Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #75


Cover art for EGM issue 75Alright then. We’re going back, after a long hiatus, to my Electronic Gaming Monthly recaps. This time we’re skipping ahead some to issue 75, for October of 1995. Our cover story is Mortal Kombat III for the Sony PlayStation and… Street Fighter: The Movie – The Game for the Sega Saturn. I can tell you right now which one I’d rather play.

Editorial

Danyon Carpenter has this issue’s editorial column. As the 16-bit generation comes to an end, it’s going out with some pretty impressive games. Secret of Mana and Secret of Evermore, Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, among other games for the SNES. The Genesis on the other hand is getting Vectorman, Comix Zone and other good games. So, Danyon advocates hanging on to those soon-to-be oldies-but-goodies for your 16-bit systems, something that I can definitely agree with.

Letters

So, the year is 1995, the year of the Primaries for the upcoming 1996 Presidential election, which Clinton wins. Again, though, before the election, we must have the Primaries, which means we have primary ads. This leads us to our Letter of the Month. Our letter writer reminds us that candidates who run on an anti-video game platform are thus running on a pro-censorship platform, and thus we should be wary. I wouldn’t say that you should vote on the video game censorship issue alone, though. If I had during the 2000 election, were I old enough to vote in that election, I would have ended up voting for Bush because of Tipper Gore, and her ties to the PMRC and Jack Thompson, and that would be something I would have regretted later.

We also get a letter complaining about the magazine’s price being increased by 4 cents. Really? Four cents. And I thought I was cheap! We also get a letter commenting about the delays that the Ultra 64 (later the Nintendo 64) has experienced, saying that it’s got an uphill struggle against the Saturn and the PlayStation. Well, 1 out of 2 ain’t bad. Indeed this console generation is the beginning of a stretch where Nintendo’s total dominance of home consoles was no more, playing second fiddle to Sony. This situation would remain until the launch of the Nintendo Wii. We also get a complaint about the odd shape of the cases for Sega Saturn games. They actually look similar to some DVD cases I’ve seen, which were an odd amalgam of a Jewel Case and DVD case. Not the best design in the world.

We also have some complaints about the PlayStation (currently known as the PSX) shipping without a launch game. There’s also a letter complaining about some of the ads Sony and and 3DO have done for their systems, and their more “edgy” ad slogans (with various sex related pitches). I have to agree that these kind of sound like the type of slogans you’d get from, say, Vince Russo. We get a question about whether we’ll Neo-Geo ports for the PlayStation (they do come, but not for a while yet). There’s also complaining about the Virtual Boy (something that’s totally justified).

News

Sega’s Nomad (their hand-held Genesis) is still under development. Also, many game publishers are going on-line, though it’s not totally widespread yet. Ah, the Web, it’s growing up. Oh, and it bears mentioning that throughout the letters column and news, there’s plugging for Nuke.com, a game news site which is currently owned by C|Net, which owns Gamespot (and if you go to Nuke.com, it redirects to Gamespot.) We also have the first appearance (in these recaps), of MadCatz, who has a new Composite cable switch on the market. We also get an add for Hori’s arcade sticks for the PlayStation and the Saturn.

Review Crew

Our Review Crew as of this issue is Danyon Carpenter, Al Manuel, Andrew Baran (who is unfortunately no longer with us, killed by pancreatic cancer), and Sushi-X.

  • Mortal Kombat III (Sony, PS1): This issue’s Game of the Month gets some major accolades, with only one complaint – loading times causing the game to lag when Shang Tsung uses his morphing power. Danyon and Andrew give the game 9s, Sushi gives it an 8.5 (apparently they’re giving half-points now) and Al gives it an 8. Overall: 34.5/40.
  • Dracula X (Konami, SNES): This port of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, actually was never released in stores. Fear not, though, as it was released for the PSP as Dracula X Chronicles, and is apparently set to be released for the Wii Virtual Console. Unfortunately, it’s not a good port of the PC Engine CD Rom version of the game. The sound quality is down (which is to be expected from a cartridge game), and some of the game-play innovations from Castlevania IV are absent (like the 8-way whip). Danyon and Sushi give the game 7s, and Al and Andrew give the game 6.5s. Overall: 27/40.
  • Mechwarrior 3050 (Activision, SNES): This is not a first-person perspective mech piloting game like with the PC Mechwarrior games. This is instead a isometric game along the lines of the $ENVIRONMENT Strike games. The opinion among the crew about the game is mixed. Danyon and Andrew like the game, though Andrew’s more of an Inner Sphere kind of guy. However, Andrew found that the enemies get some cheap hits in, and Al finds it hard to control with this camera angle. Sushi, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of Battletech in any form and doesn’t particularly enjoy the games set in the universe. Danyon gives the game an 8 and Andrew gives it an 8.5. Al gives it a 5 and Sushi gives it a 5.5. Overall: 27 out of 40.
  • Scooby-Doo (Acclaim, Genesis): Essentially this is an Sierra-style adventure game. Al and others in the crew found the game incredibly short, only taking 20 minutes to complete both stories in the game. Danyon and Andrew give it a 8.5s, Sushi gives it a 7.5, and Al gives it a 6. Overall: 30.5/40.
  • Lunar: Eternal Blue (Working Designs, Sega CD): The crew enjoys the game, though they find the game very simplistic, with none of the customization that’s included in even the Dragon Quest games. However, they do like the game’s presentation. The game gets 8s from Danyon, Andrew, and Sushi, and a 7 from Al. Overall: 31/40.
  • Robotica (Acclaim, Saturn): First person shooter for the Saturn. However, this is the mid-90s, so it’s a “Doom Clone”. That said, it’s a “Doom clone” which the Crew thinks is pretty good, and an original take on the genre (though nobody’s calling it a genre yet). However, they do think the levels start to blur together over time. Andrew and Sushi gave the game 7.5s, Al gives the game a 7, and Danyon gives it a 6.5. Overall: 28.5/40.
  • Kileak: The DNA Imperative (Sony, PS1): A first-party, first person shooter for the PlayStation. However, the Crew isn’t as impressed with this game. There are a lot of cheap hits in the game, the interface and control aren’t as good, and the creature design isn’t so hot. Andrew and Sushi give the game 7.5s, Danyon gives it a 7, and Al gives it a 5.5. Overall: 27.5/40.
  • Total Eclipse: Turbo (Crystal Dynamics, PS1): This is a Starfox style behind-the-back shooter. It’s also a 3DO port, and one that’s not as good as the original (which is saying something). The controls are sluggish, there are loads of cheap hits, and too sensitive collision detection. Danyon and Sushi give the game 6s, and Al gives the game a 6.5. Andrew gives it a 3. Overall: 21.5/40.
  • Panzer General (SSI, 3DO): It’s a port of SSI’s classic World War II strategy game. Like its source material it’s very complex, and dull to some players, and like most SSI strategy games, it has a steep learning curve. The game gets a 7.5 from Andrew, Danyon gives it a 7, and Al and Sushi give it 6.5s. Overall: 27.5/40.
  • Space Hulk (EA, 3DO): Games Workshop’s turn-based strategy game is adapted into a first person real time strategy game. I have to say, this sounds like it is #1 – hard, and #2 – scary. The opinions of the crew agree with my suspicions. Andrew gives it a 7.5, Danyon gives it a 7, Sushi gives it a 6.5 and Al gives it a 5.5. Overall: 26.5/40
  • Virtua Fighter (Sega, 32X): Well, if you don’t have a Saturn, but do have a 32X, here is how you may play Virtua Fighter. The port gets decent reviews, though Al isn’t a fan of Virtua Fighter, and his score reflects it. The main complaint is that this is the original Virtua Fighter, instead of the Remix, and its visual haven’t aged well. Andrew gives the game an 8.5, Danyon gives it an 8, Sushi gives it a 7.5, an Al gives it a 6.5. Overall: 30.5/40.
  • Pitfall (Activision, 32X): I presume this is “Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure”. I’ll also take a moment to notice that little to none of Activision’s old IPs from their founding has been revived or remade by Activision Blizzard in any form. You’d think they’d try to capitalize on Uncharted’s success with a Pitfall revival. Anyway, this version is just like the 16-bit version, except with loose controls. This is a deal-killer for Danyon, though the rest of the Crew is more forgiving. Danyon gives it a 5.5, and everyone else gives it 7s. Overall: 26.5/40.
  • Red Alarm (Nintendo, Virtual Boy): Well, we’ve missed the launch of the Virtual Boy in the gap I’ve got in the EGM archive. Hopefully I’ll be able to fill that later, particularly considering the Virtual Boy’s role in ending Gunpei Yokoi’s career at Nintendo. This game is another behind the back shump like Starfox – a genre that’s become pretty popular with the start of the 32 bit generation. Unfortunately, the Virtual Boy isn’t able to do some of the polygonal shapes that make these types of games good on the SNES with the Super FX and on the 32-bit systems. This leads to the main complaint that it’s easy to get lost in the game, particularly if you run into a wall and bounce off – because odds are high that you’ll pinball into another wall, and keep going until you lose either most of your life bar or die. The crew don’t think it’s too bad though. Danyon and Andrew gave it 7.5s. Al and Sushi gave the game 6s. Overall: 27/40.
  • Galactic Pinball (Nintendo, Virtual Boy): So, to my knowledge, this is the first pinball video game which basically better replicates the perspective that you have when you’re playing pinball, rather then looking straight down on the board like with most other Pinball games on consoles. However, aside from being on the Virtual Boy, it also has some problems with the paddles control being sluggish, which is very, very bad in a pinball game. Andrew gives the game a 7.5, Danyon gives the game a 7, Sushi gives it a 5.5, and Al gives it a 5. Overall: 25/40.

Gaming Gossip

We also get a brief ad for the some Aliens game from Mindscape which doesn’t tell us what system it’s on. It might even be a PC game for all they tell us – which is what it is, and it’s an adventure game. Unfortunately, my copy of EGM is missing top portions of several pages. Now, most of these are ads, but one of them is on Quartermann’s so I’m not able to to do all of that column. From what we are able to get, apparently the 3DO is getting a Mortal Kombat III release. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s now officially the Mid-90s, where having a port of Mortal Kombat III is a necessity for each console, the same way Street Fighter II ports were back in the early 90s. Also, the N64 is also supposed to be released in December of 1995. Only it doesn’t actually come out until June (in Japan) and September (in the US) of 1996.

Special Features

We’re starting out with a feature preview of Mortal Kombat III for the PlayStation. We don’t get a lot of info about the game that isn’t in the review in the Review Crew segment though. Similarly the preview of Street Fighter: The Game of the Movie isn’t very informative either, which is kind of unfortunate because the game was crap, and it’s pretty clear that it’s crap. My guess is that the EGM staff doesn’t want to pass judgement on a game when it’s unfinished, and they’re hoping they’ll fix the control problems when the game is finally released.

There’s also a preview of the various home ports of Virtua Fighter, such as the 32X version, as well as screen shots of Virtua Fighter Remix and Virtua Fighter 2. Oh, and we also have previews of some of our standard upcoming lineup titles. Notable ones include The 11th Hour (which is a sequel to The 7th Guest – which was ported to just about every single disk systems). There’s also Spot Goes to Hollywood, the sequel to Cool Spot but with the same isometric camera angle of Sonic 3D Blast.

Arcade Action

Sega has Virtua Cop 2 coming out (which I’ve played at a Ground Kontrol, a local arcade, and I enjoyed it immensely). SNK is coming out with Metal Slug, one of their longest running series of action games. There’s also a new Bust a Move game called Puzzle de Pon. I’m just going to take a moment here to put a minor complaint about the current format for the Arcade Action column, or the form of this column in this magazine. Specifically the writing style’s a little unprofessional. In what way you ask? Well, here’s a quote from Mark Hein, one of the writers for this column – “(Namely, the death of fighting games–YAY!!!!!!!!!)”. This is part of a longer thing about seeing the “future of arcade games” at SNK’s Gamer’s Day. My complaint with this that it looks like something someone would write on the comments at NeoGAF, but with better grammar. No, I take that back–I can’t think of anyone on the Internet who would be as stupid as to grave-dance a genre like Fighting Games. However, the writing style looks like something written by a 13 year old.

International Outlook

Sega of Japan is working on Sega Rally Championship, a semi-arcade style racing game, along with Formula 1 Live Information, which is more realistic and serious. They’ve also got an Isometric Godzilla action game. Square has Romancing SaGa 3, which is a fairly ambitious sounding RPG, and I’m considering emulating and trying to review. There’s also an in-depth preview of Clockwork Knight for the Saturn, which is set to get a US release. There’s also a look at Super Mario RPG from Square.

Next Wave

We get our very first screen shot in this issue of Resident Evil for the Sony PlayStation. We also get a preview of the 3DO version of Primal Rage. Acclaim has a Batman Forever beat-em-up, with digitized characters ala Mortal Kombat. It’s also absolute rubbish (something the Angry Video Game Nerd has covered at length on his show). Vik Tokai (which is surprisingly still around) is working on Alien Virus for the PS1. Capcom is working on Mega Man X3 for the SNES, and we also get a first look at Street Fighter Alpha which is currently known as Street Fighter Legends, and we get a look at Breath of Fire 2. Capcom is also working on Final Fight 3, featuring the return of Guy. Activision has their FMV-powered sequel to Zork titled Return to Zork. Ocean is also working on various games based on Waterworld for 16-bit systems, 32-bit system, and also the Virtual Boy (the Virtual Boy’s only 3rd party title). Domark has a flight sim called Flying Nightmares that looks kind of interesting. Koei has a sequel to PTO: Pacific Theater of Operations. I still miss the days where Koei did strategy games that weren’t based on Japan and China’s Warring States periods.

Now, again, I’m going to skip the Sports game section here, and go straight to the PC Games section.

PC Games

Well, it’s the mid-90s, which is a heck of a good time to be into PC gaming – as shown by some of the previews we have in this issue. We get a look at Quake from ID (which I have not beaten because of the motion sickness the game gives me). Micropose is also working on a Magic The Gathering PC game, which I’ve played, and I thought that it was okay. Not great, just okay. There’s also Magic Carpet 2 from Bullfrog, headed by a guy who you may have heard of (Peter Molyneux). Sierra also has the combination Real-Time-Strategy/City-Building sim Caesar 2. There’s also a review of the sci-fi racing game Hi-Octane, which is also from Bullfrog. The game gets 8.2/10. There’s also a review of the helicopter flight-sim Apache, which gets an 8.8/10.

SNES Coverage

We have a preview of a port of Civilization from the PC. Now, parents, you can hear your kids sing the refrain of “One More Turn”. It’s also being published by Koei, which seems like a good fit. I wonder who publishes the Civ PC games in Japan. Is it 2K Games or is it someone else? There’s also an action game based on The Mask, as in the Jim Carrey movie. Urban Strike is getting a SNES port. There’s the puzzle game Zoop, which is a block elimination game.

Sega Coverage

No previews of any Genesis games that weren’t in the review section. We have a review of Space Pirate, which appears to feature Cobra from Space Adventure Cobra. The Saturn has the sci-fi helicopter flight sim Black Fire which doesn’t look (graphically) terrible. The game itself (according to the preview) is apparently kind of dull.

PlayStation Coverage

No previews of anything that wasn’t covered by the Review Crew.

3DO Coverage

Nothing here that wasn’t covered by the Crew.

Game Boy Coverage

We get a look at Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie for the Game Boy, which I’m not impressed by.

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