in Time' is a monthly feature where we look back at the classic video
gaming magazines twenty years ago this month. This month saw the final
issue of the official Amstrad CPC publication. Meanwhile, the Super
Nintendo finally hit the UK stores with F-Zero as one of the launch
titles. On PC, Ultima Underworld, Ultima VII and Cover Girl Poker were
making headlines in Zero magazine for completely different reasons,
while Titus the Fox and Fire and Ice were keeping aloft the 16-bit
computer gaming flag...
|With the Super NES hitting the streets (in
the UK, at least), Total!
Issue 5 looked at the games featured at the machine’s launch.
First up was the futuristic arcade racer F-Zero, which showed of the
console’s Mode 7 with superb use of scaling graphics and sprites.
“Want to overload your nervous system, enjoy a great race game or
simply impress your mate?” asked Steve Jarratt. “Plug
yourself into F-Zero and let
The NES received its own conversion of the arcade platform hit New Zealand Story. Andy Dyer seemed
impressed enough, stating that it beat the Amiga version hands down and
gave the game a final rating of 93%. “No doubt about it,”
voiced Andy’s sprite drawn caricature, “this near-perfect
conversion of a near-perfect coin-op is a game you’ve got to have
in your collection. Get it – or migrate!”
Faceball 2000 on
the GameBoy was a four-player capable 3D maze deathmatch style shooter.
Yes, really. Four players could link up and hunt each other down within
the 3D mazes of the game. The only twist was that each player is
represented by a smiley face. “With graphics that you could frame
and addiction you could bottle, this is one cart that all GameBoy
owners should never be without!” commented Steve’s smiley
Other fine ratings went to Super
Tennis (SNES, 96%), Rainbow
Islands (NES, 92%), Castlevania
2: Belmont’s Revenge (GameBoy, 90%) and Dr. Franken (GameBoy, 91%).
| Issue 31 of Zero turned out to be one of the
most controversial issues. Nothing to do with the content or writing of
the actual magazine, but rather the actions of leading newsagents
across the UK. The offending material was the cover disk which featured
a fully playable game of Cover Girl
Poker, which, as you may suspect, is a strip poker type thing.
The nonchalant inclusion of the covermount landed the publication in
hot and the issue was pulled from the stores’ shelves.
If you managed to grab a copy of the magazine before it was swiped from
the shelves you would have known which games topped their respective
charts this month: Falcon 3
(PC), Jimmy White’s Whirlwind
Snooker (Atari ST) and Formula
One Grand Prix (Amiga).
The PC dominance of last month continued as Zero had a double dose of Ultima role playing, Ultima VII: The Black Gate (90%)
and Ultima Underworld: The Stygian
Abyss (93%). The Stygian Abyss
was a different direction for the Ultima
series, taking on a Dungeon Master
style viewpoint within the universe of the massively popular Ultima universe. “Suffice to
say, if your system can take it – buy it,” commented David
Underworld is the new standard in first person dungeon exploring
titles. ‘Nuff said.”
Myth won a load of
plaudits when System 3 released the 8-bit. Now the 16-bit machines were
getting a taste of Greek mythology action as the Amiga game managed a
super overall rating of 91%. “The one reservation I have about
this game is that if you were a complete star and finished the 8-bit
version, you’d find no new plot twists to tax you,” stated
Martin Pond. “However, apart from that, the puzzly bits are well
pitched so as to be not too obvious, nor completely off the wall. And
as for the rest of the game, well, it’s just
With the success of Sonic the Hedgehog,
poor clones were rife. However, Titus
the Fox was anything but a poor Sonic clone and earned its 91%
rating and ‘Zero Hero’ accolade on merit. “Titus The Fox is a funny old
stick,” admitted Amaya Lopez, “lashings of Blues Brothers
gameplay, topped with a layer of speedy, spikey Sonicness. Even curiouser is the
fact that this combination works a treat. …fast, cute,
frighteningly addictive and superb fun.”
Other games that fared well this issue were D/Generation (PC, 91%), Parasol Stars (Amiga, 92%), Dyna Blaster (Amiga, 88%), Space Gun (Amiga, 83%), Black Crypt (Amiga, 85%), Space Crusade (Amiga, 82%) and Pinball Dreams (Amiga, 86%).
| It was the end of the road
for the Amstrad CPC’s official magazine as Amstrad Computer User
closed its doors after 90 issues. But it wasn’t quite all bad
news for CPC gamers as news of a new games orientated magazine called CPC Attack was announced as a
successor to ACU.
As usual, the mostly serious content of ACU consisted of programming,
type-ins and various other serious computer articles. The gaming
section of the magazine, called ‘Bomb Alley’, was a
relatively small part of the magazine and tended to feature coverage of
games already released or even still to be completed in some cases. The
last issue was no exception little in the way of gaming action to shout
First up to get the ‘Bomb Alley’ treatment was Super Seymour, Code Masters’
platforming hero. For a magazine to carry such serious contetnt as
programming and such you’d be forgiven for thinking the games
coverage would be the same. The one let down is the overall verdict of
the games which are given in the form a cartoon caricature and for Super Seymour we get a man with his
eyes popping out of his head. “Super Seymour
is a belter of a game,” commented Jim Johnson.
Hidden among the compilations and re-release budget reviews was World Cup from D&H Games. Yes,
a World Cup game in May 1992 – either two years late or two years
early. Didn’t seem to matter either way as the game got a thumbs
up verdict – literally with a cartoon hand giving the thumbs up.
“If you like strategy games, then this one has to be a
must,” wrote Jim.
And that was that with a two-page advertisement for CPC Attack closing off the issue.
| With ACE closing its own doors last
month, its editor, Jim Douglas, could bring his talented team of David
Upchurch, Gary Whitta and Jim Willis across to The One (the
‘For Amiga Games’ part now being dropped since the ST
version of the magazine was no more). Issue 44 looked a bit more
sleeker, more polished and a little bit better all round – the ACE-ness of The One was being brought to the
forefront by the new team at the helm.
To kick off the re-launch of The One,
the team held a huge conference style Q&A session with seven of
the Amiga’s top developers, including Pete Molyneux, Jez San,
Archer MacLean, David Braben, Eric Matthews, Jon Hare and Michael
Powell. Topics of discussion included the Amiga, of course, Commodore,
play testers, sequels, contradictory magazine reviews and piracy. Peter
Moluneux’s reasonable take on piracy was that he felt that if
“there wasn’t piracy on the Amiga, the sales of games
wouldn’t really be affected. It’s because the people who
pirate are people who would probably never buy a game anyway.”
Leading the way in the new look games section was Fire and Ice with an impressive
overall rating of 92%. The colourful platforming game - from Andrew
Braybrook(of Uridium, Rainbow Islands and Paradroid 90 fame) – follows
the mission of Cool Coyote who must traverse seven different worlds to
take down the evil Wiz who has taken over the world with the help of
his evil minions. “Truly excellent,” stated David.
“The difficulty is perfectly judged, tough enough to make a
long-lasting challenge but no (sic) so much that you throw your
joystick at the telly and give up.”
Following the game’s reign over the PC RPG scene, it was now the
Amiga’s turn to get a taste of some Ultima VI role playing action.
“There’s no other RPG that comes within a mile of matching
incredible scale and amazing real atmosphere,” wrote David as he
awarded the game 91%. “With rumours that this’ll be the
last Ultima on Amiga, RPG
fans should grab a the chance to experience this potentially ultimate
slice of Ultima magic while
Barely a year previously, Team 17 were coding demos and producing
scrolling messages across the intro screens of games, but now they had
their maiden Amiga game featured in the pages of The One. Project X, a classic style
shoot-em-up in the style of R-Type,
impressed reviewer Jim Douglas who gave the game an overall rating of
90%. “This is the sort of game the Amiga was made for,”
commented Jim, “the purest form of instantly gratifying
excellence ever seen on a computer screen. Simply fantastic.
It’s easily the best all-out Amiga blaster.”
Games that also impressed this issue were Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
– the Action Game (82%), Eye
of the Beholder II (87%), Deliverance
(81%) and John Barnes European
| For issue 5 of Sega Force, Paul
Mellerick was invited to Sega HQ to take a look at the WonderMega, an
all in one Mega Drive and Mega-CD unit. Not only was the new machine a
bit tidier looking than a MD and M-CD combo, but had some features to
boost its sellability. First up was the ability to play normal audio
CDs without the hassle of an MD utility screen. Then there is the
Karaoke functions, if you are so inclined, of course. And the CD
bundles included featured four games and four Karaoke hits.
The main game this month was Hellfire,
a Mega Drive shoot-‘em-up from Sega that racked up a score of
92%. “Graphically, Hellfire’s
nothing to write home about,” stated Paul Mellerick. “But
playability’s where it shine. It is tough, but play Hellfire a few times and
you’ll begin to master the excellently designed controls.
…the toughest, most polished shoot-‘em-up on the Mega
The Game Gear got some Spider-Man action this month with Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin. The
impressive looking handheld version of the platform action game also
racked up some impressive ratings with an overall 91%. “I
can’t rave enough about Spider-Man,”
enthused Paul. “GG Spider-Man
makes the best use of graphics of any game for a long time. The
gameplay’s up to scratch as well. The best GG game I’ve
ever played and beats most MD and MS games, too.”
Not to be outdone by the Mega Drive and Game Gear, the Master System
played host to its own fine game this issue with the 81% rated Asterix. “The lack of
originality makes Asterix a
less appealing prospect, but stick with it,” commented Paul.
“The basic gameplay’s the same as most platform romps but
has a few new features up its sleeve.”
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