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 Back in Time : April 1992

'Back in Time' is a monthly feature where we look back at the classic video gaming magazines twenty years ago this month. Following the relocation of the Back in Time offices, the April 1992 edition has been delayed somewhat. However, it is better late than never as we continue our trip through the classic videogaming magazines from 20 years ago. This month saw the final appearances of two very influential titles. Games wise, PC gamers were beginning to see their platform taken seriously with a sleuth of class titles being released, including Ultima Underworld, D/Generation and Star Trek 25th Anniversary to name just three...

Ace55

“The End… this issue marks the end of the swirling vortex of atoms and ideas known as ACE magazine,” began the editorial from the last ever issue. “And why, exactly, has this happened? Alas, it’s just a reality of the ever-changing blink-and-you’ve-missed-it world of leisure computing and the magazines which feed of it… Settle back and enjoy the issue. You won’t see its like again.”

The latest PC RPG from Origin had arrived in the form of Ultima Underworld: The Stygianabyss and came away wit a two thousand word review full of praise and an overall rating of 938. “Stunning” opened the review by David Upchurch, as he summed up the game in one word. “Underworld grips right from the start,” stated David. “Ultima Underworld is a real knock-you-down game. At first it is truly hard to believe that it’s running on a standard home computer. It’s not only great to look at, but it also plays superbly and has enough depth to keep even the most experienced dungeon-delving veteran going for months…

D/Generation, a puzzle/arcade game on the PC, secured a fairly decent rating of 885. The game’s futuristic plot involved a major accident at a biological weapons lab which resulted in the entire research complex being taken over, with the scientists inside now held hostage by their own freakish creations. “Harking back to old 8-bit isometric puzzle classics like Knight Lore and Get Dexter,” wrote Gary Whitta on D/Generation’s gameplay and style. “Marred only slightly by the sometimes fiddly controls which can, at times, be very frustrating,” continued Gary. “One of the better isometric games, and should come as a particular joy to PC gamers fed up with high-brow simulations and adventures…”

The issue’s cover game, Star Trek 25th Anniversary, received a fitting rating of 940 and completed the PC domination this month. The arcade adventure from Electronic Arts was praised by Gary Whitta for its episodic style gameplay. “Probably the game’s single most inventive aspect, both in terms of gameplay and as a device for emulating the feel of the show,” commented Gary. “Normally, adventures leave me cold. I don’t have anything like the patience and logical insight required to play them, but Star Trek’s user-friendliness and terrific atmosphere had me – and the rest of the office – under its spell from the moment the first few bars of the opening music made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.”

In this month’s feature called The New Originals, Steve Kelly and Dan Malone from the Bitmap Brothers take the challenge of re-writing their own favourite classic: Atari’s Tempest. What kind of improvements would the guys have? How about a whole set of new enemies with better AI? A plethora of weapons and power ups? Improved visuals with solid vector graphics? With the impressive looking screenshots of the game’s design, it looked like a game with potential.

And so that was that. All good things come to and end and ACE’s unique blend of reviews, interview and features had indeed come to an end. The magazine that was influential and whose importance in the videogaming magazine history may have gone by unnoticed by many ended after 55 issues.” Thanks for your contribution to the games magazine scene, ACE. Your legacy lived on long after you were gone.

D-Generation
D_Generation

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CVG125

Issue 125 of CVG highlighted the Neo Geo futuristic sports game Soccer Brawl on its front cover, with a glowing ‘CVG Hit’ 91 rating two-page spread inside. As with most futuristic sports games at the time, think Speedball on the football pitch and you’re there. “Whilst the graphics are so so and sound pretty good,” commented Tim Boone, “the game itself grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go until you’ve proved yourself against everybody else of damn near died trying!” Paul Rand added that “one player is enjoyable enough, but grab a pal and that ridiculous price tag doesn’t seem too bad.”

The news section was full of special reports with the Home Virtuality Kit, the Holostar 2000, first up. Next up was the first blueprint images of the forthcoming Super NES CD-ROM and the first look at the Philips Cdi.

Battletoads arrived on the NES side-scrolling beat-‘em-up scene to take on the turtles and succeeded with a rating of 91. “The Battletoads aren’t exactly original, but they are funny and they do make for a fungame,” said Frank O’Connor. “Rare, the company who designed the game, have been responsible for some of the greatest NES titles ever and this is no exception.”

Parodius, Konami’s wacky shooter on the PC Engine racked up a score of 90. “Once again, the PC Engine comes up trumps, this time with a hilarious but extremely challenging shoot-‘em-up,” stated Paul Rand. “After Gradius on the Engine, excitement reached fever pitch when we heard Parodious was coming in,” added Tim Boone, “and it’s fulfilled all our expectations.”

Other games of note this month included Star Trek 25th Anniversary (93, PC), The Manager (91, Amiga), Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu (90, NES), WWF Wrestle Mania (90, SNES), Ninja Gaiden (89, PC Engine), Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles II (88, NES), Exhaust Heat (88, SNES), Super Tetris (89, PC), Super Off Road (89, SNES) and Kid Chameleon (80, Mega Drive).

SoccerBrawl
SoccerBrawl

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Crash98

Crash into SU!!” ran the headline of the two page spread advert within issue 98 of Crash. “Unbelievable, but true,” continued the ad. “From next month Crash is joining forces with Sinclair User to become the known universe’s ultimate in Spectrum magazine entertainment.” In reality this meant that, a mere two issues from its centenary issue, Crash was being handed over to rival publishers EMAP in a backroom deal involving the swapping of titles. The world’s first true videogaming magazine was being thrown away by the publisher’s parent company, Europress Interactive, as if it were an old piece of meat. Obviously, this was a late decision, as the issue read as normal with no mention of it being the final issue or any obvious goodbyes.

So what did Crash have in store for its unknowing know finale? Well, Ocean Software’s platform hijinks conversion of the hit film, The Addams Family, provided a fitting ‘Crash Smash’ game worthy of 91% . “The Addams Family’s rumoured to be the last Ocean release for the Speccy,” commented Lucy Hickman. “If this is true they certainly know how to go out on a winner – this game’s a must for anyone’s collection.”

Danny Duster’s Dirty Deeds seemed to be the surprise release of the month, covering three pages and gaining a 98% ‘Crash Smash’ rating. Flashsoft’s clean-‘em-up revolved around a Sponge Bob Squarepants look-a-like called Danny and his cleaning exploits around various locations. “Dirty Deeds is a real challenge,” stated Nick Roberts. “It’s instantly playable, totally addictive and oozes originality. Flashpoint have a sure fire winner on their hands. It’s worthy of more than a CRASH Smash!”

Ocean’s tie-in with the forthcoming movie, RoboCop 3, also put up a respectable showing with 89. “Another excellent game from Ocean,” wrote Nick. “To silence the ‘Oh no, it’s more of the same’ brigade, the boys have included a great new jetpack section that takes some getting used to but is great fun to play.” Also within scoring reach was the SAM Coupe version of Manic Miner, which managed a respectable 88%.

With the next month page unknowingly informing us of the next issue, we all knew that this was the end. Denied of its 100th issue by a couple of months, Crash was discarded with only its logo appearing on the next few issues of Sinclair User. A sad way for any magazine to go, but especially so for Crash, which was undeniably the spiritual father of many videogaming magazines that we had read since it first appeared back in 1984. If it weren’t for Crash, we would probably have still been reading stuffy magazines filled with type-ins, technical jargon, programming and such. Crash, Roger, Oli, Franco, thank you for the memories.

Danny_Duster
DD
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AmigaAction31

It had now been a full year of Amiga Power and in issue 12, Bub and Bob were back in Parasol Stars with their usual platforming capers. Stuart Campbell was suitably impressed and awarded the game 88%. “A gorgeous arcade game, right up at the top of the league alongside Rodland and all the rest, but it’s just not quite the universe-beater you were hoping for.”

In the Titus the Fox review, both Stuart Campbell and Mark Ramshaw commented back and forth on the 88% rated platformer from Titus. “So, final scores on the doors for you, Stuart. Did the Earth Move?” asked Mark. “Are you kidding? I thought I was playing in Sensurround ™,” replied Stuart. “I’m not sure if I’d rate it as a classic,” countered Mark, “but for instant kicks, I reckon Titus is really up there with Parasol Stars.”

In ‘Year of the Owl’, Mark Ramshaw visited the home of Psygnosis to find out more about the 16-bit software company: the people, their games, past, present and future. Mark also found time to speak to one of the company’s directors, Ian Hetherington, about Psygnosis, Imagine Software, Shadow of the Beast, Lemmings, piracy, Sonic the Hedgehog, CD formats, Virtual Reality, the future of Psygnosis and more.

Vroom from Ubi Soft drove a good race and also finished on the podium of game highlights this month with a decent 88%. “Faster than F1 GP,” explained Stuart, “more playable than Lotus Turbo Challenge 2, prettier than Outrun Europa and a sillier name than Super Hang-On, this is a winner all the way – perhaps the best all-round traditional driving game yet.”

Elsewhere, there were respectable efforts from Space Crusade (85%), Go (80%), Dyna Blaster Bomberman (83%) and Chess Champion 2175 (80%).

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SegaPower29

Sega Force the forth showcased plenty of Sega gaming action from all main formats: Mega Drive, Master System and Game Gear. News wise, there was interesting developments in the remote controllers for the Mega Drive. Plus, the Wondermega – a Mega Drive/Mega-CD combo unit – was due for release in Japan with a look at the machine’s specs and games.

The surprise game of the month surely went to Electronic Arts’ Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? The time traveling investigative educational adventure was a breath of fresh air amongst the mass of platformers, shoot-‘em-ups and sports titles. Paul Mellerick obviously thought so as well and promptly awarded the game the highest Force rating yet of 96%. “The first thing that strikes you about Carmen Sandiego is the presentation,” commented Paul. “It’s brilliantly laid out and structured and great to control. The system’s very RPG but icon based and simple to get to grips with... I only hope this standard of Edutainment title is maintained.”

It was Pac-Man time on all Sega formats as Ms Pac-Man, Pac-Mania and Pac-Man were released on the Master System, Mega Drive and Game Gear respectively. Marshal Rosenthal playtested all games, giving Ms Pac-Man 93% and Pac-Mania 92%. “Instantly playable and the degree of difficulty is just right,” Adrian said of the Mega Drive game. “Ms Pac-Man is terrific fun,” enthused Adrian. “The game really pushes the two-player option to the limit. An incredibly addictive game, fast, furious and well worthy of its accolade.”

Paul took to the Gulf as the classic EA shooter Desert Strike flew in on the Mega Drive for a rating of 92%. “Desert Strike is a very original production and incredibly well put together. Each mission’s a tough challenge but persevere – it’s never impossible. One of EA’s best games.” Adrian agreed and stated that “the Mega Drive’s sadly lacked a good challenging, strategy-based, shoot-‘em-up, but Desert Strike grabs the genre by the scruff of the neck and makes it its own.”

Kid Chameleon (82%, Mega Drive), Winter Challenge (80%, Mega Drive), Marble Madness (82%, Mega Drive), Wonderboy V: Monster World III (84%, Mega Drive) and Halley Wars (82%, Game Gear).

WITWICS
Where


Notes:
• C+VG, Mean Machines, The One for Amiga Games, Sinclair User and ACE were published byEMAP.   Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Zero was published byDennis Publishing. Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Game Zone was published byDennis Publishing.  Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• Commodore Format was published byFuture Publishing .  Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Amiga Power was published byFuture Publishing .  Scans were kindly provided by Amiga Magazine Rack.
• Amiga Action was published by Europress Interactive.  Scans were kindly provided by Amiga Magazine Rack.
• Zzap!64 and Sega Force  were  published by Europress Impact.  Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Sega Power was published byFuture Publishing .  Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• Amstrad Action was published byFuture Publishing.  Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• MegaTech was published by EMAP.   Scans courtesy of Out-of-Print Archive.

This is an Out-of-Print Archive feature presented by Nreive ofRetroaction magazinefame.  Special thanks to Andynick atMagazines From the Pastfor providing info and cover scans for several magazines this month.

 
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