EGM2 Issue 4: Hey Blizzard, forget about StarCraft and Diablo, you should be resurrecting your 2D masterpiece BlackThorne!
For the last four years Defunct Games has been debunking rumors left by Electronic Gaming Month's often-unreliable gossip hound, Quartermann. But lately I haven't been feeling it. Ever since EGM was shut down earlier in the year I haven't felt like ridiculing the Q-mann. Part of me feels like it's just too soon to be hard on the deceased, we should give people a little room to grieve. But, as they say, the show must go on and eventually we'll have to get back to laughing about all of the ludicrous things printed in the pages of Electronic Gaming Monthly.
While everybody grieves for the loss of a good friend, we have decided to find a compromise that makes everybody happy. There's no reason to make fun of Quartermann and the rest of the jobless writers over at Electronic Gaming Monthly. Instead we're going to make fun of EGM2's own gossip guru, X-Bert!
That's right; it's EGM2, the magazine Ziff Davis spin-off that effectively turned the once-a-month publication into a bi-weekly affair. EGM2 had their own previews, cheat codes and, as you can tell from this article, rumors. Their rumor section may have looked and felt like that of the original EGM, but it was hosted by a new character named X-Bert. With his questionable writing style and terrible rumors, X-Bert will fit in perfectly in the They Said WHAT?!? Archive. So get ready for eleven of the juiciest rumors as seen in EGM2's fourth issue. You may want to be sitting down for this one.
Rumor #1 - The Amazing SA-1 Chip?
"... Nintendo had a developer's conference recently, and X had his mouse ears fixed on the big event. Nintendo's come up with an SA-1 super accelerator adding only $2 to the price of a cartridge, unlike the FX
I never promised that all of the images were going to be exciting!
chip, which added $10 - $15. Nintendo may have a winner with this one according to the several developers that called up the ever friendly Captain X to let me know what kind of wave action went on at the "BIG" developers [sic] conference ..."
Could it be that this X-Bert guy could be the real deal? Could he really be that much better than Quartermann? Nope, he's simply reporting on a developer's conference that he (or somebody he knows) attended. That's not a rumor, that's actual news. The SA-1 super accelerator chip was included in a number of Nintendo's final Super NES titles, including Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. The chip was inexpensive and upped the processor's clock speed from 3.58 to 10 MHz.
The sad truth is that this X-Bert didn't even have to attend this developer's conference. Working as a games journalist gives you access to all sorts of people who might go to something like this and then report back on what Nintendo is working on. There's no reason for this to be in the rumor section when it should be leading the news section. Oh, that's right, magazine buyers didn't care about news in those days, all they wanted was sixty pages of previews and screenshots.
Rumor #2 - The Super NES VR?
"... The chip action was cool, but there was a "no wake zone" imposed on the portable 32-bit VR system that Nintendo plans on releasing next spring. Like any good pirate, I've found the spot
And that was the day Tony bought a PlayStation!
where the treasure is buried and dug it up, pried it open, and boy, is it full of good stuff. The Nintendo 32-bit VR system will be compatible with the Super Nintendo. No outside developers are being used to make games for the hand-held unit. The expansion port on the bottom of the Super Nintendo has a good use now, that's where the 32-bit VR hooks up to the Super NES. The unit is to make its first appearance in Japan later this month and we'll be all over it like sea gull [sic] droppings on the poop deck ..."
I can only assume that the "portable 32-bit VR system" in question is none other than the Nintendo Virtual Boy, which turned out to be not only Nintendo's first major failure, but also the least portable handheld game system ever created. But while it's true that the X-man is talking about a real product, he seems to start making weird assumptions that didn't even almost come true. For example, he suggests that this portable VR unit will hook directly into the Super NES. Instead the system uses its own cartridges and has absolutely nothing to do with Nintendo's 16-bit console.
And that's not all X-Bert got wrong. In one extremely confusing comment, EGM2's gossip guru suggests that there are no outside developers working on Virtual Boy games. Perhaps somebody should have told Taito, Bandai, Hudson Soft, J-Wing, Kemco, Ocean Software and all of the other companies that made games for the Virtual Boy. It's clear from X-Bert's ramblings that he doesn't have the foggiest idea what Nintendo is about to unveil, and part of me envies his innocence.
Rumor #3 - Huh??
"... Expect many new games from your favorite developers, including Darkstalkers, Capcom's newest arcade fighting hit. Capcom's earning those brownie points ... and, with the new
There's less going on in this Darkstarlkers picture than in this crummy rumor!
chip, Nintendo could easily breathe new life into the Super NES (not that DK Country hasn't) ... Nintendo's 32-bit VR system will be a portable. Could it be compatible with the Super NES?!!!"
Okay ... WHAT?!? First and foremost, this rumor makes no sense. It's like a weird combination of several unfounded rumors, none of which seem to tie together in a coherent way. What the hell is wrong with this so-called X-Bert? He realizes that he's writing for a living, right? I expect this kind of shoddy journalism from a teenage blogger or my local newspaper, but not from the mighty Electronic Gaming Monthly spin-off. No, I expect my rumors to make grammatical sense and have a point. And this one fails on both fronts.
Regardless of the wording, X-Bert does make a few claims here that I feel need to be debunked. So, let's take these in order. First up, Darkstalkers isn't a developer; instead it's a video game. Now, if Bert is trying to suggest that Capcom will develop more Darkstalkers games, then yes, that's certainly true. I suppose it's true that the new SA-1 chip could breathe new life into the Super NES, but so few games used it and it only started to be used around the time of the Saturn and PlayStation launch. You can't blame people for barely noticing the Super NES in 1995. Moving on, the Virtual Boy ("Nintendo's 32-bit VR system") was not a portable device. Also, why are you asking if it will hook up to the Super NES, one rumor ago you said it would. Which is it?
Rumor #4 - Darkstalkers on the Ultra 64?
"Darkstalkers on the Ultra 64?!"
Now here's a rumor I like, short and sweet. I love the Darkstalkers universe, it's a game that doesn't get enough love from Capcom. However, this rumor is short on facts. In fact, neither Darkstarlkers nor Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge made their way to the Nintendo 64. Not even Darkstalkers 3 hit the cartridge-based system. In fact, not a single entry in this series has been released on a Nintendo console, not the Wii, Game Boy Advance or GameCube. So no, X-Bert, Darkstalkers is NOT on the Ultra 64.
Rumor #5 - More Zelda Coming?
"A new Zelda game is coming on the Ultra as well, details are sketchy, but if you know Nintendo and the Zelda series, you
Even if Nintendo ceases to create any more Zelda games, we'll always have lesbian cosplay!
can bet it'll be one fantastic game. Add to that Cruis'n USA, Killer Instinct, Darkstarlkers and the other games in development should rule."
Hey genius, how did you ever predict that there would be another Zelda game? Who could have ever seen that one coming? Look, I've been over this with your EGM counterpart, Quartermann. Making educated guesses is not the same as providing real gossip. I can say right now that Nintendo will release another handheld game system at some point in the future. I know this will happen because they have released so many portable consoles in the past and their DS sales are through the roof. It would be ridiculous for them not to release another portable system at some point in the future. You see, that's an educated prediction. If I knew that they would be announcing the Game Boy Advance Future next month and told you about it, then that would be gossip. See the difference?
Also, what the hell does that last sentence even mean? "Add that Cruis'n USA, Killer Instinct, Darkstalkers and the other gamers in development should rule." Should rule? Add to what? Cruis'n USA and Killer Instinct certainly didn't rule, and Darkstalkers wasn't even released on the Nintendo 64. There's something wrong with that sentence, it makes no sense. Maybe if it read: "Add Cruis'n USA, Killer Instinct, Darkstalkers and the other games in development and the Nintendo 64 line-up should rule." Is that what you meant? Does nobody copy edit X-Bert's rumor section? Wait ... am I the first person to actually read this trash?
Rumor #6 - Does This Mean More Haggar?
"From the Land of the Rising Sun, Muscle Bomber, better known as Super Saturday Night Slam Masters is being readied for action. There are four new characters in addition to the old ones. Details are a little
Anything that keeps Mike Haggar is good in my books!
sketchy as I swab the this gaming deck, but it sounds as though it will be a two-player fighting game ..."
So here's another clumsily worded rumor. The first thing I had to establish was whether or not this Super Saturday Night Slam Masters was a sequel or a port. The arcade version of Saturday Night Slam Masters came out in 1993, so clearly X-Bert knows of that game when typing out these crummy rumors. So this Super Saturday Night Slam Masters that is being readied for action, is that a Super NES port or some sort of sequel?
After some digging I realized that he must be referring to Ring of Destruction - Slam Masters II, released in Japan as Super Muscle Bomber - The International Blowout. Clearly he must have taken the "Super" from the Japanese title and assumed it would be applied to our Americanized version. Indeed he's right that it featured four new characters and a more traditional 1-on-1 setting. It goes to show, I was ready to write this rumor off completely simply based on X-Bert's horrific writing style. If anything this issue of EGM2 gives people all over the world hope that you too could work at a major video game magazine ... even if you don't have a clear grasp of the English language!
Rumor #7 - A Donkey of a Pack-In?
"The X also had a few sets of ears scouring the corridors of the European Computer Trade Show recently. It seems as though Nintendo is throwing an extra banana the way of European gamers as they intend to pack in Donkey Kong Country this holiday season, to pick up a few extra quid. Gaming insiders are suggesting that Nintendo may use
If Nintendo had the balls they would create an M-rated Donkey Kong filled with dark characters, complex emotions and monkey sex!
the same vine over on our side of the big pond to corral gamers that haven't bought a Super Nintendo and haul them on the side of the gaming equation using the DKC pack-in technique. That would be a good thing for budding gamers. Buy a Super NES and get the best game available for free? EXCELLENT!"
Surprise! X-Bert gets another "rumor" right. I hate to say it, but he's two for two. Well, it's actually more like three for seven, but I'm sure he doesn't want us counting all that stuff about the Virtual Boy connecting to the Super NES. Anyway, it's true. Donkey Kong Country was indeed a pack-in game, both in Europe and the U.S. And can you blame Nintendo? The Donkey Kong Country series was launched near the end of the 16-bit era, right around the time Nintendo needed a hot new cartridge to attract gamers to their budget -priced console. I would say this is more of a prediction than a rumor, but I'm not here to nitpick, I'll give this one to Mr. Bert.
One thing before we move on: Since when did Donkey Kong Country become "the best game available"? It's a fine game, I won't argue against its quality. But I can think of hundreds of games that are better than Donkey Kong Country, most of them for the Super NES. And it's not just me, Electronic Gaming Monthly (you know, EGM1) named it one of the Top 10 Most Overrated Games of All Time. GameSpy said the same thing. No, really, they also did a list of the Top 25 Most Overrated Games of All Time and Donkey Kong Country came in at number nine. Face it, Donkey Kong Country is not one of the best games of all time, it was an average platformer with exceptional graphics.
Rumor #8 - Sega 32X Games Unpolished?
"... The 32X games need a lot of polish, the X has been told the games
Cosmic Carnage is no Eternal Champions!
that are currently being worked on, Star Wars Arcade and Cosmic Carnage looked shakier than a flock of sea gulls [sic] at the beach party. But Virtua Racing Deluxe looked good and it won't have a DSP chip to increase the game to $99. The game is 10 times better and it will cost $69 ..."
Sorry X-Bert, that's just the way the 32X games looked. Both Star Wars Arcaded and Captain Carnage were an unpolished mess, while the other big titles (such as Knuckles Chaotix) failed to look even slightly better than their Genesis counterparts. But you are right about one thing, Virtua Racing Deluxe does look good and was around $30 cheaper than the overpriced Genesis version. I'm not sure I would agree with the idea that it's "10 times better," but it certainly wasn't any worse. I liked the 32X game, but to be that much better it would have to have a bunch of extra tracks and better multiplayer options. Face it X-Bert, the Sega 32X was a bust and you knew it.
Rumor #9 - The Sega CD Syndrome?
"As you've probably heard from the guru of gossip, the Sega CD syndrome, two versions of the same unit, calling it new and improved and hoping you'll shell out more cabbage to pick up the same unit unit twice, sorry not this time Sonic. The phenomena will strike again next spring with Sega
In a wise move, Sega decided against releasing their proposed Neptune console!
taking the 32X off of the Genesis and putting it inside and calling it the Super Genesis ..."
This X-Bert is a real big fan of run-on sentences. Talk about a confusing introduction to this rumor, there has to be a way for Mr. X to say what is on his mind in a more succinct manner? You do realize that you don't have to go with the first thing that pops into your head, you can erase what you have and reword your thoughts in a more concise fashion? There's no rush, you can take your time to write out real sentences that actually make sense. Do it for the kids.
Anyway, there was a plan to release a Genesis/32X combo called the Sega Neptune. In fact, Sega actually had demo units of this machine ready to go at several industry trade shows. However, due to the lack of interest in the 32X, Sega opted not to release the Neptune, instead focusing their time, money and attention to the 32-bit Saturn. The name "Super Genesis" is just ludicrous, there's no way that X-Bert got that name from somebody working at (or close to) Sega. The name is so laughably bad that I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't just pull that contrived name right out of his butt.
Rumor #10 - Sega Gears Up For a Battle?
"In other Sega news, the Saturn has been pulled back and they're trying to get gamers into a better gaming orbit
Be afraid, be very afraid (not really)!
and get themselves in a better position to compete against the Sony PlayStation and the Ultra 64."
This is neither news nor a rumor! In fact, it's barely even a statement. From what I can decipher, X-Bert is trying to make fun of the console's spacey name by referencing things like orbit and ... well ... screw it, I don't know what the heck EGM2 is trying to say. At first thought I wondered if they were talking about the failure of the 32X, but as we've already established, the Sega 32X has yet to fail as of the writing of this column. So why was the system pulled back? To get gamers into a better gaming orbit? Look, I understand gearing up to make a big push when your console is released, but I fail to see where the news information is in this rumor. Of course Sega wants to get ready for the Ultra 64 and PlayStation, only a fool would go into a console war thinking they don't even need to try. I don't think it's the gamers that need to get into a better gaming orbit, I think it's the terrible games journalists that are literally writing any words that come into their hollow heads.
Rumor #11 - Atari's Own Virtua Fighter?
"It seems that Atari has roped in someone from Sega's Japanese AM2 arcade development team, and he's working on a Virtua Fighters clone for the Atari Jaguar with super graphics. Let's just hope they get it out in time ..."
Apparently X-Bert has a strong start and knows how to finish ... it's everything in the middle that he can't get right. It's true; Atari did snag Francois Bertrand, an ex-AM2
Well, at least it wasn't called Fight 4 Life!
programmer that sharpened his teeth on the Virtua Fighter series. Together he and Atari worked on the game Fight For Life, released on the Jaguar in 1996. It was a great headline that got Atari and Bertrand lots of exposure. There's just one minor problem: Francois Bertrand wasn't ready to be the head (and only) programmer on what was supposed to be a triple-A fighting game. This is a guy that worked on the camera and collision system for Virtua Fighter, and all of a sudden he's being asked to develop an eight-character fighting game that would resurrect Atari's failed 64-bit system. Talk about pressure.
While it's true that X-Bert got most of this rumor right, there's one thing that sticks with me. They say that it's a Virtua Fighter clone that, and I quote, has "super graphics." Super graphics? On the Atari Jaguar? Apparently lonesome cowboy X-Bert has never seen a Jaguar game, because nothing on Atari's console had "super graphics." That was the other big problem with Fight For Life, it was an ambitious fighting game on a console that simply couldn't handle it. It's a shame, maybe Kimura, Ian, Pog, Mr. G and the rest of the Fight For Life cast members would have been better suited for a Saturn or PlayStation fighting game.