...? TO AUG 1997

Alan Lanoie

Brian Pacula, Steven King, Josh Lesnick, Jess Ragan, Tim Spain

Fatal Fury Special
Super NES
Reviewed by Alan Lanoie

I was right!

"Food? Food? You want me to stop playing for food? I didn't stop for sleep, but you think I'll stop for a pitiful thing like nourishment? Go away! Okay, only one"

Later, at Martin hospital:

"I...I...I feel dizzy. Where am I?", Alan asks.

"You're at the hospital. You fell unconscious and we called the doctor. He said we'd better bring you here just in case."

"What was wrong with me?"

"Well, the doctor said you had some kind of special syndrome. You'll be OK as long as you never play that game again."

Eventually, Alan is left alone.

"A life without Fatal Fury Special? Sh'yeah!"

Two hours later, Alan's body is found with a Post-It note on its belly. The note reads: "I bet Cobain plays Special!"

Fatal Fury Special is my new fighting game addiction. First, I was entranced by Street Fighter II. Then it was Mortal Kombat 2. Fatal Fury 2 was great, too, but now I'm obsessed with Fatal Fury Special. After Mortal Kombat 2 became boring, I thought I'd never love another fighting game, but Fatal Fury Special overwhelmed me! There are fifteen (sixteen with Ryo) selectable characters, each with great moves and lots of personality. Surround sound fills your ears as you play, and the plane switching has been perfected. Moves kick off nicely. The ending is unique, hilarious, and ingenious in its simplicity. The technique is pure Fatal Fury, and I love the way the one player matches are strung together (though non-corny win lines and more of them would have made it even better).

If you've lost your passion for fighters, give this one a rental. Thumbs up to Takara for an excellent translation. The next translation I'm waiting for (besides Fatal Fury 3, obviously) is King of Fighters '94. Y'know, my mind has changed slightly about the Neo-Geo... you think SNK will release Shodown Fury next?

by Alan Lanoie

Can playing video games be considered more, less, or equally as productive as watching TV? I'm not a psychologist, moralist, or even a realist, but I have made some observations regarding the productivity of playing video games, watching television, and even the biggie: using a PC, and I'm sure you'll find the results to be more than a tad surprising.

The common arguments are as follows: A. Playing video games is a waste of time, relevant only to those that wish for reflexes attuned to games only a monkey would find intellectually stimulating. B. Unless you are watching an educational documentary or are tuned into the much-heralded PBS (everybody has a channel 11), it's just a matter of time before TV-watching starts to rot your brain (which is why they call it the "boob-tube"). C. Becoming familiar with computers in this age of the Internet is essential if you expect to get anywhere in today's society. However, those arguments are all stereotypical and none of them reflect reality.

First, are video games a waste of time? The only thing I have to go on is personal experience, and based on that, I'd have to say it depends on the game. If I'm playing a game like SimCity 2000 or Samurai Shodown, it doesn't enter my mind that I may be "wastin my time". However, when I play something like American Gladiators or Myst, I do start to feel a bit dronish. If, of course, one decides that all entertainment is a waste of time, my argument is invalidated, but I personally would rather be doing something enjoyable than something productive; something fun rather than something useful. If your "agenda" for time runs along those lines as well, then rest assured, you are not wasting your time. However, anyone who plays a game they hate any longer than to figure out they absolutely hate it is wasting their time, in my opinion.

Any avid gamer will likely give three standard reasons if asked why video games can be considered productive: 1. They attune your reflexes. 2. Some software is educational. 3. They keep kids off the streets. The most important reason, though, is that they are fun- and why live if you can't enjoy yourself? The assumption that the reader believes true entertainment is a worthwhile use of use's time will be construed and unstated for the rest of this essay.

I've found that the case is somewhat different with TV viewing. With video games, I consider time spent on a good game worthwhile. But with television, time spent watching bad shows is actually more useful than watching interesting, critically acclaimed shows, with the least useful time being spent on mediocre ones. That is to say, watching VR Troopers or Star Trek: Voyager is more useful than watching Seinfeld or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Let me explain this odd observation.

When I watch a truly great, or even good, show, I tend to immerse myself into the storyline (as is the case with Deep Space Nine) or simply let everything swirl in my head (Seinfeld). This can be fun, and hence useful, but not as useful as bad shows turn out to be. When I watch a boring, corny, and/or horrible show or movie, I am constantly arguing with the storyline, improving actors' lines, pointing out plot holes (the Voyager syndrome), and forming in my mind better plots and situations. Sure, it's nice to sit back and watch a tremendous show, but I can't not interact and stimulate my mind with a bad show.

Where does that leave the merely mediocre? As I've stated earlier, mediocre shows are indeed the worst use of anyone's TV time. Watching bad shows is motivating and productive, and watching great shows is very enjoyable, but mediocre ones leave room for neither. They're just... there. Not that useful or much to get excited over.

The most shocking observation comes when you put the PC into play. After wanting a computer all my life and enduring seventeen years of torture without one, I must say I was surprised at how wasted one's time is while using one. What can be accomplished with a computer? Well, many things, including learning to code, creating documents, playing games, and learning about computers in general. But realistically, what do people really do with them? Play games and learn enough about their computer to be able to play better games. Learn to code? Nobody bothers anymore. Create documents? Bah, that's boring, and too reminiscent of work, whether or not it is productive. What is wrong with this?

In some cases, nothing, and if it's fun, then go with it. But except for text-based modem games, I don't see much else on a computer that is productive or very fun.

While considering whether a computer is productive or not, it is important to look at a specific person. I, for example, accomplish a great deal while using a PC. I code, code, and code some more; I play MUDs over the Internet; I play addictive games like Tetris, Pac-Man, and Lemmings; I learn how to squeeze every last bit of performance out of my four megs of RAM; I constantly optimize my files; I write batch files and create multi-task macros; and I write this fanzine. For me, computers are fun, intuitive, productive, and a good use of my time. But what I said before about computers being boring and unproductive was from the "average" person's point of view.

My mother, my friends, and even my brothers all do the same thing while using the computer. They boot it up. They load a game. They play until they're bored, then hit keys until they "exit" the game. The process repeats until there are four or five games minimized in the background and they cannot exit Windows. I come. They leave.

The point of all that is simply that the "average" person does not do much at all with a computer. Are they intimidated, or just bored? Whatever the reason, people seem to either be productive with computers or not, with no middle ground.

So, what is really productive when all is said and done? Like most things, productivity is its own social science, and like a social science, it has its trends. Playing excellent video games is a useful, stress-relieving, fun way to spend your time. Watching bad TV shows is boring at times, but is more productive than watching excellent ones. Finally, you'll either waste your time on a computer or accomplish a million things. Watch what you want, and do as you wish, or you will not have much of what these observations require anyway- personality.

by Alan Lanoie

Did any of you actually buy Killer Instinct for the Super NES because it came with a free CD? Was your decision to purchase Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball influenced by the fact that it came with a (basically worthless) TOPS baseball card of Griffey himself? If I were to risk assuming the answer, it would obviously be no on both accounts. Did you purchase the Donkey Kong Super NES set because it gave you free Donkey Kong points? Or did you even throw your money away on Donkey Kong Land for this very reason?

What is the point of game pack-ins? You'll notice that all the examples I've given were of games by Nintendo, which seems to be the only company since the NES era still using this strange tactic to sell games and systems. Especially with cartridges, you'd think that cost would be a major issue, and that companies (like Nintendo) would not want to waste production costs on such garbage as baseball cards and CDs of crappy techno music. If it worked and sold games, perhaps it would indeed be a decent tactic, but it just doesn't.

Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball is indeed a decent game, but the Griffey name could possibly be seen as more of a liability than an asset... especially since there are no other major league players in the game. But more importantly, people just don't pay $30-$50 for a game to have an included baseball card. As for Killer Instinct, if I want a CD I'll save $50 and buy one I actually LIKE. Like Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball, this premium didn't help Killer Instinct's sales a bit, and despite what GameFan and Blockbuster would like to you believe, the game achieved mediocre sales at best. Killer Instinct is just not that good a game, and that kept it on store shelves, CD or no CD. And Donkey Kong points? That is perhaps THE most ridiculous example of a pack-in, and also one of the least successful ones I can remember. Come on, who wants to buy video games just to get a Donkey Kong lunch bag or something? The Donkey Kong Country games did sell, but it was not because of some banana point system. Rather, it was pure marketing, as well as Nintendo coercing major game stores into carrying the games. The stores then overstocked, tried like hell to sell the monkey games, and eventually succeeded after a computer rendering trend caught on (God only knows why).

So on one hand, we have crap like banana points and baseball cards trying to sell games. On the other, we have light guns, running pads, and other gaming peripherals trying to do the same. Is this better?

There is no question: yes, it is definitely better to pack a light gun with Virtua Cop than it is to include a baseball card with Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball. The rather obvious difference is that while a light gun enhances the experience of the game it's packaged with (and many times for ONLY that particular game), a baseball card has little to do with how you play Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball.

But is the consumer still getting screwed over? Absolutely. I recently read a statement somewhere- I'm not sure if it was in NEXT Generation or Video Zone- that claimed "no peripheral has ever sold in major quantities for any system, except a second controller". This statement hit me HARD. Think about it... NO peripheral has EVER sold in major quantities for ANY system except a second controller. Thus, don't expect that Virtua Cop light gun to be compatible with anything aside from Virtua Cop's sequel. If it is, take it as a pleasant surprise, but don't expect it.

This statement forced me to think of all the peripherals I personally own... and how useless they really are. I never have been a fan of peripherals, but I do have a couple, and all of them are now completely incompatible with any new products. Just look at the Lethal Enforcers light gun, the GameBoy four-player link, etc., etc. That would be fine, of course, if I'd expected that. At the time I purchased each of these, it was either included with a game or purchased to increase the enjoyment of a specific game. Beyond that, those peripherals were useless, despite claims on their packaging that read "compatible with all four player GameBoy games", or "the standard Genesis light gun", and on and on.

So again comes the main question: "What is the point of game pack-ins?". There are two answers that come to mind. The first, regarding strange, absolutely frivolous decisions, such as shipping a can of potatoes with every copy of Super Mario 64, including a purple ink pen inside every Donkey Kong Country 4 box, or packing each and every copy of Kirby's Dream Course with a hologram of a pencil, is that I see no point at all. Companies are wasting money that could be better spent on a little R&D (that's research and development... yeah, I used to wonder about that, too), or better yet, since they're dumb enough to use these freebies to hide the fact that their games aren't any good, lowering the prices of their products and forgetting the pack-ins completely.

The second, regarding the one time use phenomenon known as the video game peripheral, is that there is a definate reason for their existance, whether one likes it or not. People WANT to use a steering wheel with Virtua Racing, twist a controller while they play Ridge Racer, and fire a gun when they're virtually a cop. These items do indeed increase the realism of games, if designed properly. Most of the time they are, and seem to be worth the purchase, but they are never used again. Companies know people love peripherals, so why should they support any? After all, if you make more peripherals, you'll make more money. Unfortunately, that's true. Let the buyer beware.

Banana points, indeed!

by Alan Lanoie

Dear VideoGames (I DARE you to respond!),

I'm not a subscriber, but I've bought Video Games and Computer Entertainment, then VideoGames, faithfully since its inception. And I'm not one of those people that buys every issue of every magazine, either. I'm on a limited budget, and can only afford about three a month (why didn't I just subscribe? Eh, who knows). So, I go with VideoGames, EGM, and either GamePro or Game Players (I spew just thinking about it).

That said, let me get to my point.

Have you read issue 16 of Paradox? Static made some great points. Why have you guys changed the (formerly) best video game magazine? You're just one in a crowd now, and no longer my favorite prozine. What happened to the intelligent articles? The lengthy reviews? Andy Eddy? The Game Doctor? Yours is no longer a magazine I "must have".

Also, why'd you remove the computer coverage? To form another magazine and make more money, obviously. I doubt very seriously that the guys who made the "changes" to VideoGames have any integrity left. To the people who didn't appreciate your computer coverage, I say this: SUCK BARNEY!

I'm getting very tired of the 1,000 pictures per page, too. That's why my current "must haves" are all fanzines. We "amateurs" are doing a better job than any of you.

I know this letter won't get printed (attempt at reverse psychology), and I doubt very seriously that you'll go back to your great old format. I'll still support VideoGames, and that's all you want to hear. To LFP, Infotainment World, and all the others who changed the magazine... stick my $5.00 up your butt.

And to Video Games and Computer Entertainment, thanks for the memories.

by Alan Lanoie

You may buy a Playstation because you want power. You might want a Saturn so you can play arcade hits (and every Playstation game, seeing as they are all being ported to the Saturn). You, oddly enough, may get a 3DO thinking you can impress your friends, or buy a Jaguar to really irritate your favorite Sega junkie (OK, I'm officially a Jaguar basher now). But invariably, if you buy a Neo-Geo, you're into fun games. Period.

As of this writing, I have not yet tried a Playstation or Saturn, and when I do, I expect to be impressed to the point of purchase (I'll play the Saturn first, of course). However, I expect my newly-acquired Neo-Geo to remain the system I play the most. Let me tell you why.

Say what you will about the Neo-Geo software library, but I'll tell you something you cannot refute: Neo-Geo games are some of the most playable arcade-style games available on any system ever released. Sure, there are a ton of 2D fighters, but they are the best 2D fighters available ANYWHERE, arcade or otherwise (apart from the original SFII). Sure, I gave Virtua Fighter a shot, but I was bored with it after one play. ONE play. Yet, the first time I played Samurai Shodown, I was hooked beyond belief. World Heroes (part one only; the sequels bite) is another example. So is Viewpoint (Axelay? Don't make me snicker). The Baseball Stars series is fun, too. Sure, the Neo-Geo would undoubtedly fail miserably if Virtua Fighter 3 or Ridge Racer Revolution were ported to the system, but even if it were to never get another game, the Neo-Geo would remain the best piece of hardware with the most FUN games available this side of 1983.

If only SNK had merged with NEC in 1990 or so, the Neo-Geo would be even better. Imagine a system that could not only play Bonk, but would also have cheap Neo-Geo games available for the price of a CD-ROM drive! Sigh... In reverence...

by Alan Lanoie

When you walk into a store and look through its shelves of games, what do you see? Rows and rows of finished, lamenated boxes lining the walls beautifully. But how did those game get finished? As an in-depth example, let's look back at the production process for Donkey Kong Country for the Super NES.

Now, the first step of making a game, as you might imagine, is programming it. So RARE took the company car and headed out to Florida. When they arrived, they forked over enough money to get in Disneyland, and proceeded to have a great time. By the end of the weekend, they were all worn out, and forgotten why they came. After the long drive back to the office, one of the RARE crew exclaimed, "Wait! We're supposed to program that game."

"Oh yeah."

"Well, let's get to work!"

They searched and searched until they finally managed to find that old copy of Ren and Stimpy for the Super NES they had lying around somewhere.

"All right, now, listen up. This is what Nintendo wants done, and it has to be perfect: 1. They want exciting new characters."

"Wait, why don't we rip off some old Nintendo characters? Donkey Kong sound good?"

"OK, let's go with that. Second, they want a side-scroller with hundreds of levels."

"I know! How about we put in a bunch of dinky hidden rooms and call them levels?"

"All right. Third, they want a rip-roaring thrash soundtrack."

"Well, I have some techno crap in my car."

"Also, they want the game extremely fast."

"Screw that. I got a new rendering program for my birthday; kinda slow, but it works. Well, it's buggy and actually doesn't work, but still..."

"Done. Let's tell the advertising team to let word out that the greatest game of the century is coming out... and soon."

"Wait, since we're just now starting programming the game, shouldn't we wait until we have at least 50% of the game complete before we start hyping it?"

"What? You do realize what company we are working for, don't you?"

"Sorry, I just thought maybe something different would be good."

"Quit thinking. If we keep getting people like you in this company, Nintendo will suspend our contract!"

And then the article abruptly stopped.

by Alan Lanoie

#9: Gamer gets sick of hearing hype about Street Fighter 3. Then, when it does come out, it sucks big time. So, the gamer takes rebel assault (if you'll excuse the phrase) into their own hands and takes the pain away.

#8: Gamer gets sick of hearing hype about systems that'll never come out. Somehow, the name of one of these systems gets implanted in their body. Then, when the system never comes out, the brain sends a suicidal message to the spleen, which blows up. Again, the gamer takes the pain away.

#7: The gamer wastes all their money on Sonic sequels. He/she becomes overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of them, and chokes to death on a ham sandwich in his/her bathtub (I know, I know, it was in The Critic...).

#6: The gamer creates a fanzine and gets so much hate mail that he/she takes over Hell. The gamer doesn't commit suicide, but it is fun to watch!

#5: Gamer listens to c-rap music. Suicidal messages become subliminally implanted in their brain because all of that NOISE, NOISE, I CAN'T STAND RAP! Oops, sorry.

#4: Gamer loves watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and when it leaves the air, he/she has no other choice but to kill his/herself, since it was the greatest show ever.

#3: Gamer buys a 3DO, and is so disgusted with their waste of money that they puke until they die.

#2: Gamer looks at Super GameBoy and can't stop laughing. They go into a coma, have a Beavis and Butthead sequence, and come out to kill themself by doin' drugs on a toilet. Oh, the Presley torture...

#1: Gamer loses all self-esteem because Neal Boortz doesn't get a game. "If Neal doesn't deserve to get a game, I don't deserve to live!", they think. Neal then makes fun of them the next day on his radio show (this used to read "Rush Limbaugh", but forget that idea!).


by Alan Lanoie and Steven King

15. Slip Sonic a sedative.
14. Erase Cool Spot.
13. Watch Turrican's legs rust.
12. Get ointment for Road Rash.
11. Dip Earl in some Pearl Jam.
10. Prescribe drugs to alcoholics.
9. Give Beauty Monostat-7, so she can finally lose the yeast.
8. Put food coloring in Blue Lightning.
7. Poke the Eye of the Beholder.
6. Tell everyone the Secret of Mana.
5. What? These are supposed to be codes?
4. Walsh Bill ashore.
3. Play as Samus naked (or Princess Toadstool...).
2. Throw a wrench in The Incredible Machine.
1. Watch Rayden play Raiden.

by Alan Lanoie

Well, I'm a little ticked at how much the Jurassic Park movie screwed up Michael Crichton's masterpiece novel. As for Congo, let me just say this is the first movie I've reviewed in Infestation that I'm giving an "oh, forget it" rating. Congo by Michael Crichton is my favorite book (we're talking of all time here), and how anyone could ruin such solid material was beyond me, until earlier today when I went to see the Sunday matinee.

First of all, the time change sucks! Congo the book was set in 1979- the perfect time for the entire concept, not to mention the time Crichton wrote the book. Changing the setting to modern times absolutely blows the entire storyline. You'll understand what I mean when you see Amy talking through a computer interpretor. The excitement in Peter getting grant money was in his convincing people that gorillas could use sign language. People didn't realize that they actually could do this in the 70's, but now... oh, forget it. So much of this movie is just plain stupid! Call me biased toward the book, but read it for yourself and you'll see how much better the movie could have been.

Then there's the apes. So, fake, so fake, so fake. Bad acting by whoever's in those fake-looking suits and a complete civilizing of the destructive grey apes combine for a laughable experience. I don't know what the producers' problems were while making this film, because even if those aren't ape suits, the illusion of reality is low. I didn't stick around for the credits, though, so I don't know what was used to create the gorillas.

Finally, the writers sped through all the wrong parts! Not enough attention is given to Amy, the most interesting character of the bunch. The grey apes never capture your imagination. They should have been portrayed as mysterious (like the book did... cough cough). The ending is blown through, and damnit! What is all this about Karen getting emotional and chucking the diamonds???

Haven't read the book? You'll think the movie's OK. Read it, however, and you'll find out how much this movie sucks. Not recommended.

Michael, where are you? Too busy raking in royalties to see how badly your stories are getting screwed up? Just one good film based on a Crichton book... that's all I want!



Hosted by