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 Back in Time : June 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 June 1991 when Roger Wilco went on his fourth Space Quest, Street Figther II hit the arcades, Cruise For A Corpse appeared on many gamers’ wanted lists, Prince of Persia amazed gamers everywhere with its superb Amstrad CPC version and the Spectrum covertape wars continued with even more gaming giveaways...

C&VG 114

ACE was always a magazine that had plenty of articles amongst the usual reviews and previews and issue 45 was no exception. In ‘Laser Visions’, Rik Haynes spoke to the President of the newly formed Sony Electronic Publishing about the media giant entering the videogaming market – an inconceivable notion back then – and producing a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Famicom. Mmm, I wonder how that went?

The ‘King Mario’ article examined how Super Mario World is arguably the most playable game ever written. ACE dissected the game and explained where Nintendo are going right and where the others are going wrong by looking at graphics, sound, control, variety, fairness and much more.

The Space Quest science fiction adventure series from Sierra had reach number four with Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers. Taking centre stage on the front cover and with a full three page spread review, Space Quest IV impressed sufficiently to gain an ACE rating of 880. “An excellent sci-fi romp,” Jim Douglas wrote. “Quick-paced and quick witted, the action seldom grinds to a halt, and for an intentionally funny game it manages to maintain a decent level of tension too. Even when you’re stuck in a dead-end, there are enough jokes to keep you amused.”

The Amiga and Atari ST versions of Gods were both playtested with final ACE ratings of 908 and 901 respectively. “The Amiga version’s ST roots are slightly visible: the scrolling is a tad ‘chunky’, but the Amiga’s superior hardware has been used to smooth out the ride,” explained Richard Evans. “The graphics and full-screen scrolling are amazing, and just show what the all too-frequently belittled ST can do in the hands of a good programmer... Only after you’ve been playing for a while will you discover that Gods packs considerable depth beneath its hack-‘em-up façade…”

Space Quest IV
Space Quest IV

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Zero 20

Zero, “Britain’s Best Selling 16-bit mult-format mag”, featured an “exclusive first review” of Cruise For A Corpse, both statements of which adorned the front cover. The Amiga adventure game from Delphine Software/US Gold is a classic take on the murder mystery theme. “Quite a few publishers could learn a thing or two from Delphine,” stated David Wilson. [They] would prefer to delay a game’s release for yonks rather than release a duffer. The quality of previous titles has more than made up for the delay in their scheduled releases. Cruise For A Corpse is no exception… A well impressive and very ‘friendly’ package, beautifully presented.”

Elsewhere, Joe Montana Football impressed on the PC with a 90% rating, Eye of the Beholder, also on the PC, was given 91%, F-29 Retaliator flew by for a 94% on the PC, F-15 Strike Eagle 2 on the Amiga landed in for a 92%, while PGA Tour Golf on the Amiga holed in for a 92%.

In the ‘Console Action’ section, Rad Gravity on the NES took centre stage with an impressive 91% rating and a ‘Console Classic’ accolade to boot. Essentially a space exploration platform game, Rad Gravity tasks the player with a series of missions throughout the solar system. “A fabulously original platform game,” wrote Jane Goldman, “with first-rate gameplay and depth of playability you’d be more likely to in a good computer game, than on an 8-bit console.” Other impressive games in ‘Console Action’ this month included Contra on the Gameboy with 91% and Pacmania on the Master System with 90%.

In ‘Dosh Eaters’, the arcade game that scored a perfect five invaders icon (or a five out of five in laymen’s terms) was puzzle game Ataxx Master. David Wilson described the game as “a rather addictive little number and yet, like all the best puzzlers, it’s such an incredibly simple idea.” Other games that fared well included Big Karnak (4.5/5), Euro Football Champ (4/5) and Rad Mobile (4/5).

Zero 20
Cruise For A Corpse

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Sinclair User 112

It was the 66th issue of Your Sinclair and the Spectrum cover tape wars was showing no signs of slowing down. But wait a minute, there was actually another fantastic complete game on the YS cover tape in the form of Activision’s arcade conversion of Rampage. Other, not quite as great, complete games included The Ice Temple, Syntax and Top Fruit Machine. Playable demos of new games included Mystical and Dominion.

The ‘Complete YS Guide to Fanzines’ feature really says it all in the title, as Rich Pelley took the reader through the ins and outs of the homemade magazine publishing empire. Spectrum fanzines picked out for mention included Adventure Probe, Specreview, From Beyond, Turbo, Re-Run, Pokes and Prods and Enigman.

It was sadly a sign of the times when a Code Masters budget range game stole the highest rating of the issue with 94. Slightly Magic took the template of the successful Dizzy series and added improvements galore. “I’m even going to say that Slightly Magic is better than the Dizzy games,” stated Riche Pelley, “because with the addition of spells you’ve got to think quite a lot more about what to do rather than simply using the correct thing in the correct place.” Just missing out on the YS accolade were Gauntlet III with 89, Five On A Treasure Island with 83 and Shadow Dancer with 85.

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YC

Long time fans will no doubt have been dismayed when they set their eyes on issue 74 of Zzap!64, for there had been a rather drastic re-design of the magazine. By dropping the Amiga coverage, Zzap!64 was back to being a dedicated C64 magazine that could take on the new C64 mag on the block: Commodore Format. While this news, along with a shiny covertape box, will have been welcomed by readers, the re-design will not have. Gone was the distinctive design of the mag, which had more or less remained for 70+ issues and in came a rather bland look, but worst of all was the removal of the famous caricatures of the reviewers in the pages, to be replaced with almost childish cartoon versions.

In this issue, the saga of Creatures II’s development continued in ‘The Fuzzy Factory’. Held up momentarily, Steve Rowland had to deal with a package from Thalamus’ Dave Birch. Eleven copies of Creatures were not complementary copies, as thought, but returns. “Apparently these games were RETURNS, and didn’t work,” Steve explained, “but every single one that we tried to load, loaded perfectly – apart from the one that actually had Midnight Resistance recorded on it (I spent a few hours playing this – not bad).”

The classic Zzap! Challenge was back as the staff of Zzap! (Robin Hogg and Phil King) and Crash (Nick Roberts and Mark Caswell) squared off against each other in ‘Shoot-out At The Mill’. Taking on each other at World Games on the C64, Narc on the Spectrum, Turrican II on the C64 and Super Scramble Simulator on the Spectrum. After a gruelling four events, Phil King topped the inter-magazine league table with 13 points followed by Nick and Robert (10 points) with Robin trailing behind with seven points.

The results of the 1991 readers’ C64 awards were in. Best Game of the Year went to Creatures, Coin-Op Conversion went to Golden Axe and Best Strategy/RPG Game went to Lords of Chaos. Other awards included Best Licence (RoboCop 2), Original Game (Creatures), Adventure (Bloodwych), Graphics (Turrican), Software House (Ocean), Programmer (Apex), Sound (Creatures), Advertisement (Creatures), Budget Game (Head Over Heels) and Worst Game (Hard Drivin’).

Although gaining the highest rating of 93%, the Sizzler awarded Atomino was shoehorned into a one page review. “Atomino is one of those game you simply can’t leave alone,” admitted Phil King. “Like all the best puzzle games the control system and basic concept are simple – the only difficulty is winning! In short Atomino is brill and blows Tetris into tiny atoms!”

Also sizzling in the Zzap! Testing were North & South with 91% (“another conversion miracle from Probe.”), Gauntlet III with 92% (“State-of-the-art 3-D, masterpiece backdrops and good gameplay make this a true classic”) and Supremacy with 91% (“the ease of play and sheer tyrannical power makes Supermacy one of the best strategy games around.”).

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Amstrad

With issue 69 of Amstrad Action, the marvellous isometric puzzle game Spindizzy was given away absolutely free with the ‘Action Pack’ covertape. It was also an action packed ‘Action Test’ section in the magazine this month, which proved that the Amstrad gaming scene was showing no signs of dying off just yet.

Broderbund/Domark’s classic platforming hijinks Prince of Persia made it to the humble Amstrad CPC and was the highlight of the lot with a massive 95% rating and taking away a ‘Master Game’ accolade for its efforts. “First impressions could lead you to believe you were playing the ST version,” enthused Frank O’Connor, “things look so smooth and detailed. The difficulty level has been pitched exactly right… In short, this is one of the best Amstrad games ever…”

Night Shift from US Gold/Lucasfilm Games managed an ‘AA Rave’ rating of 85%. Navy Seals was a cartridge release for the new range of Plus machines and the GX4000 consoles and achieved its mission with a ‘Console Stunner’ accolade and a rating of 88%. Exterminator racked up a rating of 83% and an ‘AA Rave’ accolade.

Prince Of Persia
Prince Of Persia

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The One Amiga

Amiga Power returned with its second issue and another complete Amiga game to give away on the coverdisk. Kid Gloves had never been released on budget before and was another scoop for the magazine, but this kind of giveaway was not to last. The industry were getting panicky about lost revenues if gamers were able to get free games from magazines every month.

Amiga Power were displaying their infamous no holds barred stance when it came to games reviewing early on with only The Secret of Monkey Island breaking the 90% barrier, nearly, with, erm, 90%. “It’s taken ten years,” wrote Mark Ramshaw, “but the first truly accessible adventure is finally with us. Keep this game in a plastic bag, because the atmosphere really does drip from it. Graphics, sound, and plot – everything gels perfectly.” Other worth games that were covered this month included Wonderland (81%), Switchblade 2 (87%), 3D Construction Kit (80%), Hero Quest (80%) and MegaTraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy (88%).

In ‘Pond Life’, Matt Bielby spoke to Bullfrog’s Peter Moleneux about the development company’s past and its forthcoming games such as Powermonger data disks, Populous II, Bob/Higher Functions and Creation. And if that in-depth look at Bullfrog wasn’t enough Eric Matthews known as one of the Bitmap Brothers was the star of ‘If I’d Known Then…’ – the feature where developers lookback at their games in hindsight.

Switchblade 2
Switchblade 2

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ST Action

Having successfully split off into The One for ST Games, issue 33 had some fantastic content to fill the, now dedicated, Atari ST magazine. First up was the coverdidsk which contained a complete ‘trainer’ level of Team Suzuki, five levels of Logical and the month’s Goal-den Goal winner.

The Secret of Monkey Island kicked off an action packed reviews section. The Lucasfilm Games’ graphic adventure had made it to the ST with style, coming away with an overall rating of 92%. “A hilarious storyline, strong characters and an intriguing setting make it impossible to fault the gameplay,” wrote Paul Pressley, “while even the perfect SCUMM control method has been improved.”

Elf from Ocean Software was a rarity as it wasn’t a licensed based title from a movie or arcade. The arcade adventure impressed Ciaran Brennan who gave it an overall 90%. Hero Quest was given 91%, Pro Tennis Tour 2 rated 90%, while the 3D Construction Kit was rated 93%.



Notes:
• Computer & Video Games, The One for Amiga Games, The One for ST Games, ACE, Mean Machines and Sinclair User were published byEMAP.     Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Sega Power was published by Future Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• Zero was published byDennis Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort atThe Def Guide to Zzap!64. • Games-X was published by Europress Interactive. Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• 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 were 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 Power was published byFuture Publishing . Scans were kindly provided by Amiga Magazine Rack.
• Amiga Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Amiga Magazine Rack.
• ST Action was published by Interactive Publishing Ltd . Scans were kindly provided by Andynick atMagazines From the Past.
• ST Format was published byFuture Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Richard Davey atLittle Green Desktop.

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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