Let's Read : GamePro #1
Phillyman requested that I do this one next, so that's where I'm going. If this isn't where you wanted me to go, then you've only yourself to blame as nobody else spoke up. So tell me what you want me to do next with a PM or a comment, otherwise I'll start picking things myself and you'll just have to suffer anyway. Make it easy on yourselves.
So it's been roughly a year since Nintendo Power launched, and someone else out there decided it was time for another console gaming mag to enter the fray. Welcome GamePro, which is not a house organ like the big NP but rather an independant third-party devoted to coverage of Nintendo plus Sega and Atari, Nintendo's two closest "competitors". Even at this early date, GamePro's reviews and content are almost all written by people using pseudonyms; some choose actual code-names like "The Eliminator" while others simply go by initials like "B.A.J.". Growing pains are a long-time coming; at this point, they're just trying to see if they can survive side-by-side with Nintendo Power.
Amusingly, the first thing one sees upon opening the cover is an ad for another magazine: The Atarian. For a mere $15, you can get a six-issue subscription to the magazine, a t-shirt, a sew-on patch, and a laminated ID card. If you've thrown your weight behind Atari in the console "war" this generation and were a die-hard supporter of the 7800, this ad was for you. Everyone else just chuckled and turned the page...
...to see another ad. To someone who had read Nintendo Power exclusively for the last year, this was positively shocking because Nintendo Power didn't feature ads (mostly because it was nothing more than one enormous 100+ page ad itself). GamePro, however, wasn't backed by Nintendo's financial might and thus required revenue from outside sources. Not only is GamePro's page count smaller than Nintendo Power, but it has less content overall thanks to all the ad space. A subscription to GamePro is $19.00 for six issues (if you live outside the US, add another $6.00), which is only $2 less than paying the full cover price for a full year. Nintendo Power is a better deal at this point unless you're a die-hard Sega Master System owner.
Welcome to GamePro! crows Editor-in-Chief Don Ferrell. Don claims that their approach is "not to bore you" with long-winded articles about stuff players aren't interested in, which is likely a vague poke at Nintendo Power and it's Player Profiles, Top 30, and other non-game-related stuff, but follows this up by saying that, oh yeah, occasionally we'll write a long article about something too, but it's OK because we'll be cool about it. Pick a side of the fence and sit on it, Don.
The Cutting Edge - Right off the bat, it's Nintendo lovin' as GamePro takes a look at the Power Glove and U-Force peripherals, touting them as the future of video game interaction. "Say goodbye to button pushing," it says of the Power Glove, "and say hello to the future!" I think we all know how that turned out...
Then, we get a reminder that you too can Subscribe to GamePro Magazine. Get a friend to subscribe too, and we'll toss in this Super Poster, a $4.95 value. Anybody here have this to scan for the site?
Despite Don's promise in the opening editorial, the very next section is Personality ProFile, a two-page spread introducing Alan Fetzer, and what he does for Taito Software up in Vancouver. They're gearing up to release "Operation: Wolf" on the home computer and the NES, they're working on a sequel to "Renegade" (this will wind up being "River City Ransom," one of my favorite NES games of all time), and they're watching Atari to see how they fare against Nintendo with their lawsuit (Nintendo wins in 1992). The "still untitled" adventure game mentioned in the article is probably "Demon Sword" for the NES, which released in 1990. Not a bad article, especially considering it's interesting to read some twenty years later. I didn't know who this guy was prior to this...did anybody else?
Hot at the Arcades - We've got mini-reviews with one screenshot each of "Double Dragon II", "N.A.R.C.", and "Power Drift". Nothing groundbreaking here, and if you were into arcade games, you were probably already aware that these games existed because you saw them at...wait for it...your local arcade. Amusing side-note - check the snapshots for N.A.R.C. and Double Dragon II and look at the screens. 0 Credits on DD2, and Insert Coin on N.A.R.C. Really...? You couldn't have donated a quarter to actually play the games instead of just taking pictures of hands posed on the controls while the demo looped? We'll see how long this section lasts, as arcades are already starting to decline, and will get hit even harder over the next few years.
Nintendo ProView starts off with a look at the newly-released "Operation: Wolf" for the NES. Tears well up in your eyes as you read GamePro's very first ProTip: "Never attack a group of enemies when there's a hostage among them...you might injure yourself!" *sigh* You know, there's a reason people still make fun of these to this day... At least GP is consistent with the level of mediocrity of their ProTips through the life-cycle of the magazine. One day, I'll collect every single ProTip ever published in GamePro and release them on the Internet as a reference for when you need a good chuckle. We follow this with a look at "Adventures of Lolo", "Bubble Bobble", and "Adventure Island".
We move on to Sega ProView, which reviews "Shinobi" and "R-Type" for the Master System. While the R-Type ProTips at least make sense mostly, the ones for Shinobi are of the Captain Obvious variety, and somebody fails as an editor for not catching what is either an atrocious usage of grammar or else just a couple of missing words, but it's the premiere issue, so slack is warranted.
Atari ProView discusses "Desert Falcon" and "Mario Bros.", both for the 7800. Premiere issue or not, the author of the "Mario Bros." article deserves to have his gaming bits violently torn off and burnt in a public spectacle for claiming Mario and Luigi are carpenters ("Paging Captain Obvious from the ProTips, please...").
Ah, GamePro's answer to Nintendo Power's "Classified Information" column follows the reviews, with Secret Weapons. While I applaud them for giving some hints to a bunch of games, I still have to dock them a few points for pulling many of their NES tips directly from the first issue of Nintendo Power. Looted are the Konami code for "Contra", the second world circuit password for "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!", the ZELDA code for "Legend of Zelda", and the no-goalies code from "Ice Hockey". Also, a screenshot for "Jackal" winds up in the "Contra" section for reasons that we cannot fathom, as the Konami Code doesn't work on it. Plenty of other tips, passwords and secrets for the three systems, though, so they're at least not just playing cut-and-paste.
Overseas ProSpects debuts, with a look at what is probably the most anticipated video game in the world (outside of Japan, where they were already playing it), Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES. A really good article, though a bit jarring to read since they use the Japanese spelling of "Kuppa" instead of the Americanized "Koopa" that I'm more used to seeing (both are pronounced virtually the same way, so it's just a style thing; GamePro isn't wrong).
ProNews Report is next, with a look at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), now known as E3 in this day and age. Note: it's "Atari" not "Atarii", guys. Some good pictures, news that Nintendo is planning to release 40 new games next year, Sega's got 20 coming, and Atari is...unaccounted for. Not surprising, considering at this point, Jack Tramiel is focusing all his energy on the computer market and completely missing the boat where home consoles are concerned.
Short ProShots is a preview section of sorts giving readers a look at upcoming games for their systems. There are too many to name off, but highlights include "Megaman II", "The Guardian Legend", "Bad Dudes", "Shadowgate", "Guerilla War", and "Ninja Gaiden" for the NES, and "After Burner", "Altered Beast", and "Galaxy Force" from Sega.
ProArtist Series - A contest for budding artists to showcase their talent by sending in pictures based on a theme. This time, it's "Villains." Prizes are $100, $50, and a Super Poster. Not a bad way to earn some moolah if you can draw a straight line.
ProChallenge Board - Because what magazine is complete without some way of boasting of your accomplishments? This month, it's nearly all challenges set down by GamePro or scores achieved by staff themselves. Submit your scores via photograph or videotape. Hilariously, they allow secret power-ups, but warn that using slow motion while playing is discouraged (because you can tell it was used from the photo of a high score, right...?).
We close the magazine with a look at what's coming next month. For my money, the look at "Super Dodge Ball" alone would have made it worth buying. All in all, not a bad run for the first issue of what would go on to become one of the biggest names in gaming magazines within the next decade. Still some glitches to iron out, but you can see the potential is right there for the tapping. No better time to be alive in gaming history than right here, ladies and gentlemen, and that's the truth.