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Back in Time : February 1991
'Back in Time' is a monthly feature where we look back at the classic video gaming magazines twenty years ago this month. This month it's February 1991 when Turrican returned for a second round of platform run ‘n’ gunning, stunt car racing games seemed all the rage, Pang burst onto the scene and Gazza was kicking his ball across the formats...

C&VG 111

It was 'Race Hard' time as Raze went racing game mad for issue 4 with seven new releases covered. Taking pole position among them was Crash Course on the PC with 91%. Paul Rigby survived test-driving the stun car racer from Spectrum Holobyte to comment that “Crash Course has to be the best driving game available on the IBM PC. Apart from the great driving experience itself, there are so many options available to modify the game that, even if you’re not too happy with it initially, just a few tweaks will give you everything you could ask for!” To prevent any déjà vu, Julian Boardman sat in the driving seat to check out 4-D Sports Driving, a stunt driving simulation from Mindscape/DSI. The PC game also managed to cross the finishing line with 91%, with Julian remarking that “this could be a surprise hit this Christmas, and it’s definitely the best and most comprehensive stunt car game this yuletide.”

The 'Big In Japan' column looked at the Tera, a PC/Mega Drive hybrid venture between Sega and IBM Japan. Sounds good on paper, but with an estimate £400 just who was the target audience – no one, as it turned out. If that wasn’t enough Sega action there were also rumours of a new console codenamed the Giga Drive. This new wonder gaming machine would be based on Sega’s arcade System 32 board. 'Super Dupa' ran the headline to the Super Famicom article as Raze took a look at the 16-bit console from Nintendo which was recently released in Japan. As expected the specs slightly outshone bothe the Mega Drive and PC Engine. One interesting part of the console which was noted was “the 'user port’ where a rumoured CD-ROM drive could be attached.” Xenon III appeared in the PD reviews section. No, not a Bitmap Brothers sequel but a rather unofficial adaptation using the Shoot-'em-up Construction Kit.

The Atari Lynx lead the way in the reviews section as the arcade style shoot-'em-up Xenophobe racked up an impressive 94%. Les Ellis commenting that “the chance to play either a good or bad guy makes Xenophobe unique. While the one player game is a delight to not only play but also to look at, the multi-player games turn into mass battles.” Columns, Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Tetris, debuted on the Master System and garnered a Rave rating of 90%. On the Mega Drive, John Madden Football scored a massive touchdown with 94%. The first game in the long running series was praised by Les Ellis: “For fans and non-fans alike, the game is very easy to pick up and play, visually attractive and aurally entertaining.”

Last Ninja 2 was a massive hit on the Commodore 64, so when the chance came to convert the game to the 16-bit computers, System 3 decided to remix the game with the resultant game being Ninja Remix. Although Julian Boardman awarded the Atari ST game 92%, he commented that “the high level of the puzzles and the occasionally disjointed landscape make this a very hard cookie to crack.” Prince of Persia, a platform adventuring game from Broderbund, was next to be raved as Paul Rigby gave the Amiga and PC versions 92% each. As expected the game was praised for its visuals as Paul wrote that the Prince “looks like a real person… Prince of Persia reeks of attention to detail and a hell of a lot of effort.”

Raze4-Crash Course


The One 28

Zero issue 16 was the first of many magazines to feature Turrican II on the front cover. Not only that, but a playable demo of the Amiga and Atari ST version was available on the coverdisk, accompanied by a demo of the puzzle game Chip’s Challenge. Topping the Atari ST charts this month was F-19 Stealth Fighter, while RoboCop II patrolled the Amiga charts and Wonderland wowed PC gamers.

The first 'Zero Hero’ accolade went to Turrican II, which received a dual review from Duncan MacDonald who play-tested both the Amiga and Atari ST versions. For the ST game, Duncan awarded the game 91% and wrote that “this is a dead impressive piece of ST programming overall, with smooth multi-scrolling that puts some Amiga titles to shame.” The Amiga version was equally praised, receiving a 90%, although was criticised for being 'a bit on the hard side’.

Strunt car racing sim Crash Course survived the course with Duncan MacDonald to come away with 90%. “An absolute hoot to play,” enthused Dunc on the PC game, “and, while not being quite there, it’s not too far from being as visually stunning as Indy 500... To sum up, Crash Course is, to date, the pick of the bunch of the Hard Drivin’ clones: and if I had to put my finger on why, then the answer would be simple – superb 'animation’.”

The space strategy Amiga game Deuteros: The Next Millennium impressed Tim Ponting enough to receive 92%. “I can’t really tell you how good it is without letting the cat out of the bag,” commented Tim. “You’re going to come across loads of problems, and the further you progress the bigger and harder it gets. It makes Millennium 2.2 look like a pee in the ocean.”

Winner of the 'Be a ZERO journalist for the day' competition in the Independent newspaper, reader Alex Richardson got the chance to review F-19 Stealth Fighter on the Amiga. Giving the flight combat sim 94%, Alex stated that the “Gameplay varies from the nerve-wracking suspenseful to the gut-wrenching exciting as you duck through enemy radar nets and take on the top enemy fighter jocks in a fight for air supremacy.”

In the 'Console Action' section, John Madden Football scored a touchdown with a mighty fine score of 95%. A 'Console Classic' and “an unmissable Mega Drive cart. If you probably decided to buy it before you even read this. But in fact, almost anyone could get into it.” Described as “one of the finest arcade adventures you’ll get for the Game Boy,” A Boy and his Blob gained a 'Console Classic’ award with 92%. Other 'Zero Hero’ rated games this month included Prince of Persia and Jack Nicklaus Unlimited Golf & Course Design, both on the Amiga and receiving 91%.

Zero16 Deuteros


Sinclair User 108

There was a mixed bag on the Fabulous Four Pack Cassette which adorned the front cover of Your Sinclair issue 62: complete games of Marsport, Ninja Hamsters, Wizard's Lair and Moonlight Madness. The PSSST 'Review of the Year' looked back at what was 'In' and what was 'Out' for the year of 1990, with the likes of licenced products, consoles and the SAM Coupe being 'in' and the +3 Spectrum, original products and the SAM Coupe being 'out'!! The YS team also chose their games of 1990 and their top games combined to calculate the top game. Rainbow Islands and Sim City shared the top spot with Castle Master coming in third. The sales charts of that month showed Shadow Warriors at number one followed by Back to the Future Part II and Kick Off II.

'Megagame' of the month, Pang, was given a 94° rating by Jonathan Davies, who described the game as “an absolute apricot of a game,” before adding that it’s “the sort of thing that's so addictive if it stood on a street corner with a cigarette in its mouth it would be arrested for loitering with intent. If you haven't already made up your mind, here's some help - buy it. Now.”

F-16 Combat Pilot was also rated a 'Megagame' with 92°. Linda Barker commented that the game was “an incredible feat of programming and has an added strategy element that takes it beyond most flight sims. The term 'game' is really a bit misleading - this is more like a pilot training programme!”

Just missing out on the top accolades with 87° was Gazza II. Andy Ide summarised that “There's no doubt that as a two-player Gazza is a wizard soccer sim - play it with a mate and you're in for a brilliant time. But the weakness of the one-player mode does notch the score down a peg or two I'm afraid.” Also a near accolade was Navy SEALS with 86°. Matt Bielby wrote that he “enjoyed Navy SEALS a lot, though how well it'll do probably depends a bit on the success (or lack of it) of the film. Half of it is very, very good indeed, and the other half isn't too bad (though a lot more boring). Yep, I liked it loads.”


YC 76

As expected, Turrican 2 was the main focus of Zzap!64 issue 70, with a cover featured review and a playable demo on the covertape. Megatape 14 also featured a playable demo of Chip's Challenge and complete games Golf Master and Herobotix, all on the C64. The Turrican II coverage continued with the 'Gold Medal' 96% rated review of the C64 game. “Of course the basic game is very much a sequel of the original,” observed Stuart Wynne, “but numerous new elements and improved graphics (yes, it is possible) make it a worthy Gold Medal.” Robin Hogg added that “the level of detail is simply incredible and applies right down to the smallest of creatures: the fish falling down the waterfall to land in the water and swim around, the walkers scampering around, even the tiniest of fun installations does its own thing, all performing in their own unique way.” While Phil King considered “Turrican II as much of a milestone as its predecessor. A truly remarkable programming achievement and a great game to play – it’s like having an original coin-op in your bedroom!”

Tank simulation Battle Command on the Amiga gained a 'Sizzler' with a 90%. “What Battle Command lacks in realism it more than makes up for is playability,” commented Robin, “general polish and some outstanding vehicle graphics.” Stuart added that “Sim buffs will be a little disappointed, but everyone else will probably love it. The missions are packed with variety, ranging from simplistic blast-'em-ups to stealthy sneaking around to tricky puzzlers.”

In ;The Think Tank;, The Mission led the way with the adventure 'Sizzlers;, getting 91%. Think Tank contributor, Boris, pointed out that “Jim [MacBrayne] should be given a rather large pat on the back and a rather large drink for his work on The Mission. For one man to develop his own adventure system, then produce an adventure of the calibre of The Mission is pretty darned impressive.” The 1Mb only A-10 Tank Killer Amiga game also received a 'Sizzler' for its 90% review. “The great thing about A-10 is that you really feel you are part of a team,” stated Boris. “Missions usually involve lots of aircraft and the inter-pilot chatter is an excellent feature. So when you feel more involved, the action appears more realistic...”



Amstrad Computer User 75

“Consoles storm in France” ran the main Amscene news headline in issue 65 of Amstrad Action, “but there’s a muted response to Amstrad’s new machines in UK High Streets…” No great news there then, as it’s doubtful if anyone expected great things from the upgraded CPC machines. It was all change at Amstrad Action with long standing Art Editor Ollie Alderton and James Leach bidding farewells as they headed off to Commodore Format and Your Sinclair respectively. Paul Morgan and Frank O'Connor were announced as replacements due to appear in the next issue. Play Mates, a print fanzine for the CPC, was covered in the news section. The zine, produced by Carl Surrey, contained reviews of both hardware and software. Amstrad Action's very own tipster Phil Howard appeared in a Q&A in issue 6. Topping the CPC charts this month was Back to the Future II, with Shadow Warriors and Kick Off II trailing close behind.

Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge was pole position in the 'Action Test' and finished first place with 93% and a 'Master Game’ award. “The basic message is that if you're at all serious about a driving sim, THIS IS THE ONE,” explained Rod Lawton. “It takes a while to get into, but it really is an incredibly realistic, playable and satisfying game.” James Leach added that “the more you play it the better it gets. You end up appreciating the sheer realism and subtlety that’s gone into this game. And racing against someone else is highly addictive – and beating Rod is a pleasure! (a rare one – ed).”

The GX4000 soccer game Gazza II was given an overall rating of 88% and awarded 'Console Stunner' status. “Gazza II is the most playable footie game on any computer,” stated Adam Waring. “It's very (very) fast, the passing is excellent, and the playability spot on. As ever, a two-player game is the one to really test you. There are a few annoying quirks. Even so, Gazza has got most things just about right.”


Amiga Format 19

It was an all new look for issue 17 of Amiga Action. Besides the re-design of the magzine throughout, the main change was the introduction of the 'Super League' gaming lists. Esentially an award based system with a genre based league placement for the reviews. On the Action Cover Disk was a complete game of Mean 18, a golf game from Accolade. In the Lucasfilm Interview, Amiga Action spoke to Managing Director Doug Glen about the company's top quality software.

First up to receive the new 'Amiga Action Super League Accolade' (for ratings of 85%+) was Horror Zombies From the Crypt. The arcade adventure game from Millenium was given 87% along with some helpful comments: “If you can stomach the gore then you’ll discover that Horror Zombies is a great game. The controls and gameplay are excellent and combine to make a challenge that you will want to keep coming back to. Horror Zombies is set to become a classic that will keep you playing all night, if you dare!”

Chip's Challenge was the first 'Super League' champion of 1991, coming number one in its respective Puzzle Games league with 87%. “Chip's Challenge might look a bit naff, but this is far from the truth,” Amiga Action stated. “Once played you realise why all the fuss has been made. The game is totally addictive in a simple kind of way – you just keep having to have one more go so you can see what the next level is like.”

The Highest rating of the month, however, went to Strider II with 88%. Coming in at number nine in the Shoot-'em-up league standings, “Strider II is a great improvement on the original Strider as it is faster and smoother. The characters are small but very well defined and they all move relatively convincingly. Strider II should not be missed as it will provide plenty of excitement and fun, although it won’t be beaten easily as it is fairly hard.”

Rated 85% and with an Arcade Adventure league standing of 15, “Ninja Remix is like a breath of fresh air after playing Ninja II by Activision. The screen update is instantaneous, and the sprite detection is much better… The graphics and sound are extremely good giving the game a tremendous atmosphere, the music being especially good picking up when the game gets instense. All in all, Ninja Remix is a very good game, and a damn sight better that Ninja II.”

The last 'Super League Accolade’ of the month went to Panza Kick Boxing with its 87% rating and Beat-'em-up league standing at four. “This has to be the best kick boxing simulation around. The graphics have actually been copied from real life footage and this reflects in the smooth and realistic animation on the fighters. An excellent game and one that will definitely appeal to beat-'em-up fans.”

'Super League Recommended' games (75%-84%) included Ishido: The Way of Stones (84%), Narco Police (82%), Battle Command (80%), Edd the Duck (79%), Line of Fire (78%), RoboCop 2 (77%), The Final Conflict (76%), Advanced Tactical Fighter 2 (76%), Buck Rogers (75%) and Dragon (75%).

AmigaAction17-Horror Zombies From The Crypt

• Sinclair User, CU Amiga, Computer & Video Games, The One, ACE and Mean Machines were published byEMAP.
   Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Crash, Zzap!64 and Raze were published by Newsfield Publication .   Scans were kindly provided by Mort at The Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Your Sinclair and Commodore Format was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• YC was published by Alphavite Publications . Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Amstrad Action was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• Amstrad Computer User was published by Avralite Publications Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• Amiga Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Galaxy at Amiga Magazine Rack.
• Zero was published byDennis Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.

This is an Out-of-Print Archive feature presented by Nreive ofRetroaction magazinefame.   


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