Magazine Nintendo Power - Super Mario Bros 3 V2 #5 (of 6) (1990_3) - Page 2So, our Nintendo Power recaps continue and, since yesterday’s recap of EGM was filling a gap in the issues I’ve reviewed, I’d say I’m catching up. The fact that Nintendo Power is, at this point in it’s life, bi-monthly helps make it easier for it to catch up. This issue of Nintendo Power, for example (#11), is the second-to-last issue of it’s second year, and brings us into 1990. I’m still 2-3 years behind everyone else, but if it stays as bi-monthly for a few more years of the magazine’s life, I’ll be able to catch up more quickly. Anyway, this issue is about 102 pages long, and features Super Mario Bros 3 on the cover. No, the game isn’t going to be my Quality Control pick. It’s Super Mario Bros 3, of course it’s going to be good. Nor will Silent Service be my pick – I played the crap out of it when I was a kid and I loved it. So, maybe something else will be my pick.

(Opens the magazine) I just had to open my big mouth. Nintendo Power is now, essentially, going monthly. They magazine proper is now going monthly, but now they’re doing special strategy guide issues in the down months. Being that the magazine already is heavy on the strategy guides, which thus basically serve as marketing by showing how cool the games are… things just got busy. Unless I can’t find copies of the strategy guide issues, then it’s business as usual. (Looks online) Yep, I can find the strategy guides. Well then, I’ll be recapping those. Depending on how the strategy guides work out, I may have to adjust my criteria for the Quality Control columns then. We’ll see. (more…)

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Magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly - Ninja Gaiden II - Dark Sword of Chaos V1 #12 (of 12) (1990_7) - Page 1Well, we’ve got another slight break in my unbroken streak of EGM. Alas, alack, the world is lost… er, no, not really. The reason we’re doing the break in the series of more recent issues is because I now have EGM #12 for July of 1990, which will fill some of that gap I’ve got between issues 6 and 16 (or at the very least, wrap up the first volume of the magazine. Just to give you a reminder of where we are, chronologically, the first ad of the magazine is from Tengen, with a 2 page spread, advertising releases (on the black, unlicenced cartridges) of NES versions of first party (and classic 3rd party) Sega games, like Shinobi, After Burner, Rolling Thunder, and Fantasy Zone. This amuses me to no end. Anyway, this issue is actually pretty short, only 82 pages long (shorter than some Nintendo Power issues).

Editorial: We’re starting off with further discussion by Steve Harris of the article they ran 4 issues ago (which would be issue 8, which I don’t have yet) comparing the Genesis and TurboGrafx-16, and explaining why they published the article. Now, I need to hunt down issue #8 so I can find out what all the fuss was about. (more…)

Normally, I don’t do much in terms of blog posting on my weekends, instead preferring to take the time to kick back, relax, and get some serious gaming done (as opposed to gaming for work). However, I came across this little update on Retromags.com. It’s an interview with Ralph Baer, who worked on the development of the Magnavox Odyssey and Simon. You can find the article here, and I encourage all of you to give it a read and enjoy it.

Get "Good Night and Good Luck" from Amazon.com
Get "Good Night and Good Luck" from Amazon.com

I’ve always looked favorable on some of the icons of journalism. While I’ve often expressed a fondness for Hunter S. Thompson, who if he wasn’t the godfather of Gonzo Journalism, he was one of its leading advocates. However, I’ve also often spoken highly of Edward R. Morrow, and I’ve often stated that the field of video game journalism needs someone like Murrow, who would be unafraid to say that, for example, Activision was heavily in the wrong on a particular topic, and then enumerate the reasons to support his argument, and ultimately shut them down. Probably the closest person to filling this role is Dan “Shoe” Hsu, formerly of Electronic Gaming Monthly. Anyway, when Good Night & Good Luck came out, it became a title on my must watch list. And there it remained until, finally, I got around to watching it. Now, what do I think about it?

The Premise: The film documents a series of influential shows done by Edward R. Morrow taking on Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and his Commission on American Activities, done in a docu-drama style. (more…)

Magazine GamePro - Michael Jordan V4 #4 (of 12) (1992_4) - Page 2Well, the streak of GamePro issues continues unabated. The next issue of GamePro is issue 33 for April of 1992, featuring Michael Jordan (who is not wearing a number on his uniform in this picture) on the cover. This issue is, again, fairly short – about 100 pages long.

Editorial: Finally we get some actual journalism in the editorial, relating to responses to questions posed to Nintendo of America regarding the SNES. First, related to the lack of backwards compatability, and whether or not an adapter will be shipped to allow older NES games to be played – they consider it inappropriate to sell an add-on adapter, instead we include all the cables necessary to play both (thus, if you sold your NES to upgrade to the SNES, and hoped for backwards compatibilty like the Genesis or TurboGrafx systems, we can make more money off you when you buy a new NES.) Also, some SNES games around launch have been experiencing slowdown and other framerate drops – this is because of the systems 4 CPUs working togeather to provide a superior graphical experience (in other words, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature – I thought Nintendo had actually learned something from the last video game crash, and all the crappy, buggy games being put out by companies like Intellivision, which is the company that coined the phrase). They also hype their CD-ROM add-on, which never comes out. Now, they don’t do the next step here, which is draw the necessary conclusions (Nintendo of America is an asshole), and respond as appropriate – Nintendo hasn’t changed their tune, in spite of their settlement with the FTC. However, from what I understand, the Debug systems that they use to review the pre-release code for games are basically property of Nintendo, so if they do say thing negative, in theory Nintendo could pull the consoles, and they wouldn’t be able to review games until months after they’d hit shelves, potentially killing them. (more…)

Get Batman for the NES from eBay
Get Batman for the NES from eBay

Alright, I’m doing something slightly different this time. I’m not going to be doing the review as full text. Instead, I’ll be doing this primarily as a youtube video with narration – particularly since this time I fixed the problems with the game audio intruding on my voice over. If this works better, let me know either on the comments here, or on YouTube. Hopefully, if I get a job soon or find if the site starts to make some money, I’ll be able to get a real mike and work on improving the sound quality of my voice over.

Magazine Nintendo Power - Batman V2 #4 (of 6) (1990_1) - Page 2We’re on to issue #10 of Nintendo Power, for January of 1990. It’s a new year, a new decade, but not a new volume, though we’ve got a new hand-held system coming out. Our cover story for this issue is for the Batman game, featuring The Dark Knight small and in the background, and Jack Nichelson’s Clown Prince Of Crime large and in the foreground. Well, much like in The Dark Knight, it’s the Joker who steals the show. This issue’s a little longer than the last one, about 100 pages long.

Letters: We’re starting off with letters about the changes to Mario’s nose – and accusations of plastic surgery? *headdesk*

Batman Strategy Guide: Excuse me for a minute while I break out my Danny Elfman playlist (a track by Mystic Knights of The Oingo Boingo starts playing) No, the other Danny Elfman playlist! (Elfman’s main title for Batman starts playing). Much better! Anyway, we get maps of some if the first few stages (1 through 3), as well as notes on the last two episodes (4 and 5). Not much else here. They don’t even have any notes on what the power-ups do. Admittedly, often times these notes will be included in the manual, but it’s still useful to have that information in the magazine article, as the magazine is physically larger than the manual, making it a little more difficult to lose the magazine. (more…)

Magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly - Jungle Strike_Jurassic Park V6 #7 (of 12) (1993_7) - Page 1Well, we’re starting off this issue of EGM, number 48 (we have continuity again!) for July of 1993, off with one of the magazine’s first gatefold covers, featuring the sequel to Desert StrikeJungle Strike, as well as the upcoming Jurassic Park games, with the cover opening up to reveal basically a 2-page spread of Jungle Strike art. By the way, after the rather small last issue of GamePro, this issue of EGM is absolutely gargantuan, weighing in at 183 pages.

Editorial: This issue Steve basically has a discussoion of what he seeas as the state of the industry, commenting that bigger and better thigns are to come, and giving his thanks to the people who have helped the magazine get this far. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that Steve was moving on or something, from the tone of the editorial column – but I know better. (more…)

Get the movie adaptation of Pink Floyds The Wall from Amazon.com
Get the movie adaptation of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" from Amazon.com

Well, you all know that I like Pink Floyd. I’ve reviewed their famous concert at Pompeii, as well as a documentary on the band’s history. Well, in the early 80s, The Floyd put togeather a film based on their hit album The Wall, to try and bring the pagentry and imagery from the show to audiences who wouldn’t have had an opportunity to see it. Now, the execution of the concept changed over time, but it stuck with the album’s plot. The question is: did it work?

The Premise: Rock musician Pink (played by Bob Geldof, making his film debut), is undergoing a nervous breakdown in his hotel room. As he goes mad, he looks back on his life, and at the circumstances that brought him to this point, starting from the death of his father in the second world war.

The Good: Gerald Scarfe’s animated sequences are excellent. One of the things about the Live in Berlin concert that didn’t quite work with me was the fact that we didn’t particularly get to see many of Scarfe’s animated sequences. We got a good look at “Goodbye Blue Sky”, and “The Empty Spaces”, but that’s it. Here we finally get to appreciate them in their full glory. (more…)

The Cover of GamePro #32
The Cover of GamePro #32

Well, while our EGM Recaps are getting broken up, our GamePro streak is, fortunately, continuing unbroken and unabated with issue 32, covering March of 1992. Our cover story is, not surprisingly for this period in game history, Street Fighter II. Unsurprisingly for this magazine, their cover art of Ryu, Guile, and Chun Li, which is done in-house, is god-freaking-awful. I’m looking forward to when Nintendo Power covers this period, as their in-house art has been, thus far, excellent, and I’m looking forward to their coverage of Street Fighter II (if there is any – I hope there is). This issue’s actually pretty short for gaming mags of the early 90s, only 98 pages long.

Letters to the Editor: We start off with a letter asking if there are plans to put out something similar to the Game Genie for the Genesis. Why yes, there is, it’s called the Pro Action Replay which, unlike the Game Genie, is still around. The Game Genie, on the other hand, didn’t survive the 16-bit generation, and was replaced by the GameShark – both of which are now obsolete, with now replacements, meaning that if you can’t beat a controller-breakingly hard game – tough rocks. We also have questions about what you can spend the $5 rebate you’re getting (as part of the weak-sauce damages that Nintendo has to pay out) on – you can only spend it on games. Which makes it even more pathetic. I’d bet that the $5 damages would probably cover not the licencing fees that Nintendo gets from the publishers, but rather the cut the publishers would be making on the game sales. We also get a letter asking when any winter sports games will be coming out for the Genesis or TG-16, mentioning specifically snowboarding. I don’t think we get a Snowboarding game at all until the 21st century. (more…)

Get Willow for the NES from eBay
Get Willow for the NES from eBay

Well, my latest Quality Control column is ready, and this time I have video and audio ready. Excellent! I still shall, of course, have the text recap, for those who are at work and can’t listen to the video, or what have you.

The Premise:

Willow, a little person, must use all his skills in swordplay and magic to free the land from the grasp of the dark queen Bavmorda.

The Good:

This is a decent action RPG in the vein of Ys, with pretty good control. The graphics are alright for a NES game from this era, and sound isn’t totally awful eather, though I don’t recognize any of the music from the film.

The monster design is alright, and the monsters who shoot flame and other missles at you do have a discernable pattern, and the “bullets” are slow enough that if you spot the pattern you can avoid them. Also, upgraded weapons and armor come fairly regularly, and as the game is from a top-down perspective, it doesn’t run into any of the problems encountered by an Action RPG like Faxanadu. (more…)

The cover of Nintendo Power #9
The cover of Nintendo Power #9

Alrighty then. Our Nintendo Power recaps take us to November & December of 1989 and issue #9 – the halfway point of Nintendo Power’s 2nd year. Their cover story is one heckuva title, and one which I’ve already talked about previously, at least the history of it – Tetris. Again, Nintendo Power is, at this point in its life (and I think in general), rather small, only about 100 pages long.

Letters: Of note this issue is a letter from a 75-year old retiree, with a poem about playing Legend of Zelda. We also get letters about the NES not recognizing that a cartridge is in it, or not reading the cartridge properly – thus the power light is flickering on and on. Fortunately, Nintendo makes cleaning kits to help you clean out the dust. Well… that’s part of it. There’s one other little thing… because the NES basically decided to design the system so it looks like a VCR (or a Betamax player), instead of using the top loading model of the Famicom, the system has problems with pins getting bent on it. This is something Nintendo doesn’t go into in this letter, and I don’t think it’s anything they ever acknowledge in the pages of Nintendo Power, except maybe when they launch the later top loading NES later. (more…)

Magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly - Mortal Kombat V6 #6 (of 12) (1993_6) - Page 1Alas, we have another gap in our EGM reviews for this week, as we move on to EGM #47 for June of 1993. But, fear not, this issue has one heck of a cover story – Mortal Kombat. The cover art itself could be a little better though, but we’ll leave that aside. This issue’s a big one too – almost 197 pages long.

Editorial: The editorial this issue is about probably one of the biggest stories of the console wars, at least with regards to third party publishers – Capcom has signed on with Sega, specifically to publish Street Fighter II: Championship Edition (the current build in arcades) for the Genesis before putting it out for the SNES. However, just to convolute things further, Capcom also announced they’d be putting out the next version of Street Fighter 2, titled Super Street Fighter II: Turbo on the SNES exclusively – which could potentially undermine the Genesis version of the game. Well, we’ll see how this turns out, ultimately. Oh, and there’s still the matter of the difference between the home versions of Mortal Kombat, the red, wet version… (more…)

Get Assault on Precinct 13 from Amazon.com
Get Assault on Precinct 13 from Amazon.com

When I was in middle school, I saw a movie called Big Trouble in Little China, by a directer I’d never heard of before by the name of John Carpenter. This movie kind of opened up my mind a bit. I’d seen martial arts films, before, stuff along the lines of old Bruce Lee films, as well as some of Jackie Chan’s movies, but I’d never seen Wuxia before. Seeing martial arts done in a modern setting, combined with the magic and mysticism that was used in Wuxia films basically blew my mind. That movie got me into watching a lot of martial arts film (though I have difficulty watching some of the films I probably wouldn’t have had problems with before – I couldn’t even get started with High Risk/Meltdown, due to the bad plot and the blatant cheap shots at Jackie Chan – which I found in poor taste).

Anyway, the film also got me interested in seeing some of John Carpenter’s other films, and I later would seek out The Thing, which was my first HD-DVD purchase (yeah, I backed the wrong side in the format war), and Escape From New York, as well as Halloween. I would later see the remake of Assault on Precinct 13, which I checked out from the Library and enjoyed (though it was critically panned), but the library didn’t have the original, and I wanted to seek it out and see it for myself.

Well, we come to now. I am now an adult with my own source of income, a Netflix account, and PS3. I finally rented John Carpenter’s first traditionally made motion picture (he’d previously made the science fiction film Dark Star, which was his true first film, but it wasn’t made in the traditional fashion – with the film being made in fits and starts over several years as money permitted), and the question is now, how is it for a true first film? No major spoilers this time around, just one for a quick, plot insignificant one-off gag. (more…)

The Cover of GamePro #31
The Cover of GamePro #31

We continue with our GamePro recaps with issue 31 for February of 1992. Finally, we get 3 consecutive issues in a row. Hurray! May the streak be long and fruitful. This issue is fairly short – about 140 pages long, with a cover story of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III for the NES, which will hopefully get a bit more coverage than Hook got last issue (as a reminder, Hook got about 2 pages last issue). We also get an ad for Golden Axe II featuring a painting by Boris Vallejo, which is nice looking.

Editorial: No specific topic for the editorial column this issue, just a list of things that are to come and may be to come in 1992. They don’t really go into too many specifics, just a list. Meh. (more…)

Get Duck Tales for the NES from eBay
Get Duck Tales for the NES from eBay

Alright, so after trying our hand at a Falcom action-platformer/RPG, that was part of the insanely long Dragon Slayer series, our next Quality Control column (as I mentioned yesterday), takes us to a more traditional platformer – Duck Tales, from Capcom, part of a long series of Disney themed platformers from Capcom, this one based on the TV animated series, which featured Scrooge McDuck going on various Indiana Jones-ish adventures, plus having to contend with more conventional enemies like the Beagle Boys (who want to steal his money).

The Premise:

It is the first part of the show’s description that the game is based on.  As Scrooge McDuck, you travel around the world, to the Amazon Rainforest, “The African Mines” (presumably meant to be King Solomon’s Mines – just shortened to fit the NES’ character limit), Transylvania, the Moon, among other places, retrieving various legendary treasures, among other stuff, while going up against such classic Duck Tales foes as the Beagle Boys, Magica DeSpell, and Flintheart Glomgold. (more…)

Magazine Nintendo Power - Duck Tales V2 #2 (of 6) (1989_9) - Page 1Our Nintendo Power recaps continue with issue #8, for September of 1989. Our cover story is Duck Tales. I must admit that I haven’t played any of the Disney platformers, and I’ve heard very good things about this one, so which gives this high marks early on for my Quality Control game. Now, we could get other games this issue which interest me even more. We don’t have a lot to cover this issue, as it’s only about 100 pages long. So, let’s move on, shall we?

Letters: We start out with a letter from a family who ran over their NES with their ’84 Cadillac, but was able to open it up, and the system still worked. Unfortunately, that doesn’t settle those problems with the pins getting bent, a problem that the top-loding systems didn’t have.

Duck Tales Strategy Guide: Well, after a very small letters column, we move on to our strategy guide for Duck Tales, and get maps for the Amazon Jungle, Transylvania, the African Mines (presumably meant to be King Solomon’s mines with the Serial Numbers filed off). We also get strategies for beating the Inca king (the boss of the Amazon level), the King of the Terra-Fermies (from the Himayalas stage – which we don’t get a map for), and Magica De Spell (from the Transylvania stage). (more…)

Cover of EGM #44
Cover of EGM #44

With this installment of my EGM recaps, I encounter yet another gap in my archive, 3 issues long this time, bringing me to issue #44 for March of 1993, and we’ve got one heck of a cover story – Starfox, which I would say is number 5 on Nintendo’s top 5 first party franchises. The others, would, by the way, be Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Pokemon, in no particular order. Oh, and this little fighting game from the arcades called Mortal Kombat has come to home consoles, but that franchise isn’t going any where, is it? (That was, by the way, sarcasm.) This issue is 163 pages long, which is down a fair bit from the previous issues that were nearly 200 pages long.

Insert Coin – Editorial: Well, CES has come and gone, and Nintendo won. Sega didn’t particularly have any playable demos of their games there (particularly for the Sega CD), and the ones they did were ones with cartridge graphics but CD music (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I’m playing Suikoden right now on the PS1, and that description sums up that game fairly well). Further, their existing peripherals (the Menacer) isn’t getting any new games, and they didn’t have any games to go with their Activator motion controller (though, to be fair, the Activator is probably up there with the Power Glove in terms of ambitious motion controllers that didn’t quite work). (more…)

Get Max Payne from Amazon.com
Get Max Payne from Amazon.com

Video game-to-movie adaptations tend to be, as a general rule, hit or miss. It all depends on the type of game being chosen, and how the screenwriter and director work with the source material. The whole mess becomes even more tricky when you’re dealing with a game that borrows a lot from film, and multiple genres of film. Such is the case with the film adaptation of Max Payne, starring Mark Walberg, adapted from the game. There will be spoilers below the cut, after I get past The Premise.

The Premise:

Max Payne is a cop with the NYPD. When his wife and baby are murdered by drug addicts, Max throws himself into the pursuit of their murderers, to the point of going to the Cold Case squad when the trail runs cold, so he can continue working on the case. When he finds a lead 3 years after the murders, the trail it will take him on will leave him wondering who he can trust, and if he’ll ever be able to return to the force again. (more…)

The Cover for GamePro #30
The Cover for GamePro #30

Alright then, on to our next issue of GamePro – issue 30 for January of 1992. Our cover story is for the Hook licenced game. Being that movie licenced games tend to suck, I’m wondering about this game more than a little bit. I also recall that GamePro also did a cover story for Enter The Matrix. Hopefully, if the game sucks, they’ll have the guts to give it an appropriate score. Anyway, this issue is about 178 pages long.

Advertising wise, we start off with a 4-page gatefold ad for Konami games. Whew, there’s something you don’t see in gaming magazines anymore. Maybe a 2-page gatefold, but not a 4-page gatefold – which is actually a bit of a shame, because in this era of gaming magazines, we had a lot of decent ads, at least, jus t going from memory they had a lot of decent ads. We also get an Genesis vs. SNES ad, hyping the Genesis’ larger game library, compared to the SNES’ game library – which isn’t entirely fair, as the Genesis has been out significantly longer than the SNES. (more…)

Get Faxanadu from eBay
Get Faxanadu from eBay

Falcom is known for two major series – the Dragon Slayer series of games, and the Y’s series of games. The game I’m trying this time is from the former series. I’ve played one game in the series previously – Legacy of the Wizard.  To be frank, I enjoyed the game, though I had no idea what I was doing, and I had a lot of problems navigating through the levels, but I had fun.

I did not have fun with Faxanadu. (more…)

The Cover of Nintendo Power #7
The Cover of Nintendo Power #7

Well, Nintendo Power has begun its second year, and it’s starting off rather nicely, with a Mega Man II cover story, with some rather nice sculpture work on the cover. The magazine is still bi-monthly though, and it’s also significantly shorter than the past few issues, with it only being 100 pages long-ish.

Mailbag: Of note this issue is a leter about hard working gamer who put built his own arcade cabinet using at TV, a NES, two NES Advantage sticks, and, of course, his own arcade cabinet framework. He even painted the sides. Very nice. They’ve also moved their Power Players spotlight to the front, but as it’s basically people hyping how awesome a gamer they are, I’m skippingthis. I really don’t need to cover people showing of their E-Wangs (which is the same reason, basically, why I don’t cover high score lists as well). (more…)

The Cover of EGM #40
The Cover of EGM #40

Next up on the EGM Recaps is issue #40, for November of 1992. The cover story for this issue takes us a long time ago, to a galaxy far, far away, meaning Super Star Wars for the SNES. This issue is pretty big, weighing in at (approximately) a whopping 277 pages long (not including Electronic Boutique’s catalog, which I’m skipping). Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael novel The Summer of the Danes is shorter than that (224 pages). Our first ad of note in the issue is for Contra Force, the last NES Contra game.

Insert Coin – Editorial: Well, the topic of the issue this time is Video Game Piracy. Thanks to new accessories that allow you to copy game information right off the cartridge, piracy has moved form the PC realm to the Console realm as well. However, EGM is taking a stand against piracy, and if you come across a retailer selling the hardware used to pirate games, send the information to EGM at a certain address, and they’ll do something unspecified. Now, as I’ve mentioned, most of my Quality Controls are recorded using an Emulator. Basically, my stance on emulation is this – if you can get the game legally, at a price you can afford, then do it. I don’t have a Wii, so Virtual Console is not an option for me. If I did have a Wii, I’d be using Virtual Console for any game on Quality Control that’s listed on Virtual Console, and I’d be recording the video using a capture card. But I don’t have a Wii, so I can’t. So, that said, buy the cartridge, if you can find it. You’ll be supporting your fellow gamer in this tough economic times, and it will also (hopefully) build the market for 3rd party retro console machines like this baby from Think Geek, that lets you play both NES and SNES games. Who knows – if this sells well, once the patents expire we might get a similar gadget for the TurboGrafx-16 (& CD-ROM), and Sega Genesis (and Sega CD, and 32X). (more…)

 

Get the original Night of the Living Dead at Amazon.com
Get the original Night of the Living Dead at Amazon.com

Zombies are big right now. Really big. Soooo big, that if they ever actually killed Godzilla or Gamera, he’d come back as a Zombie. So, with this in mind, I’ve decided to go back to the zombie film that really started the craze – Night of the Living Dead, directed by George Romero.

The Premise:

Barbara and her brother, Johnny, are going to place flowers on their father’s grave. Barbara, being afraid of cemeteries, is creeped out by the place, and Johnny, being an immature git (and probably the younger of the two) decides to make fun of her fear. Unfortunately for them, the dead now walk, and one of the undead (they’re never actually called Zombies) kills Johnny. Barbara flees for her life to a farmhouse, where she is rescued by Ben, where she and a group of other people hole up, and try to decide to wait for help, or to try and break out to someplace where they can get assistance.

(more…)