I’ve finally found another issue of EGM to fill one of the holes in my back catalog, with issue #66 for January of 1995. Our cover story for this issue is Killer Instinct, and is looking positively ’90s-licious. We also get a look at the Virtual Boy on the cover. This issue’s editorial column is about the Virtual Boy, and to be short, Ed Semrad is not impressed with it, in terms of game quality, display quality, or quality of the controls.
This issue’s letter of the month is a cautionary tale to warn people not to let bug spray get on your compact disks – told from one reader who accidentally got bug spray on her Sega CD game, which ruined the game. We also get a question about upcoming CD based fighting games – they mention Samurai Shodown CD, Fatal Fury Special CD, Eternal Champions CD, and Brutal.
We also get a letter from a writer who wants to make his own Turbo Duo games, and thus continue to provide support for the system. Unfortunately, doing such a thing would be incredibly expensive, both in terms of chip manufacture, and in terms of licensing fees, and learning Japanese well enough to translate the documentation.
There’s also a request for information about the release date for Chrono Trigger, March 11th in Japan, nothing formally announced for the US yet. It’s kind of notable to mention that Akira Toryama is credited for his character designs in this, with the note that he wrote and drew Dragonball and Dragonball Z, which kind of shows that anime is getting popular enough in the US that a connection to a popular anime series can help sell a game.
We get a letter talking about nudity in games, and asking if we’ll ever see it at any point in the future. The editorial staff says never ever, I think Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and the Damned will prove otherwise. We also get a letter from a reader who really hates KoF ’94.
Our Review Crew is Ed Semrad, Danyon Carpenter, Al Manual, and Sushi-X. Oh, and “Major” Mike Weigand formerly of GamePro has a side column that I really don’t give a crap about.
- Samurai Shodown II (Neo Geo, SNK): They like this one, they really like this one. They like the new characters, the control, and just about everything. The game gets 9s across the board. Overall: 36/40 and it receives the Editor’s Choice Platinum Award and Game Of The Month.
- X-Men (SNES, Capcom): This is a brawler with fighting game special moves. It’s lacking little variety, particularly with not having enough special moves, apparently. Oh, and some of that might have something to do with it being a brawler, which considering that most brawlers tend to turn into a mash fest, probably has something to do with it – those are my thoughts, not the Crew’s. Still, it’s got enough going for it that the Crew likes it. Ed, Danyon and Sushi give the game 8s, and Al gives it a 7. Overall: 31/40.
- Indiana Jones (SNES, JVC): So, this is JVC’s take on the Indiana Jones series, adapting the whole trilogy in just one game. The crew thinks the game is above average, though how decent it is varies – Al is annoyed by hits that aren’t just cheap, but unavoidably mandatory (which is cause for the game designer to take a few mandatory hits in my opinion) but likes the graphics enough to give it a 6. Danyon and Sushi gave it 7s, though they had the same complaints as Al – with Danyon basically saying that this game will let you see how aerodynamic your controller really is as you hurl it through the TV screen. Ed really likes it though, and gives it an 8. Overall: 28/40.
- Jurassic Park II (SNES, Ocean): That’s right, it’s a game that’s a sequel to Jurassic Park released before The Lost World came out. Not kidding. Anyway, the game has been changed into something of a mix between Alien3, and Contra, from a gameplay standpoint. So, basically, it’s a Metroid-clone-light, with the 8-way shooting of Contra. The problem is the mission objectives are monotonous, the levels designs are drab and the music is dull. The scores are identical to those of Indiana Jones, with the same basic breakdown. Al gives a 6 for the reasons I mentioned, Danyon and Sushi give the game 7s for the same reasons, and Ed likes it and gives it an 8. Overall: 28/40.
- Wolverine (Genesis, Acclaim): This game doesn’t do well at all. The game has cheap hits, cheap deaths, but decent graphics. Ed and Al give it 3s for those reasons. Danyon and Sushi are more forgiving, giving it a 6 and 5 respectively. Overall: 17/40.
- Aero the Acro-Bat 2 (Genesis, Sunsoft): Finally, something doing a little better. This mascot platformer has improved controls from the original, and a bunch of secret areas. Danyon gives it a 7 while the rest of the crew gives it 8s. Overall: 31/40. By comparison, that’s two points down from the original.
- Star Wars Arcade (32X, Sega): This is a home port of the earlier version of the game that would become Star Wars Trilogy Arcade. However, being that this is a home port, it doesn’t do that great. It does okay, but not great. It has control problems – in particular, left and right control is too sensitive, but vertical control is too sluggish – something that feels like to me it would take talent to do. Also, as this is, basically, an on-rails shooter, if you don’t kill everyone as soon as they appear, they’re going to get their hits in. Also, considering that this is one of the launch titles for the 32X, this means that all the shortcuts haven’t been worked out for the system, so you’re not getting an arcade quality port. Ed gives it a 7, everyone else gives it a 6. Overall: 25/40.
- Heart of the Alien (Sega CD, Virgin): Sequel to Out of this World, and the first part of the series, just incase you missed it. Sushi says outright that it’s identical to the PC version, but considering that at this point PCs were graphically kicking consoles’ collective arses, that’s not a mark against this. Danyon gives it an 8 and Al gives a 7 for the same reason. Ed has some problems with the game’s controls and gives it a 6, but otherwise he likes it. Overall: 29/40.
- Super Street Fighter II Turbo (3DO, Panasonic): You read that right. Street Fighter II on the 3DO. This by all rights should be the system’s killer app, and the game does get 8s across the board, as while it’s still SSFII, it’s an arcade quality port and you have a playable Akuma/Gouki for the first time in the series. Overall: 32/40 and it receives the Editor’s Choice Gold Award.
- Doom (Jaguar, Atari): Another port – nowhere near as good as the original. Bosses have been cut, the music is gone, and so are several levels. Boo. Ed hits it with a 6 for it’s omissions, while the rest of the Crew cuts it a little slack and gives it 7s. Overall: 27/40.
- Space Invaders (Game Boy, Nintendo): So, this is a Super Game Boy compatible game, with full screen on the Super Game Boy version, plus a decent looking background. Ed loves it and gives it an 8. Danyon thinks it’s a decent port, but one that should have come out earlier, and gives it a 6. Then there’s Al and Sushi. Sushi clobbers it with a 4 for being dated, as does Al, who gives it a 3. It’s on the freaking Game Boy. It’s a portable system. You play it on the freaking bus or train! You don’t need to play the bloody thing for 20 hours straight. You’re just playing it on your way to work, when you’re looking for something more engaging then freaking video poker. Only a DSi version of the game, which you could put in “Detect Mode” and have pick up other players leader-boards would be better! Fuck it. Overall: 21/40.
- Duck Dodgers: The Marvin Missions (Game Boy, Sunsoft): Semi-action platformer. They had problems with tricky jumps, limited gameplay (jet-pack assisted jumps and shooting), and dull graphics. Al and Sushi gave it 4s, Danyon gave it a 5, and Ed gave it a 6. Overall: 19/40.
- Ecco 2: The Tides of Time (Game Gear, Sega): It’s Ecco 2, but on the Game Gear. The Crew considers it a decent port, for going from 16-bit to 8-bit. Al had some difficulty getting used to the controls, and Ed had some problems with getting lost, so they gave it 6s. Danyon and Sushi gave it 7s. Overall: 26/40.
Just to break from tradition, I’m going to post a screen shot of the sales figures from Babbages for the month, giving the top 10 games sold. Yep, before we had the NPDs, we had to rely on Babbages to tell us how much they sold, and we’d extrapolate other retailers sales from those figures.
- NBA Jam Tournament Edition has been sent in for Nintendo and Sega to certify.
- Diddy Kong is going to be the main character in the next Donkey Kong Country game.
- Shigeru Miyamoto is working on Pilotwings 2.
- The Virtual Boy is apparently going to crater – duh.
- Joe Morici of Capcom or Tom Kalinske of Sega are apparently being considered to take over the rule of President of Disney. However, then president Frank Wells decided to stay on, so neither jumped ship.
- The Neptune is planned to be released next Christmas, but not all plans line up with reality – it doesn’t come out at all.
- Johnny Cage is not appearing in Mortal Kombat III, and apparently Liu Kang might not either, related to legal issues with his actor. While Cage doesn’t appear, the issues with Kang’s actor are straightened out.
We get a news story about a sequel to Donkey Kong Country, with the pre-rendered environments and characters being done by Silicon Graphics, who also did the character renders for Jurassic Park. We don’t get confirmation about Q-Mann’s Diddy Kong rumor. We also get a news story about the 3D graphics technology used in the Virtual Boy.
There were also complaints about a TV ad for Earthworm Jim, which featured a grandmother eating worms while reading to her kids. Apparently the complaints were enough to get the ad pulled in Portland, OR, Spokane, WA, and Sacramento, CA. Not because it was gruesome or had naked people, because it was gross.
Also, there’s a Super Game Boy to Game Boy Game Genie Adapter, so you can cheat on your Game Genie games. Oh, and the Game Boy is getting a rather nice looking flight stick. Nintendo has set up a marketing blitz for Donkey Kong Country, complete with Breakfast Cereal tie-ins. The X-Band Catapult Modem is also finally ready for prime time, and has been released on the market.
Capcom has given up their lawsuit against Data East, and signed a stipulation dismissing it’s suit with prejudice, with each company agreeing to pay their own legal costs. Sega Channel customers are going to get their own virtual reality goggles that will go with the channel, though considering how hard the Virtual Boy is about to fail, I suspect that this project will get canceled. Donkey Kong Country and Doom are going to get US Soundtracks released. Or, you could just go to OC Remix and get their remixes there (Donkey Kong’s is here, and Doom’s is here).
The Family Channel is working on a virtual reality themed game show called “Masters of the Maze”. The show ultimately ended up lasting for 2 season, and ended around the time that the Family Channel was sold to Fox. My suspicion is that with the sale, Fox tried to get rid of as much of the old Family Channel Programming as they contractually were able to, considering that the old owners were the Christian Broadcasting Network and, to be honest, CBN programming has little appeal outside of a small slice of Christians. The only CBN programming they did save were The 700 Club, and the CBN Early January Telethon, which they were required by the contract for the sale to keep.
Namco has a new fighter based arcade flight sim called Magic Edge, which looks pretty good for an 90s game. This leads us to…
At The Arcades
First up is Data East’s new fighting game, Tattoo Assassins, featuring digitized fighters. Namco has the racing game Ace Driver, which has arcade-style Formula-One action. Data East also has the rail shooter Locked ‘n’ Loaded. Namco also has the first game in their Point Blank series of light-gun games.
Special Feature – Shoshinkai (Space World)
We get a news article about the developments at this year’s Space World Show. One of the biggest results at this year’s show was the Virtual Boy, which we’ve gone into with more detiail than it really merits anyway. Looking at the Virtual Boy’s controller, I’m noticing that it has a few similarities to the GameCube Controller, with the GameCube Controller having duel analog sticks and more buttons. We get a look at Teleroboxer, Mario Brothers, and Virtual Pinball.
Nintendo’s got a 3D fighting game called Fighting Polygon which looks a helluva lot like a tech demo. We get more screen shots of Chrono Trigger, as well as a look at Front Mission, which I really need to get around to picking up, eventually. Kirby 2 is also in the works for the Game Boy. Hudson has Super Bomberman 3 for the SNES, along with Super Bomberman Panic Bomber W, a falling block puzzler. Enix has the RPG Burning Heroes, which I’ve never heard of before. Koei has several strategy games, with PTO: Pacific Theater of Operations, Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV, and the horse breeding game Winning Post 2. Namco has Tales of Phantasia (developed by Wolf Team).
We also get an in-depth preview of Art of Fighting 2, published by Saurus of Japan with looks at the returning and new fighters. There’s also a look at Konami’s Perfect Eleven, which is later released in the US as Winning Eleven. Hudson is publishing the SNES port of Fatal Fury Special, which is essentially a Dream Match compilation.
The Jaguar is getting a port of the Lynx shooter Blue Lightning, which seems kind of backwards. Rocket Science Games has the on rails shooter Cadillacs & Dinosaurs. Game Tek has the helicopter sim Rocket Science. Flashback and Dragon’s Lair have been ported to the Jaguar.
We get big featured strategy guides for Donkey Kong Country and Earthworm Jim that I’m skipping. There’s also a featured interview about the development of Ridge Racer for the PlayStation. They’re interviewing General Manager Shigeru Yokoyama, Kouichiro Shigeno, and Tsuyumi Toyoda. We get some fairly specific technical questions, and Namco’s reps don’t dodge them. They admit they’re not using the full capabilities of the PS1 (but to be fair, it’s a launch title – nobody uses the full capability of a system at launch), for example.
There’s also an interview with Tetsuya Iguchi, Manager of NEC’s Planning Division, about their new PC-FX console. From the sounds of things, they’re hedging their bets on Polygonal graphics, because they’re not sure that they’ll do well in the future. Also, it’s not backwards compatible with earlier PC Engine games, so hold on to your older systems if you want to play Ys. Ultimately, their goal is to port PC games to the PC engine, as opposed to arcade style games, with a particular focus on American games. Kind of shooting for the 3DO market, to a certain extent. The problem I see is this – after this we start seeing a lot of rapid developments in PC Hardware, particularly related to graphics and sound technology. The PC-FX is a closed box. Additionally, PC games in general, and American games in particular stopped doing well in Japan after home consoles became popular, though they’re starting to pick up now. However, at the time this magazine was published, this would have limited their audience pretty significantly.
We also get a featured preview of Snatcher, as well as an interview with Yoshinori “Moai” Sasaki, the Assistant Manager of Konami’s R&D 6, and the mysterious “White Shadow” about Snatcher. I find it odd that the interview is not with Hideo Kojima, who played a much bigger role in the game’s development – unless he’s the “White Shadow.” They go into some of the changes for the US version – nudity removed, some violence toned down, and the number of endings cut to just 1, instead of the 3 endings the Japanese version of the game had.
We get a moderately detailed move list for Killer Instinct, as well as notes on Humilation moves and stage specific fatalities. As per usual, I’m not going to get into the Team EGM section, because I’m not especially into Sports games.
Of note this issue is a look at the Home Improvement action-platformer on the SNES, which doesn’t seem like a fit to me at all. There’s also a look at Ogre Battle from Enix, which is considerably harder than the later Tactics Ogre games. There’s Pinball Fantasies and adventure game Savage Empire, all for the SNES.
On the Genesis, we have Mega Bomberman, a brawler based on the Death & Return of Superman storyline. There’s the adventure game Mighty Max, which I recall being based on a cartoon show. We have the sci-fi fighting game Cosmic Carnage, which has the novel concept of the “prize” for the combat being the last escape pod on a doomed ship.
On the Sega CD, we have a look at their port of Samurai Shodown. This version of the game is missing the camera zoom and scaling from the Neo-Geo version, as well as the character of Earthquake. The dialog translation is apparently better though. The Sega CD is also getting Fatal Fury Special. There’s also a FMV heavy Power Rangers game, based on the Green Ranger arc (and, come to think about it – the first series was the only one to have anything that I could reasonably describe as an “arc”). There’s also a look at Ecco: the Tides of Time. Finally, we get a peek at Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure.
We get a closer look at Samurai Shodown II on the Neo Geo. We get most of the character’s move lists, including their new Fatality Moves. This kind of reminds me that I need to hunt down a Neo Geo Emulator or something, and the Last Blade games, as well as finding the Samurai Shodown Anthology somewhere.
There’s a look at Super Street Fighter II Turbo on the 3DO, which reminds me that I need to play some more Super Street Fighter IV. Anyway, we get notes on how all the characters have been rebalanced. We also get some screen shots of the 3DO port of Need for Speed, which has gotten a gratuitous “The” tacked on the front. There’s a look at Shockwave: Operation Jumpgate, and a Mahjong game.
The Jaguar has the platformer Zool 2, which looks meh.
On the Game Boy, there are ports of Desert Strike, Bonk’s Revenge and Pinball Fantasies. The Game Gear gets a port of Ristar and one of Mickey Mouse in Legend of Illusion.
Fox is working on a Virtual Reality themed series, tentatively titled “VR”, and is later titled VR.5. We get a profile of Harry Shearer’s voice acting work, with no mention of This Is Spinal Tap, which is a crime. There’s also a preview of Star Trek: Voyager.
That wraps up this recap of EGM. At this writing I’ve got one more hole I can fill in my back archive, and will do so next week.