Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #62

Cover for EGM #62The EGM recaps continue with issue #62, for September of 1994. Our cover story is, of all things, Primal Rage. I mean the game looked good, but it wasn’t that good.

Editorial: The internet… it’s spreading. Okay, that isn’t specifically the topic of the column this issue, which is from Steve Harris, returning to the editorial pages one more time. The topic this time is the response on internet message boards to the the editorial column from last issue, about the constant reiterations to Street Fighter being too excessive. To be specific, the internet fans defended Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and felt that the Game Boy game that recieved honors as the Game Of The Month last issue was unworthy. It goes to show that you can’t please everyone on the internet. That said, we don’t have the specific content of the posts, and since this is 1994, when internet use wasn’t as wide spread (and generally required dial-up), it’s likely that the posters used proper grammar, and didn’t resort to some of the more childish comments that you see on the internet these days (in part because you wouldn’t have had as many immature kids online in the US). Oh, and apparently Capcom did something in response to the reviews as well, which they’ll get into next month. Capcom USA didn’t blacklist them for failing to be appropriately deferential at the altar of Street Fighter, did they?

Letters: Our Letter Of The Months asks if Nintendo’s running out of creativity with their accessories, as opposed to the stuff Sega’s breaking out. It’s not that they’re running out of creativity, it’s that Nintendo’s playing more conservatively with the expensive accessories that they’re putting out for the system. They no longer can enforce the same draconian rules over what can come out for their system that they could in the 8-bit era. This is, in part, because they got sued over it, because the rules were monopolistic. They meant the Seal of Quality meant something, but the cost of that was, all things considered, too high. Anyway, because of those rules they imposed on publishers, particularly related to licencing and publishing fees, Nintendo could afford to take risks in peripherals. This is why we got ROB, and why we got the Zapper. The Zapper succeeded, and why the only thing that stemmed the tide of light gun games in the US, until the Wii came out, was Columbine and other tragic school shootings. That said, ROB and the Power Pad failed. Both couldn’t get the degree of 3rd party support needed for success. Ultimately, with the exception of the Zapper, most of the peripherals that succeeded were put out by 3rd parties. So, Nintendo let the 3rd parties do the peripheral innovation here – though ultimately this lead to a series of 3rd party variations on the standard NES controller. Sega, on the other hand, has put out multiple first party accessories, like the Activator. While the Activator, like the Power Glove, can in theory work with any game. Like the Power Glove it’s also very expensive, and like the Power Glove it doesn’t work very well. To take an aside, whatever Microsoft does with Natal, it needs to work better than the Activator.

Moving on to the other letters, we have a call for more RPGs for the Genesis, and thanks to the demise of the Turbo Duo (and TTI in general), Working Designs has moved from porting JRPGs for that system to the Genesis and Sega CD. That said, Nintendo’s still got the lead. However, this will be the last console generation where it will maintain that lead. There are also complaints about various console ports. We also get questions about the specificatiosn for other video game systems. There’s also a letter expressing disappointment about the lack of good ending in video games – with EGM editorial suggesting that maybe the era of the ending is coming to an end. This ultimately isn’t the case, it’s just a situation that some genres lead to better endings than others. We also get questions about when we’ll get the Saturn, and if we’ll still have 32X support when the Saturn comes out.

Review Crew: Once again, our crew is Ed Semrad, Danyon Carpenter, Al Manual, and Sushi-X.

  • Blackthorne (Interplay, SNES): This is Blizzard’s action platformer. The game gets 8s across the board, with particular praise given to the puzzle gameplay and being able to blow away prisoners after they give you information. Ohhhkay. Overall: 32/40 and the game receives the Editor’s Choice Gold Award and Game Of The Month.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (Bandai, SNES): This is a semi-brawler based on the show. You have beat-em up stages where you play as the rangers, and then the boss fights against bad guys in Kaiju form in the Megazord are in a more Street Fighter style perspective. The Crew isn’t too impressed, with Ed and Sushi giving the game 7s, with Ed finding it too easy and feeling rushed. Danyon and Al give the game 6s, with Al in particular lamenting the lack of multi-player (which I find surprising as well – the Rangers fight as a team after all). Overall: 26/40.
  • Death & Return of Superman (Sunsoft, SNES): The Death & Return of Superman arc from DC is over, and has been that way for a bit. Well, Sunsoft has their cash in game, in the form of a generic brawler. Ed gives it a 6 and everyone else gives it 5s, finding it again – ultimately generic (and, having played it, I also found it rather hard too). Overall: 21/40.
  • Zero Tolerance (Accolade, Genesis): The genre they use to describe this is an RPG, but it looks like a First Person Shooter, and they compare it to Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. So, I checked Wikipedia, and indeed it is a FPS – one which allows you to link two Genesis units together for multi-player, which the Console ports of Doom couldn’t do. Take that! Anyway, Ed and Sushi love it, with Ed giving it a 9, and Sushi giving it an 8 for it’s appropriately bloody gameplay (in the traditions of Doom and Wolfenstein), along with the weapon selection. Danyon and Al give the game a 7 and 6 (respectively) for similar reasons, though Al doesn’t like the multi-player as much. Overall: 30/40.
  • Super Street Fighter II (Capcom, Genesis): Well, the major releases are starting to get multi-platform now, and will probably stay that way for quite some time to come. Sushi gives it an 8, considering it a good Street Fighter game, though recommending waiting a bit until Turbo comes out. Al gives it a 7, finding still good, with the exception of the sound quality. Ed and Danyon give it 6s, due to Street Fighter burnout. Overall: 27/40.
  • Taz in Escape from Mars (Sega, Genesis): Another Warner Brothers game. Sushi gives the game an 8 because the game captures the character of Taz and the other Looney Toons which appear. Danyon and Ed also like it and give it 7s, though they’re not too fond of the game’s audio. Al gives it an 6 though, finding it a generic platfomer. Overall: 28/40.
  • Battlecorps (Core, Sega CD): Minor misprint here, as they list this game as being for the 3DO except for the Sega CD. Fortunately, they mention the system it was released for in the notes, so it’s not as big a deal. Anyway, this is a first-person mech action game. Ed loves the game and gives it an 8 for good (though pixelated) graphics, and audio. Everyone else isn’t as fond, and disagree with just about every point Ed said about the game – except the pixelated graphics, with Danyon and Sushi giving the game 6s, and Al giving the game a 5. Overall: 25/40.
  • Way of the Warrior (Universal Interactive, 3DO): This fighting game is universally panned for horrible, crippling controls – though it looks good. The game gets a 5 from Ed, 3s from Al and Sushi, and a 4 from Danyon. Overall: 15/40.
  • Dynamite Heady (Sega, Game Gear): Treasure’s platformer gets ported to handhelds, and depending on which member of the crew you ask, it’s a good port. Ed and Sushi give the game a 9 and an 8, respectively. Danyon gives it a 7, as while it looks and plays great, the Game Gear isn’t known for its sound quality. Al gives it a 6, feeling that the game lost a lot in the translation. Overall: 30/40.
  • Yogi Bear (Gametek, Game Boy): I guess it’s reasonable to expect Hanna Barbera to try to cash in on the success Warner Bros. has done with the games licensed off of their animated characters. That said, this game doesn’t do as well – unless you ask Ed. He gives it an 8 and he loves it. As with Battlecorps, the rest of the crew is left wondering what game Ed was playing, with Al giving the game a 3, Danyon giving it a 5, for monotonous gameplay and a lack of originality, and Sushi giving the game a 6, for having flair, but not good gameplay. Overall: 22/40.

Gaming Gossip: I’m going to somewhat skip the list format this week. Sega’s doing really well in the Japanese arcades, particularly with Daytona USA, Virtua Cop, and Virtua Fighter. I’m a little surprised about Daytona USA myself, because I wouldn’t think NASCAR games of any stripe would do well outside the US. Speaking of Sega, while the 32X and the Saturn both have Hitachi chips, the differences in the hardware are enough that the 32X carts won’t work on the Saturn. Now, Sega’s promised that they would be cross compatible, so Q-Mann speculates that Sega’s going to either have to push back the Saturn to figure out a solution, or put out another add-on module for the Saturn. Ultimately, they do neither and just kick the 32X to the curb.

Press Start: 3DO is getting a 64-bit version. Also, SNK is working on a Neo-Geo CD unit, and 3DO is getting a version of Star Control with polygonal graphics (this actually never comes out).

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Arcade Action: We have a look at Sega’s arcade flight sim, Wing War. We also get an ad for King of Fighters ’94. Oh, and Capcom has Darkstalkers, and SNK as the shump Aero Fighters.

International Outlook: Of note this issue is Breath of Fire 2 from Capcom. Nihon Falcom has a new Dragon Slayer game, There’s also the fire-fighting Ikari Warriors style shump The Firemen. There’s also Osu! Karate Club, based on a Shonen Jump manga which wasn’t brought to the US.

Next Wave: Hudson has a new ninja action game in Hagane. Ocean has Jurassic Park II, which pre-dates The Lost World novel and film – but the plot of the game is similar to that of the second movie. I’m not going to claim that Crichton borrowed from the game, particularly since there isn’t anyway for me to ask him now that he’s dead. Tengen finally has a game for the SNES in Super RBI Baseball. Contra: The Alien Wars is coming out for the Game Boy as well. There are also Game Gear and Game Boy Power Ranger games. We’ve also got a new X-Men game for the Game Gear with The Gamemaster’s Legacy, based on the Legacy Virus arc. Colossus is not appearing in the game, so I don’t know if he’ll still get killed off. Anyway, Saturday Night Slam Masters is getting a Genesis port.

Feature Preview – Super Return of the Jedi: We get notes on several of the games levels, including the levels on the Death Star 2.

Feature Preview – Primal Rage: We have a preview of this pretty lame (in my opinion) fighting game, featuring stop-motion characters. We get descriptions of most of the characters and their fighting styles.

Team EGM: More coverage of sports games, but not much stands out. The stuff that caught my attention was ESPN Sunday Night NFL and ESPN National Hockey Night from Sony Imagesoft, and the bike racing game Cannondale Cup from ASC. Atlus also has GP-1RS, a motorcycle racing game. All of those are for the Super NES.

SNES Coverage: Capcom has another Disney platformer in The Great Circus Mystery, featuring Mickey & Minnie. There’s also a Beavis & Butthead game. There’s also Pac-Man 2, which misses the point about what makes Pac-Man good. Accolade has also put out Bubsy II (rather quickly in my opinion). Jaleco is putting out R-Type III and Electrobrain has a shooter that uses the Super FX chip in Vortex. Accolade has the platformer Fire Team Rogue, and Kemco has the brawler Stone Protectors, based on an animated series I’d never heard of. More importantly, Civilization is getting ported to the SNES as well. Taito has the first person action game Operation Thunderbolt.

Genesis Coverage: We have a preview of the Sonic & Knuckles add-on cartridge. There’s also Sparkster, the sequel to Rocket Knight. We’ve also got Earthworm Jim from Shiny. Sony’s got a licensed Disney game of their own with Mickey Mania, which bases itself on several old Mickey Mouse cartoons, including Steamboat Willy. Time Warner has a combination helicopter shump and Ikari Warriors style top-down shump with Red Zone. Atlus has home port of the arcade fighting game Power Instinct. American Sammy is also (finally) porting their isometric shump Viewpoint as well (it had previously been released for the Neo-Geo).

Sega CD Coverage: SSI’s first person AD&D RPG, Eye of the Beholder, has been ported to home systems. I have to admit that I never really was able to get past level 3 of the dungeon, because I couldn’t find the exit down. It sounds like the game also supports a mouse, though I don’t have any recollection of a mouse peripheral being brought out for the Genesis. The SNES, yes, but not the Genesis.

3DO Coverage: Star Control II has also gotten a port to the 3DO – though I wonder how well it will control with a D-Pad instead of a mouse and keyboard (or just a keyboard). Even more significantly, the first survival horror game, Alone in the Dark has come to the consoles for the first time. Good Old Games should totally get this, and if they did, I’d totally try to beat it by next Halloween so I could have a review ready. Anyway, the EGM staff isn’t too impressed with the lag in the controls during combat in the game. There are also screen shots of Gex and the Demolition Man licenced game (which is a on-rails shooter, but without light-gun or mouse support.

CD-I Coverage: We get a look at the puzzle game Dimo’s Quest, and a Jeopardy game, with actual video footage of Alec Trebeck.

GameBoy Coverage: We’ve got another Hanna Barbera licensed game in Yogi Bear’s Gold Rush. There’s also Blues Brothers Jukebox Adventures which has precisely nothing to do with the movie aside from the two main characters.

Game Gear Coverage: We have a look at Sonic The Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, which features not only Sonic and Tails but also Knuckles (hense the “Triple Trouble” subtitle). Oh, and there’s also a Beavis & Butthead game. It’s also got a flight sim in F-15 Strike Eagle II.

Lifestyles: Spectrum Holobyte is working on a new Star Trek: The Next Generation game, the Phone Card has been introduced. We also get a last minute update code with the instructions to play as Akuma in Super Street Fighter II Turbo.

That wraps up this issue of EGM. Tomorrow I’ll have an issue of Nintendo Power. Before this raps up, I’ve got just one more thing for you. At present, I’m unemployed. I’ve been collecting unemployment while looking for work and working on this blog (and hoping I get sales from referrals). That said, if I do get a full time job, I won’t have time to continue working on this at the same rate I have before. That said I will keep blogging, but the pace will not be the same. However, I will try to continue my movie reviews, my EGM recaps, my Nintendo Power recaps, and (hopefully), my Quality Control columns. GamePro may be kicked to the curb, but to be honest, I wasn’t too fond of the GamePro recaps anyway.