So, I’ve previously reviewed Need For Speed Carbon. In the course of that review, I explained that I liked the game, and enjoyed playing the game, but had some major problems with the pursuit system of the game, and how sparingly the game gave out get out of jail free cars, and other items to take tick marks off your cars wanted level and impound meter, making it more likely that you, as a player, would encounter a situation where you’d be unable to continue, but wouldn’t have a game over.
Thus I traded that game in and moved on to the next game in the series – ProStreet. ProStreet was practically infamous for the negative review scores it got, from losing the illegal street race edge and making the races legitimate, to the increased realism. However, after having my aforementioned bad experiences with Carbon, this sounded like just what the doctor ordered.
As the saying goes though, the more things change, the more things stay the same. (more…)
Marathon Man is a movie I’ve heard excellent things about, one that I’ve heard referenced on multiple occasons, and I’ve never had an opportunity to watch – until now. So, I’ve had an opportunity to watch it – what do I think about it? Oh, my usual warning applies – I’ve got spoilers below the cut, or below the premise if you’re reading the article through an RSS feed or on Facebook.
The Premise: Babe (Dustin Hoffman) is a history major at Columbia University, working on his doctorate. His brother, Doc (Roy Schnider), is (he thinks) a rich and successful international businessman – he’s actually a secret agent. After several attempts on Doc’s life occur, and Babe himself is attacked, he will end up having to match wits with a Nazi war criminal on the run (Lawrence Olivier). (more…)
We’re continuing with the GamePro Recaps with issue 39 for October of 1992. The cover story for this issue is Street Fighter II – again. The cover art is god-freaking-awful – again. Now, the copy I’ve got is 149 pages long, but it’s missing a couple pages. Apparently there was a poster in the issue, that was removed before I got it. So, I have no idea how good the poster looks, how bad the poster looks, and what was on the back of the poster. Considering the cover art quality though, the person who removed the poster just may have done me a favor.
Editorial: This week’s Editorial is all about the Street Fighter II, it’s come out on Home Consoles in Japan, and it’s due to come out in the US… eventually.
Letters: We start off with a question about how much memory can be stored on a CD. They’re talking about the disk game version of The 7th Guest taking up 2 disks holding 8000 Megabits of memory like it’s a really big deal. By the way, that’s about 1 Gigabyte – and they do (sort of) clarify the size of the game. We also have discussion on buying your own arcade machine, and the specialized retailers you need to go to get one, specifically referring to getting Street Fighter II: Championship Edition. This kind of makes me wonder somewhat, why people haven’t tried working on some sort of version of Mugen or variant of Mugen that would allow you to, basically, take your game you built in Mugen, and play it through MAME, with a MUGEN “chipset” (much like they have files for the chipsets for various Neo-Geo and Capcom boards). (more…)
Well, it was my intent this week to put up another video review, this time of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to record the video I needed for the review. But, fear not, I still have my audio – so it will instead be something more podcast-y. You can download the audio here.
You can find the usual eBay link in the picture. Also, please feel free to lead any feedback in the comments, or any recommendations for future games you’d like me to review.
Our Nintendo Power recaps continue with a standard issue of the magazine – Issue #16, for September of 1990. Our cover story is the port of Lucasarts adventure game Maniac Mansion… and I have to admit that I don’t like the cover art for this issue.
Letters: Well, we’ve gotten lots of letters from grandmothers who play NES games, now we’ve got a letter from a mom who plays NES games, though her main game of choice is Tetris. Look, Nintendo, while people have different tastes, and I will admit not everyone will like a Gears of War, adults and senior citizens will play “hardcore” games if you give them a chance, and the game is good. If they don’t like it, that’s okay too, but there will be a percentage of older gamers – moms, dads, seniors, who will play those games, and enjoy them, if they don’t suck. Hopefully, Wii Motion Plus will lead to some innovations in this game space, and lead to these games not sucking. In particular, if we do get a Wii release of Call of Duty 4 (hopefully with Wii Motion Plus support), hopefully it wil be that cross-over game.
Final Fantasy Strategy Guide (Pt. 3): You know, considering their next strategy guide issue is going to be Final Fantasy I, I hope they leave something for the special Final Fantasy Strategy Guide next issue. Anyway, we get some brief notes on the Mirage Tower and the Sky Castle. The guide itself is only 2 issues long. The rest of the “guide” is hyping their “Final Fantasy Treasure Quest” contest, which gets you and 4 friends a vacation. (more…)
Yay! This issue’s EGM recap gives us an opportunity to go back and fill one of the holes in the archive. In this case, we’re going back to issue #29, for December of 1991, and what a cover story we’ve got this time – Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Link’s first 16-bit adventure. This issue is a rather substantial one though, weighing in at 255 pages. Let’s get started, shall we?
Editorial: The editorial column for this issue is from Ed Semrad, and basically is looking back at the year that was. Nintendo has finally thrown it’s not-unsubstantial hat (it might even be described as a Nice Hat) in the 16-bit ring with the SNES, and Sega’s jumped into the handheld arena with the Game Gear. Oh, and the future of gaming appears to be CD Gaming (which is more true than you’d think at the time).
Letters: Well, we get questions about whether the SNES will get a release of Street Fighter II. No, I’m sorry, it will not get a release, it will get many releases. We get a question about whether the Sega CD will be compatible with import games (nope, sorry – it’s the second system to follow NEC’s lead in blocking imports through the use of software region locking, instead of just making the Japanese cart a little too wide or something similar. We also get complaints about slowdown on the SNES – particularly with shooters like UN Squadron. The editorial staff’s speculation is that it’s got something to do with the greater popularity of RPGs on home consoles in Japan, instead of shooters. That’s not unreasonable. (more…)
Now having seen the first Superman movie, it’s time to move on to the second installment. Superman II. Not the theatrical cut, but the cut intended by the film’s original director – Richard Donner (who directed the first film). Is it as good as the original, or does the series second installment, as originally intended, lose a few points. There is a spoiler below the cut.
The Premise: Before Jor-El sent his son to Earth to save him from his home planet’s destruction, he sentenced 3 criminals, Ursa, Non, and General Zod to eternal imprisonment within the Phantom Zone. There they remained – until they were freed when one of the nuclear missles that Superman chucked into space detonated and released them. Thus, they are free to conquer Earth, with only Superman to stand in their way.
The Good: Terence Stamp is fantastic as Zod. He was great in the last movie, he was great in this movie. I now understand why “Kneel before Zod” has become a meme – justifiably so. Similarly, Brando (in his limited scenes) is still great, and Christopher Reeve is actually better than he was in the last movie. In the first film there was a broader split between mild-mannered and clumsy Clark Kent and Superman (and his stilted dialog). Here, particularly in the middle third of the film, Reeve strikes an excellent balance. (more…)
Our GamePro coverage continues to issue #38 for September of 1992. Our cover story is a whole bunch of comic book games, most of them with the Marvel licence. This issue’s getting up there in length, at 163 pages long.
Editorial: Well, GamePro TV is now on cable… on the Sci-Fi Channel! That’s right, the Sci-Fi channel showing programming that wasn’t Sci-Fi, like wrestling, is not a new development.
Mailbag: We get a question about whether PC CDs will work on the SNES CD or Sega CD. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha… no. There are also questions about getting virtual reality systems (most systems run $60,000).
Cutting Edge: Now adults are getting edutainment games. Specifically, we get coverage of games designed to help people manage their diabeties. Ooohhhhkay. I think I’d prefer modern “non-games” like My Personal Trainer over this. We also get some information on Bullet-Proof Software’s Virtual Reality system, and Sony’s new home theater system, the XBR2.
Hot at the Arcades:Hook and the Addams Family movie are both getting pinball tables, plus Williams has a couple “sequels” to existing tables – The Getaway: High Speed II and Hurricane, a sequel to Comet & Cyclone. (more…)
Well, now it’s time for my first review of a Ninja Gaiden Game – Ninja Gaiden 2 for the NES to be specific. As always, the video itself is below the cut (for those with low bandwidth), and I’ve uploaded the video to MegaUpload as well for those who would prefer to download it and watch it offline.
As far as getting the game, in addition to getting it on eBay, you can also get it on the Wii Virtual Console. (more…)
Next up is our second Nintendo Power Strategy Guide, for Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos. Unfortunately… Nintendo Power’s apparent weakness when it comes to cover art is the Ninja Gaiden games, because this one doesn’t look so hot. The photographed guy-in-black-pajamas is back, and the background doesn’t have any perspective to it at all. Look, guys, most of your cover art is great – but there’s some stuff where the photographed cover art doesn’t work that well – and this is one of those cases. Here I’d reccomend, basically, skipping doing the photographed cover art, and let one of your interior artists get a shot at the limelight.
We start off the issue proper with a semi-recap collage thing covering the last game. We also get a two page comic strip which, probably, recaps some of the content from the first cutsecene in a comic strip form… and at the very least they have the same letterer as Howard & Nester. Next up is a quick little dramatis personae, though the full sized art they have of Ryu is waaayyyy too western looking – it’s the chin, and something in general about the face structure. Everyone else looks okay though. We also get a list of the many generic monsters we’ll run into in the game, and the slightly less common power ups that will aid us along our way – including the new power of the Ninja Double/Shadow Clone, which is one of the most useful new powers in the game. (more…)
So, the EGM recaps roll on, with another 2 issue gap, taking us from #53 to #55, for July of 1994. Our cover game for this issue is NBA Jam, Midway’s next big gaming franchise (though one that doesn’t last as long as the Mortal Kombat franchise. Anyway, this issue is considerably shorter than #53, running in at 231 pages – which is still a lot, but nowhere near 400 pages.
Insert Coin – Editorial: Much as Tipper Gore’s complaints about violent and sexual content in music lead senate hearings in the 70s and 80s, we now have our first set of Senate Hearings about violent and sexual content in video games. This will not be the last – we get another set of hearings after Columbine, and a third set of hearings after Hot Coffee. That’s correct – Video Games got more Senate hearings (that could have lead to federal laws censoring them) than Comic Books and Music combined, though they need 3 more series of hearings, though they need one more set of hearings to beat the movie industry. So, it’s time for Publisher Steve Harris (go Steve) to weigh on this whole mess. I agree with Steve Harris’ sentiments completely – and they’ve been expressed and re-stated by many game journalists since then, from EGM to GameSpot to GamePolitics. I’m going to put up a scan of Steve’s editorial and I encourage you to read it. I haven’t gotten to 1994 in GamePro yet, so I don’t know if GamePro takes a side on this or if Nintendo Power takes a side on this – I doubt it, as Howard Lincoln was doing his damnedest to force a victory in the Console War by kicking Sega under the bus. Specifically, he was claiming that all the violent content that people were objecting to was on the competition’s systems, notably Sega’s, whereas since Nintendo was already censoring the games that came out in the US for their systems, they basically were also already complying with the panel’s requests. (more…)
Being a comic book fan, and being a bit more of a DC fan at the moment than a Marvel Fan, you would think I would have seen this movie already. Lord knows everyone else has. Well, I hadn’t until recently. So, what do I think of the Man of Steel’s most famous big screen escapade?
Note – there will be some slight spoilers, but I’ll try to keep them under the cut.
The Premise: Jor-El of Krypton sends his only son, Kal-El, to Earth to escape his world’s impending destruction. Our yellow sun gives him super strength, speed, along with X-Ray and Heat vision, and the ability to fly. His upbringing in the Midwest of the US (where he lands and is adopted by Martha & Jonathan Kent gives him moral character and a sense of justice, and the crystal recordings left by his father educate him further. He then moves to Metropolis and becomes Earth’s Greatest Protector – Superman (and also becomes, as Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet).
And unless you’re currently living under a rock, you know all this already. (more…)
Alright, the GamePro recaps continue with issue #37 for August of 1992, with another movie licenced game on the cover – Universal Soldier, based on the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle. Remember when the Muscles from Brussles had a career? Okay, that’s a cheap shot, particularly since JCVD might revitalize the man’s career (I’ve heard very good things about it) – but basically from here, and maybe Street Fighter 2 on, the man’s career goes into a steady decline.
Editorial: Summer CES has come and gone, and they saw a bunch of new games that they’ll be talking about this issue. And no – they won’t be doing any discussion of anything other than the contents of this magazine in the Editorial section.
The Mail: We get a request for tips on older games, or more in-depth strategy guides for games that have been out for a bit, and get pointed towards GamePro’s SWATPro Magazine. For the record, I think there might still be a market these days for a “strategy guide subscription” Particularly if we can get something like the Kindle with color. GameFAQs has it’s merits, but a well laid out strategy guide with label maps and pictures of relevant areas of the game is still helpful, and might help me with situations such as, when the Flood was introduced in Halo 1, my getting lost – which actually ruined the emotional impact of the level. We also have another question about getting into the game industry – alas, the internet is not wide spread enough at this time where you can put an FAQ on GamePro’s home page with an answer to that question and put a link to it on the very front. We also get a request for more Master System coverage, since Sega hasn’t officially stopped supporting it yet (the problem is that many of the new games for the Master System are taking a hop, skip, and jump over the US and heading to Europe, where the Master System generally did well). (more…)
Well, we continue on with the Nintendo Power recaps/reviews with the first proper issue (one that isn’t a strategy guide) of Nintendo Power’s 3rd year. Our cover story is Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers from Capcom, which is another of the Disney licenced platformers that I haven’t played. The art is a bit of step down for Nintendo Power, but that isn’t saying much – it’s like saying “that movie wasn’t so great – for a Hitchcock movie”. It’s still better than the Ninja Gaiden cover. Anyway, the issue is, as is par for the course for Nintendo Power, about 105 pages long.
Letters: We start off with a thank you for how wonderful the Nintendo World Championships worked out. Alas, but with the exception of the World Series of Gaming (and similar tournaments) we’ll never see their like again. We also get the invention of an automatic cord winder for the NES invented by a 9-year-old-kid for the Invent America project. Oh, and once again, we get a testimonial about how borderline bulletproof the NES was – a family in the US Virgin Islands got clobbered by Hurricane Hugo, and their house was wrecked. However, the TV still worked (once they got a generator set up) – and so did the NES! God the NES was a tough system. Except with regard to the pins – and that bit was entirely Nintendo of America’s fault, by going with the VCR style design rather than the top loading design of the Famicom. (more…)
So, the EGM recaps continue with issue #53 for December of 1993 (yeah, I’ve got a bit of a gap again, so you might want to mind that). Our cover story this issue is Eternal Champions for the Sega Genesis – which is one of the first games designed to work with Sega Activator, their motion controller, which is great, if you have an Activator and can get it to work with this. Anyway, the issue is pretty big, about 392 pages long.
There are a few changes with this issue of the magazine (the re-organization having officially taken place 2 issues ago. As of this issue, Ed Semrad is now Editor-In-Chief with Danyon Carpenter as Senior Editor with the new positions of the Managing Editor, with Howard Grossman in that spot, and Joe Funk as the life-styles editor. Martin Alessi is no longer on staff. Steve Harris is still on staff though as the publisher (a position he held before anyway), and hopefully he’ll still be on the Review Crew.
Insert Coin: The 32-bit Generation is beginning, with the battle lines being drawn. Sega is working on the 32X and the Saturn. Sony is still quietly working on the Playstation, preparing their revenge against their snubbing by Nintendo with all the secrecy of Darth Sidious. 3DO and Phillips have their systems, and Atari is kicking it up a notch with the 64-bit Jaguar. Additionally, there’s all the CD systems either currently on the market or coming out soon. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s just sitting pretty with the SNES on the market, and the 64-bit Project Reality system in development (which would later become the Nintendo 64). However, we do get some suggestions here, rather than just analysis, from Ed Semrad – Sega should make the CD portion of their Saturn optional. Considering that when the Playstation comes out, basically everyone goes to CD systems after realizing how less expensive it is to put out a game on disks rather than on cartridges (something PC gamers could already tell you), I’d say that advice is probably (unintentionally) bad. (more…)
Well, my film reviews now move on to the most recent Harry Potter movie to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix. Now, I haven’t read the novel of this one yet (though it’s entirely possible that I’ll have read it once this review goes up – I’m writing this on July 13th). So, anyway, I’m watching this in preparation for watching Half-Blood Prince when it comes out (and hopefully doing a round-table podcast with Bureau42, which will be up by the time this review goes out). So, it’s time to see what I think of this movie.
The Premise: Following the events of Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, and the revival of Voldemort and the death of Cedric Diggory, Harry has been traumatized to say the least, and returning to the Durstleys isn’t helping things, and neither is the smear campaign being done by the Ministry of Magic against Harry & Dumbledore, one that would impress even William Randoph Hurst. In the midst of all this, Dementors attack Harry & Dudley, forcing Harry to leave home for the safety of his family and hole up in the Black estate, the current base of the Order of the Phoenix, the group working to take down Voldemort once again. Further, when Harry goes to Hogwarts, he faces a new Defense Against The Dark Arts instructor, Dolores Umbridge, who is working to take control of Hogwarts – and then there are those disturbing dreams Harry’s got. (more…)
We continue with our recaps of GamePro with issue 36 for July of 1992. This issue is of pretty average length at 112 pages long – with what is probably GamePro’s first extremely awesome piece of cover art, complete with jets of blood. I’m surprised that they got away with the blood on the cover, to be honest. It’s not a perfect likeness of H.R. Giger’s disturbing design, but it still captures the intensity of the design.
Editorial: After several issues of awesome editorial columns, we’re back to spending the editorial column doing the job the cover and the table of contents are supposed to be doing – hyping the contents of the issue. Disappointing.
Letters: Of note in the letters is one letter calling for 8-bit to die already. Long live 16-Bit! Long Live 32-bit! Long Live 64-bit! Long Live Quantum Computing! *gets hit by the readers* Ow!
Cutting Edge: This issue they’re covering CD games. We’re starting off with Commodore’s console system, the CDTV, which actually came out, though nobody remembers this because Commodore died 2 years after this issue hit newsstands (1994), and the OS was already obsilete. Anyway, Commodore killed this system the next year, in favor of Amiga’s CD32, which isn’t remembered much either, because, again, Commodore died the next year. Next up is the Phillips CD-I, with a list of various games coming out for the system, including one called Guest which would actually be The 7th Guest. (more…)
Well, I’m breaking my “no classic games” rule with, in this case, Super Mario Bros 3 – the 3rd game in the series (duh), and in my opinion, the second best (after the first game). In addition to having the video up on YouTube, I’ve got the video (in a hopefully higher quality version) uploaded on Megaupload. (more…)
This week, as the next issue of Nintendo Power I’m covering is a strategy guide, I’m going to do a review of the guide and then a review for that game. Now, I’m not going to necessarily do full playthroughs of all these games, particularly since some of these are RPGs (and thus entail grinding), or are just really long. I’ll do what I can, though. Usually these games are classics as well, so the reviews will more be my impressions about the game and general remberances. Due to length issues, I probably won’t have YouTube videos for these reviews, as I suspect my coverage will be longer than YouTube’s 10 minute time limit. We’ll see.
Well, the guide itself is shorter than we normally consider strategy guides to be – only 85 pages long. However, considering the length of the game and the size of the levels, this isn’t too unreasonable. The guide starts off with techniques first, before moving on to the level maps. We get information on Mario’s various moves & power-ups. The guide poo-poos the over-world items of the Anchor (which makes the Koopa’s airship stand still) & Music Box (which makes the Hammer Brothers stand still) though, which I disagree with. I’d spent a few occasions desperately chasing down the Koopa airship after having beaten all the levels, unable to catch the bloody thing. Similarly, I’ve had a few occasions where I really didn’t want to fight the Hammer Brothers, and found the Music Box very useful at avoiding them (or getting them to hold still so I could catch them if I wanted to take them on.) (more…)
The EGM recaps continue with isue #50, for September of 1993. Oh, what a cover story we have this issue! In this corner, we have Street Fighter II Turbo. In the other corner, we have Mortal Kombat – the two franchises that will define fighting games in the United States for the next few years. Once again, as a reminder, this issue is rather long at approximately 197 pages. So let’s begin, or, rather (considering the fighting game cover) – Fight!
Editorial: This issue’s editorial from Ed Semrad covers the differences between the SNES and Genesis versions of Mortal Kombat – the SNES version has all the good stuff (blood, some of the fatalities, etc.) removed, while the Genesis version is as close as possible to an arcade quality port for a home console system. Unfortunately, what is the gamer to do – shut up and take it. Unfortunately, the kind of multiple-console releases we see a lot of in the modern generation of gaming (and the one prior) had significantly more titles getting multi-platform releases than the 16-bit era, where, at this point in the generation, multi-platform releases were relatively new – not to mention the problems with Nintendo penalizing developers and publishers who went multi-platform. Now, this might be a good place to say that censorship places artistic restrictions on games – but at this point in gaming’s history the “Games as Art” movement didn’t exist particularly, so if you wanted to reference a title where content restrictions would restrict the kind of stories that could be told, you’d have to go to import games – for example, the Shin Megami Tensei series of games (which most US gamers wouldn’t know about anyway). So, we have a dilemma. (more…)
So, I don’t have one of my standard reviews for you this time. I’ve watched another Frontline documentary series, titled “News War” which covers the state of American Journalism… only with the last installment, it kind of changes tack with an episode of Frontline: World which aims to put things in perspective with the state of foreign journalism. This is fine and all, but I wrote a bunch of great stuff in my physical journal while I was watching the first four installments that I don’t want to totally change my tack. Yeah, being flexible is good, but I had some commentary to make, and the discussion of the episode on foreign doesn’t necessarily reflect it. Further, to a certain degree, the episode has been rendered somewhat obsolete based on how citizen journalism in the Middle East (specifically, Iran) changed how the media in general (not just American media) handles the news. So, moving on…
The Premise: The state of American Journalism is in what can lightly be described a crisis. More and more newspapers are laying off reporters, the Bush Administration was manipulating the media like a puppeteer to justify the War in Iraq, and when the media didn’t dance to their tune the Administration retaliated directly, through legal action (or threat of legal action), and through castigation by through right-wing pundits like those on Fox News. This documentary tries to figure out how things got this way, and possibly how to fix things. (more…)
So, onwards with our GamePro recaps. Our next issue is #35 for June of 1992. This issue is at a semi-average length of 117 pages long, and it’s cover story is Taz-Mania for the Genesis. That’s right, it’s the early 90s, and now the Tazmanian Devil has the most marketing muscle of the Looney Toones. Not Bugs, not Daffy, not Tweety, not Sylvester, not Porky, not Elmer.
Editorial: Well, they’ve changed the rating system again, from a 5 point system to a 10 point system. Sort of. It’s more a 5 point system with half-points in-between. I’m more of a integer guy myself. To make things a little easier, they’ve also stopped giving a “point” score for difficulty, instead giving a brief descriptor – which is good, because on the number system difficulty was working on an entirely different scale from everything else. Well, we’ll see how the new system works out. Oh, and they’ve also added a new sports section, instead of doing semi-annual sports issues.
Mail: Our first letter is related to cross compatability between Phillips CD-I system and Nintendo’s “upcoming” SNES disk system, and rumors of plans for a color GameBoy. I suspect Nintendo is working on a Color Game Boy, though I know we don’t get it until around 1998-ish, and Sushi-X wants one even more than he wants a ninja pony. Also, they get called on a slight goof on their April issue, when they billed Jordan Vs. Bird as being for the SNES instead of being for the Genesis. We also get a letter bitching about Nintendo not putting out a 8-Bit converter for bringing NES games to the SNES (speaking of a pony), and a letter wanting to contact some of the “GamePros”. I still find obfuscating the reviewers identies through the use of false identites a little questionable – it feels like they’re trying to build popular identities for various writers and get readers to follow them, but to do it in such a way that the writers are disposable, and possibly making it difficult for writers to find work elsewhere, because the writers themselves aren’t actually getting credited for their work. Now, I could be (and I hope I am) totally wrong, but that’s the impression that editorial decision gives me. (more…)
Well, I reviewed Code Name: Viper, and the video recording worked this time, so I was able to upload the video onto YouTube. I’ll have the embedded video below the cut and I’ll also have a download link for those who want to download a higher quality version of the file from Megaupload.