure: Contra III: The Alien Wars for the SNES.
- Sports: Madden ’92 for the Genesis.
- Role-Playing: Loom for the Turbo-CD
- Shoot ‘Em Up: Axelay for the SNES
- Fighting Game: Street Fighter II for the SNES.
- Graphical Achivement: Prince of Persia for it’s smooth animation.
- Sound Achivement: MLB Pro Talk Baseball for the Genesis, for introducing play-by-play commentary to sports games.
- 8-Bit Game of the Year: Mega Man V
- Handheld Game of the Year: Metroid II
- 16-Bit Game of the Year: Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past for the SNES.
Short Shots: Of note in this issue is Blaze On from Atlus, Batman Returns for the Genesis (though the Sega CD version will be better), Chase HQ for the TG-16, and Shinobi II for the Game Gear.
GameBusters: This issue we get strategies for beating Ganon in Legend of Zelda: Link To The Past, as well as the ending cutscene for the game. We get similar strategies for Phantasy Star III and the cutscene for that game.
ProNews: The top stories this issue are on the SNES CD-Rom (which was covered in an earlier feature in this same issue), as well as the announcement of the Super FX chip. The Jaguar is due for launch in April of 1993, and Accolade is going to resume Genesis development, meaning Bubsy can get a Genesis release, which is good, because Accolade is going to market the crap out of Bubsy. Konami is going to start Genesis development, and Rare is porting Battletoads to arcade machines (in a much more gory version). The original distributor of the Pro Action Replay, Coast-to-Coast Technologies has basically disappeared off the face of the earth, with Innovation technologies taking over.
We also get another ad for the Sci-Fi channel before wrapping up the issue. So, tommorow I’ll have another DVD review for you, which I hope you’ll enjoy, and we should get back to the “current” issues of EGM next week.