November 1992: I'm tellin' ya, a 3D Sonic game is can't miss idea!
Ever since day one GamePro has been my favorite punching bag. It almost doesn't matter what they're doing, they seem to be wrong even when they're right. But as much as I like to pick on GamePro, I rarely spend time debunking their news section. Faithful viewers will notice that most of my They Said WHAT?!? episodes have been about Quartermann and Electronic Gaming Monthly. From time to time we've branched out to cover Sega, Atari, Mitch Gitelman and even Die Hard Game Fan, but rarely do we look at GamePro. That ends today!
It's time once again for another exciting episode of Defunct Games vs. GamePro ... I mean, They Said WHAT?!? In this episode we take a look at GamePro's November 1992 issue. It's here that we find a special three page feature about Japan's upcoming role-playing games, including Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy and the Phantasy Star series. What should be a standard look at some of the biggest RPGs to his 16-bit consoles turns into a comedy of errors. GamePro should be able to do this, all they needed to do was write a few words about a game that may or may not come out in the U.S. But instead they pass speculation off as real news. But do they tell us that their misinformation is actually just guesses? Of course not, and that's why they've found themselves smack dab in the middle of the 35th episode of They Said WHAT?!?
Quote 1: GamePro Doesn't Know Dragon Quest!
Dragon Quest V: "Japan's number one series is Dragon Quest by Enix, which statesiders know as Dragon Warrior. Japanese players often camp out in front of computer stores just to pick up a copy. Dragon Quest V for the Super Famicom showcases a fantastic 16-meg role-playing
Breaking News: America's just not into you!
playing adventure. Over 60 colorful enemies and a score of dungeons stand between you and the dark forces that threaten your land. The cart's now available in Japan and should hop the pond for a '93 or '94 SNES release."
Before we jump straight into debunking mode, I want to point out how quaint it is to hear video game journalists talk in amazement about how the Japanese react to the Dragon Quest series. It's as if the idea of camping outside of a game store for a hot game is completely foreign. Yet, these days it's common place. We may not do it for the newest Dragon Quest game, but there was certainly a line for Grand Theft Auto IV, Halo ODST and even Borderlands. Early adopters looking to score a first-generation console are also forced to sit outside GameStop or Best Buy, usually
But I bet they would if she showed up!
in freezing cold weather and very little lighting. So take that, Japan.
But I digress. It's important to remember that unlike EGM's Quatermann, GamePro is not peddling these quotes as rumors. This story is introduced as a hard news feature, a part of the magazine you can trust. Perhaps that's why it's so frustrating to see GamePro print such outlandish (and woefully inaccurate) "reliable" predictions.
Here we have GamePro suggesting that Dragon Quest V will find its way to the U.S. in 1993 or 1994, which is awesome!! Well ... it would be awesome if that actually happened. The truth is, English speaking gamers didn't see Dragon Quest V until THIS YEAR, a full 17 years after the game's launch. And it wasn't even on the Super NES, instead opting for the more successful (and relevant) Nintendo DS. Not that I'm complaining, I had a great time when I reviewed it in March. With 17 years between releases, I think we can conclusively say that GamePro got it wrong. But I'm sure they'll totally nail the Final Fantasy V write-up ...
Quote 2: GamePro Doesn't Know Final Fantasy!
Final Fantasy V: "Square Soft's ready to unleash Final Fantasy V in November. This 16-meg RPG isn't a radical change to the series, but uses a rich palette of colors to create striking background
Am I the only one that wants to see Square Enix return to this simple art style?
graphics. Cecil's descendants fight an evil creature who shakes things up with several demonic forms. The game will be renamed Final Fantasy III when it debuts in the U.S. next year."
It doesn't take a fanatical Final Fantasy fan to know what's wrong with this quote -- Final Fantasy V was never ported to the American (or European) Super NES. While there was an American Final Fantasy III, it was a port of Final Fantasy VI and not this fifth installment. What's more, it took seven years before Square got around to releasing this lost sequel in the United States and Europe. Since its release it has found its way to the PlayStation and Game Boy Advance, but American gamers never had a chance to buy this epic adventure on the Super NES as GamePro suggests.
Even more troubling is the "news" that Final Fantasy V has a story that is connected to that of Final Fantasy IV (America's Final Fantasy II). While there are always exceptions to the rule, the brilliance of Final Fantasy is that there is never any continuity to deal with. Oh sure, gameplay mechanics may pass from one game to the next, but each game tells its own self-contained story. That way you can pick up any Final Fantasy game without worrying about the titles that came before it. All of this talk about how it's somehow connected to Cecil's struggles is pointless filler that diminishes the best part of the Final Fantasy franchise. Way to miss the point, GamePro.
Quote 3: GamePro Doesn't Know Phantasy Star!
Phantasy Star IV: "Sega of Japan's hottest property is Phantasy Star IV, a 12-meg Mega Drive cartridge with a Mega CD version waiting in the wings. Cast members, old and new, include Wren, Odin, and Nei. Look for lots of time travelling, gorgeous overhead view graphics, and software scaling. The
Who wants a Sega CD version that's 20 times bigger? Bring on the fully 3D Phantasy Star 5!
CD version is reportedly 20 times larger than the cart. Sega of America's sure to release both editions, but neither is announced."
While GamePro's misinformation about Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy is hard to swallow, it wasn't until I stumbled upon this Phantasy Star IV quote that I knew that I had to spin their article into something bigger. GamePro is trying hard to scoop everybody, but looking at this quote it's hard to see anything other than desperation. It all sounds good and back in 1992 I wanted all of this to come true. There's just one teeny tiny little problem, there's no such thing as Phantasy Star IV for the Sega CD and GamePro knows it.
So what do you do if you have to write 70 words about a game that hasn't even been announced yet? If you're GamePro you pull as much as you can out of your ass and hope that Sega is taking notes. They talk about all of these cast members that return, yet only one of them actually returns. They bring up the gorgeous overhead graphics, but by that time in the Genesis's lifespan all games should be gorgeous. But the more egregious factual error is that the Sega CD game would be "20 times larger than the cart." Really? Twenty times larger? Why not just make it a billion times larger? And have unlimited bosses that allow you to level up to infinity. And why not make it a hologram while you're at it? There never was a Sega CD version of Phantasy Star IV, and even if there was I doubt it would be 20 times larger. But GamePro knows that, which is why they remind us that "neither has been confirmed" at the end of their guessing game. Remember, they claim that all of this is news.
Quote 4: GamePro Doesn't Know Land Stalker!
Land Stalker: "Next on Falcom's agenda is Land Stalker, a 16-meg Shining in the Darkness spin-off for the Mega Drive. In the game, a great and powerful king, who once ruled the land with an iron hand, disappears with all his riches in tow. You set off on a worldwide treasure hunt in an
Hey ... what happened to that Land Stalker remake for the PSP?
overhead-view quest. Look for Japan's release in October. An American launch has not been announced."
I loved Land Stalker as a kid. While all of my Zelda-loving friends would make fun of the weird camera angle, they were immediately drawn into the rich world, phenomenal storytelling and imaginative dungeons. Land Stalker was developed by Climax (not Falcom, as GamePro incorrectly states), the same people that worked on Shining Force and the amazing Shining in the Darkness. Yet as good as those games are, I was always partial to Land Stalker. Heck, I even imported Lady Stalker on the Super Famicom just to know what it was.
At first glance there doesn't seem to be much worth complaining about in this write-up. This paragraph tells about the story and what you're going to do. It doesn't confirm a U.S. release date, but it doesn't rule one out either. The truth is, I almost didn't include it in this list. That is until I noticed that GamePro incorrectly referred to the game as a "Shining in the Darkness spin-off." While it's true that it's from the same company, there really isn't anything about this game that connects it to Shining in the Darkness. I suppose one could argue that the fantasy setting is similar, but by that rationale Dragon Quest is nothing more than a spin-off of Final Fantasy. Still, suggesting that it's connected to another popular game is hardly the worst thing GamePro did in this issue, so maybe I'll give them a pass. On the other hand, they did suggest that Falcom was responsible for Land Stalker ...
Quote 5: GamePro Doesn't Know Ys!
Ys IV: "Finally, Falcom's whipping Ys IV into shape for an early '93 PC Engine Super CD release. Plot details are sketchy, but rest assured, Adol and his buddies will be looking for the shattered books
Thanks to today's Kindle technology you wouldn't need to spend four games searching for some stupid books!
of Ys in a full screen, side view action/adventure. The U.S. TurboDuo version should surface next year. Mega CD and Super Famicom versions are also rumored to be in the works."
After screwing up Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star and Land Stalker, I was ready for GamePro to finally get something right. After all, even a broken clock is right two times a day. But alas, GamePro is back to their usual tradition of putting their foot in their mouth about games they aren't familiar with. In this case it's Ys IV, the 1993 PC Engine game that they claim was developed by Falcom. If this was any other Ys game the editors would be right, but as luck would have it there were two versions of Ys IV ... neither developed by Falcom.
I hate to bore you with the details, but fans of the franchise will tell you that there's Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (the PC Engine game mentioned in this GamePro piece) and Ys IV: Mask of the Sun (released on the Super Famicom). While
Unfortunately these guys came dressed for a side scrolling adventure!
both versions have roughly the same story, there are enough differences to consider them two separate titles. Unfortunately for GamePro, one is developed by Hudson Soft and the other by Advance Communication (for Tonkin House). It's also worth mentioning that neither version was released in the States, and the Mega CD version was cancelled early into development.
But wait, did GamePro say that Ys IV would be a side-scrolling action/adventure game? They did, they came right out and said that this sequel will be a "full-screen, side-view action/adventure." Those were their exact words. They expected this game to be like Ys III: Wanderers From Ys, the black sheep of the Ys franchise. Instead both versions returned to the overhead style of Ys Book I and II. Hey GamePro, why even bring up Ys IV if you don't know anything about it?
Quote 6: GamePro Doesn't Know A Bunch of Stuff!
Everything Else: "Remember Miracle Warriors for the Master System? Sega plans to release a Mega CD version. King Colossus is dazzling Japanese players with its 8-meg Mega Drive quest. Time
If GamePro is going to call Time Gal a role-playing game, then I guess my favorite RPG would be Tetris!
Gals by Wolf Team features a team of scantily clad heroines travelling through Mega CD time. You face woolly mammoths, giant apes and other naughty folks. Cosmic Fantasy 3 by Riot/Telenet will continue Galam's PC Engine Super CD adventure in October. Finally, NEC Avenue's Dragon Knight II is a rather rude, crude, crass and fleshy PC Engine CD."
So here we are at the end of GamePro's lengthy look at upcoming Japanese role-playing games. But don't be sad, because there's one more quote that has a bunch of rapid fire predictions ... er, news stories. So instead of wasting time introducing each of them, let's see how well GamePro did.
I do remember Miracle Warriors on the Master System, but I don't remember a Mega CD sequel. King Colossus may in fact be a "dazzling" Japanese video game, but it never made its way over to these shores. Time Gal did make it over to the United States, however it's not a role-playing game so I don't know why we're talking about it here. Cosmic Fantasy 3 was released in Japan, but not in October as GamePro suggests. And finally, Dragon Knight II is indeed a rather rude, crude, crass and flashy PC Engine CD ... so what's your point?