APRIL 1992: Street Fighter II never looked worse than it does on this cover!
The look, logo, staff, and consoles may have changed, but there's one thing that has remained the same since the very first issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly nearly 17 years ago. And that is Quartermann, the man you call on when you want rumors, gossip, and speculation. Although his write up has gone under a number of different titles, a rumor section has appeared in every one of EGM's almost 200 issues. But what if I were to tell you that this rumor monger's facts were spotty, at best? What if I were to tell you that the rumors, while juicy, are often incorrect? Well ... that's precisely what I'm about to tell you, and to prove it we're prepared to look at his rumors one magazine at a time.
Here's what you need to know: In each episode we are going to take a different issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly and go through every single rumor the Q-Mann talked brought up. I'm going to write them up EXACTLY as they are in the magazine, and then explain the truth ... knowing what we know all these years later. We're not here to pull any punches, we're just curious to see how well the magazine holds up over the years. In our fourth episode we decided to look at EGM issue 33, April 1992.
Rumor #1 - EA Gearing Up for Next Gen?
We've had enough Need for Speed, maybe it's time for EA to bring back Road Rash!
"We begin this issue with CD-ROM news. We've all heard about the leaps in technology Nintendo, Sega, Sony and others are making, but other super powers ranging from Electronic Arts to Lucasfilm are also committing big bucks to the next generation of video games. Does this mean we'll see great games like Road Rash 2 on CD? No way sez [sic] the Quartermann, but you will see it on both the Super NES and Genesis, along with a new street fighting football game later in the year."
Looking back it makes complete sense why companies like Lucasfilm and Electronic Arts would set up their own studios to make multimedia games, both companies have proven to be prolific, especially when it comes to capturing real characters, video, voices, and everything else that goes into disc-based games. If anything Lucasfilm and Electronic Arts did more for the disc media that both Nintendo and Sega, a couple of companies that fumbled right out of the gate when it came to CD-ROM technology (though, both in completely different ways).
But as usual the Quartermann wasn't content with just relaying the news that the world's biggest publisher is spending the big bucks to prepare for the next generation (which would be the 32/64-Bit era, I guess). Q sees an opportunity to make a fool of himself by predicting something that just didn't come true, that we would not see "great games" like Road Rash 2 on CD. Even if you just talk about the one game he mentioned (Road Rash) you would still have to explain the 1994 Road Rash on the 3DO or the Road Rash game they were developing for the Sega CD. Better yet, how do you explain all of the popular PlayStation and Saturn games? And don't even get me started on DVDs and UMDs. And while we're at it, what is this "street fighting football game" they talked about? On second thought, I really don't want to know.
A perfect places to start, with EGM only getting half of the info correct! It may have been years before Madden and other top EA franchises found their way to CD, but that didn't stop Road Rash from making its way to the disc format!
Rumor #2 - An $80 Street Fight?
Ever wonder why M. Bison's hand is so much bigger than his head? Yeah, me neither!
"Street Fighter II update! There will be NO special controller packed with this 16-meg monstrosity. But don't expect the price to fall far below the eighty bucks retail price rumored to kicking around."
Here's another perfect example of how Electronic Gaming Monthly can get half of the story right, but lose all credibility with the second half. When it comes to this rumor the Quartermann was absolutely right when he said that the Super NES version of Street Fighter II would not come bundled with a special control, as you all probably know it came only with the game itself (and the instruction manual, of course). Unfortunately the same could not be said for the price, which they predicted would be around $80. Yeah, maybe in Canada! The game actually only cost $60 when it was released, about the same price as most of the other titles released that year. I can understand how the thinking could be that since it was a 16-Megabit game (whereas most of the games at the time were between 4 and 8-Megabit) it may cost more to manufacture, and that could be true. But Capcom made plenty, and so the price remained roughly the same as every other game on the market. It also ushered in a new era of 16-Megabit games. It wasn't until Sega released games like Phantasy Star IV that we saw $80 games.
An $80 Street Fighter II? Of course, $60 in 1992 money is actually $81.26 in 2005, thanks to inflation. So given enough time I guess EGM was right about the hefty price tag!
Rumor #3 - Play NES Games on the Super NES?
This accessory would allow you to play Tetris, not that Nintendo wants you to!
"Mr. Q has uncovered news of some mega machines for all you hardware heads! Rumor has it that a special NES convertor [sic] will finally make its way onto store shelves by Christmas! The device, as yet to be named, will plug right into the top of the 16-Bit Nintendo and give you the magical ability to play 8-Bit carts on your super system! Whooppeee! Personally the Q-Meister feels this tiny piece of technology is too little much too late."
The Quartermann talks like the Super NES had been out for years, but considering this is the April 1992 issue it would seem like Nintendo's 16-Bitter had only been out for half a year. Half a year and it's too little "much" too late for the 8-Bit converter?? You've got to be kidding me! Six months from the Xbox 360's launch I doubt even 25% of the original Xbox games will be playable on the system. Who is this Quatermann, demanding such perfection right out of the gate? What a jerk!
Anyway, I don't remember an 8-Bit converter for the Super NES, unless you're talking about that Super Game Boy that was released. The Sega Genesis had an 8-Bit converter, but it really was too little "much" too late. This would have been a pretty useful device, especially when you consider how cool it would have been to play those classic NES games on the Super NES ... there would be no reason for Super Mario All Stars!! All joking aside, I couldn't find a lick of evidence to suggest that the Quartermann knew what he was talking about here, to some it might be wishful thinking but at this point is seems like just a page filler (kind of like this whole article).
In 1992 the idea of backwards compatibility was foreign; it wasn't until the release of the Game Boy Advance that Nintendo realized how cool it would be go support the older games. In other words, there was no 8-Bit converter for the Super NES.
Rumor #4 - A Power Mouse for a Super Nintendo?
Does this look like a Power Mouse to you?
"Also under development for the Super NES is a "Power Mouse" controller that will make interfacing with RPG and adventure games on the 16-Bit Nintendo much easier. The peripheral is especially useful on games like Dungeon Master where pull down windows and direction progress is accomplished within a more conventional computer environment! No date for release on this gem."
How cool does that sound? POWER MOUSE!! Is that Mighty Mouse's egocentric bigger brother, or maybe the lost cousin Danger Mouse never knew about? Actually, the Power Mouse they are talking about is nothing more than a standard mouse with a Super NES attachment. The mouse in question came with Mario Paint, Nintendo's version of Art Alive (remember that name; he's going to mention it in the next rumor). How great was this mouse? Well, it didn't find as many uses as the Quartermann seems to suggest. Games like Dungeon Master never actually supported it and Nintendo was left as one of the few companies coming up with uses for it. But why should this surprise anybody? Nintendo has a long tradition of releasing a peripheral and letting it shrivel up and die. Don't believe me? How many games do you remember for R.O.B.? What about the Power Pad? Oh, and who on Earth thought GBA connectivity was a good thing?
This "gem" really did come out, but they decided to drop the "power" part of the name ... probably because by 1992 the idea of a mouse wasn't as futuristic as Q-Mann seems to suggest.
Rumor #5 - Where's My Batman 2?
Trust me, it's better I chose a Link cosplayer than a Mutant Turtle!
"Where's the beef Sega! You rode out of a high, but you're heading into '92 on a low! I'm all for you guys making it big, but with hot hits like Street Fighter 2, Contra 3, Turtles 4, Zelda 3, etc. hitting the Super NES, you better get something better than Art Alive into the stores. Where's Sonic 2? Where's Toe Jam and Earl 2? Where's Batman 2? We know you've got them - we just want you to finish them up!"
Truthfully this is more of Quarternmann venting than actual gossip. Here is a guy who is not satisfied with Sega's games post 1991, and to some extent I'm going to agree with him. Nintendo really does know how to get their act together and release some powerful games when they need to. Everybody was excited about Zelda III and Street Fighter II really did prove to be a coup for the Super NES. But the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4? Seriously??
Anyway, I decided to read all of the issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly between January 1992 and December 1992 and was amazed at how many games they gave good reviews to. Q-Mann may be whining about not getting Batman and Toe Jam & Earl sequels, but there were plenty of titles that managed to score 8's and 9's in his very own magazine. John Madden '92, the Terminator, Rolling Thunder 2, Chuck Rock, Golden Axe II, and Sol-Deace all managed to get high marks before this EGM issue came out. Further down the road Genesis owners were treated to Bulls vs. Lakers, Tazmania, NHLPA '93, Mic & Mac's Global Gladiators, Sports Talk Football, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and of course, John Madden '93. Are they better than Zelda 3? No, but it's wrong for Q to suggest that there weren't any good games that year.
Since this isn't a prediction it's hard to say whether it's right or wrong, this is purely opinion. Street Fighter II and Zelda III were certainly amazing games, but Sega still had a few great games in 1992 that were worth talking about.
Rumor #6 - Wasn't that Already Announced?
This question keeps coming up ... how the heck do you defeat a skeleton??
"Speaking of new Sega carts, look for their line-up to get an additional boost later this year from the sequel to Shining in the Darkness! Called Shining Force, this super cart weighs in at a hefty 12 meg! Other sequels to watch for include Monaco GP 2 (smart call Al!), and a new adventure within the Phantasy Star realm! Don't expect the fourth installment of the Phantasy Star series, however, until sometime in 1993 and quit looking for the long-awaited Turbo OutRun altogether! The head honchos at Sega pronounced it DOA when it arrived on these shores."
This is another one of those crazy predictions that may sound impressive, but really isn't. Shining Force was released in the U.S. just a month or two after this magazine went to print, so it's less a rumor and more an advertisement. The other games he mentioned were also easy to predict being that they had all been announced just a few months earlier at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show. When it came to Phantasy Star IV Quartemann was right to say 1993, since the game was released December of that year. This whole rumor is true, maybe it's time to just move on.
You heard the man, it's time to move on!
Rumor #7 - Now You Want to Talk About Aliens?
At least we didn't have to talk about Alien 3!
"Check out Aliens on Laserdisc! There's a boffo 15 minutes of extra footage - most of it at the colony before the bugs take over."
When I suggested we move on I didn't mean we should move on to the Laserdisc of Aliens! But, since we're here (and debunking everything the Quartermann says) let's talk about Aliens. He's right, the directors cut of Aliens really did have a lot of "newly" restored footage, a good 17 minutes worth (not the paltry 15 minutes he says). It does an excellent job of capturing the story of Newt and his troubles as the Speaker of the House ... er, I mean, Newt and her trouble dealing with the death of her entire family. There's some other stuff in there (including a few scenes that are rearranged to good dramatic effect), so this is definitely the version to watch if you want to see one of James Cameron's best movies.
Aliens was a great movie and the laser disc rocked. But do you really consider the Aliens in the movie to be "bugs"? I sure don't!
Rumor #8 - The Worst Sega Name?
I bet this Sega system wouldn't get an exclusive Sonic game either!
"Switching gear back to game systems, word from Sega chief is that a new piece of Sega hardware, officially code-named the Giga-Drive, will hit soon! The machine will indeed support at least a 32-bit configuration, mocking the System 32 boards from Sega's coin-ops! In addition to buff new games, the Giga-Drive will also remain completely downwardly compatible, so your Genesis library won't be obsolete overnight (learn Nintendo learn Nintendo learn Nintendo learn Nintendo) ... happy, happy - joy, joy."
There is a lot of confusion surrounding the GigaDrive, so we can't rightly get after Quartermann for not getting the entire story right. We can laugh at him for suggesting that it would play Sega Genesis games (and then mentioned Nintendo four times in a row), but for the most part he seems to get the story right ... at least, as right as you can get in April 1992. But I don't want to look like a fool so I'm going to quote the excellent Sega Base: Saturn and the fall of Sega :
"Using its experience with Mega CD (Sega CD), Sega decided that now was the time to abandon the traditional ROM cartridge format for delivering console videogames. GigaDrive would be Sega's first-ever dedicated CD-ROM based console - as opposed to Mega CD (Sega CD), which had for all intents and purposes been an expensive add-on peripheral. Sega knew that CD-ROM delivery for videogames was the wave of the future, so its new 32-bitter was designed to use CD-ROMs right from the start. Like almost all of Sega's arcade and console systems, GigaDrive was developed by Hideki Sato and his Sega engineering teams. The date of GigaDrive's inception is significant - this was 1992-1993, so Sega geared GigaDrive as a system specifically designed to better the 3DO, the only other 32-bit console available at the time. It is believed that a small number of working GigaDrive prototypes were actually built during 1993 in various forms to test the workability of the new console design. It was also during this time that the name of the console was changed from GigaDrive to that by which we know it today."
Sega has a really interesting history that's worth reading about ... but not in this section!
Rumor #9 - Is This Even a Rumor?
Nope, they aren't talking about the Sega CDX!
"While digging on the Giga-Drive, yours truly has also scored with some kick news on the yet another piece of Sega hardware! This machine, still in development and untitled, will be CD specific but won't hit the stores until sometime in 1994! Can't wait."
Oh? Okay, do you have any more hints?? Is this even a rumor? Could it be the 32X? Oh wait, it has to be CD based. Well, damn, what is it? What games will it launch with? Will it be able to compete with the PlayStation? Oh man, I wish the Quartermann would give us another hit, because this isn't a rumor, it's just random words thrown together to make a sentence. Well I can do that too ... in fact, I've been doing that this entire article!
While trying to figure out this "rumor" I got a headache, took some medicine, drank some water, and stopped caring about Sega's consoles altogether. Thanks a lot Quartermann!
Rumor #10 - Is a Color Game Boy In Your Future?
Nope, they're not talking about the Super Game Boy!
"Check it out! Nintendo is working on the development of the Color Game Boy, but no development systems have so far been awarded! The Q-Mann says December at the earliest."
Here's a safe rumor; after all, it was only a matter of time before Nintendo released a portable with color. It made a lot of financial sense to release a black and white Game Boy in 1989, but by 1992 we had already seen several color portables so it was safe to say that Nintendo would (eventually) get on the band wagon. Unfortunately, before we got the Color Game Boy Nintendo decided to release the Virtual Boy AND the Game Boy Pocket! It wasn't until 1998, a full six years later, that Nintendo release the Game Boy Color, a system that played ... Super Mario Brothers 1?? Oh Nintendo, what took you so long? I mean, it was only a couple years later that they released the Game Boy Advance. I bet if we do enough of these we'll run across the Quartermann making other safe predictions, like a Game Boy Advance with a lit screen.
The best part of this rumor is not how safe it is, but rather that super early "December at the earliest" prediction, technically they were right, but between that "December" and the actual release there were two Presidential Elections! I'm going to go out on a limb and say that we'll eventually see the PlayStation 4, but don't expect it before next Christmas! Now prove me wrong!