Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #21

After a little break to get some schoolwork done, I’m going to carry on with filling one of my gaps in the EGM recaps. This issue is issue #21 for April of 1991. The focus of this issue is on 16-bit systems, from Nintendo, Sega, and NEC. The Editorial column for this issue focuses on Sony and Nintendo’s announcement that they working on an optical drive for the SNES, one we all know never pans out, and ultimately leads to the development of the PlayStation.

Letters to the Editor

We get letters applauding EGM’s staff’s prior articles on the TurboGrafx-16, as well as a question about how they got their screen shots of Darius Super in a prior issue – they snuck them at a convention, how else? There are also letters about other magazines running tricks and news stories that they ran first, which they’re flattered about.

We also have a letter from a Mr. Marty Kitazawa, President of SNK Home Entertainment, disputing what he says are claims by Sushi-X in a prior issue that the Neo-Geo home console system is doing poorly in Japan and the US, and that the home console version is being discontinued. Kitazawa cites an increase in third-party licensees, as well as their sales expectations (over 100,000 units) as proof that the system is doing well, and he demands an retraction. While he does not get that retraction, EGM’s staff does agree that the system is doing well. However, I would consider expected sales figures of 100,000 for a platform to be rather low.

Review Crew

As a reminder, our review crew at this point in EGM’s history is Steve Harris, Ed Semrad, Martin Alessi and Sushi-X.

  • Double Dragon 3 (NES, Acclaim): Marion has been kidnapped by the Shadow Warriors (even though she died in the last game, and now Billy and Jimmy must come to the rescue. The crew is generally impressed with the game, particularly the gameplay alterations in this one. Martin gives it a 7, Steve and Ed give it 8s, and Sushi gives it a 9. Overall: 32/40.
  • Star Tropics (NES, Nintendo): This first-party Zelda clone, on the other hand, they’re not too impressed with. Not because of lack of originality… well, okay, because of the lack of originality. Basically, the consensus is that if you’ve beaten everything else then you should give this a try. Steve and Sushi give it 4s, Martin gives it a 5, and Ed gives it a 6. Overall: 19/40.
  • Ikari Warriors 3 (NES, SNK): The Ikari Warriors need to kill lots of guys for world peace. Right. Anyway, the crew finds it just average, not being able to meet the standards set by prior games in the series. Ed and Sushi giving it 5s, and Steve and Martin giving it 4s. Overall: 18/40.
  • Magic Darts (NES, Romstar): It’s a darts game, which apparently adds special techniques to the game. Martin isn’t too impressed with the single player, though he thinks it’s fun in multiplayer and gives it a 5. Everyone else likes the special characters and special techniques and gives it higher scores – Steve and Sushi gives 6s, and Ed gives a 7. Overall: 24/40.
  • War on Wheels (NES, Jaleco): It’s a roller-derby game, the second one we’ve gotten thus far. The Crew isn’t too impressed, and to be honest, I can’t see roller-derby making for a good game either. Ed and Sushi give the game 5s, and Martin and Steve give it 4s. Overall: 19/40.
  • Klash Ball (NES, Sofel): Another Ultra-Violent Football Of The Future! game. However, this one isn’t executed very well. Ed thinks it’s all new and interesting and gives it a 6. Steve thinks it’s a good idea that would fit better on a 16-bit system and gives it a 5. Sushi gives it a 5 for a similar reason. Martin, on the other hand, says it’s just air hockey with robots and gives it a 3. Overall: 19/40.
  • Totally Rad (NES, Jaleco): This is a platformer which, basically, had the main characters changed from anime-style teens to hip surfer dudes and dudettes (or would it be sk8r bois and grrls). That said, even considering how dumb the English version of the story probably is, the game gets 8s across the board for being fun to play. Overall: 32/40.
  • Shadow Dancer (Genesis, Sega): Here’s the next installment of Sega’s Shinobi series. Unsurprisingly, the game gets 8s across the board for solid graphics and gameplay. Overall: 32/40.
  • Sagaia (Genesis, Taito): Shump in the Darius series. I wonder why it’s not given a proper “Darius” name. Anyway, the game has 28 levels, which impresses everyone. They’re not impressed with the audio, which leads to Sushi and Steve giving it 7s under Ed and Martin giving the game 8s. To be fair, the original was on the PC Engine CD, so you’re going to have some difficulty beating that game’s sound on a cartridge system. Overall: 30/40.
  • Fatal Labyrinth (Genesis, Sega): This is a roguelike, one that pre-dates the Mysterious Dungeon series of games, and quite possibly might be the first console roguelike. However, the crew is not impressed with it. Steve and Sushi give the game 5s, Martin gives it a 4, and Ed gives it a 6. Overall: 20/40.
  • Valis 3 (Genesis, Renovation): This is a cartridge port of Wolfteam’s 3rd person action platformer (ala Strider). Martin gives it a 7, as he thinks the game lost a lot in the transition. The rest of the crew thinks that for a cartridge port of a disk game, it does a good job and gives it 8s. Overall: 31/40.
  • Flicky (Genesis, Sega): This introduces one of Sonic’s furry friends before Sonic had furry friends. Anyway, it’s a repetitive puzzle game, and it gets average scores because of it – the average part, not the puzzle game part. Steve, Martin, and Sushi give it 5s, and Ed gives it a 6. Overall: 21/40.
  • R-Type (Game Boy, Irem): It’s R-Type, it’s on the Game Boy, and then the crew likes it. Even Sushi, who gives it a 7. The rest of the crew gives it 8s. Overall: 31/40.
  • Mickey’s Dangerous Chase (Game Boy, Capcom): It’s a platformer with Mickey Mouse. It’s considered average, though there are no particular reasons why, and it gets 6s across the board. Overall: 24/40.
  • Hunt for Red October (Game Boy, Hi-Tech Expressions): This is a submarine shump ultra-loosely based on the movie. Martin gives it a 3 for poor gameplay, and everyone else gives it 5s for the same reasons. I’d give it a 1 for poor use of the license. Overall: 18/40.
  • Mysterium (Game Boy, Asmik): This is something of a mix of Wizardry and Shadowgate. Ed really likes the game because of the variety of things they can do and gives it a 7. Everyone else isn’t as impressed, Martin gives the game a 4 because of the similarities with Wizardry, though he likes it more. Steve and Sushi give it 5s for similar reasons. Overall: 21/40.
  • Blockout (Lynx, Atari): This is like Tetris Sphere, except it’s a small box. The crew likes the original idea, though they’re not to impressed with the execution, and give it 6s across the board. I can understand why, all things considered. I wonder with modern 3D technology if someone could finally pull this game concept off. Overall: 24/40.

Gaming Gossip

Well, remember, back in the early days of EGM, Q-Mann had his own column. Let’s see what he’s got this time.

  • The SNES is set to launch with two controllers, Pilotwings, and all the cables you’d ever need. You’re right on the controllers, and the cables (sort of), Pilotwings didn’t come out until after the system’s launch.
  • Cinemaware has gone under. Now someone else will have to port those PC games to consoles – badly.
  • Konami has a Simpsons arcade game coming out.
  • Terminator 2 will put the Terminator up against the “Kei 1000” – I think you had wax in your ears there, Q-mann.
  • The Atari Panther will include a number pad! Except the Panther doesn’t come out and the Jaguar doesn’t have a number pad either.


Data East is working on arcade games that use CD-ROM technology! However, they haven’t formally announced any games that use the technology yet. Again, we get an article on the SNES CD-ROM. I swear, you could come up with a drinking for video game magazines of this era. I don’t know what all the rules would be yet, but I do know that one of them is that you have to take a drink whenever someone mentions the SNES CD-ROM.

Next Wave

So, on the upcoming title list, notable stuff includes SCAT (Special Cybernetic Attack Team), a jetpack shump for the NES that looks like it would be interesting if it had decent 6-direction control. Konami has the helicopter sim Laser Invasion, which I’d more interested in seeing re-made for modern consoles, as a twin stick setup (or Wii-mote and Nunchuck setup) would work better for control. We also get a look at the Lone Ranger game which I’ve already done a Quality Control on in the past. There’s also Raiden Trad for the Genesis. There’s also a screen shot of Sonic the Hedgehog, and a few screen shots of Street Fighter II.

Micro Gaming Insert

One of the things I don’t miss from older issues of EGM is all the bloody damn inserts. Anyway, this one is for portable gaming systems, and features a look at the Game Gear, which is now getting a US release. We get system specs, information on the average price point for games – $30-40, which is about average for portable games now as well, though adjusted for inflation that’s probably a little higher now then it was then. Anyway, we get a look at the first Mega Man game for the Game Boy. There’s also more info on R-Type, and a look at Pac-Man for the Game Boy.

There’s also a buyer’s guide for the Atari Lynx, including system specifications and a list of accessories you can buy for it – including a car charger. Considering the Lynx’s infamously poor battery life, I’d hate to see what playing the Lynx with it hooked up to my car would do to my car’s battery. We also get a look at various first titles for the Lynx, all published by Atari. The titles include a remake of Ninja Gaiden for the Lynx that looks alright. There’s also the futuristic football game Tournament Cyberball.

Getting back to the Game Boy after that insert-within-an-insert, we have a look at the Action-RPG Rolan’s Curse from American Sammy for the Game Boy. FCI also has the puzzle-RPG Ultima: Runes of Virtue. In the Game Boy’s Next Wave section, we have screen shots of Caesar’s Palace (when carrying around separate LCD Video Poker, Slots, and Blackjack games is too much of a hassle), as well as Final Fantasy Legend. We also have a Game Boy specific International Outlook. Of note here is Parodius for the Game Boy, and that’s pretty much it.

International Outlook

Now here’s our main International Outlook. Asmik has an interesting looking shooter for the Genesis/Mega Drive called Verytex. Toho Japan has the mecha shump Heavy Unit. There’s also a big full-page preview of Ys III: Wanderers from Ys for the PC-Engine CD (later remade as Ys: The Oath in Felghana, which is getting a US release from XSEED).

Super Famicom Times

Since the SNES hasn’t been released in the US yet (since this issue was published), any coverage of the SNES has to be related to the Import scene. There’s a look at Dragon Quest 5, Goemon (later released as Legend of the Mystical Ninja), a full-page look at Actraiser – focusing on the action-platforming stages.

Behind the Scenes at Bullet-Proof Software

This is, basically, a look behind the scenes at the company that brought Tetris out in the US – and by look behind the scenes, I mean they just talk about how they licensed Tetris. The licensing process of that game is certainly an interesting story, and is very well documented, both in the book Game Over, as well as a documentary done by the BBC that’s currently on YouTube. So, rather than try to sum-up this article, I’ll point you towards the documentary.

Arcade Alley

We get a nice big look at the Simpsons beat-em-up (which never gets ported to home consoles).


We have a look at the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade game for the NES from Taito, with notes on each of the game’s stages. There’s also a look at the redesigned Sega Master System, as well as some of the upcoming titles for the system, like Golden Axe Warrior, a knockoff of Zelda in the Golden Axe universe. There’s also a somewhat extensive look at Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective for the TurboGrafx-CD, and an look at Abrams Battletank for the Genesis (which is different from War in the Gulf in the sense that the scenarios have a NATO vs. Warsaw Pact arrangement in mind).

We also get a through strategy guide for Shadow of the Ninja by Natsume for the NES, and tips for beating Dracula in Castlevania III, along with the game’s ending.


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