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 Back in Time : May 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 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 ‘em rip!”

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 caricatured sprite.

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 Wilson. “Ultima 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 dreamy…”

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 about.

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. Goodbye ACU.



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 Ultima VI’s 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 they can.”

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 Football (80%).

Fire and Ice



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 Drive.”

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.”


• C+VG, Mean Machines, The One and Sinclair User 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.

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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