Where I Read – Electronic Gaming Monthly #121


So, after filling a few holes in my recaps of EGM, we now continue forward again with issue 121 for August of 1998. Our cover story is most of the upcoming Resident Evil games for the PlayStation and other systems. Our Editorial column this issue is about the upcoming torrent of Dreamcast titles, as well as wishing John Ricciardi well in his new job of Editor in Chief at Expert Gamer, EGM’s companion strategy magazine. I’ve been somewhat considering doing EGM2/Expert Gamer for my next recap column after I get caught up with EGM, though recapping Die Hard Game Fan is also tempting as well. Also, now amongst EGM’s contributing writers are James “Milkman” Mielke, Tom Ham of Newsweek and the Washington Post (who still writes for the post), and Gary Mollohan.

Letters

Here we go. Our letter of the month objects to EGM’s staff having reservations about the Dreamcast because Sega’s mismanaged every single console they’d released since they added the Sega CD to the Genesis. The writer feels we should embrace the Dreamcast with open arms and encourage it to succeed. I understand this line of thinking. However, buying a new console is a substantial investment. We have a letter about Square jumping ship to Sega because some guy at EB said so.

Press Start

E3 has come and gone and with it came many news stories.

Nintendo is still working on the Dolphin (later revealed to be the GameCube). No titles have been announced yet but some developers have finally been publicly attached to the console, including Rare and Retro Studios. On a sadder note, between issue #120 and #121, Owen Hart died in a tragic accident during a WWF pay-per-view. As an aside, they misspell Bret’s name (one t at the end, not two).

On a lighter note, the Dreamcast is getting House of the Dead 2 and Sega Rally 2. The PlayStation 2 is not getting the PocketStation in the US. Nintendo hyped Pokemon Yellow. Sega’s also making games for the Game Boy (including a version of Sakura Taisen). We also get our first glimpse at Seaman for the Dreamcast.

Quartermann’s rumors relate to getting a Dreamcast version of Soul Reaver and Tomb Raider (credible, but unconfirmed), Hasbro considering buying out Acclaim or GT Interactive (quite to the contrary – GT Interactive gets bought out by Infogrames, which in turn buys out Hasbro Interactive).

The first GameStop ad in EGM
The start of an era

Ladies and Gentlemen, the first ad for GameStop – which was a web store before it was a physical store.

Previews

First up is a preview of Soul Calibur – a game which becomes one of the best (if not flat-out the best) third party game for the Dreamcast. Sega has their own first party football game with NFL 2000, along with the basketball game NBA 2000 (which becomes the start of the 2K series). There’s also a home port of the arcade racing game Hydro Thunder. There’s also the 3rd party brawler Dynamite Cop, from the developer of Die Hard Arcade. The system also gets the 6th game in the Test Drive series.

On the N64 we have Perfect Dark, the spiritual sequel to Goldeneye 007. There’s also a look at Donkey Kong 64. Rare has Jet Force Gemini. THQ is bringing out the next Road Rash game (instead of EA, who started the series). Aki is developing WWF Wrestlemania for THQ, and the system is also getting WCW Mayhem, and a port of Starcraft.

On the PlayStation, Capcom has another survival horror series, with dinosaurs instead of zombies in Dino Crisis. It’d almost work, except there’s unlimited respawn on the Dinosaurs. I really think that Dino Crisis had some potential to be just as successful as Resident Evil, but the first game mishandled the execution somewhat, and the later games went more towards action than in terms of survival horror. There’s also something of a 2 & ½D Tarzan platformer. Also, EA had NCAA Football 2000. There’s also Tenchu 2, Wild Arms II, Vandal Hearts 2, and the Misadventures of Tron Bonne.

The Game Boy is getting the Pokemon Yellow, and the arcades are getting San Francisco Rush 2049.

Feature – Everything Resident Evil

So, apparently the Resident Evil movie was originally supposed to be written and directed by John Romero – but he was fired because the script stunk. Considering some of Romero’s more recent work, I’m not too surprised. In particular we get a look at Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. The game features a new dodge move for Jill Valentine, as well as unlimited re-spawn on the Zombies, so now you know that when backtracking you’re no longer safe.

On the Dreamcast we have Resident Evil: Code Veronica – which follow Claire and Chris Redfield’s investigations into the Umbrella corporation, and includes a modified version of the “Zap” system from Resident Evil 2 (where if you took an item as one character, when you came back through as the other character the item was no longer there), which expands to cosmetic damage and that sort of thing. There’s also a remake of Resident Evil 2 for the Nintendo 64, and a remake of Resident Evil 1 for the Game Boy Color. There’s also an timeline that’s accurate to where series is at the time where the issue is running – but is now dated thanks to Resident Evil Zero, and the plot developments we learn in Resident Evil: Code Veronica and 5.

Reviews

The people on our rotating roster of the review crew this issue are, Crispin Boyer, Che Chou, John Davison, Dean Hager, Dan “Shoe” Hsu, Chris Johnson, John Ricciardi (spending his last issue on the crew), and Shawn Smith.

  • All Star Tennis ’99 (N64, Ubisoft): Reviewing this one is Dean, Shawn, Crispin and Chris. Dean comments that the controls are a little too picky, and he finds the Bomb Mode (a game mode which has a lit bomb appear on the court where the ball hits) to be a little too goofy, and gives the game a 5. Shawn, Crispin, and Chris give the game 5.5s, with objections to sluggish animation and insanely stupid AI, especially in doubles. Overall: 21.5/40.
  • Air Boardin’ USA (N64, Agetec): Futuristic extreme sports game. Chris and Dean give the game 1.5s, complaining that the level design is horrible, the way it handles checkpoints is terrible. The fact that it uses vertical splitscreen on 4:3 TV sets instead of horizontal in two-player is terrible, and the music is awful. Che and Crispin agree, but give a 2 and a 3.5, respectively. Overall: 8.5/40.
  • Shadowgate 64 (N64, Kemco): This is a sequel to the classic adventure game. Che and Shoe give the game 6.5s, finding the game is a little too slow, and they don’t like the fact that the game only uses text as the hints for solving puzzles. Shawn and John Davison also find the game very slow and very boring, and give the game 4s. Overall: 21/40.
  • Alexi Lalas International Software (PlayStation, Take 2 Interactive): This is a very erratic, choppy, loose soccer game. John Davison and Che give the game 2.5s, and Shoe and Dan give it 4s, with the consensus being that this game isn’t worth your money. Overall: 13/40.
  • Ape Escape (PlayStation, SCEA): This is the first game to really require the Dual-Shock controller, and the game is lauded for how it uses the controller. The only real complaint is with the game’s camera, which is not mapped to the Right Stick. Crispin, Shawn and John Davison give the game 9s, and Che gives it an 8, all for it’s excellent use for the Dual-Shock controller. Overall: 35/40 and it receives Game of the Month and the Editor’s Choice Silver Award.
  • Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time (PlayStation, Infogrames): 3rd person platformer with the Looney Tunes license. Crispin gives it a 5.5 and Dean gives it a 5, due to a terrible camera and touchy controls. John Davison gives the game a 4 for the AI, and Shawn gives the game a 3 for the combination of the AI, the camera, and kind of surprisingly, the fact the game gives you unlimited lives, which, in his words “takes all the challenge away”. Overall: 17.5/40.
  • Chocobo Racing (PlayStation, Square): Cart racing game. John Ricciardi and Chris consider it a solid cart racing game with lots of unlockable characters (though it’s no Mario Kart) and they give it a 7 and 7.5 respectively. Shoe and Dean, on the other hand, don’t like it, with Shoe finding it too cute and saccharine (and kind of boring), while Dean doesn’t like Cart Racers in general, and they give it a 5 and a 4.5 respectively. Overall: 24/40.
  • Echo Night (PlayStation, AgeTec): This is a survival horror game. Dean gives this a 6.5, Che and Shawn give this 6s, saying it has its freaky moments and lots of side quests, though the game itself is pretty short. Chris gives it a 5.5 for similar reasons. Overall: 24/40.
  • The Next Tetris (PlayStation, Hasbro Interactive): We all know Tetris, right? Good. Now, this one has some piece variants, where some pieces can “settle”, by breaking apart and allowing bits to fall down to gaps below them. Shoe found this very hard to get used to and gives it a 6.5 (and I’ll mention that this mechanic wasn’t used at the current main Tetris site. The rest of the crew has less reservations, and they also like the ability to swap out the game CD for a music CD while you’re playing for custom soundtracks. Crispin gives it a 7, Che gives it a 8, and Shawn gives it an 8.5. Overall: 30/40.
  • R-Type Delta (PlayStation, AgeTec): I’ve played this game and it’s pretty fun. Che gives it a 9, saying it’s the best R-Type ever. Shoe finds the game addictive but incredibly hard, and gives it an 8.5. Crispin gives it an 8 for similar reasons, adding that the 2.5D graphics in the game are gorgeous. John Davison gives it a 7.5, as he likes the game, though he feels it would work better with analog stick support. Overall: 33/40 and it receives the Editor’s Choice Silver Award.
  • Super Mario Bros. Delux (Game Boy Color, Nintendo): Re-make of Super Mario Bros. Being that it is Super Mario Bros, and you really can’t go wrong with it, John Ricciardi gives it a 9.5, and everyone else gives it 8.5s. Overall: 35/40 and it receives the Editor’s Choice Silver Award.
  • The Smurf’s Nightmare (Game Boy Color, Infogrames): This platformer doesn’t work out so well. The levels are big but with no checkpoints (even Sonic and Mario had that), you can’t run, and you can’t look down. However, the game isn’t hard, it’s just dull. Crispin gives a 5.5, Shawn gives a 4.5, Chris gives a 3, and Dean gives a 4.5. Overall: 17.5/40.

And that wraps up this issue. Next week, unless I fill a whole in my archive, will be the last week of my EGM recaps, and that issue will have the launch of the Dreamcast.

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