Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #97
No, I don’t have their 100th issue right now, so I’m going to have to skip it. Yeah, I feel bad about it to, and trust me, as gaps are filled, I will go back and do write-ups to address the missing issues of the magazine. Anyway, the magazine is evolving, and while Steve Harris is no longer with it, and Ed Semrad is only on board as their Chief Correspondent, and there’s still the matter of being hitched to the potentially debt-ridden mess that is Ziff Davis (I don’t know if it was as debt ridden then as it was at the end of the first generation of EGM). That said, Ziff Davis still has ZDTV at this time. That has to account for something right? No, it doesn’t. Thought it would be absolutely awesome if Ziff Davis had still had ZDTV around the time they launched the 1up Brand, and the 1up Show could have been an actual TV program. Ah well, such is life.
Some bad news for Sega: the planned merger between Sega and Bandai has fallen through. I kind of wonder whether the Dreamcast would have survived with Bandai’s support. I’m not sure that it would – keep in mind that at this time Namco and Bandai hadn’t merged yet. According to the article, murmurs of discontent among the rank and file scuttled the merger. Sega’s also announced a price-cut for the Sega Saturn to bring it down to $149 in 1997 dollars. Square Enix has also announced their survival horror game Parasite Eve. Additionally, the DVD format is building up some steam, with the impending release of Ghost in the Shell from Manga Video in the US. The N64DD is delayed again.
Shiny Entertainment is working on a 3D take on Earthworm Jim for the series 3rd installment. Speaking of sequels, Tobal No. 1 isn’t getting one, at least not in the US anyway. Japan is getting the sequel, with all 200 characters. It’s just not coming to the US.
Rumors are beginning to spread about Sega’s next console. It’s big, it’s bad, it’s code named Dural, and I’m pretty sure that it becomes the Dreamcast. Anyway, they have everything lined up for it except for the graphics processor. They’ve got two major candidates for this, and they can’t make up their mind. Also, Tommy Tallerico is working on a game.
Of note in the previews this issue is the first Mortal Kombat Mythologies game, featuring Sub-Zero. We also get some screen shots of the Saturn version of Resident Evil. We’re also getting a video game based on Dragonball GT, which considering GT’s reputation, I will not only pass this game by, but I’ll give it a wide berth so it doesn’t contaminate me. There’s also a game based on the comic book Youngblood. If that name isn’t familiar, that’s because the comic was done for Image by Rob Leifeld (ugh) as part of his Awesome Universe. No, really, that’s the name. The series was meant to be a sort of alternate version of the Teen Titans, based on the ideas for the Titans that Leifeld wanted to do when he was at DC but couldn’t for various reasons. The series was generally on par with Leifeld’s usual fare that he wrote and drew until 1998, at which point he managed to rope Alan Moore (of all people) into taking on writing duties. After Moore came on board, the series lasted 2 issues and then ended. Yeah.
Anyway, there’s a Reboot game set to come out. The survival horror game Clock Tower is also set to come out, along with a Transformers: Beast Wars game, and an adaptation of the first Fighting Fantasy game-book Deathtrap Dungeon (which we got an ad for earlier in the issue). There’s also a Ghost in the Shell game coming out, but it really doesn’t have much to do with the movie to be honest – especially considering that you’re controlling the Tachikomas, which don’t appear in the film.
The Crew is still Shawn, Dan, Crispin & Sushi. The format has changed though. The order in which people go varies, with the guy on top getting the most space to write, then the ones below him getting a little less space.
- Air Combat 2 (Namco, PlayStation): This would be otherwise known as Ace Combat 2. Crispin drops a box quote by saying the graphics are “are the best of any flight game ever.” In particular he really like the game’s ranking system, which provides for some multiple paths in the game, and he gives it a 9. Shawn & Sushi give the game 8s, with Shawn liking the game’s arcade style, while while the game appeals to Sushi’s picky tastes. Dan gives the game an 8.5, because of the variety of the planes and mission types, as well as the skill required for some of the missions (particularly with enemies actually trying not to get hit by you). Overall: 33.5/40 it wins the Editor’s Choice Silver Award and is Game of the Month.
- Shining in the Holy Dark (Sega, Saturn): We’ve got a new Shining game, with polygonal graphics even. Now we start getting our first appearances of semi-super-deformed anime style characters in polygonal graphics. I’m going to be honest. I don’t like anime style characters in polygonal graphics. They just don’t work for me. Anyway, this Saturn RPG is a dungeon crawler like the first Shining game (Shining in the Darkness) except with the inclusion of an auto-map. It runs into some problems, in particular with slowdown in the canned attack animations in combat, which isn’t necessarily cool. The difficulty curve also gets a little high, but everyone’s big complaint is with the attack animations. Shawn gives it a 6.5, Crispin & Sushi give it 8s, and Dan gives it an 8.5. Overall: 31/40.
- Machine Hunter (MGM Interactive, PlayStation): This is, essentially, a twin stick shooter, which starts out as a single-stick shooter, but becomes twin stick after you get your power armor. Sushi gives the game an 8, Shawn & Crispin give the game 6.5s, and Dan gives it a 7.5. Overall: 28.5/40.
- Lethal Enforcers 1 & 2 (Konami, PlayStation): It’s an anthology of both Lethal Enforcers games, ported to the PlayStation. The crew feels that the Lethal Enforcer games haven’t aged well, and I agree with them, especially since Virtua Cop 1 & 2 already kicked their butts. Dan gave it a 5, Shawn gave it a 3.5, Crispin gave it a 4.5, and Sushi gave it a 6.5. Overall: 19.5/40.
- Xevious 3D (Namco, PlayStation): Now we have a polygonal version of Xevious, and it is completely different from Xevious: Resurrection. Everyone says it’s a solid, fun shooter, with Shawn & Sushi giving it a 7 and a 7.5 (respectively). Dan and Crispin aren’t too impressed though, and Dan gives it a 5.5 and Crispin gives it a 6.5. Overall: 26.5/40.
- Raystorm (Spaz Games, PlayStation): Another polygonal shump. The descriptions of the game give me the impression that it’s a bit of a proto-bullet hell game, due to the massive number of enemies on the screen. However, the response is favorable, with everyone having fun with it, with everyone particularly liking the game’s use of lock-on attacks. Anyway, Dan gives it an 8.5, Shawn gives it a 7.5, Crispin gives it a 9, and Sushi gives it an 8. Overall: 33/40 and it gets a Editor’s Choice Silver Award.
- Poy Poy (Konami, PlayStation): This is multi-player action game, where you pick up items in the environment and throw them at other people. It’s kind of like Smash Bros without all the recognizable Nintendo characters, and in a more 3D arena. Dan doesn’t think it holds up next to Super Bomberman and Mario Kart and gives it a 7.5, but the rest of the crew loved it and Sushi gave it an 8.5, an 8 from Crispin, and a 9 from Shawn. Overall: 33/40.
We have an article about how arcade hardware and other gaming technology (both on the software and hardware front) can be used by, well, the Military-Industrial complex. Basically, this focuses on game technology being used to design combat flight simulators.
By the way, we’ve got an ad here which makes me want to take a little aside to talk about a gaming buzzword which will be coming up soon as we cover video games. The term is “texture mapping”. Take a look at this ad here is for Codename Tenka. Click on the image that I’ve posted next to this paragraph, and view it full size. Depending on your browser you may have to click on it. But, anyway, look at it full size, and pay attention the gun. Now, you can clearly see the pixelation on the gun. There’s no fine detail there, and it’s noticeable when you just look at it. Now, let’s look at the ad again at GiantBomb.com. Don’t zoom in on it, just look at it. Here it looks a little better. Why is that? Well, the gun is a polygonal shape. in the game. There are a whole bunch of little polygons on there that make up each little bit of the gun. On their own, these don’t mean anything, as all you’ve got is a bunch of shapes. You can kind of get that you’re looking at a gun, but for it to make for an enjoyable game, you need to take things one step further and put something in those polygons. These are picture files called “texture” maps. They’re basically pixels patterned to give the impression that something isn’t totally smooth, that it has a bit of texture to it. However, the pixel density (the number of pixels on the texture map) determines how detailed it is. The texture map for the gun, particularly by the guy’s hand, has low pixel density.
Anyway, moving on with the feature articles. Next up is the featured coverage on Masters of Teras Kasi. We don’t get much in terms of character bios, or move lists, but we do get some notes about what they’re shooting for the game. They’re trying to get a Virtua Fighter style control scheme where the face buttons relate to hands and feet. They’re also trying to go with very detailed character models, with 1,200 polygons per character, which is twice as many as the Dynasty Warriors fighting game. There’s also a look at some of Psygnosis’ upcoming titles, including G-Police, the space shooter Colony Wars. We also get a look at one of the first polygonal characters to be sexualized, as opposed to sprite based characters (which had been done earlier with Mai Shiranui, who took Chun-Li’s leggyness up a notch with her Gainaxing. Lara doesn’t get a Gainax bounce until fairly recently though. We also get mention for the first time of the infamous nude raider “patch” for the PC version, including a pointer to nuderaider.com, which is no more.
We also get notes on 1997’s E3. One of the little side stories in this article is one about E3’s attempts to expand overseas, in particular in Asia. They apparently attempted to do an E3 in Tokyo, but the Japanese equivalent of the ESA essentially told them to go elsewhere. Now, to be fair, at this time Tokyo Game Show was on it’s second year and was still getting established, while E3 had been around a year longer. Additionally, while the US gaming market was substantial, it wasn’t still as big then as it is now – Japanese game publishers would publish for the systems that were doing well in Japan over systems that were doing well in the US, and would consequently port those games to the same system in the US (if we got a port). Whereas now, the US game market is big enough that we actually got a port of Final Fantasy XIII for the Xbox 360, a system that is currently #3 in Japan, close to where, basically, the TurboGrafx-16 was in the US during the 16-bit generation.
Capcom is collecting it’s Dungeons & Dragons themed fantasy brawlers on the Saturn. Unfortunately, we don’t get this compilation volume in the US or in Europe, much to my disappointment. So, if you want this, you have to import it. While the Saturn was region locked, you can hack the Saturn by changing a Jumper or using one of the 4-in-1 memory cards that were made for the system. Sega has Sky Target, an After Burner style flight sim. Neversoft is making itself known with the tongue-in-cheek sci-fi action game MDK. We also get some information on the changes being made for the US release of Resident Evil: Director’s Cut, including a new intro, added blood, and more zombies (including ones of the first STARS team that was sent in). The PlayStation is also getting a collectors edition of Street Fighter II, containing two of the game’s iterations. Or now you could get Super Street Fighter Turbo HD Remix from XBLA or PSN and call it good. Or you could get the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection and get Street Fighter III as well.
We also get information on the action game One, and the mascot platformer Jersey Devil. There’s also a contest where you could win a Dead or Alive Arcade machine which is over, but fortunately Dead or Alive 1 & 2 Collections for the Xbox are probably going pretty cheap now that Classic Xbox Live is coming to an end as I write this (when this goes up Classic Xbox Live will be gone, and with it your DLC for Knights of the Old Republic).
We get a letter from a reader revealing that the whole Rent-To-Own business model is an absolute scam. Our letter of the month also heavily lauds the N64DD as Nintendo finally taking a step away from the proprietary media model for game distribution. Well… almost, the N64DD (as I’ve mentioned) never materializes in the US. Another letter complains that the blood, strippers and bathroom humor will be (*ahem*) stripped from the console port of Duke Nukem 3D. Well, fear not, they will not be removed from the game, and Duke will be seen as he was meant to see. They also won’t be removed from Duke Nukem Forever.
That wraps up the recap for this issue. Tomorrow I’ll have a recap for another issue of Nintendo Power.