FALL 1993 TO ...?

Chris Kohler

Al Riccitelli, Jr., Matt DelGiudice, Matthew Wensing, Jess Ragan

Secret of Evermore
Super NES
Square of America
Review by Chris Kohler

I'll tell you what, my respect for Square of America has been on a steady decline from the get-go. First, they didn't translate Final Fantasy II and III for the NES. No biggie. Then, they pass on literally tons of other Square RPGs: Final Fantasy V, Seiken Densetsu 3, Romancing Sa-Gas 1, 2, and 3, Live A Live, Front Missions 1 and 2... the list goes on and on. And as if it weren't enough for Square to completely ignore these great games, they add insult to injury by developing this piece of crap.

Secret of Evermore proves this if nothing else: It truly is possible to take a great game and fuck it up beyond all recognition. I got Evermore for Christmas and I'm STILL fumbling with the way-out-there menu control... I don't remember having this problem with Secret of Mana. The Final Fantasy series' select and cancel buttons haven't been used here, either. The whole system is too hard to understand... more than once I've used an item I wanted to save just trying to leave a menu.

Secret of Evermore uses the Mana engine... maybe if Square of America had started from scratch, the game wouldn't have sucked so damn much. However, while Secret of Mana was actually GOOD, Evermore just takes its basic gameplay and screws it to pieces. Let me elaborate: there is only ONE CHARACTER. You play as an unnamed boy and his dog: however, the dog isn't a player character, and if the boy dies but not the dog, you still lose the game. DUUU-H. At least Mana had three independant player characters.

Magic points have been replaced by a really dumb alchemy system in which you buy items and mix them together to create spells. This would be ingenious if it hadn't already been done in Final Fantasy V.

What I really want to say is that you should definitely not buy this game. Square of America obviously thought it was a good idea to bypass the incredibly awesome Seiken Densetsu 3 for this home-grown experiment. Here's my advice: take the money you were going to use to buy this and order Final Fantasy V from an importer instead. It's a lot better and it's money Suckquare of America will never see.

FX Fighter
IBM PC (486 or better)
Review by Chris Kohler

Now, I'm beginning to wonder why I'm devoting a whole page to a game which I just don't like. It's baffling, but then again, so was "not guilty".

I'm sure you all know what kind of game FX Fighter is, but here's some background info: FXF was originally designed by Argonaut Software for the Super NES, and it was to be the third FX chip game, hence the title. However, after development, Argonaut (the inventors of both the chip and Star Fox) decided that the Super NES was not suited for 3D polygonal fighters (no shit) and made the amazingly unintelligent move to the IBM PC, a platform even less suited to 3D polygonal fighters. What they wound up with was a game that sold so poorly it was picked up by a CD-ROM "salvage" company and repriced at a much more realistic $10. This is one of the main reasons why I'm writing this: so you can save yourself from wasting the $10.

FX Fighter really wants to be Virtua Fighter. Unfortunately, even on the high detail mode (texture mapping, mostly), the characters are UGLY. I mean, they look like garbage. Plus, the game runs so slowly on high detail that you're forced to turn it off and play the game on low detail if you want any kind of action whatsoever. However, the game on low detail has (you guessed it!) terrible graphics, and reveals that each character is made up of maybe 25 polygons.

But here I am, telling you about polygon count and detail options when I haven't even summarized the game! Here's the plot: eight losers get together and try to fight this end boss named Bob. Everybody gets blown up and dies.

The fighting itself is a joke. There are tons of special moves, but you can't use them because the instruction booklet doesn't list them and doesn't even give a clue as to how they're done. Oh, and there's only one punch and one kick button, and jumping is in that crappy-ass Virtua Fighter "let's float for five minutes and fall off the edge" style. And this is from the people who gave us STAR FOX and the SUPER FX CHIP!

Oh, but you don't actually need the special moves! Heavens, no! All you do is hold down the D-pad (or keys) and whack punch like an idiot until your opponent falls off the edge of the playfield. There's fighting action for you. I had to play like this sometimes because the camera zooms and pans are so shitty that you can't see a damned thing.

Overall, I found FX Fighter to be a very large piece of ca-ca. It's about five bucks worth of entertainment. Thank you, Argonaut, for feeding the already bloated PC market with even more crap.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Williams Entertainment
Review by Jess Ragan

OK, I've played this game for nearly an hour and a half, losing match after match after miserable match to such inspired characters as a riot cop who look suspiciously like Dauber from the sitcom Coach, a porn star who joined the armed forces, Patrick Stewart's evil twin, what could be the world's most stereotypical martial artist, and a rainbow of nearly identical ninjas and robots. But after struggling for so long to reach the end of the game, only to be roadblocked by a sadistic Endurance Round which forces you to fight two cheap bastards with one steadily dwindling energy bar, I've come to the conclusion that the only way I can win is to prevent other gamers from wasting their time and money on this slapped together piece of doo.

It's simple, folks. If you've played the first Mortal Kombat 3 for the Genesis, you've already played this. Literally. Don't get me wrong... MK3 was a fine game in its own right. I mean, sure, digitized fighting games and the Genesis' limited color palette go together like filet mignon and spray cheese, but Williams nevertheless did a much better job with MK3 than Acclaim had with the previous two games in the series. Still, there were many, many flaws in Mortal Kombat 3 that could easily have been fixed in an update, and I regret to say that Ultimate Morons in Kombat 3 isn't that update.

Take, for instance, the barely passable backgrounds from Mortal Kombat 3. Williams had the perfect opportunity to improve them for the game's rerelease, but they chose instead to sit on their hands, leaving Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3's artwork just as grainy and unprofessional as its predecessor's. After all, why bother putting any extra effort into a prefunctory release for a doomed game system? Never mind the fact that the Genesis obliterated Nintendo's stranglehold on the gaming industry, paving the way for cutting edge game systems like the 3DO and Playstation...

So, with nearly identical graphics, sound effects, and music, what justifies the "Ultimate" in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3? Nothing, I say. But what's that? You say the game has eight more characters than Mortal Kombat 3? Well, let's add 'em up, shall we? We have Sub-Zero, Sub-Zero in red, Sub-Zero in deep blue, a lemon yellow Sub-Zero, Sub-Zero in a lovely shade of green, Sub-Zero in jet black, and of course, the original Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat 2. So that's one. We also have three varieties of female ninja (that's two...), three robot ninjas (that's three...), and ten characters which I'll generously consider seperate entities (despite the fact that every Kombatant in the game is given the same basic moves). That gives us a grand total of thirteen ORIGINAL characters, which is of course just one more than the number of fighters in Street Fighter 2: Special Championship Edition and three less than the headcount in Super Street Fighter 2 (and for the record, both are far better games).

This brings us to the game's Achille's Heel... its ultimate flaw, if you will. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is just too damned hard. Don't misunderstand me... it's not hard in the sense that it offers you a legitimate challenge. UMK3's got that "there's no way in hell you'll reach the last boss because the skill levels don't do jack and the CPU mercilessly counters every damned thing you do" kind of difficulty that made both the arcade and Super NES versions of The Art of Fighting so distasteful. You don't know the meaning of the word "frustration" until you step into the ring with a CPU-controlled Jade. She's practically worthless as a player character, but the computer uses her short-term invincibility with such skill that she's all but impossible to defeat with a projectile-reliant fighter like Sub-Zero or one of his many clones. And if that weren't enough, Williams was "kind" enough to bring back the Endurance Rounds which made the first Mortal Kombat such a pain in the ass. Woohoo.

To recap: I can only recommend this game to you maschocists out there who own no Mortal Kombat games and one game system, the Genesis. Even then, you could save yourself a lot of money and just buy Mortal Kombat 3... "new" (cough) characters and backgrounds aside, the games are nearly identical, and MK3 even has one fighter that's conspicuously absent in the update, Goro's four-armed mistress Sheeva. Even better: forget about Mortal Kombat entirely and buy a game like Fatal Fury 2 for the Genesis or Street Fighter Alpha 2 for the Super NES.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Konami Industry, Ltd.
Review by Chris Kohler

With this issue's reviews of Mischief Makers, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Wild Arms, and this game, it would seem that we are experiencing a resurgence of 2D games on next generation systems. We aren't. I'm just buying all of them.

Actually, it's quite remarkable that Capcom and now Konami have been able to bring so many 2D games over to the States, given Sony's previously immovable stance against anything 2D. Finally, we get to reap the benefits of common sense in the form of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Now, I've never been what you'd call a Castlevania fan. While I've played all of the NES games, I've never really been good enough at them to enjoy them. But, while I was playing Final Fantasy VII, I decided I wanted another Playstation game, and with all the attention it had been getting, Symphony of the Night seemed like a good choice. It was.

The sequel to the PC Engine's Dracula X (and for that matter, the watered-down Super NES version), Symphony takes place five years after the events of Dracula X. Richter Belmont has disappeared after defeating Count Dracula, and Maria Renard, his young female companion from Dracula X, goes looking for him and finds Castlevania.

No, you DON'T get to play as her. Instead, Dracula's son Alucard (you know, I think I'll name my kid Sirhc) awakes from his coffin and enters Castlevania to find out what woke him.

The rest of the game is pure Castlevania, with a twist. Rather than forcing you to explore level by level like in the previous games, Symphony allows you full access of the entire castle for the entire game. As you enter certain areas, you must fight bosses; to enter others, you must find the appropriate power items (but I'll get to all that later).

I don't know if I even have to mention this, but Symphony has jaw-dropping, eyes-bulging, freaking awesome graphics. The character animation is astounding (Alucard moves with incredible fluidity), the backgrounds are surreal, the enemies detailed and the bosses frightening. Visually perfect. You'll cry.

And, on the subject of graphics, this seems like a good time to mention that this is the first fully uncensored American Castlevania game. Besides the many religious symbols in the game's chapel, there are statues of naked people comprising all the major genders, nude animated female enemies, and lots of other good artistic stuff, including corpses and sprays of blood (naked people and blood. Those Japanese really know how to have a good time.).

The music is just as good. From the haunting refrains of the chant in the opening to the Gothic organ music within the castle walls to the credits theme (an original song, with vocals), the music never fails to entertain. As an added bonus, put the CD in your CD player and play track two. You'll hear Alucard admonish you for putting a Playstation CD in your CD player, followed by a souped-up rendition of the game's opening track. Nice. As an extra special added bonus, if you pre-ordered the game, you got a book of Castlevania artwork and a soundtrack CD. If you stick the book into your CD player, you'll probably break it, but if you put the soundtrack CD in, you'll get a fantastic collection of highlights from the 8-bit and 16-bit Castlevania games. Not bad for free.

Back to the game. Since you are allowed to freely explore the castle, you can probably guess what the biggest change is to the Castlevania game engine. That's right. The genre has been changed from "action" to "adventure bordering on action/RPG". Alucard can equip all kinds of different weapons and armor, as well as use special relics to activate different powers (the first you'll find, the Cube of Zoe, lets you get items out of candles). He can call special familiars (ala Ironsword) to float around and help you out in various ways, and he can equip and use special items. Now, if Symphony only had magic spells along with weapon attacks, it could basically be called an action/RPG.

Wait a second- it does have magic spells! Yes, that's right. By inputting Street Fighter-style joystick motions while playing, Alucard can cast offensive and defensive magic spells. And to top it all off, your character and his enemies' hit points are measured in visible numbers.

"So," you ask, "what's stopping this game from being classified as an adventure-RPG? Well... if you consider Secret of Mana, the classic example of a true action/RPG, the only differences between them is that Mana takes place in an overhead, pseudo-3D environment, and you play as three characters at once. However, many ARPGs (Soul Blazer 2/Illusion of Gaia, for example) only have one character. The differences between these games and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are negligible.

So there you have it. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is essentially an action/RPG. Despite the fact that Symphony, like all the other Castlevania games, relies primarily on fast fingers to get you in and out of danger, and the fact that you spend little time interrogating bystanders (although there are a lot of conversations and plot twists, as well as multiple endings), fans of thinking games as well as fans of action games will find themselves right at home here. As a matter of fact, everyone should love Symphony of the Night. It's truly one of the best Playstation games I've played.

Final Fantasy VII
Role-Playing Adventure
Review by Chris Kohler

In the time it has taken me to get to writing this review, Fianl Fantasy VII has sold over one million copies, become the best-selling game of 1997, sold countless Playstations, memory cards, and guidebooks, and has single-handedly smashed the myth that RPGs sell to a niche market in the United States.

It seemed like a good time to write this.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Final Fantasy series (and if you are, I feel truly sorry for you), FF is considered the defining Japanese RPG series. While many games incorporate the turn-based battles and medieval sword and magic play found in the Final Fantasy series, no other RPG has done it better. Prior to the release of Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy III for the Super NES had been the series' best game.

As you can guess, it's terribly hard to write about Final Fantasy VII within the constraints of one page. Had I not bought so many games since last issue, I've have made this review two pages, as I had Super Mario 64's. So I'll have to restrict myself to short paragraphs about FFVII's storyline, graphics, sounds, and gameplay for brevity's sake.

As anyone who has played Final Fantasy games can surmise, Final Fantasy VII's storyline is fantastic. It begins with a rogue band of vigilantes, led by the game's main character, Cloud. He is joined by Tifa, his childhood friend, and Barrett, a Mr. T-looking fellow with a gun for a right arm. Their plan is to sabotage the anti-environmental actions of Shinra, the evil corporation that runs the city of Midgar with an iron fist. The story develops into a crusade to stop the end of the world at the hands of an insane demigod, Sephiroth. Along the way, there are countless plot twists, intriguing non-player characters, betrayals, alliances... even deaths. It's standard Squaresoft fare, but Final Fantasy VII is so powerful that, at the whims of the designers, you'll laugh, your heart will pound, your pulse will race, and you'll be on the verge of tears. The storyline is incredible.

Part of the success of Final Fantasy VII's storyline is its graphics. FFVII is so graphically intensive that outside development teams needed to be called in for the game to be finished on time. The angle of each scene switches constantly and the polygonal field characters change accordingly. The pre-rendered backgrounds and blocky field characters don't always mix, but it is in the battle scenes and full-motion video that the graphics really shine. The battle scenes are some of the best I've ever seen. The camera angles shift and turn as your party members and their enemies perform their devastating (and not-so-devastating) attacks, and the detail of the characters has to be seen to be believed. And if you thought the magic effects in Final Fantasy III were impressive, wait until you see the summon spells in FFVII.

The full-motion video is even better. All through the game, full-motion video is used to move the plot along. And when the graphic designers at Square don't have to worry about polygons, look out! The special effects in the FMV sequences (just about all the stuff in the commercials) really make the game sometimes. The graphics are incredible.

The music is not as good as Final Fantasy III's, which is odd since this is a Playstation game. However, there is a LOT more of it, so you're sure to find pieces you like. Of special note is the track played while fighting Savior-Sephiroth. It sounds like a twisted chanting hymn. The six-piece Sephiroth Chorus is even listed in the credits. Need I say more? If your taste is more lighthearted, you'll enjoy the crazy Chocobo lady's music, which combines the traditional Chocobo music with "Oh Suzanna". I never knew I needed this until I heard it. The music is incredible.

Mentioning Final Fantasy VII's graphics and sound, however, can only scratch the surface of the game. While some criticize FFVII for being too short, or linear, or whatever, I can only offer in its defense that it is longer (at three CDs...) and deeper than 99% of the other games out there. If you're not content to simply play through the game as quickly as possible, there are substancial rewards to be reaped by exploring the game's side quests. You can find two secret characters, special Limit Break attacks (similar, oddly, to Samurai Shodown's POW meter), numerous hidden Materia (similar to Final Fantasy VI's Magicite), secret full-motion video sequences, scores of hidden items, and entirely hidden locations. If that doesn't satisfy you, you can breed and race your very own Chocobos which can take you to places you can't even reach with an airship, or spend hours of time and gobs of money at Gold Saucer, the game's resident amusement house. You can bet on Chocobo races, play vapid arcade games, or compete in a fantastic duel for cash and prizes-- just to name a few of the game's many diversions.

And if you really just want to play through the game as fast as you can, you'll be treated to familiar Final Fantasy control, scads of items, customizable characters... the list goes on and on. The gameplay is incredible.

You can't describe this game in one page. If you own a Playstation and aren't one of the million that bought Final Fantasy VII, you should be ashamed. Go out and get it right now. Final Fantasy VII is incredible.

Final Fight CD
Sega CD
Sega (Capcom)
Review by Chris Kohler

Here we go. This game is the reason that I bought my Sega CD. Final Fight was always one of my favorite arcade games. A distance cousin of Street Fighter, Final Fight built upon the concept of "hey, let's walk to the right and beat the living hell out of everything that's not part of the background" that had previously been explored in Double Dragon and figured out exactly how to make it work: they eliminated all of the extraneous shit present in other games of the genre, like bottomless pits, huge arsenals of useless martial arts moves, multiple paths, stairs, ladders, etc.

Final Fight's gameplay was brilliant in its simplicity: you walk forward, backward, up, and down, and there are two buttons, attack and jump. Pressing them together yields a super move that drains your life bar by a small amount. And all you do is attack anything that stands out: enemies, for the most part, but also doors and barrels which can conceal hidden goodies... weapons, health boosters, or items good for extra points. At the end of each level, you come across a boss with strong attacks and a long energy bar. This is Final Fight. There is nothing more to the design.

So why does it work so damned well? First of all, Capcom designed this game to be graphically appealing. Everything is minutely detailed, and the characters, unlike Double Dragon's shrimpy (even in the arcade!) heroes, are absolutely gigantic. Secondly, there is beauty in this game's simplicity: you don't have to worry about moving with precision, you just have to concentrate on button-smashing.

The Sega CD version, appropriately titled Final Fight CD, is a nearly perfect translation of the arcade version, unlike the Super NES adaptation, which axed the best selectable character, removed an entire round, and was censored almost to the point of being unrecognizable. The Sega CD version is only slightly censored, but remains true to the arcade original in every other fashion. If you own a Sega CD and don't have this game, you're missing out badly.

Street Fighter: The Movie
Acclaim (Capcom)
Review by Chris Kohler

Here's a winner. What do you get when you take the engine from Super Street Fighter II Turbo, toss the original hand-drawn artwork, and replace it with the third-rate actors from Street Fighter: The Movie? You guessed it... a $49.99 miniature frisbee! But seriously, folks... this game's only selling point is that it's more hilarious than a Saturday Night Live marathon. Watch Ming Na Wen as Chun-Li erase all of her acting credibility as she dances around like an idiot! Take on Jean-Claude "My Career Went Down The Toilet Right After This Game Came Out" Van Damme as Colonel "Sanders" Guile! Pay respects to the late Raul Julia by beating him to a bloody pulp! Fight Ryu in his dungeon- watch out for his deadly Dazu Magi Zem Bu Kak! Wonder why Acclaim is still in business!

WWF: Warzone
Nintendo 64
Review by Matt DelGiudice

All right, it's time for another round of everyone's favorite game, "How Outdated Is Video Zone?". That answer should be obvious: WWF Warzone was released in August, and it's just now getting reviewed. But you loyal Video Zone readers (you know, all three of us) can deal with that.

Anyway, at the time they started work on this game down at Acclaim (cringe), it was actually very up to date with the current WWF storyline. The Nation of Domination was planting their big size 13 boots up people's backsides, Stone Cold mania was building momentum, and Bret Hart was getting screwed by Vince McMahon. Today, three of Warzone's eighteen wrestlers aren't even in the WWF. This really wouldn't be much of a probelm, except that 18 in-game wrestlers really isn't much compared to how many WWF superstars there currently are. And if the sheer lack of available players is Warzone's biggest weakness, running a close second is the fact that you can't choose your opponent in one player mode. What's the fun of being your favorite wrestler if you have to face a random opponent?

Despite these flaws, Warzone does have one feature that overshadows everything: the revolutionary Create-A-Wrestler mode. There are literally HUNDREDS of options to help you sculpt your dream wrestler down to the finest detail. You can create wrestlers that weren't included, mimic famous personalities and make some battles worthy of Celebrity Deathmatch, or even make yourself and your friends! It's light years ahead of every other attempt at a wrestler-creating engine.

The actual game presents even more options. Up to four players can grab a chair and join in the skull-bashing action. Add to this the many different modes, including the classic Cage Match, Royal Rumble, no disqualification, and weapon matches, and you have tons of different ways to lay the smackdown. You can invite someone over and end up spending the better part of the day just beating on each other. Even the one-player tournament offers a lot of replay value, because each wrestler will yield a new cheat mode or option (like female wrestlers!) when he climbs to the top and becomes champ.

The graphics are very well done; you can pick out every little detail on the faces of each wrestler, which is a big plus for the sport's real fans. The sound is also great. The actual voices of the wrestlers in Warzone were sampled, so each fight sounds just like an actual match. Punching Mankind yields one of his trademark squeals. Put Owen Hart in a hold and he cries, "No! No! Ahh!". Do anything to Ahmed Johnson and he grunts like a caveman. Also, the commentary by Jim Ross and Vince McMahon could easily be mistaken for the real thing. JR and Vince always seem to know exactly what's going on, and rarely repeat themselves during a match, further enhancing Warzone's realism.

While the graphics and sound effects may be as good as the real thing, the music can be described with one word: It sucks! (Can I say sucks?) [Would it be Video Zone if you couldn't? -ed.] Instead of using the wrestlers' actual theme music, Acclaim has them walking down the aisle accompanied by a crappy MIDI. This is the one thing that really detracts from the whole "feels like the real thing" experience. Of course, this is Acclaim we're talking about. I guess I should be grateful they did this well.

Overall, WWF Warzone is a solid title that has a lot of reasons to be replayed. If you're not into WCW, this is the perfect game to fill the void in your heart. Even if you don't like WWF, you can still get a lot out of this game... just make your own wrestlers!

What Went Wrong?  Why?  And How Did It Lose Its Place In My Heart?
by Chris Kohler

What's Happening Here?

We are getting ever closer to the second anniversary of the Nintendo 64's US launch on September 3rd, 1996. And although Nintendo themselves will never admit it, something is still wrong. It comes as a shock to me that Nintendo has not even come close to fixing the problems that the N64 was facing two years ago... in fact, the situation's gotten worse.

Although two full years have passed, the Nintendo 64 is still in the same situation it was when it was released. All but one (Super Mario 64) of Nintendo's great promises have gone unfulfilled. The software just isn't there. The quality of the software that IS there leaves much to be desired. The cartridge format has proven to be a severe limitation. The 64DD may not even show up on these shores. And the Nintendo 64 developers that are jumping ship are landing on the Playstation, which is soundly whipping the N64 in sales. What makes me keenly aware of these problems is that I, a once staunch Nintendo loyalist, actually purchased a Playstation and Saturn. I don't consider that a bad thing, but it makes me wonder how Nintendo, who used to hold my heart on their sleeve, let it slip away.

Quantity vs. Quality.

Try as you might, you cannot prove to me that Nintendo's boast of quality over quality was anything more than a desperate attempt to save face. What self-respecting game company would take pride in the fact that their competitor has hundreds more games than they do? Short-term success of a video game system can be quite accurately measured in the amount of titles available. The Atari 2600, the NES, the Genesis: all wildly popular systems, all with a vast array of games. The RCA Studio II, the Atari 7800, the Virtual Boy: all dismal failures with a miniscule list of releases. It's not that a large quantity of games makes a system a success, but it certainly indicates that developers are happy with the system and are willing to take risks by releasing their games for it. The Nintendo 64 is quickly headed the way of the 7800. After two years, a paltry 62 games have been released, compared to the hundreds available for the Playstation. This was the system's main problem in 1996, and it's not even close to being ratified.

Even worse is the fact that the 62 games that HAVE been released do not live up to Nintendo's promises of a revolutionary gaming experience. Don't get me wrong... some do. The N64's group of winners includes Nintendo's in-house and second party titles like Mario Kart 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Yoshi's Story, Star Fox 64, Mischief Makers, and at the top of the pile, Super Mario 64. It's plain to see that Nintendo has devoted its resources to crafting great games, but its third parties, with few exceptions, have not. The Nintendo 64 has been host to some of gaming's more recent disasters: War Gods, Doom 64, Mortal Kombat (three MK games in two years?), Chameleon Twist, Clay Fighter 63 1/3rd, Cruisin' USA, Jeopardy (Jeopardy?!), and so on. I won't even begin to talk about how it took the N64 nearly two years to scrape up a mediocre RPG. The Nintendo 64 has the same ratio of quality to quantity as the Playstation. So much for that argument.

Substandard Hardware.

Comparing it to the Playstation, you'd never guess that the N64 is technically twice as powerful. Although the N64 packs 32 more bits of power than the Playstation, the PS-X has a CD drive, and what it lacks in hardware it more than makes up for with software. If Super Mario 64 was supposed to be representative of 64-bit graphics, why does Final Fantasy VII- a second party release, no less!- look just as good and push polygons just as well? Although Nintendo prefers to keep a stranglehold on their developers and maximize profits by retaining the now-obsolete cartridge format, cartridges afford no advantages to the consumer. In fact, it puts the game buyer at a distinct disadvantage. Prices for the N64's cartridges are anywhere from ten to thirty dollars higher than prices for the Playstation's CD-ROMs. Compare the recent RPG releases for both systems: T*HQ's Quest 64 clocks in at $64.99, while Squaresoft's SaGa Frontier will only set you back $39.99. These two games showcase the other disadvantage of cartridges: memory. SaGa Frontier is truly a sprawling RPG that will keep you entertained for at least 70 hours, while Quest 64 will give you fifteen at best. This problem manifests itself in each and every N64 game. Even the recently released Yoshi's Story will only give you two or three hours of gameplay.

The lone advantage of cartridges, or at least the one that Nintendo is most proud of flaunting- the absence of access time- isn't even an advantage anymore. Final Fantasy VII's load time is minimal at best, and the Japanese Saturn version of X-Men vs. Street Fighter, aided by the 4-meg RAM expansion cart, almost completely eliminates access time. So either by prgramming techniques or inexpensive hardware add-ons, load time can be rendered negligible.

(That is not to say that horrendous access times don't exist on the Playstation... try playing its version of X-Men vs. Street Fighter. Yeesh!)

To truly be able to outmuscle the Playstation, the N64 needs a CD-ROM drive. But it doesn't look like it's going to get one. The 64DD will accommodate up to 64 MB of data (approximately one-tenth the storage capacity of a CD), but by making the cartridge version of Zelda 64 the same size, Nintendo has singlehandedly rendered their next-generation device obsolete a year before its launch. Nintendo has apparently realized this as well: the 64DD is not currently scheduled for release in the United States. Brilliant, Nintendo, brilliant. How can this possibly be to your advantage?

Lack of Support.

A few years ago, the Super NES was getting all the breaks. The most powerful and the most popular 16-bit game system by far, the Super NES had more third parties under its belt than it knew what to do with. Let's face it, every big-name licensee made Super NES games: Acclaim, Square, Capcom, Konami, Enix, and Electronic Arts. As a result, Super NES owners were treated to such gems as Final Fantasy III, Street Fighter II Turbo, Castlevania IV, Ogre Battle, the Mega Man series, etc. While some of these games were also released on the Genesis, the Super NES versions were always clearly superior. The smaller companies wouldn't even consider publishing games for the Genesis.

But when the next-generation systems started to be released, these third parties had a unique situation on their hands. Business dictated that they needed to move on and publish games for Sega and Sony's new systems. As these systems picked up speed and the Super NES's popularity waned, these companies had all found a new home on the 32-bit range. And when the N64 was released, companies like Square, Capcom, Konami, and Enix were slow to migrate. Since the system had no CD-ROM drive, games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy VII, Street Fighter Collection, and Enix's upcoming Dragon Quest VII were to stay on the Playstation. Konami and Enix explored the N64 market with Goemon and Wonder Project J2, but these games were not met with as much critical acclaim as the companies' Playstation efforts. Capcom and (most notably) Square still refuse to even try designing N64 games. It's apparent now that the Playstation is the system of choice for sequels to Super NES classics. The Playstation can emulate the Super NES better than the N64, as evidenced by its Castlevania, Mega Man, Street Fighter, and Final Fantasy sequels. Games that share a simultaneous release usually wind up being better on the Playstation, with either more characters or levels afforded by the CD-ROM format. Yes, the N64 still has stellar first-party support... but what else would you expect?

Bye, Bye Love.

What happened? I held out. I didn't buy a Playstation or a Saturn, although some of their games, especially the Capcom fighters, looked appealing. I waited. I bought an N64. I stayed faithful to Nintendo, confident that after Super Mario 64's appeal waned (something I didn't think would ever happen, but it did), more and better titles would be released. Well, a better title still hasn't been released. Yoshi's Story is a great game, but it's too short. Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, Mischief Makers- all good titles, but there's just too few of them. Meanwhile, the Playstation is host to tons of new games: Squaresoft has already released two more RPGs. Capcom continually releases new fighters. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is perfect. And so on. Even the clinically dead Saturn just received, albeit in limited quantities, two new and scintillating RPGs: Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force III. And if you're brave enough to import games, you'll find the arcade-perfect conversion of a lifetime in X-Men vs. Street Fighter. I remember when I didn't have to buy three systems just so I could play a bunch of good games. But Nintendo has lost their footing, and the N64 is showing it. In just two years, Nintendo has transformed their most loyal follower, a young man vehemently opposed to anything by Sega or Sony, into someone whose N64 sits gathering dust while he plays Panzer Dragoon Saga or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. They had me, and they lost me. Not because I've changed my attitudes, but because Nintendo lost all the qualities that kept me hooked. Of course, I'm buying Zelda 64 and Super Mario 64 2, and I'm sure I'll love them to death. But rather than sit around and wait, I think I'll pick up my Saturn controller.

by Chris Kohler

This article contains material inappropriate for younger or squeamish readers, including foul language, suggestive themes, implied violence, and a picture of a guy on a toilet.  You know, all the fun stuff your mother used to warn you about.  Now that you've been warned, click here for the goods!

by Chris Kohler

Read these simple questions and answer honestly. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers.

1) In your opinion, headlines should be:

a) creative enough to get the reader's attention
b) subdued, not too flashy
c) gigantic, preferably larger than the article itself

2) Columns are:

a) pleasing to the eyes
b) a pain in the ass
c) Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian

3) I am:

a) 21+
b) 14-20
c) 13 or under
4) My opinion of fandom is:

a) It's fun for everybody
b) It's good for money
c) There are too many fanzines

5) Fill in the blank: ______ Park; dinosaur movie

a) Jurassic
b) MacArthur
c) Jurrasic

6) Ads in professional magazines are:

a) necessary for the survival of the magazine
b) necessary, but I don't like them
c) I don't understand why magazines have to have ads

7) Fonts for articles should be in:

a) 8-10 point size
b) 11-12 pts.
c) AT LEAST 18 points

8) Before printing your 'zine, you should run spell check:

a) once
b) twice
c) What's spell check?

Count the number of times you answered C.

6-8 times: You have Greg Meyers Syndrome! I hope you don't REALLY do your 'zine like that!

3-5 times: You have faint strains of GMS. Work on improving your 'zine's flaws.

1-2 times: You are obviously intelligent but probably just missed a couple of questions.

0 times: Great! You obviously edit a decent 'zine.

by Chris Kohler

The "Don't Burn Your Lips On The Crack Pipe" department has been growing by leaps and bounds these past few months, with the introduction of Seta's Tetris 64 in Japan. In addition to being yet another featureless rehash of everybody's favorite seven-piece puzzler, Tetris 64 includes and is the first video game ever to support the new Bio Feedback Pak. The Bio Feedbak Pak looks like a memory card with a clothespin attached by a long cable. The clothespin then attaches to- I swear to God- your ear.

While you are playing Tetris 64, the Bio Feedbak Pak measures your pulse. As your heart rate quickens, the game gets faster and more difficult. Really.

Of course, if you happen to really enjoy clipping foriegn objects to various parts of your body, the game will get REALLY difficult.

If you manage to win, you can unlock a hidden secret in the game by quickly removing the Bio Feedbak Pak, replacing it with the Rumble Pak, and sticking the entire controller down your pants.

by Chris Kohler

Hey girls! Upset that video game fandom's such a guy's hobby? Get bored when all the boyfriend wants to do is read The Gameroom Blitz? Well, you're in luck! Coming in late 1999, the gender-sensitive Video Zone corporation proudly present Video Zone For Her, a gaming guide for the real grrl gamer! It's packed with exclusive information and humor, all especially tailored to your hormones!

Here's what you get:

Reviews! All the hottest "girl games" reviewed and indexed for your perusal! Centipede, Ms. (see, we didn't say Mrs.!) Pac-Man, Barbie: Game Girl, and more!

Humor! Read an interview with the star of Tomb Raider, Lara Croft, as she discusses such intriguing topics as bat-proof makeup, how to sexually excite game reviewers, spelunking with a $300 perm, and why you should take the Kleenex out of the box BEFORE you put them in your bra!

Articles! Read an interview with Joyce Worley, as she talks about how she "landed" Arnie Katz! Read up on why you shouldn't be jealous of "your man" when he ogles Morrigan!

Tips and Tricks! How to finally beat your boyfriend at those damn fighting games by grabbing him in JUST the right spot at JUST the right moment!

All this, PLUS info on all the new Barbie games by T*HQ! Video Zone For Her is the fanzine that NO grrl gamer OR girlfriend of a real gamer can miss out on! Just send $1 and a sexually suggestive picture of yourself to our regular address! Video Zone For Her: it's funny enough for a man, but pH balanced for the chicks! Oh, and don't worry, guys, you can still read the real Video Zone, packed with all kinds of macho guy stuff, like reviews of all the latest Duke Nukem games! Video Zone: a manly scent... but Al Riccitelli can tolerate it too. Well, sort of.

Video Zone looks at dumbasses with Internet access
by Chris Kohler

And now, for your enjoyment, here are some real stories of real people with real access to the Internet, who are real stupid.

First on the list is a question and answer from PSM Online's July 23, 1998 letter column:

I bet you $20 you won't print this letter!

Pay up, bitch.

On, online auction house, a purveyor of CDs full of ROMs feature this piece of "info" in his item description:

"A frequently asked question: Is it illegal due to violations of copyright regulations? The answer is no, and here's why: These files were released as full-length demos and are not retail property."

Sure. If you'd like a full-length demo of Final Fantasy III, a game which is not retail property, whatever the fuck that means, feel free to contact this jerk on eBay.

Here's a letter sent to IGN64.COM:

wow i jus found out today dat u guys r lookin 4 some1 to write sports reviews in da bay area.. i dont like sports games dat much cept 4 football BUT i can play other games n tell u wat i think =) email me

Their answer:

With your excellent command of the English language, I'd say you're a shoe-in.

Couldn't have put it better myself.

Having authored a bunch of shareware games, FAQs, and Video Zone, I get a lot of moron mail myself. Stupid people also tend to be rude people. Here's a recent one.

Subject: are you japanese?
To: ChrisK2018

Above, and also are you the person who has a website that contains a lot of nesticle games, because there was one that had a warning about the roms so I left. The warning was a person who was holding there testicle.

Sometimes, I don't even WANT to know the reasons behind the questions some people ask me. This was one of those times. My answer follows:

1) No. 2) No.

I also get a lot of stuff about ZZT, the shareware program I used to make games. I did not author the program, but so many people think that I did, that I get a lot of messages like this one:

Subject: hey
To: ChrisK2018

send me alll the stuff i need to play a zzt game please

I don't think so.

by Chris Kohler recently held a poll to gauge the public's opinion on who should be declared 1998's Man of the Year. Since the public, like myself, are brain dead morons, about fifty percent of them voted for Mick Foley, WWF superstar and human pincushion. As a result, Foley edged out President Clinton, Ken Starr, and dead gay person Matthew Shepard in the poll, but Time, proving that they don't give a fig about what their readers have to say, removed Foley from the polls and awarded the honor to both Clinton and Starr. Time responded to the poll with the following statement:

"...Mick Foley has no place on our list, as he has not done anything significant for this nation. Hence, we will, effective tomorrow, remove Mick Foley from the polls, and if he is voted for again, he will be removed again."

That's funny, because I consider taking a dive off a 20-foot steel cage onto the WWF's Spanish announcers' table just about as significant as spending fourty million dollars of our money to find out that President Clinton poked Monica Lewinsky with a cigar.

Interestingly enough, Mick only barely edged out "Click on pop-up", the choice at the top of the list which was intended to instruct readers on how to vote but nearly wound up becoming Man of the Year because people just don't know how to use Web browsers. Hey, maybe this belongs in the above article.

There is a silver lining, though. Inspired by these events, the WWF awarded Mick with their own Man of the Year award, and on January 4's episode of RAW, Mick became the WWF world champ. Yeah, I know it's all fake, by the way... but Mick Foley's enthusiasm for and dedication to his fans deserves some kind of reward; if not by Time, then by the WWF.


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