Where I Read – GamePro #41
Our series of GamePro recaps continues to issue 41, for December of 1992. This issue is once again pretty long, at 240 pages, and our cover story this issue is the new Chester Cheetah game. That’s correct, our cover game is an advergame, one designed to get young people to buy more junk food. You want to know the roots of the modern obesity epidemic – right here. Okay, maybe not totally, but there’s stuff there. The art, for once, doesn’t stink though.
Editorial: It’s the end of another year, which means it’s time for another year in review column. Everything’s generally favorable, which is to be expected, because this isn’t exactly a golden age for gaming, but is a pretty awesome time to be a gamer.
Mail: The first question is “Are the Turbo Duo and Turbo CD compatible?” The answer is yes, but in the most round-about way I’ve seen. So, I’m going to clarify this for you. All prior Turbo Grafx games, both CD Rom and Chip games will play on the Duo. Games made for the Duo/Super CD-Rom will require an special upgrade chip called the super system card to play on the older TG-16. There. I did in two sentences what it took the GamePro editors two paragraphs to do. Who ‘da man? We also have requests for them to switch to perfect binding instead of staple binding. Well, while Perfect Binding makes it more difficult to scan, it makes it much easier to find the issue you want on your shelf. Yes, it doesn’t lie flat on your desk, so it’s not a good gameplay reference, but that only really matters if you’re putting maps in the magazine like EGM or Nintendo Power. GamePro doesn’t do that – you have no excuse.
Hot At The Arcades: Golden Axe 2 is coming out, and there’s a motorcycle racing game in Suzuka 8 Hours, which is like the 24 Hours of LeMans, but with motorcycles and only 1/3rd as long.
NES Coverage: Another Batman movie (Batman Returns) means another Batman game, and so shall this trend continue until The Dark Knight. Instead of being a Ninja Gaiden style platformer like the first game, it’s your boilerplate brawler, which is unfortunate. They find it decent though, giving a 4.5 for Control and 3.5s for everything else. Speaking of movie licenced games, we’ve got Robocop 3. Has there ever been a good Robocop licenced game? Didn’t think so. This game gets a decent score nonetheless, with a 4 for sound, 3 for Control (as you have to actually fire two shots to shoot downwards, one shot in any direction, then hold down the fire button while pressing down), and 3.5s for Graphics & Fun Factor. There’s also a Rocky & Bullwinkle game, with the player controlling Rocky or Bullwinkle as they travel cross country to collect an inheritance (and, for some strange reason, Boris & Natasha trying to stop them). Apparently the graphics aren’t so hot and neither are the controls, so the game gets a 2 for Graphics, a 2.5 for Control, a 3 for Fun Factor and a 3.5 for Sound.
Christmas Wish List: Well, it’s Christmas time. That’s unlees you celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah in which case Bill O’Reilly thinks you Hate Freedom and Hate America. I think you’re cool though. Anyway, the notable reccomended titles, peripherals, and accessories include Smash TV (the SNES version), Out Of This World (also the SNES version), ASCII’s arcade sticks, Alien 3 for the Genesis, Gate of Thunder for the Turbo CD, Street Fighter II for the SNES, the TurboDuo itself, Capcom’s Arcade Stick, Super Castlevania IV, Sonic II, the Neo Geo, Loom for the TurboDuo.
Genesis Coverage: First up is the Genesis’ bazooka-ish light gun, The Menacer. We get reviews of each of the games in the 6-in-1 cart that come with it. Ready, Aim, Tomatoes gets 4.5 for Sound & Control and a 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor, Rockman’s Zone (a Hogan’s Alley clone) gets a 4.5 for Control, and 2s for everything else. Sort of paddle game Whackball gets a 4 for Control, and 3s for everything else. Frontline (a game you’re shooting tanks), which gets a 2.5 for Sound, 3.5 for Graphics & Fun Factor and a 4.5 for Control. Pest Control has you shooting bugs gets a 2 for Sound, a 3 for Graphics, a 3.5 for Fun Factor and a 4.5 for Control. Space Station Defender has you shooting aliens coming out of pods, giving an 2 for Sound (noticing a trend?), 3 for Fun Factor, a 3.5 for Graphics, and a 4.5 for Control (another trend). So, in general, the controls are solid, but the sound is generally poor, with the exception of Ready, Aim, Tomatoes, which is good all around.
We’ve got what I think is one of the first WWF licenced game for the Genesis in WWF Wrestlemania Challenge. Being that this is the early 90s the roster reflects that (You’ve got Hogan, Savage and DiBiase on the roster, but you’ve also got Davey Boy Smith, Shawn Michaels, and Papa Shango – would later become The Godfather). The wrestlers are hard to tell apart once they’re in the ring, and the sound isn’t so hot, though they like the game’s controls. The Game gets a 4 for Control, a 3.5 for Fun Factor, and 3s for Graphics & Sound. Sega has the shump Bio-Hazard Battle, which looks like it takes the organic theme a few more steps further than most other games. The game gets a 4 for Sound, and a 4.5 for Fun Factor, and 5s for Graphics & Sound.
We then get the most disturbing first page of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ad (or any video game ad) I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously – it’s Raph in the electric chair, getting zapped. How can that not be disturbing to young kids.
Moving back to actual content, we’ve got a review of LHX Attack Chopper, a helicopter flight sim from EA. Apparently they actually like this one, 3.5 for Sound, and 4s for everything else. Me… I prefer my flight sims, at the moment, arcadey and current gen. After struggling through a major bombing mission and scraping through by the skin of my teeth, I don’t want to risk getting a game over and having to start it all over by not being able to land my bullet-riddled airplane (or helicopter). We also have a preview of Streets of Rage II and Road Rash II
Sega CD Coverage: We’re starting off with a featured review (sort of) of Night Trap, which has not aged well at all, though the Game Pro reviewers like it and gave it a 4 for Fun Factor and 5s for everything else. There’s also the sequel to the mecha fighting game Heavy Nova titled Black Hole Assault. The review is pretty favorable, with a 4.5 for Graphics and 4s for everything else. We also get an article on the release of the Sega CD from Sega of America’s perspective (GamePro doesn’t have the same level of Japanese contacts as EGM). Specifically, we basically get a tour of Sega Multimedia Entertainment’s offices. We also get a preview of the Genesis and SNES version of Tiny Toon Adventures. This leads into…
SNES Coverage: We now get our feature preview of the Chester Cheetah game, titled Chester Cheetah: Too Cool To Fool. We move on to the reviews proper with Mickey Mouse’s Magical Quest, which is a fantasy action platforming game featuring Mickey & Company. They really like it, and give it a 5 for Graphics, a 3 for Sound, and 4s for Control & Fun Factor. Next up is The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare, which I’ve played and did not enjoy. Basically, it’s a collection of artificially hard mini-games. Again, they like this one too, giving it a 3.5 for Fun Factor, 4s for Sound & Control, and a 4.5 for Graphics. Also, Super Mario Kart is coming out so we have a review for the game. They do have an error where they say that Lakitu was a new character for this game. He’s not – he first appeared in Super Mario Bros. He was the guy who threw the spikey critters at you. Anyway, the game gets good scores (which are to be expected here), with the game getting a 4 for Sound, and 5s for everything else.
Desert Strike: Return To The Gulf is getting it’s SNES release, and it’s getting a solid score. It gets a 4 for Sound (not surprising, the SNES’s sound chip isn’t great, though Square, Konami and Nintendo got a lot out of it), a 4.5 for Fun Factor, and 5s for Graphics and Control. There’s also the caveman platformer Chuck Rock, which gets a 5 for Graphics, a 4.5 for Sound & Fun Factor, and a 4 for Control. There’s also the puzzle game Spindizzy Worlds, which uses a similar perspective to Marble Madness and a similar control setup as well, plus the option to rotate the screen as needed. The game gets 5s for Graphics & Fun Factor, a 3.5 for Sound, and a 4.5 for Control. There’s also another puzzle game in On The Ball which is sort of like the bonus stages from Sonic The Hedgehog (the first one), though it gets a good review score (which makes sense, because while those bonus stages were hard, they were also fun), it gets a 5 for Sound, and 4s for everything else.
Q-Bert 3 is also coming out for the SNES. I remember Q-Bert, it was a simple yet fun game, and I’m surprised we haven’t gotten Q-Bert Evolved sort of like Pac-Man Tournament Edition and Space Invaders Extreme. Anyway, this game good solid scores, with a 5 for Graphics, a 4.5 for Fun Factor, and 4s for Sound & Control. Oh, and Rampart is getting ported to the SNES as well, but not from Tengen (EA’s doing the port instead), the game gets a 5 for Control & Fun Factor, and 4s for Graphics & Sound.
TurboGrafx Coverage: The TurboGrafx-CD is getting a first-party port of Loom, Lucasarts interesting and (from what I’ve heard) enthralling adventure game. Fortunately, since this is a CD game we get really good sound quality. The game gets 5s for Graphics, Sound & Fun Factor and a 4 for Control. TTI’s also got yet another shump in Dead Moon, which it looks like, slightly changes things up (very slightly) by having stages scrolling from from right to left instead of left to right. It’s not a big deal (probably), but it probably makes a difference when you’re actually playing it. The game gets a 3.5 for Fun Factor a 4.5 for Graphcis and 4s for Graphics & Control. There’s also New Adventure Island, the latest adventure of the Adventure Island series. The game gets 4s across the board (it’s Adventure Island after all). We also get a run-down of the TurboDuo’s specifications (basically, it’s the TG-CD with an major memory upgrade).
The Sports Page:The first game we have a review of is NFL Sports Talk Football ’93 which features a little known quarterback named “Joe Monrana” (I kid, I can forgive the typo being that the “r” key is next to the “t” key, as opposed to some typos I’ve seen where the key you’re pressing would be with and entirely different hand). Anyway, the graphics have been upgraded, and it sounds like the sound and control has been improved as well, which is good. The game gets a 4 for Sound, and 5s for everything else. Madden ’93 is coming out as well, and includes Instant Replay appeal which (in the reviewer’s view, justifiably), the NFL had ruled against around this time. For the record, I’m in favor of challenges. Anyway, Madden doesn’t quite score as well as Sports Talk, getting 4s for Graphics & Sound, and 5s for Control & Fun Factor for the Genesis version, and the SNES version getting a 4 for Sound and 4.5s for everything else. Nintendo has their own football game on the SNES in Super Play Action Football, which plays similarly to Pro Action Replay on the NES, except with bigger sprites. It gets a 4 for Graphics and a 3 for everything else.
Next up more arcady football game of Pro Quarterback from Tradewest, which looks interesting though I don’t know how well it controls, and it gets a 4.5 for Control, and 3.5s for everything else. Flying Impact has another football game in Super High Impact for the Genesis, which doesn’t have the NFL licence (as does Pro Quarteback and is pretty arcady, as is Pro Quarterback). The game got a 3.5 for Control, a 4 for Fun Factor, a 4.5 for Graphics, and a 5 for Sound.
Just for good measure the Lynx is getting a football game as well in Lynx NFL Football, which doesn’t turn out very well at all – it gets a 1.5 for Control, 2.5 for Fun Factor, and 3s for Graphics & Sound. To change things up (finally), we have Tennis games! First up is Andre Agassi Tennis for the Genesis, which unfortunately doesn’t do well in the control department, getting a 1.5 (which is unfortunate, because Tennis games live and die by their control, and, well, their physics). It also gets a 3 for Fun Factor, and a 3.5 for Sound, finally a 4.5 for Graphics. We also get an interview with Agassi himself – though they’re good and don’t ask him “Why did you attach your name to a game that plays like ass?”
Hardware Helpers: We have a feature article on various accessories for the SNES and Genesis, including cheat devices like the Pro Action Replay and Genesis. Not much to say about these, a lot of these devices have been covered previously in one form or another. It’s the end of the year after all so this is our “gift buying” issue, sort of.
Neo-Geo Coverage: SNK’s got their first serious attempt to answer the success of Street Fighter II with Art of Fighting, complete with it’s new ability to zoom the graphics in and out. However, we don’t have a review, just a preview, being that the game isn’t out yet.
Game Boy Coverage: Kirby has gotten his first game in Kirby’s Dreamland. It’s short at only 5 levels long, but it lays the groundwork of things to come, with a 5 for Graphics, 4.5 for Control & Fun Factor, and a 4 for Sound. There’s also a Flintstones game, which is basically a Mario/Adventure Island style platformer but with Fred Flinstone, and instead of riding Yoshi he rides Dino. The game gets a 2 for Sound, but otherwise is solid with 4s for Graphics & Control and a 4.5 for Fun Factor. There’s also Lazlo’s Leap, which is based on the Checkers variant of Tetris, and which gets a 2.5 for Sound (which is not surprising), a 3.5 for Graphics, a 4 for Control and a 3.5 for Fun Factor. There’s also a Ren & Stimpy licenced game which has mediochre Sound (though they give it a 3.5 for Sound Anyway.), a 3 for Control, a 4 for Graphics and another 3.5 for Fun Factor.
Game Gear Coverage: First up is Alien 3, which looks pretty dark, and looks really blurry. The game gets a 3.5 for Sound & Control and 4s for Graphics & Fun Factor though, so apparently they didn’t share my problems with the visuals.
Lynx Coverage: The Lynx has gotten Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop, which is a shooter where you play as a cop which is totally not based on a character from a popular series of Clint Eastwood movies. Oh, and if you believe that, I’m proud to tell you that you’ve won the lottery in Nigeria. Anyway, it gets a 5 for Graphics, a 4.5 for Sound, a 4 for Control, and a 3 for Fun Factor.
Short ProShots: Alright, the notable games being covered here include Flashback & Sunset Riders for the Genesis. The Duo has Samurai Ghost, and the Game Boy has Mega Man 3, and that’s pretty much it.
Game Busters: This issue we get the ending fight and cutscene for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. We also get a strategy guide for Death Duel by Razorsoft, which apparently allows for dismemberments of your anthropomorphic cybernetic opponents, which is apparently bloodless enough to get past the NES censors, while still being controvercial enough to not pass muster in (according to their ad copy) portions of Eastern Europe. No word on Germany and Australia.
We then get an index of every game that was covered in the past year, both in terms of reviews, preview coverage, and when it appeared in the SWAT Pro column. So, I’m going to skip this, as it’s really long.
ProNews: The Street Fighter II: Champion Edition arcade machines are getting an upgrade to Turbo. Paramount & Spectrum Holobyte are working on Star Trek: The Next Generation VR machines for mall arcades. EA has bought out Origin Systems (and ultimately the internal political disagreements between EA brass and Richard Garriott will lead to Lord British’s departure from the company he helped found). Accolade is trying to get a focus group of kids in San Jose, CA to help provide feedback on Bubsy. The logic, I guess, is that the kids will be less cynical when plyed with Pizza than adults plied with sandwitches would be. Also, Nintendo’s approval team lead to some of the more extreme content being removed (such as catnip leaves that looked a lot like marajuana leaves).
That wraps up this recap of GamePro. Tomorrow I’ll finally have another in-depth wrestling DVD review, with a review of The Best of IWA Wrestling Vol. 2. I’ve also got a few relevant retro gaming links to point you towards. The 1up Network’s Retronauts podcast did a very good episode about the history of the TurboGrafx game console. I whole heartedly recommend giving that a listen. We also got a feature article on game franchises that in need of sequels which I also liked.