ISSUES 5, including PHLEGM

JUL 1993 TO JAN 1996

Jess Ragan

Chris Dyer, Bill Fasick, Sean Kelly, Josh Lesnick, Brian Pacula, Russ Perry, Jr., Pat Reynolds, Edward Villalpando


Review by Jess Ragan

Most Vectrex owners aren't particularly fond of this translation of Stern's not-so-amazing coin-op, but aside from the intense slowdown and sorely missed voice (hey, Spike had it!), you have to admit that the programmer did as much as he could with the system hardware, which in all honesty is not suited to this kind of game. The gameplay is for the most part intact, so there's plenty of bot-blastin' good times for those of you who can tolerate the unfair character placement (I mean, is it me, or is appearing RIGHT NEXT to a mech at the beginning of a round just a tad unconducive to your health?), oddly constructed mazes (you'll sometimes find robots that are contained within impenetrable boxes), and Berzerk's other classic flaws in addition to some weird glitches that occur at the beginning of and during some games. If any of the above shortcomings sound like a big turn-off to you, however, it's safe to pass this by.

DEFENSE: OK conversion, considering that a game like this lends itself as well to the Vectrex as Pilotwings would the Genesis.
PROSECUTION: NO VOICE!? Also, the slowdown is an annoyance and Berzerk wasn't that good to begin with, even in arcades.
VERDICT?: If you've gotta have Berzerk, and don't own a 5200 or ColecoVision, here y'go.

Clean Sweep
Review by Jess Ragan

You've heard of the soup that eats like a meal, right? Well, as you may have guessed, Clean Sweep stars the vacuum cleaner that eats like a Pac-Man. Yup, it's a clone of Namco's classic muncher, but seeing as every OTHER game system of the time had at least one, we'll forgive GCE for that. Come to think of it, compared to some of the worst games in the genre (like Cat Trax for the Emerson Arcadia... whew!), Clean Sweep shines, with clean (if very stark) graphics and play mechanics which are if nothing else solid.

Problem is, there really isn't much else that Clean Sweep has to offer. Although everything runs smoothly enough, a vacuum cleaner just doesn't have the personality to compete with the likes of the big yellow one, or even the less established eating machines of the early 80's, like Phillips' KC Munchkin. And what new play mechanics there are in Clean Sweep often contribute more to the frustration factor of the title than its originality... like the "dump off" feature, for instance. I mean, Pac-Man clones make a guy feel helpless enough, given the fact that your character is on the run for the majority of the game, but when you're saddled with a limited capacity as well and must periodically empty your contents in the center of the screen, and there's a small militia of renegade pincers from Tempest swarming your home base, well...

Long story short. Clean Sweep is a fair Pac-Man derivitive, and it's the only game of its type on the Vectrex, but there are a lot of raster scan systems that will serve you better in this respect. You're better off with one of the Vectrex's many Asteroids knock-offs.

DEFENSE: Clean graphics. The pincers look menacing, and the digestion animation (where characters actually shrink and disappear) is imaginative. Servicible control.
PROSECUTION: Very plain-looking maze. The Vectrex isn't really suited for this kind of game. Gets boring quickly as there's not much variety.
VERDICT?: You won't hate it; you won't like it. Pretty much average in all respects.

Review by Jess Ragan

I've said it before, and I'll say it again... there's no false advertising here! Not only does the title adequately describe what few play mechanics this sad Asteroids clone has, it's also a perfect description of how anyone with the misfortune to cross paths with this debacle feels- ripped off. The object is simple- as the pilot of the U.S.S. Carnie Wilson (easily the largest and most unattractive ship in the Vectrex hangar), your mission, should you decide to accept it (do yourself a favor and don't), is to protect a small cache of indescript triangles from the clutches of a horde of unrelenting space pirates, who as luck would have it are piloting some equally crappy spacecrafts (look closely and I swear you'll find the words "Made in Taiwan" etched in phosphors on some of them). As they arrive to snatch away your inexplicably precious booty, blow 'em away, and continue to do so until the next round (where things get tougher) or you literally die of boredom, whatever comes first (more than likely the latter).

As Josh Lesnick would say, "Let's look at the good points... um, there." What's left is a terribly pointless space odyssey(2?), with a futile objective, no variety whatsoever, lame enemies, a lame title character, really lame visuals, and lame, well, everything else. Most definitely without hesitation the worst game bar none on the Vectrex.

DEFENSE: The defense rests.
VERDICT?: Never before has a video game been so aptly named.

Review by Jess Ragan

In one word, yuck. I don't know what toads the editors of Electronic Games were licking when they gave this an honorable mention for their best game of the year award in 1983, but the fact remains that this is about as far from the best of ANYTHING as a pinball game is going to get. Although the playfield layout is deceptively inviting, the ball itself ruins any enjoyment this game could possibly offer- it's jumpy, ugly, and has the physics of a deflated basketball. Almost as bad is the immense amount of slowdown and flicker present in Spinball- it's so bad that you'd swear you were watching a silent film from the 20's, with the flashing and clicking and all. In short, yuck.

DEFENSE: Cool scaling which begins every game. The playfield is filled with possibilities.
PROSECUTION: Horrid ball movement that ends most games quickly. Abysmal slowdown and flicker.
VERDICT?: Buy Midnight Magic for the 2600 instead.

Star Castle
Review by Jess Ragan

If you're not familiar with Star Castle, I'll spare you the long, painful description and say that this is the game that inspired Yar's Revenge for the 2600. Based on an ancient Cinematronics coin-op (OK, so I lied about the 'sparing you a long, painful description' part), your mission is to destroy the space tyrant which has ensconced itself in the center of the screen. Around it are three spinning walls which shield it from your attacks and can store heat-seeking electric charges which eventually detach themselves and hunt you down. If these walls are completely destroyed, the tyrant just creates new ones, so you've got to use strategy and carefully peck holes in its defense. Problem is, once you've done this, the tyrant gets to take potshots at you, and its fireballs are a force to be reckoned with... and a sharp contrast to your wimpy pellet fire! If you can manage to live through all this and take this tough customer out with a lucky shot, the castle collapses and its occupant perishes in a satisfying explosion, only to be replaced by a smarter and faster successor.

Well, anyways, to make a long story short, Star Castle is what you get when you cross Asteroids with Yar's Revenge, and it, like the latter game, is very addictive. The further you get down the lineage of space monarchs, the nastier things become, to the point where the electric charges can outrun you and the walls of the castle spin like some nuclear powered top on a rampage. You'll keep coming back for more, though... trust me. If you loved Yar's Revenge, you can't live without Star Castle.

DEFENSE: Addictive gameplay. No, make that totally immersive, grabs-you-and-won't-let-go, "Is it 3:00 AM already?!" gameplay.
PROSECUTION: Aiming could be more precise. Microbial characters.
VERDICT?: Leave me alone! Can't you see I'm busy playing this!?!

by Jess Ragan

System Experience: Genesis, Super NES
First Commercial Release: Global Gladiators (?)
Game Style: Bouncy but shallow side-scrolling platformers in which you must collect icons and find each level's exit
Famed Games: Cool Spot
Worst Games: Aladdin, I suppose
Sleepers: Global Gladiators, the first McDonald's game for the Genesis

Background: Dave Perry is the lead programmer at Virgin Interactive's UK headquarters. His Super Mario-esque game engine has gotten accolades from the professional magazines as well as some fan-eds, although it appears to have been reused once too often.

Miscellaneous: Often teamed with musician and sound artist Tommy Tallarico

Dave Perry has become famous for his work on such games as Global Gladiators, Cool Spot, and Aladdin, but has he gone overboard in promoting the recycling theme of Gladiators by refusing to retire his very basic "head to the right and blast enemies" game engine? This editor thinks so.

It can't be denied that this engine has brought us three reasonably impressive Genesis games, and that each one has its own unique look and imaginative obstacles, but graphics aside, Dave Perry's efforts are almost sickeningly similar, resulting in some rather redundant gaming. In fact, his last two releases even have a nearly identical hidden options screen, with his digitized grin gracing both. It doesn't look like Dave's about to retire his game engine any time soon (it's already been reused, AGAIN, in the soon to be released Jungle Book), but he should consider it... this repeat offender needs to try something NEW, and soon.

Jess-Piece Face,

OK... watch, I'm dropping it. {THUD} There.

Yeah, California's a great place to meet celebrities, if you're into that kind of thing. In Marin County alone, my immediate family and myself have spotted, tagged, and catalogued Bonnie Raitt, George Lucas, Jodie Foster, Sammy Hagar, Robin Williams, Huey Lewis (who contrary to popular belief did not whip out little Huey in Short Cuts), Bob Newhart, and probably some others I've forgotten. Some waitress friends of mine have apparently seen Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey at work, and John "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, I'm Making Millions Selling A Crappy Book" Gray lives here. Tiny Tim played a little club a few blocks from where I live. There was also a persistant rumor that Tom "I'm not gay!!!" Cruise had moved to Mill Valley. Oh, and my mother's attorney is friends with Green Day's attorney. My brother was just a few urinal stalls away from Clint Eastwood (absolutely true). As you can see, Marin is just plain crawling with famous people, but aside from Dave Berry and George Lucas, I've never met anyone I could give a flying fuck about. In general, I don't really like famous people... that's what happens when you read Spy magazine too often, I guess.

That brings me to another point... OJ isn't "not guilty" because America idolizes sports "heroes". He's "not guilty" because his talented lawyers successfully exploited a non-existant racial issue (if you've heard what happened when the cops arrived, you know there's not a way in hell Fuhrer-man could have planted evidence). Meanwhile, The Juice is valiantly trying to find the REAL killer, using the failsafe method of playing golf in Florida and hoping the balls hit the real killer on the head, thereby incapacitating him (odd that I'm listening to this while listening to a song called Bloody Night, Bloody Knife...). But hey, who cares. I just hope Paula Barbieri watches her back.

I'd better get going now. I have to go to Driver's Ed, and BOY is it a bitch. We're probably not going to get to see Red Asphalt, since the same stupid people keep holding up the class by asking stupid questions. I guess it's only partially their fault, since every inquiry sends the teacher into another long anecdote. THEN these people start bitching about what you can and can't get a ticket for, which is BEYOND stupid since there's no fucking way mewling about how unfair it is that one can get tickered for flicking lit cigarettes out a car window [WHAT? If they actually think that way, I don't think CIGARETTES are what they've been smoking lately... ed.]. Then yesterday, some dimbulb stole some Doritos from behind the cafeteria counter during a break, and when class resumed, the teacher reinforced the concept that STEALING IS WRONG (true) and that ratting on who stole the chips won't make you look like a complete asshole (not true). I wonder how much it's worth to the guy to stay in the class. I wonder if I can get a moment alone with him before class today. I wonder if he's ever been blackmailed before [contrary to popular belief, Brian Pacula, not fate, is a harsh mistress indeed... -ed.].

OK, bye. Remember, there's only one Paul Sharrar [donata? -ed.].

Brian Pacula

Not much I can add to that, except to say, er, uh... was your brother able to resist the temptation of saying something like "Draw, partner", or "Go ahead, make my bidet"? I guess the threat of having his winky shot off made clamming up all the easier...

(The Pathetically Hellish and Libelous Electronic Gaming Magazine)

by "Dead Semrad" (aka Jess Ragan)


Well, it's hardly a surprise, but those pathetic, supposedly "reputable" magazines that our competitiors publish are accusing us of being untrustworthy schmos who can't tell the difference between a joypad and a maxipad. Now, although I've had days where I've tried to plug a Kotex into my Super NES, we at PHLEGM take offense at being called untrustworthy. How dare they! Their calling us untrustworthy when THEY'RE the ones giving all of their reviews those little smiley faces is really ridiculous. Don't get me wrong; it's OK to give any advertiser high ratings in your reviews (after all, how could we exist without all those "company support funds"?), but we at PHLEGM actually WANTED those faces for ourselves! We tried to steal them a few years back, but GamePro hit us with a huge lawsuit. We tried to win the case by bringing in this crappy little fanzine that was using them just before our competitor did... Power Down? Power Out? It was something like that. Eventually we ended up having to settle out of court and Steve Harass lost the bucks for a new sports car (he was pissed about that! After all, he never plays video games for entertainment anymore...). Everything turned out all right, though- we robbed Video Games and Computer Entertainment of their tip rating system. But I digress...

My point is this: we're the biggest and worst game magazine out there! We have the exclusive right to usurp (did I use an intelligent word like that? OK, no more pepperoni pizza before bedtime...) any original ideas that our competitors come up with! After all, Video Games and Computer Entertainment has Chris Gore, and GamePro has Francis Mao, but we don't have ANY talent here at SenDIE Publications! Well, OK, Steve did build a new publishing firm and tax shelter, Pecker Publications, for Katz, Kunkel, and Worley, but those guys sold out to T*HQ just like we have! Where's the originality in that? If the other magazines have talented writers, why can't we take all of their ideas? Is that too much to ask?

Anyway, my point is- oh, I don't have a point. I'm incapable of cognitive thought! If you want reading with a point, get a fanzine! Who wants one of those, anyhow? Where are the pretty colors? The pretentious writing (well, there is that one with this big-nosed, gap-mouthed thing with no chin on the cover. What was that called?)? The bribe-infected reviews!? Believe me, they're just not worth your time. But WE are. You can trust us! Trust us, that is, to bring you the most self-indulgent, horrifically written, slovenly laid out diahrria you can find on a newsstand. Where else can you can entire columns specifically designed to waste your time? Entire magazines, even?! Unless you've got a subscription to Entertainment Weekly, you can't. That's why PHLEGM is the only magazine worth your while. Because Steve just can't buy another Ferrari without pathetic, money-wasting, use your brain for the sole use of skull filling little drool puppies like yourselves taking breaks from your Barney marathons to snag a copy of this tree-wasting filth. And just to make sure you don't absorb our nonsense without paying for it, we've hit the environment with a double whammy by polybagging our issues! HA!

Dead Semrad

by the PHLEGM Staff (actually, Jess Ragan)

Psycho Letter of the Month!


My doctor says I only have three weeks to live. Since my mom and dad ran out of money paying for my leukemia treatments, I couldn't afford a copy of PHLEGM, my favorite magazine. Could you guys do me a favor and send me a copy before I pass on? It would mean so much to me.

Billy Bathgate, Jr."

Oh, brother. Next, you're going to ask us for a kidney donation! Sheesh, kid, does it look like we're running some kind of charity here or something?! Well, sorry to ruin your last wish (Steve's gotta get his 14th sports car, you know!), but we WILL send you an Up Your Butt T-shirt!

Send us a letter like the one above, and you may win the Up Your Butt T-shirt!

by Quart-Turd Man (yep, Jess Ragan again)

Quart-turd Man Babbles Incessantly... Fast Cars and Faster Hands... Frisbees Don't Work in CD Systems... Kricfalusi Hit in the Pricfalusi... Other Game Mags Suck... Processed Meat Mania... By George, I Think He's Got My Game... On The Take... RUSSVision and Pornografx Take US by Storm... NAEGE-Rama...

Hello, freaky game farts, and welcome to the one and only (fortunately) Quart-turd Man's premiere gaming column, Not Much Gaming Gossip! As usual, I'm more than prepared to waste your time with my egotistical trappings and blithering nonsense while you desperately search for the one bit of information in this entire wasted page! So, without further ado, let's eat!...

Steve just got my shiny new Porsche, and, just like his readers, took me for a ride, and I must say that I was impressed. The steering was phenomenally smooth, the radio worked nicely, and that gear shift felt wonderful- almost sexual!- to the touch. Then I found out that it was an automatic... but editor Harass didn't seem to mind much. In fact, he's invited me on another trip!... I'm disappointed with the 3DO, I'm afraid. I've had it for four months now and it STILL won't take my laserdiscs! I've been robbed!...

I asked Ren and Stimpy for their autographs, but they told me that they were still getting over the little "alteration" Nickelodeon recently gave them. Hey, at least they had 'em to begin with... I never did... Not to spread lies, deceit, and hearsay (I'll leave that to the rest of the crew!), but I heard that a tame fan magazine came to Earth from a spaceship and is conducting scientific experiments on innocent young children! Arrest that man, officer!...

Lesnick! Don't you understand? I would never recommend Spam to our readers... they'd hurt themselves trying to think when they wanted to open to can!!!... In other news, some kid burst into our offices the instant he heard that Street Fighter II was coming to the Atari 2600 (yeah, right!). We tried to resist, but he brought along his secret weapon- another irritating young whelp who made our ears bleed with his whining and terrible attempts at wit. By the way, I LIKE watching fingernails grow. You got a problem with that?!...

Cliffhanger for the Super NES is looking to be an incredibly lame Double Dragon rip-o- oooh! Bucks! Thanks, Sony! As I was saying, Cliffhanger is an excellent Super NES fighting game with ingenious rock climbing scenes that would blow ANYONE away! Can't wait for Radio Flyer... By the way, whatever happened to that old arcade laserdisc game, Cliff Hanger? From what I've heard, it was first an anime' feature in Japan by the name of Castle of Cagliostro. Jeeeump!...

Well, those guys from the other magazines (we're too cowardly to mention who) seem to be running scared from the shadow of PHLEGM! They're improving their features and columns, and adding new, intelligent editors to their rosters. But don't worry, Dead, there'll always be work for you here!... Anybody have some peanuts?... Love your homebaked Buns, Fartin', but they look a little empty and meaningless. Mind if I fill 'em?... Even Mel Brooks can't top THIS much bathroom humor...

I've gotta watch that Chevy Chase show. Finally, someone on television as annoying and conceited as I am!... So, SenDIE claims to have fired the moron that put the "GamePro Sucks" message in the advertising supplement we'd disguised as actual reading material (then again, couldn't that be said for PHLEGM in general?). Then why is Steve still here?... I'm personally waiting for a RUSSVision version of Street Fighter 2, myself. Two powerful 4-bit processors! There'll be no rest for the wicked here when I get my hands on THAT!...

I'd recently tapped into a phone conversation between two of those blasted fan-eds I hate so much, and they'd gotten into a conversation about the now defunct NAEGE. I happen to have liked that idea, myself! After all, we're talking about a few power-hungry fossils who claim to represent the common gamer but refuse to allow them any say in their organization! How COULDN'T you love that idea? It's the SenDIE creedo!... By the way, kid, your Clinton impersonation bites the big gubernatorial...

The buzz over the new NEC Pornografx-69 is not unfounded. Packed with three 6502 8-bit processors, and a Z80A chip just to occupy space inside the system, this puppy roars with 512 colors out of an available 64,000, an ultra-high 1000x1000 resolution, and 69 sound channels specifically designed to simulate the satisfied yet anguished screams of an orgasm. Every game will carry an NC-17 rating, and best of all, 2600 licensees Mystique and Playaround have hopped aboard the Pornografx train with such titles as Custer's Revenge 2: Indian Summer and Beat 'Em and Eat 'Em Again: Butt Pack Man. Sadly, the 5MHz processor speed is underwhelming, but who's going to mind slowdown here?... Later, Quart-turd goons!


by... OK, no use pretending.  It's Jess Ragan again


We've had an interesting month here at PHLEGM. Aside from the molotov cocktails, letter bombs, hate mail, drive-by shootings, and innumerable threats that Steve Harass and the rest of the staff have had to endure (if you want Quart-turd Man's head, why don't you just say so?), we've explored the expanses of the U.S. and beyond to discover several new and exciting systems that we'll shove down your throats for the next two years to ensure that you'll either buy them or explode in a fit of rage! And here they aren't...


Word has it from Nintendo HQ that the creators of Mario are indeed planning to produce the Nintendo Compact Disc system. Named the "Better Than Sega ND Drive", it is planned to be released for $13.95, and will be supported with such titles as "Super Mario Sonic Sucks Solar System", "Zelda Where Are Sega's RPGs, Anyhow 4", and "StarFox Plus There's No SFX Chip In Genesis Cartridges". We asked Tom Kalinske, Sega product spokesman, about this development, to which he replied, "Yo, that's lame-o to the extreme-o, homey! Who cares what Nintendo be comin' out wit, anyhow? We be cool! That's all that matters, Jack!!!". Nintendo insists that the names of their upcoming products have nothing to do with bashing its competition, citing them as "merely clever titles with no underlying motive." We'll report on the ND drive in future issues of PHLEGM in the future.


Relying heavily on their ad slogan "Because UP Is The Way You Want To Go", NEC is producing their newest, most unique system yet... the Pornografx-69. Packed into this revolutionary console are three 6502 processors, each capable of performing amazing feats (and we're not just talking about scaling and rotation here!), as well as a Z80A chip that, according to NEC representatives, "was accidentally put in there by several now-fired designers who were drunk out of their minds." Along with the included phallic Pornosticks, one can purchase any of sixteen seperate peripherals, including the Power Condom, Orgy Tap, and Masturbator, all add-ons too explicit to describe in any kind of detail here. And the planned pack-in games? NEC is currently debating this issue at this very minute. We're personally hoping for Street Fuc


With so many powerful game systems on the shelves and in the works, sometimes, you wish you could return to those simpler days, when Pong was considered state of the art. Now you can, with the revolutionary de-evolutionary new RUSSVision console by newcomers PerryCo. What's amazing about this system is what isn't, and with that in mind, this could be one of the most jaw-dropping pieces of hardware ever. Powered by two 4-bit processors (reportedly the kind found in such appliances as microwave ovens, toasters, and the IBM PC Jr. line of computers), the RUSSVision holds its own against other dissimilar systems with an 80x80 resolution, utilizing six colors from a total of, well, six! Puzzle games are reportedly this system's lifeblood, with the included software being a multiple game cart including such classics as Nine Men's Morris, Fox and Geese, and Remove the Peg. Company CEO, Chairman, Founder, Hardware Designer, Software Designer, and Solderer Russ Perry, Jr. asks only this of potential customers- "Hey, if you come across anyone with a busted Game Gear... I'd offer a couple bucks for them...". To keep it competitive with other game systems, the price of a RUSSVision will likely be around three cents.


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