Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #56
This week we’re going to continue making forard progress in our EGM recaps, instead of filling holes in the back archive, with Issue #56. This issue has an even more reasonable length, at 187 pages, and our cover story is the Star Trek: The Next Generation game, with a great oil painting for cover art. Again, I wouldn’t mind hanging this (or any of the Star Trek movie posters) on my wall. I’m letting my Trekkie bias show, but I’d say this is my favorite cover of EGM thus far.
Editorial: Winter CES has come and gone, and Sega showed a lot of games. Nintendo… not so much, though what they did show was pretty good (Super Metroid). Further, Sega also demonstrated some new technology to, hopefully, lower game costs – rather than requiring publishers to bundle a new chip in their cartridges, ala the Super-FX chip. However, this technology takes the form of what will become the 32X add-on module, intead of raising the price of the cartridge, it splits the install base, which didn’t help the publishers as much as Sega would like to.
Letters: This month’s Letter of the Month is a doozy, not in terms of it’s own length, but in terms of the response. The question is, what happened to the two other planed SKUs for the 3DO – the AT&T SKU and the Sanyo SKU? In short, they’re not coming out. Despite what Panasonic is telling us, and what 3DO’s CEO, Trip Hawkins is telling us, they’re not coming out. How do we know? We’ve got information from AT&T and Sanyo saying as much. Is that the sound of a hammer, pounding a nail that I hear. Oh, it’s just some guy pounding nails into a coffin… that happens to to have 3DO written on it. We also get questions about whether World Heroes 2 will get a SNES release (yes), and if we’ll get later Samurai Shodown games (hell yes). Furthermore, we get a series of letters (well, 2) re-iterating a complaint that will become the second half of the retro games movement – “Games today are to complicated and difficult – I want a second game crash so companies will re-invent the wheel again, and we’ll get simpler and more fun games.” I say “half” of the Retro games movement, because the other half is “Games have gotten to easy. Back in teh (deliberately misspelled) day games were a real challenge.” That half replaces the “games were simpler” part, and ignores my prior remarks about artificial difficulty. Their interview from a year ago with Yozo Koshiro & Masaya Hashimoto about ActRaiser II gets praise, and we get some questions about the specs for Nintendo’s Project Reality – which they cant answer, because the actual machine wasn’t at Winter CES, just a SG Workstation running under a table. The old complaints about review score bias are raised again as well (with a Sega Fanboy complaining the scores for NBA Jam for the SNES were higher than the Genesis scores).
Oh, and we get an ad for a spinoff of EGM.
Review Crew: As a reminder, our roster on the crew is EiC Ed Semrad, Senior Editor Danyon Carpenter, and rank-and-file Editors Al Manuel and the mysterious Sushi X.
- Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (Sega, Genesis): Ed and Danyon gave the game 10s, saying they like the new bonus rounds, the new level designs, and great music (though not as good as Sonic CD – which I wouldn’t expect from a cart game), and you can save your game now (which has them keeping up with Super Mario World). Al & Sushi gave the game 9s, with Al liking the game a lot more than Sonic CD. Overall: 38/40 and recieves a Editor’s Choice Platinum Award.
- Metal Combat (Nintendo, SNES): Nintendo’s finally got another game for the Super Scope. Yay! Ed gave the game a 9, finding it a good super scope game that brings some strategy to the light gun genre by having you change up your weapons instead of just having to be accurate, and shooting down enemy projectiles (though Time Crisis does it better by introducing a cover mechanic and a time limit). Al gave the game an 8, liking the enemy mech designs and the general graphics, and likes the two-player vs. mode, where the other player takes control of one of the on-screen enemies and shoots at player 1 with it. Danyon and Sushi gave the game 7s, with Danyon never been a big fan of light gun games, but he thinks this game is a decent one, while Sushi likes the Two-Player mode, even though he isn’t a big fan of light-gun games in general. Overall: 30/40.
- Pirates of Dark Water (Sunsoft, SNES): A brawler based on the unfortunately short lived animated series. Ed considers the game to be a long but enjoyable game and gave it a 8, as does Danyon who thinks the levels have plenty of variety to them and generally finds it enjoyable. Al and Sushi gave the game 7s, with Al having some problem with cheap hits and annoying music, and Sushi finding the game to be kind of average. Overall: 30/40.
- Flashback (US Gold, SNES): The Genesis game has gotten ported to the SNES. Danyon, Al and Sushi gave the game 8s, with the game getting lauded for great graphics, controls, gameplay, and otherwise great – the only complaints I hear mentioned are related to the game’s slow pace. Ed didn’t have the pacing problems but does have navigation problems, but they’re not otherwise a big issue and gave it a 9. Overall: 33/40 and recieves the Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
- Pro Moves Soccer (ASCII, Genesis): Danyon gave the game an 8, finding the control a little awkward until he gets the hang of them, but he also likes the graphics though he didn’t like the sound that much. Ed gave the game a 7, liking the graphics otherwise, though he finds the characters way too small. Al and Sushi, on the other hand, gave the game 5s, though they both don’t like sports games very much, and they think soccer players will like it, but they in particular don’t. Overall: 25/40.
- Belle’s Quest (Sunsoft, Genesis): A sort of semi-RPG based on the Beauty & The Beast movie. Ed and Sushi gave the game 7s, finding it a decent semi-RPG for people who are entirely new to the genre. Danyon finds the in-game animation slow and dislikes the lack of death, but gave the game a 6, while Al thinks the game is only for beginners, feeling that veterans (like himself) wouldn’t like it very fun, and gave it a 5. Overall: 25/40.
- Jurassic Park (Sega, Sega CD): A sort of point-and-click adventure. Ed gave the game an 8, liking the backgrounds, the sound effects in the game, and the puzzles, though he finds the effects rather short, along with the driving-down-the-rode effects. Sushi gave the game a 7, finding the puzzles not very difficult, and the graphics that are a little grainy. Danyon and Al gave the game 6s, with Al finding the game to slow, and Danyon finding the game too easy, but not finding too many other faults in the game. Overall: 27/40.
- Monster Manor (EA, 3DO): Monster-hunting FPS. Danyon gave the game an 8, finding it an enjoyable and creepy shooter. Ed gave it a 7, not enjoying the maze-like level design, though he too finds it plenty creepy. Al and Sushi gave it 6s, with Al finding it fun, but too slow moving, while Sushi finds it a good maze game for people who like that type of game. Overall: 27/40.
- Raiden (Atari, Jaguar): Ed considers this outright the best incarnation of the shooter, giving it a 8. Danyon also finds Raiden an above average shooter (as do I), gave an 7. Sushi, on the other hand, gave it a 5, finding the movement too slow, and the game practically becoming a Bullet Hell game, and Al gave it a 4 for the same reasons. Overall: 24/40.
- Kether (Phillips, CD-I): I’m not quite sure what it is, and from the sounds of things, neither is anyone else. Sushi gave it an 7, finding each of the different types of the game particularly good, but liked how the game kept him guessing as to what was coming. Ed didn’t say anything bad about the game, but gave it a 6 anyway. Sushi and Al gave it 5s, and they generally lauded the game, but again, for some reason the game’s strengths, though notable, weren’t enough to give it a higher score. Overall: 25/40.
- Alfred Chicken (Software Toolworks, NES): This is a port of the SNES puzzle-platformer. The game got 5s across the board. The main problems are bad graphics (particularly bad backgrounds) and bad sound. Overall: 20/40.
- Micro Machines (Codemasters, Game Gear): Ed gave the game an 8 for the good control and general graphics, with the exception of some blurring. Danyon generally found the game to be fun and gave the game a 7. Al and Sushi gave the game 6s, with Al’s main complaint being related to the graphics, while Sushi doesn’t like racing games very much. Overall: 27/40.
- Desert Strike (Lynx, Atari): The helicopter game has gotten ported to the SNES. Ed, Danyon and Sushi gave the game 5s and Al gave it a 4 for basically all the same reasons. Specifically, bad graphics and bad controls, are the bad things on here. Overall: 19/40.
Gaming Gossip: Winter CES has come and gone, and Quartermann has returned with loads of gossip which he’s whipped for us, and is serving up on large steaming plates.
- 3DO is also going to branch out into the PC Game realm. Hit! It’s also probably the only thing that saved 3DO from total destruction after the console died, through the Army Men games, though those too slid into mediochrity, and then into crap.
- We’re getting one more version of Street Fighter 2 – Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo! Hit! Also, we didn’t get Street Fighter 3 until after Street Fighter Alpha 1 & 2 came out.
- THQ has canceled it’s plans for a game based on Malibu’s comic Prime. Hit! Though, considering that the character’s last appearance is in 1997, I’m not sure if this decision is precient, or unreasonable.
Batting Average: 3 out of 3 for a 1.000 batting average. Finally, they’ve finally picked up some. Yay!
Press Start: Sega has announced what will become the 32X add-on module for the Genesis, in attempt to avoid $100+ costs for games like Virtua Racing. Galoob is also working on the Game Genie 2, which will have some features similar to the Pro Action Replay. Triax is also working on a “3D” controller – basically a controller which, rather than tracking in 4, 8, or 16 directions, tracks in 64 directions or more. Sort of like the modern analog stick. Sega has also finally shown off the Sega Saturn – and we have the specs! The system has two Hitachi SH2 32-bit processors working in tandem, with the figures being spouted for clock speed going between 18 and 24 MHz (which is tiny in comparison with modern systems), and a Hitachi SH1 controlling the CD-ROM drive (which it doesn’t actually get). The pallate colors supported are 2,048 or 1,024 Colors, with a maximum overall of 16 million colors. The system has 32-bit PCM sound (8-bit FM sound). We don’t have any screen resolution information, unfortunately, though we do know it has 16-megs to work with, and as far as the sprites are concerned, they can be rotated, scaled, and deformed. No word on whether they can be folded, spindled, or mutlated.
Arcade Action: Strata has NFL Hard Yardage, an realistic football arcade game, which feels like, not an contradiction, but something counter-intuitive. Konami has the brawler Monster Maulers, and while it’s not a licenced Yattaman game, the villains look a lot like the villains of Yattaman. SNK is also putting out the dream match World Heroes game, World Heroes 2 Jet – not that the World Heroes series had as much of an deep and intricate story as the King of Fighters series.
International Outlook: Of note from Japan is Pocky & Rocky 2, Ranma 1/2 Super Battle (which appears to have both of the Kunos, Tatewaki and Kodachi). There’s also a Crayon Shin-Chan game, Super Bomberman 2. Hudson has a sequel to Military Madness (appropriately titled Military Madness 2) for the Turbo-CD. The SNES has a Mobile Police Patlabor game, which, from the sounds of things, is based on the TV series (due to Special Vehicles Section 7 having to go up against an evil corp, which is probably Schaft). Oh, and by the way, I reviewed Patlabor TV at Bureau42.com and if you can find a copy of it, I strongly reccomend picking it and the New Files OVA up. We also get a thorough preview of Phantasy Star IV.
Feature Preview – ST:TNG: We get a preview of Star Trek: The Next Generation for the SNES, including some notes on the first few missions in the game. The 3DO is also getting Star Trek: The Next Geneartion – A World For All Season their own ST:TNG adventure game, but one with lots of polygonal graphics, though the graphics that haven’t aged well. We also get some notes on the Genesis port of the SNES Star Trek game, and Star Trek: Starfleet Academy for the SNES – which doesn’t have the same story as the PC version (but the PC version doesn’t have all the missions of the SNES version – including the movie missions). There’s also a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine adventure on the SNES and Genesis as well, though at the time this issue game out, season 2 was just gearing up, so the Jem Hadar and the Dominion hadn’t been introduced yet.
Featured Preview – Mortal Kombat II: The 2.1 version of the game code is started to appear in various arcades, with the new version of the game intorducing Babalities and Friendship moves, and “Whoopsie” Man. Oh, and some of the new stage fatalities. We also get some hints for finding Smoke and Jade.
SNES Coverage: We start off with more screen shots of Pirates of Dark Water. Next up is the action puzzle game Fire Striker – which they complain is too easy in the single player, though they like the multi-player (much like Bomberman). We also have our first look at Super Metroid, which I’d probably make the cover story instead of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Thus far they have no complaints (and I’m not surprised by that). Nintendo has the racing game Stunt Race FX which uses the SuperFX chip for polygonal graphics, and which probably will make the game more expensive. Trimark has the Excitebike-style motorcross racing game Moto-X, and American Technos has Super Pinball: Behind The Mask
Genesis Coverage: Fatal Fury 2 is getting a release for the Genesis as well. There’s also the really cutsy (and possibly too easy) mascot platformer Bubble & Squeak. We also get some coverage of the port of Prince of Persia, which apparently has some problems with delay in the sword fighting. There’s also a Lawnmower Man game, with a side-scrolling action mode and a on-rails shooter gameplay mode, which looks kind of iffy. Tengen has the shump Grind Shorter, which looks kind of generic, though if your a shump fan that might not be a problem. There’s also the comedy puzzle platformer Bubba and Stix, which doesn’t interest me in the slightest. EA has also put out Mutant League Hockey, which does interest me, and I’m glad the game kept the “on Warhammer” feel that Mutant League Football had (oh, and I’d love to see Games Workshop give hockey the Blood Bowl treatment).
Sega CD Coverage: We have the flight sim Tomcat Alley and the furry fighting game Brutal
3DO Coverage: We get some more screen shots of Escape From Monster Manor.
Atari Jaguar Coverage: We have screen shots of what might be the Jaguar’s best game, Alien vs. Predator.
CD-I Coverage: Dragon’s Lair has gotten a spiritual sequel in Space Ace, and we get a first look (sort of) at it. We also get a preview of Hotel Mario.
Game Gear Coverage: We get screen shots of Aladdin (which apparently plays a little too fast), and Micro Machines.
Lynx Coverage: We get images of Super Off Road.
Lifestyles: Well, aside from the video game stuff, there was other stuff shown off at Winter CES, including the new invention of… the CD Wallet. Yep. In 1994 they were brand spanking new. They were also probably incredibly expensive. We also have some new Flat Screen TVs, discussion of ratings systems, and a system from AT&T that allows for online multi-player with the Sega Genesis over a dial-up connection. Meanwhile, Spidey’s gotten grimmer and edgier as he investigates his parent’s murders in the Pursuit arc, and Batman & Spawn are doing a crossover. Finally, Disney is doing an Aladdin animated series and a new slightly gritty series called Gargoyles (which I loved growing up).
Alright, that wraps up this issue of EGM, and I’ll have another Nintendo Power recap tomorrow.