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 Back in Time : January 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 January 1992 when there was no fewer than three new magazine launches this month, Another World was simply out of this world on the Amiga, two unlikely aliens called Toejam & Earl crash landed on the Mega Drive, Donald Duck also quacked his way onto the Mega Drive and Super Space Invaders invaded the 8-bit computers...

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The 27th issue of Zero claimed to have scooped an exclusive review of Another World on the Amiga. Taking centre stage – front cover and main review – the visually stunning adventure game from Delphine Software snatched a 90% along with a ‘Zero Hero’ accolade. In an amusing multiple explanation review for newbies, gamers in the know and experts, Duncan McDonald enthused about the game’s qualities throughout. “There’s an element of exploration but a lot of the game is learnt in little chunks which you’re forced to repeat over and over again, till you get them exactly right. Still, I’m being snotty, whingeing about a game which is really rather special. I’m a git and I ought to keep my mouth shut. Another World is brill.”

Heimdall arrived on the Amiga, much to Duncan’s delight and subsequently gave the RPG game  a 92% rating. “Heimdall shows that RPGs don’t have to be boring,” commented Dunc, “it takes the genre and puts it on a shelf where it’s accessible to everybody. Right, have you got a ‘Games I must buy’ list handy? Yes? Well, put this one on it then.”

Other games of note included Spellcaster 201 (PC, 90%), Smash TV (Amiga, 88%), Birds of Prey (Amiga, 90%), Epic (Atari ST, 89%), Alien Breed (Amiga, 91%), Mike Dikta’s Ultimate Football (PC, 90%), Tony La Russa’s Ultimate Baseball (PC, 89%) and RoboCop 3 (Amiga, 91%).

Riding high in the PC charts was Lemmings, followed by Shadow Sorceror and Winter Challenge. Top Atari ST game was Mega Lo Mania, with Smash TV and Cruise For A Corpse in at second and third place respectively. The Amiga chart was topped by Lotus Challenge II, with Mega Lo Mania and Alien Breed not too far behind.

In ‘By the Fireside with Archer McLean’, the Zero team proceeded to give a pop star style questions interview  in the style of teenage girls magazine, Just Seventeen, to, erm, Archer McLean. Favourite household chore, apart from keeping the girlfriend occupied, included maintaining his Robotron arcade machine in working order. After finding that this pop star questioning wasn’t quite working out, Archer was relieved to get talking about Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker.

With 1991 at an end, the Zero team looked back at their favourite games of the year. David Wilson, Paul Lakin and Amaya Lopez all chose Populous 2 as their top pick, while Duncan McDonald went for Chuck Yeager’s Air Combat and Rich Pelley went for First Samurai.

Another World
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CVG122

It was inevitable that there would eventually be a UK magazine dedicated to Nintendo gaming and Total! was first to provide gamers in depth coverage of the NES and Game Boy. Produced by the duo of Steve ‘Misery Guts’ Jarrett and Andy ‘Thicky’ Dyer – who apparently do all the editorial work themselves – the magazine was certainly different. Total! was, how could we put it, a little on the childish side, what with cartoon caricatures of the reviewers throughout and over the top ratings. It certainly was a far cry from Steve Jarret’s most successful magazine launches ever – that being with the well-respected Edge in just over a year’s time.

Hot news was the Super NES was coming to the UK. According to Bandai, who distributed Nintendo gaming machines in the UK, the Super NES would arrive in British stores in late April or early May. Unfortunately, especially for Nintendo fans eager to get their hands on the 16-bit Nintendo machine, it didn’t quite pan out like that though.

Setting the standard for highest rated game with 98% was Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES. Steve’s caricature jumped for joy on the final page of the review as the near perfect ratings came in. “Super Mario Bros. 3 is utterly, utterly superb,” enthused Steve. “The graphics and sound are brilliant and the size of the quest is mind-boggling (Andy remains boggled to this day). If SMB3 got jammed in my NES and I could never play another game, I really wouldn’t care.”

A more realistic rating of 92% went to Solar Jetman on the NES. “Without going into boring details Solar Jetman (Hunt For The Golden Warship) is stuffed to the gills with things to do,” stated Steve. “There are heaps of objects to collect, oodles of baddies to blast and quite a few surprises along the way. The mission is so vast you could be at it for weeks, but then it’s so incredibly playable you won’t mind doing just that!”

Solstice, a neat looking arcade adventure from Software Creations, racked up an equally impressive 90%. “Words alone can’t express how wonderful the graphics are so you’ll just have to look at the screenshots,” explained Andy, “Graphics alone do not make a good game, but fortunately this one has masses of gameplay too. Stunning in every respect but one: there’s no password or save option. So if you’re gonna complete it you have to do it in one go. But then, if any game is going to make you want to complete it, it’s this one.”

Other quality NES games getting coverage in the reviews pages were Battle of Olympus (92%), Snake Rattle N Roll (90%), Boulder Dash (90%) and Gauntlet II (88%), while Game Boy games gathering top ratings included F-1 Race (88%), Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (91%), R-Type (86%), Super Mario Land (94%), Super RC Pro-Am (87%), Revenge of the Gator (85%), Golf (92%), Tennis (95%), Castlevania Adventure (89%), King of the Zoo (87%) and The Chess Master (90%).

Solstice
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Crash 95

Commodore Format’s Power Pack covertape number 16 featured a full version of Graphic Adventure Creator – now gamers could create their very own C64 adventure games. Also on the covertape were complete games of Head the Ball and Mission Impossabubble, as well as playable demos of First Samurai and Creatures II. Topping the Commodore 64 charts was Terminator 2 with Rugby: The World Cup and Speedball 2 in second and third place respectively.

Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and the British Bulldog slam dunked onto the Commodore 64 with a ‘Corker’ and 91%. “I’m having a bit of a hard time finding fault with WWF,” admitted Mark Ramshaw. “It’s really well put together. WWF is just a torrid, mindless celebration of muscles, macho rubbish and pantomine violence. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.”

Super Space Invaders finally invaded the C64. The classic gameplay still remained, but updated for the 1990s. “I liked a lot of things about Super Space Invaders and there’s not much about that I didn’t like,” stated Linda Barker. “But what if you don’t want the guilt of buying a game when there are presents to buy for everyone else? How about dropping the words, ‘I want Super Space Invaders’ into everything you say from now till Christmas.”

Other C64 games within ‘Corker’ distance were The Blues Brothers (90%) and The Simpsons (90%). The CF’s All Time Top Ten Essential Games feature looked at the, erm, all time top ten essential games on the C64. Included in the list were classics such as Chip’s Challenge, Rainbow Islands, Smash TV, Uridium, Creatures and Paradroid.

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Crash 95

Great news within issue 9 of Amiga Power: New videogames television show, Games Master, was set to launch on 7th January 1992. The magazine style TV show would feature reviews, news, celebrity challenges, familiar gaming journos, golden joysticks and much more.

As usual, the Amiga Power team were being pretty reserved when it came to handing out praise. One game did seem to take the team by surprise and that was the FRP/Strategy/Action game, Celtic Legends, from Ubi Soft. Giving the game a respectable 89%, Karl Foster stated that the game “looks good, has plenty of action and there are numerous ways to win each fracas, be it a simple punch up on the tactical screen or a long-range action plan over a w hole island. Rather surprisingly, it proves to be absolutely fab.”

Another strategy game, Realms, grabbed the next highest rating of the month with 84%. “I like Realms a lot,” commented Karl, “and (to be honest) I wasn’t too sure if I would at first. The game’s underlying design philosophy is well sorted, the battle scenes (at least) will appeal to most open minded games players, while the forthcoming extra data disks make it a good long-term bet for any budding imperialist.” Just missing the mark of high ratings were Birds of Prey (81%), Bonanza Bros (81), Fuzzball (80%), Oh No! More Lemmings (82%) and Smash TV (81%).

In Magic and Mystery Tour, Mark Ramshaw looked into the growing popular gaming genre of role-playing, including the likes of Ultima VI, Might & Magic III, Legend and Black Crypt. With the end of 1991, it was Amiga Power’s turn to look back at the year’s highlights. Matt Bielby mentioned The Secret of Monkey Island as a highlight, Colin Campbell commented on Knights of the Sky and Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker. In Darlings, Code Masters’ main men, Richard and David Darling, gave their views on the state of the current gaming scene.

Celtic Legends
Celtic Legends


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Sega Power 26

With the Newsfield team back in business - albeit under the name Europress Impact - they could now launch their promised Sega magazine, Sega Force. Former Zzap!64 stalwarts, Stuart Wynne and Phil King, headed the new editorial team, which included Warren Lapworth, Adrian Pitt and Ian Osborne. With those names within the team, it’s easy to see why Sega Force had been affectionately known as the Zzap!64 mag for Sega gamers.

The first game to get the Force review treatment, and a ‘Sega Force Mega Blaster’ accolade was Quackshot with an overall rating of 93%. “There isn’t anything really new as far as the platform/shoot-‘em-up parts go,” explained Marshal M. Rosenthal, “but being able to jump between locations, and having to work at getting to that treasure by thinking makes a difference in the gameplay to the better. This, combined with the excellent animation and graphics make it a killer game for platform fans.”

Speedball 2, the classic futuristic sports game from The Bitmap Brothers, made its belated appearance on the Mega Drive, scoring a ‘Sega Force Mega Blaster’ accolade with 90%. “Speedball 2 was a massive hit on the Amiga and this superb conversion should see Mega Drivers hip-deep in blood too,” commented Stuart. While Phil noted that with a “tactical aspect” the “game isn’t quite as mindless as if first seems.”

Those wacky alien dudes, Toejam & Earl, crash landed on the Mega Drive with their very own game. A superb co-op two player option takes this action adventure to all new heights. “Toejam & Earl is a very weird game,” commented Mark Caswell. “The graphics are bright and vibrant, with the ice cool duo strutting their funky stuff in some of the most rib-tickling escapades since DR and Quinch hit Earth.”

Other games that met with the Sega Force seal of approval included Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System, 95%), Shadow of the Beast (Master System, 90%), John Madden Football ’92 (Mega Drive, 94%), Super Kick Off (Master System, 90%), F22 Interceptor (Mega Drive, 90%), Sega Chess (Master System, 93%) and Shining in the Darkness (Mega Drive, 90%).

Speedball 2
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Notes:
• C+VG, Mean Machines, The One for Amiga Games 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, Crash 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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