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 Back in Time : October 1992

All good things must come to an end... and videogaming magazines and features focusing on them are no exception. For one last ‘Back in Time’ we look back twenty years when we waved goodbye to Game Zone and Zero while we ushered in the new arrivals of Mega, Mean Machines Sega, Nintendo Magazine System and Super Action. Games wise, EA’s hockey returned for a replay match, there was some Putty action on the Amiga. Both Mario and Zelda returned with some superb SNES gaming and Elite landed on the NES...


Well, barely three months into its new look, Zero magazine closed its doors with issue 36. The once mighty magazine, a winner of the prestigious ‘Magazine of the Year’ award, was facing its unknowing finale. The reasons would no doubt become clearer the following month. In the meantime, Amaya Lopez took over departing David Wilson as editor for the final issue.

In ‘Sex & Drugs [& Finishing Tape]’, David McCandless looked back at all the Olympic themed games released the past month. Winning the Gold medal award as The Aquatics on the Mega Drive with an 86. Taking Silver was International Sports Challenge on the Amiga, ST and PC with 82. Bronze went to Winter Challenge on the Amiga, ST and PC with 80. And finally, the clingfilm award went to The Games 1992: Espana, which appeared on Amiga, ST and PC.

The first ‘Mutt’s Nuts’ game of the issue came in the form of the PC flying sim B-17 Flying Fortress with an overall rating of 92. “I enjoyed B-17 Flying Fortress a lot,” commented Michael Horsham. “There are also enough other touches, options and other gubbins to make this rank as one of the most entertaining war flight sims I’ve ever played.”

And just to emphasize the dumbing down of the magazine you can read the minimal review of Turtles in Time below. The SNES game Turtles IV: Turtles in Time was rated 92 by Daniel Pemberton. “What’s the game like then?” asked Daniel to no one in particular. “Well, in a nut-shell, it’s smaaart. Turtles may not be trendy anymore but don’t let that put you off. This game is smaaaaaart!”

In our final review summary of the issue, Toby Finlay rated PeeCee game [yes, they actually spelt PC like that] The Lost Files of Sherlock with a 93. “Sherlock Holmes is the mong’s dongs,” splurted Toby. “It looks good, it sounds smart… my goodness, I think I’ll have to go and take a cold shower.” And on that bombshell, we bidded farewell to one of the UK’s most respected magazine of the time, which subsequently embarrassed itself during its final issues.

Turtles IV title
Turtles IV



As developers began deserting the 8-bit machines for pastures new – i.e. Amiga, Mega Drive or SNES – magazines like Commodore Format struggled to fill their pages with new content. Issue 25 featured two half-decent reviews and only one of them was a new full price game.

If 8-bit gamers needed any more evidence of the decline of their machines’ games releases, they just had to glance at the charts which was awash with budget games. Arnie, a budget release from Zeppelin, topped the charts, while James Pond: RoboCod was the only full price game in the top 10.

The only decent full price game on display this issue was Hook from Ocean Software with 85%. “So let’s see,” wrote James Leach. “We’ve got an impressively large game. There are some decent graphics and good sound effects. But Hook is just too easy. If you’re a good game-player, you’ll have this one cracked before you can say, ‘the third star on the right and carry on ‘til morning.”

Slicks from budget masters CodeMasters fared just as well with an overall rating of 83%. James Leach commented on the controls, the gameplay before closing off as stating “Slicks has also got a brilliant two-player mode. But even racing against the computer cars is fun. Tough, sure, but worth the effort.”


The One

For The One issue 49’s ‘One to One’ session, Simon Byron took Brett Sperry, Westwood Studio’s President, down the local pub for a quick drink and a natter about the Fables and Friends series of adventures. Elsewhere, the Amiga full price chart had some crackers in there with Sensible Soccer, Premiere and Fire & Ice in the top three spots [Incidentally, all three of these games have been chosen as highlights during the past few months].

In ‘Chaos Theory’, the team caught up with the recent developments of The Chaos Engine, which was clocking up over two years of development. The game was being described as the ‘thinking man’s shoot-‘em-up’, but why the delay? “We had a designer leave halfway through,” stated Eric Matthews. We re-rationalised a lot of stuff… The fact is, to write really good games – I don’t care what type – takes time.”

‘The Last Waltz’ took a final look at the development of Elite 2, which had been four years in the making. Gary Whitta spoke to author David Braben. “I’m quite excited about the prospect of it finally being finished,” commented David. “I’m pleased that, now I can see what the game is finally going to be like, it’s how I originally intended it to be when I started.”

System 3’s stylish platformer Putty slinked onto the Amiga scene with an 87% rating from David Upchurch. “System 3 deserve praise for a game that tries – and succeeds – in doing things a little differently,” commented David. “As long as you’re not scared of putting in a bit of effort at the start then Putty should be right up your alley.”

Archer McLean’s Pool fared just as well as its predecessor – Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker – with a rating of 90%. “Those who really got into Jimmy White’s may find Pool too limited for their tastes… As long as you’ve got a pal to play against there’s little chance of the game’s appeal waning for quite a while. If forced to make a choice, my own personal preference would be Pool, if only because it’s a lot more fun than Snooker.”

Gary Whitta gritted his teeth as he embarked on a run-‘n’-gun gung-ho gorefest in the 90% rated Fire Force. “Don’t let the graphics put you off,” commented Gary, “Fireforce is one of the most enjoyable and sophisticated shoot-‘em-ups I’ve played and full marks to I.C.E. for having the bottle to try something with a bit of an edge to it for a change.”



Sega Power

“Here it is,” began Jaz Rignall’s editorial, “the first all-Sega edition of Mean Machines.” In this first issue of Mean Machines Sega, gamers were treated to a cover mount videotape with a world exclusive Sonic 2 video preview. Sega chart update time as the Mega Drive list was topped by European Club Soccer with Tazmania and The Terminator close by. Sonic the Hedgehog led the way on the Master System chart followed by Olympic Gold and Asterix. On the Game Gear, Olympic Gold took the top spot while Super Kick Off and Wonderboy III came a close second and third.

Atomic Runner run-‘n’-gunned its way onto the Mega Drive with an impressive 91% rating. “gameplay-wise, once you’ve got the hang of the awkward controls it’s pretty hard to fault,” stated Rad. “Although there are a few new and original features in Atomic Runner, what makes it such a classic is its flawless implementation, including a challenge hefty enough to maintain the appeal to the game[r] for ages. This is really how shoot ‘em ups should be.”

It was double header time for Smash TV as the MMS team reviewed both Mega Drive and Master System versions back to back. Who would come out on top? No one would know. Both fared pretty badly although you would never have guessed by looking at the ratings as they received scores of 88 in all departments with an overall rating of… 88. Judging by Gus Swan’s comments on the Mega Drive version “the most important aspect, the gameplay, is perhaps the most fudged,” and comments on the Master System “revolting and shambolic,” their true ratings would seem to have been far less than the 88 stated.

EASN were back with an update to their Hockey series and perhaps most popular version yet in NHLPA Hockey ’93. With an overall mark of 90%, Paul Davies stated that “Electronic Arts have done it once more. They’ve produced an incredible ice hockey game with great gameplay and faultless presentation.” Although questions were raised on the need of an annual update.

Atomic Runner



Nintendo Magazine System was the other result of the Mean Machines split, having acquired the official nod from Nintendo themselves. In reality, this meant no more than an extension of the old Mean Machines format but dedicated entirely for the Nintendo gaming machines.

Meanwhile, Mario was dominating the charts with Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario Land topping the NES and Game Boy lists respectively. Leading the SNES chart was Lemmings with UN Squadron and Castlevania IV close.

Often regard as one of the best games ever produced, Elite made its belated arrival on the NES, receiving an overall rating of 91. “Elite is one of the most original, playable and long-lasting NES games I’ve played in months and is well worth checking out,” enthused Jaz Rignall. “If you’re after a game unlike any other,” added Richard Leadbetter, “offering a vast quest and months of satisfaction, go and buy Elite!”

One of the highest ratings given out went to SNES RPG The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with 96. “Anyone with the slightest inclination to investigate the role playing adventure genre should grab this one with both hands,” stated Jaz, “and anyone who lacks that inclination needs their brains testing.”

Mario took to the race track as Super Mario Kart left its skid marks all over the SNES. “With two players, Mario Kart is the most racing fun to be had anywhere,” said Rad Automatic. “However, with only a single player, the enjoyment is severely reduced, although it’s still great fun to play. A few more courses and a tougher difficulty would have improved things, but as it stands, Super Mario Kart is still a highly polished software classic.”



With the launch of Future Publishing’s Mega, there were now three dedicated Mega Drive magazines competing against each other. Former Sega Power deputy editor Neil West took the reigns of the new Mega Drive publication and alongside the talents of Andy Dyer (deputy editor), Paul Mellerick (staff writer) and Amanda Cook (art editor) produced this author’s most favoured gaming magazine in memory. Straight away with issue 1, it was clear that Mega was a class publication: glossy bound pages, clean design, neat layouts, great content and witty editorial.

Fans of the cult BBC space comedy series Red Dwarf were in for a treat as Robert Llewellyn (aka Kryten) was interviewed while playing away on Thunder Force III. “I’m also a real fan of flight simulators,” said Robert while failing miserably at blasting the aliens on the Mega Drive shoot-‘em-up. “I used to have this excellent sim on my Apple Mac and when you crashed, it used to tell you how many people died. My best effort was when I fudged a landing in Hong Kong and killed over nine hundred people!”

In ‘More Than Just A Game’, Neil West spoke to EASN’s Don Transeth (executive director) on how the Electronic Arts’ sports division goes about creating world class sports games. From a good idea to production and design all the way to development and release, the reader got the lowdown of every aspect of an EASN game. Just don’t expect Bicycle Pole Vaulting or Pro Wrestling to get the EASN treatment.

EASN took to the ice for a second time with NHLPA Hockey ’93, finishing off with a 92%. “NHLPA is a better game than EA Hockey,” commented Neil West. “There’s nothing ice-breaking or of drastic improvement on the original, but a little tweaking can go a long way… you’ll be wanting to know if it’s worth buying even though you already have the original. The answer is yes…”

Paul Mellerick took control of LHX Attack Chopper and landed down with an overall rating of 88%. “As opposed to previous Mega Drive flight sim games, LHX isn’t thrill-a-minute stuff,” stated Paul. “It is, in fact, just like war itself – a few tense moments of waiting and then some frenzied moments of action in which it’s extremely easy to die and/or ruin your brand new Calvin Kleins.”

The classic Amiga futuristic sports game Speedball 2 received its Mega Drive conversion and scored a lukewarm rating of 81%. “Speedball 2 is a high-speed bash and despite being annoying at times, it is still a right good laugh,” said Andy Dyer. “If you’re bored with Madden-alikes (or any game which requires a little thought for that matter), Speedball 2 is a breath of fresh air.

After weeks of arguments, the Mega team listed the rather controversial Top 100 with John Madden Football ’92 topping the lot with EA Hockey and Sonic the Hedgehog close behind. And topping the list of worst games was Altered Beast, Last Battle and Turbo Out Run.

The 1992 Sega European Championships took place in London. With reigning champ Danny Curley disqualified, as he was now recognised as a professional gamesplayer, it was left to Karl Roberts to represent Britain. However, following grueling contests on Sonic the Hedgehog, Road Rash, Green Dog, Olympic Gold and Moonwalker, Karl ended in fourth place overall with the German competitor Rezo Abdolali being crowned as the new champion. “By ze beard of Wotan, that was a struggle!” exclaimed the jubilant champ. “But I am very, very happy.”

CVG, Mean Machines Sega, Nintendo Magazine System, Sinclair User and The One were published by EMAP.   Scans were kindly provided by Mort at The Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Zero was published byDennis Publishing. Scans were kindly provided by Mort at The Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Amstrad Action was published byFuture Publishing.  Scans were kindly provided by mipeha.
• Commodore Format was published byFuture Publishing . Scans were kindly provided by Mort at The 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.
• Super Action was  published by Maverick Magazines. Scans were provided by Andynick at Magazines From the Past.
• N-Force and Sega Force  were  published by Europress Impact.  Scans were kindly provided by Mort at The Def Guide to Zzap!64.
• Sega Power was published by Future Publishing .
• Total! was published byFuture Publishing.  Scans were kindly provided by NES-bit.  
Mega Drive Advanced Gaming was published by Maverick Magazines.  The official release of issue two is available for digital download here at Out-of-Print Archive.
Mega was published byFuture Publishing.  Issue one digital downloads are available here at Out-of-Print Archive.
MegaTech was published by EMAP.

This was an Out-of-Print Archive feature presented by Nreive ofRetroaction magazinefame.  Special thanks to Andynick at Magazines From the Past for providing info and cover scans for several magazines this month. And special thanks to everyone for their kind words about the feature over the past couple of years.  Thank you and good bye...


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