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 Back in Time : March 1992

'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 March 1992 when the quirky platformer Harlequin appeared, WWF Wrestlemania grappled on all formats, Buck Rogers showed everyone how to do a Sci-Fi RPG, Space Crusade made strategic moves on the 8-bit computers and the Game Gear played host to some fine arcade conversions...

CVG124


In issue 124 of Computer & Video Games, the team took on the Mean Machines crew in a Arcade Action special head to head on four linked Final Lap II cabinets, capable of eight-player games. Following eight eventful races, Julian Rignall (both CVG & MM) topped the inter magazine table with 58 points followed closely by Paul Rand (CVG) and Richard Leadbetter (MM).

Desert Strike was first up to garner praise from the CVG team with Frank O’Connor giving the shoot-‘em-up strategy Mega Drive game a rating of 92. “The game is slick, groovy and totally playable,” enthused Frank, “you can pick it up straight away, but putting it down isn’t quite as easy. One of the smartest games in a long while and essential stuff for Megadrive owners!”

Hudson Soft’s addictive bombing strategy action game, Bomber Man, made its way onto the Amiga under the name of Dynablaster. In “one of the biggest gaming surprise in the history of the Amiga,” Frank awarded the game a 93 rating. “The combination of frantic running and strategic planning makes this an arcade gamer’s delight,” commented Frank. “In one player mode, it’s a massive and addictive task, but in head to head (with up to five players), this is truly awesome!”

However, it was Fatal Fury on the Neo Geo which impressed the most as the team gave the one-on-one fighter a 94 rating. “Massive graphics? Mountains of moves? It isn’t difficult to tell where the inspiration for Fatal Fury came from,” stated Paul Rand. “Streetfighter 2 is currently the hottest coin-op around and SNK have done themselves no harm in releasing this brilliant feast of fighting… Out of the most recent batch of Neo Geo releases, Fatal Fury is up there with the best of ‘em, so get your parents to remortgage the house and go get it.”

Other games that impressed the CVG team included Harlequin (Amiga) with a 91 rating and Lemmings (SNES) with 93. Multi-format chart action this month saw WWF Wrestlemania grapple onto the number one spot while Dizzy’s Excellent Adventures and The Simpsons submitted to second and third place respectively. Individual format chart toppers were WWF Wrestlemania (Atari ST), WWF Wrestlemania (Amiga), Super Mario Bros 3 (NES), Super Mario Land (Game Boy), Rolling Thunder 2 (Mega Drive) and Coryoon (PC Engine).

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MM18

With Mean Machines issue 18 there was plenty of ‘Mega Game’ action starting with Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday on the Mega Drive. The Sci-Fi strategy RPG managed to get 91% overall with Richard Leadbetter stating: “There are just so many missions that you definitely get your money’s worth. Even completing the first few levels takes a few hours to accomplish, and there are plenty more where that came from! I can see action-fans not getting on very well with this, but if you want a cart that offers an enjoyable, long-lasting challenge, give Buck Rogers a whirl.”

The martial arts movie star, Jackie Chan, made an appearance on the NES with Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu, gaining an overall rating of 93%. “Jackie Chan’s Action Kung-Fu combines challenging and highly addictive platform action, kung fu a-plenty,” commented Julian Rignall, before adding the game has “a huge playing area, excellent graphics and great sound to produce a really superb game.”

Finally, UK gamers had the change to play the NES shooter, Blaster Master, which arrived some time after the Japan and North American releases. With a rating of 91%, it was worth the wait. “Blaster Master is a big game which takes some exploration,” explained Radion Automatic… “It’s also very enjoyable to play, there’s lots to do and plenty going on at all times so the pace is always fast and frantic... Definitely one of the best of the current batch of NES games and should be added to your collection forthwith.”

California Games on the Mega Drive also managed a 91% rating, while other high rating games included Wimbledon (Master System) 80%, Alisia Dragoon (Mega Drive) 87% and Wonderboy in Monsterland (Mega Drive) 88%.

Buck Rogers CTD
BR

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Sinclair User 120

All quiet on the Speccy front? Not quite. The three Sinclair mags - Sinclair User, Crash and Your Sinclair – were still battling away in the infamous covertape wars and new releases were still trickling onto the aging black 8-bit computer. Taking part in the Magnificent 7 covertape on Your Sinclair issue 75 was Firelord (a complete game from Hewson), Impossaball (another complete game from Hewson), Pixy the Microdot 2 (a game from reader David Box), Professional Speedboat Simulator (demo from reader Mark Thompson), Devastating Blow (playable demo) as well as utilities and pokes (old fashioned cheat codes).

Sci-Fi strategy game, Space Crusade, dominated the 8-bit magazines this month and Your Sinclair was no exception, with the game adorning the front cover and featured as the sole ‘Megagame’ review with a 92 rating. “Apart from the fact that it’s completely stonking,” stated Linda Barker, “Space Crusade is actually tonnes better than the board game cos you don’t have to have played it for a month to understand all the rules… In fact, the whole thing is so well done that you wonder why, if the can make Speccy games like this, people like Gremlin aren’t going to be producing many more games for our li’l ol’ Spec.”

Just missing out on ‘Megagame’ status was Double Dragon 3 which was given 88. “After the total disaster of the first two I wasn’t expecting much,” admitted Jon Pillar, “so the sheer sparkiness of the game came as a jolly nice surprise. Also within grasping reach of the high scoring accolade was Super Seymour with 86. “just the ticket for fun-starved games players everywhere – fast, unpredictable, unputdownable and cheap,” said Jonathan Davies. Other notable games this month included Jonny Quest (84), Funschool 4 (84) and Double Dare (82).

In ‘An Equal Sequel?’, Stuart Campbell examined game sequels and whether they were worthy of the originals. This included looking at the inevitable licence franchises and the same game re-hashed as a sequel (same game, different tracks). The conclusion? “Sequels never live up to expectations… Sequels have little to do with a pursuit for quality. They’re about money, pure and simple…”

Space Crusade
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Sinclair User 120

There was an interesting news piece in Amiga Power issue 11 about the origins of Championship Manager, surely one of the world’s longest running and successful soccer management games. Apparently, the game had “been seven years in the making – ever since two programmers started writing in on an Amstrad 6128 in their bedroom for their own amusement… After friends said ‘This is really great’ and all that kind of stuff, they sent it off to the ever-benevolent Dom Doms, who promptly signed the boys up on the spot to convert the game to the Amiga.”

There was quite a handful of high rated games this month, which is unusual for the normally tough reviewing crew of AP. First to impress was the Amiga conversion of Mega Drive sports game, John Madden Football with an overall rating of 90%. “That this is the Amiga’s best ever American Football game ever is without question,” stated Neil West. “This game offers more than anything else I’ve ever seen. Quite possibly the most complete Amiga game you’ll ever have the joy of playing.”

Shadowlands, the Fantasy RPG from Domark, achieved a rating of 87%. “True mult-tasking, brilliantly subtle game mechanics and some finely designed levels and puzzles make Shadowlands a joy, even for the non-RPG types,” commented Mark Ramshaw. “It’s not exactly fast, and it’s not the best looking thing around, but a quick play will reveal that it’s actually damn absorbing stuff.”

The strategy platform game, Harlequin, impressed Stuart Campbell, who gave the game an overall rating of 91%. “Beautiful graphics, exquisite gameplay, loads of depth and more imagination than every other game in this issue put together. Right up there with First Samurai, but perhaps more importantly, right up there with (and beyond) Sonic The Hedgehog.” Other high rated games this issue included Storm Master (86%), Black Crypt (85%) and Abandoned Places (80%).

In ‘The New Ocean or: We Haven’t Completely Forgotten How to do it, you know’ feature, the UK’s biggest software house showed off their forthcoming games, including The Addams Family, Space Gun, Epic, Wizkid and Hook. There was also an interesting interview with Gary Bracey, Ocean’s Sofware Director, about working at Ocean, on the strength of the Amiga, piracy and game protection, adding value to games, playing games, big name programming teams, movie licences, the future…

Fergus McGovern, from Probe Software, took part in ‘If I’d Known Then…’ Highlights of the feature included Fergus’ comments on the Amiga conversion of Golden Axe: “I was quite pleased with Golden Axe. It won 16-bit Game Of The Year at one of the industry awards…” and Smash TV: “We were promised the arcade graphics but they didn’t arrive until four days after we’d finished, so we’d ended up drawing them from scratch.”

Gary Bracey: Mister Ocean
Gary Bracey

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Sega Power 28

Another fine issue of Sega Force and for issue three, Dave Roberts travelled to the US to speak to Sega US boss, Tom Kalinske about the upcoming Sonic 2 and Sega’s next generation wonder consoles. “After the Mega-CD will come the all-in-one Mega Drive playing carts and CDs… The Wonder Mega probably won’t hit Britain until just before the end of the year, and if it does, it’ll cost aound £600…. After the Wonder Mega, well Sega hasn’t said what it’s doing them, so who knows? Tom does,” stated Dave. “Work on the new console is already going on,” explained Tom, “it’s at quite an advanced stage… this Gigadrive, or whatever you want to call it…. It will be optical based… backward compatibility...” Well, one out of two ain’t bad. Also on the feature front was ‘Acclaim: Flying Tonight’, as Marshal M Rosenthal looked at Acclaim’s Sega publishing label name, Flying Edge and their games: Krusty’s Fun House, Arch Rivals, Ferrari Grand Prix Challenge.

On the review front, Rings of Power impressed on the Mega Drive gaining a rating of 85%. “A vast game with a considerable quantity of absorbing tasks,” stated Claire Morley. “Graphically impressive, my only real gripe is the precision needed to enter a building or engage in conversation. A very clever game that needs some homework before you can enjoy yourself, but it’s worth it.”

However, it was the Game Gear that featured the highest rating games this issue starting with the hand held conversion of Sega’s classic arcade shooter, Space Harrier, which racked up an mighty fine 92%. “I held severe doubts whether the Game Gear could handle a game like Space Harrier,” commented Paul Mellerick. “I was wrong: GG Harrier is amazingly close to the original. The graphics look like they’re from a Mega Drive and the scrolling’s the speediest and smoothest ever seen…. Anyone who lacks blasting on their Game Gear should buy this straight away.”

Another Game Gear conversion coming away with a fine rating of 92% was G-LOC. “Don’t underestimate the capabilities of the wee Game Gear,” stated Ade Pitt. “G-LOC is brilliant on the small screen. It’s fast and incredibly furious; everything about it says ‘speed’…. You’ll sway that Game Gear of yours from side to side as you view the goings on from your cockpit. It’s that good!”

Other games worthy of gamers’ attention this issue were Sonic the Hedgehog (Game Gear, 89%), Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday (Mega Drive, 82%), Super Kick Off (Game Gear, 80%) and Outrun (Mega Drive, 83%).

Tom Kalinske
End of Level Boss Tom Kalinske


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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