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EGM August '95 - All About the Ultra 64!
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 27, 2006   |   Episode 5 (Show Archive)  

   

AUGUST 1995: 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 fifth episode we decided to look at EGM issue 73, August 1995.

Rumor #1 - Damn, That's Cheap!

Trade these games in and you might be able to afford a new Xbox 360, but no games!
"The PlayStation for $199? Could it be? The Q has heard from inside insiders at one major games chain that 199 will be the magic price for Sony's wonder systems if you throw in 10 of your old dilapidated 16-Bit games. Trading in your old wares for the latest in super-Bit tech is a great idea, so don't be surprised to see others play follow the leader (and watch old Super Mario Bros. carts start stacking up all the way to the ceiling)."
Reality: Wait a second, THIS is a rumor?? Since when has advertising for a mall chain been known as a rumor? This is just the Quartermann trying to make his advertisers happy, and for what? This is the way you start your page-long article about rumors? This just makes me look bad because I'm forced to start this show with pointless advertising. And really, so you get $100 off ... but those games cost you $60 - $70 when they first came out, is that really a good deal? I think not!

But let's not dwell on the fact that this really isn't a rumor, the Quartermann was right when he predicted that other stores would follow suit. It's not uncommon to see stores like GameStop.com and Electronic Boutique offering significant price cuts if you trade in your used games. While new games will net a mere $5 - $8 profit, used games can bring in $10 or more. One only needs to look at this deal to see how cheap these stores are getting the games for. You better believe that after Software Etc. paid $10 each for your Super NES games, they turned around and sold them for $20 - $30. This isn't the Q-mann being a psychic, this is just him being a wise analyst and predicting something that is just good business.
Conclusion: Not a rumor, but it ends up being the truth nonetheless. The Quartermann can't take all the credit, though, because he's just reporting on something that was already happening. Let's just call this one a draw.

Rumor #2 - More Baseless Sony Bashing?
"In other news from the Sony sector, developers have been calling into the Q-gossip hotline and telling yours truly that the giant S -- in another attempt to shorten the number of

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Myst?
titles that are on the store shelves for the PlayStation's inaugural Christmas - will not be letting any point-and-click games that turn the PSX controller into a mouse into a holiday stockings. Good thing Final Fantasy fanatics weren't waiting for the PSX to turn up the next sequel."
Reality: Certainly I'm not the only one that laughed out loud when they read that last line, especially knowing what system Final Fantasy VII ended up calling home. But it's August 1995, it would be months before Quartermann saw the error of his ways. But let's not dwell on that unfortunate last line, let's talk about the allegations he's making in regards to point-and-click adventure games. Who cares?

You heard me right. Who cares?? I'm sorry but I don't see the problem with here, how is this a problem? Just how many point-and-click adventure games were ready September 9, 1995? Better yet, how many GOOD point-and-click adventures were ready to go (then or at any point of the PlayStation's life)? I just don't see what the big deal is. This probably ended up working out better for those two or three games affected, how well do you think they would have sold when put up against the big hitters that made it for the system's debut? Releasing these games at a slower time of the year is a good idea, one that the Q-mann shouldn't use to insult Sony. It's not like Sony was holding back the very best of their lineup, they just wanted their most impressive stuff out front. And what does this have to do with Final Fantasy? It's not a point-and-click series ... or does the Quartermann not know that?
Conclusion: Possibly true, but I think the Quartermann is the only one complaining. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this worked out for everybody involved ... except for Q, who makes a funny comment about Final Fantasy. Hey Square, have I ever thanked you for making all these journalists look so bad?

Rumor #3 - EGM Has an Exclusive!
"Turning to the exploits of the good ship Nintendo, who continue to sail along on the ever-choppy 16-Bit gaming seas, wurd [sic] hears that big N may be sunk by the Saturn and PlayStation dual assaults. Although Nintendo pulled off a surprise coup by announcing Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's

No, no, no ... not THAT Yoshi! Though an island of ...
Island, the Q questions whether or not Nintendo's marketing muscle can launch three separate mainline titles when the spotlight's shining so brightly on Sega's and Sony's wonder machines. Even though Yoshi's Island will pack 32-Meg, its announcement immediately pushed back the release of Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong Quest. DKC 2 was the second game using advanced computer-modeled graphics and the inside word says that DKC 2 may be delayed until the end of February to give RARE more time to make the game even better than Donkey Kong Country. The fact that Yoshi will have more shelf time to himself won't hurt either."
Reality: Hey look, it's Q reporting news and making speculations, is this what passed for gossip back in 1995? Although this "rumor" starts with talk about Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, it really has more to do with Donkey Kong Country 2 and the rest of Nintendo's plans. Here Q says the most logical thing, which is that Yoshi's Island will do better without a bunch of other games getting in the way; obviously EGM hired this guy for his astute common sense. Maybe it has more to do with the way I am reading his writing, but it sounds like a certain Q-mann is kind of sad that Donkey Kong Counry 2 was delayed. Here we are eleven years later and most people can't tell the difference between the Donkey Kong Country games, yet everybody still loves Yoshi's Island. Time really does put things in perspective.
Conclusion: This is another one of those non-rumors, the type of write up that is more about speculation. Get back to me when we have something juicy to talk about.

Rumor #4 - No Really, EGM Has an Exclusive!
"Yoshi's Island will be much like the original Super Mario World title that launched with the Super Nintendo, featuring Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and even Wario are supposed to make appearances. The

Maybe an island of Yoshi's won't be as much fun as it sounds!
Q hears that the game will have over 130 different hidden places to explore in addition to the main game ... While we're on the subject of Yoshi's Island, the Q-Mann has scoped out the 64-Meg [Ultra] 64 rev of the game being prepared by RARE."
Reality: Oh boy, more talk about Yoshi's Island. Maybe all this Super Mario World 2 talk has something to do with the fact that EGM had an exclusive with Nintendo to be the first to print pictures of this game. Look at the cover it says it right at the top, "Exclusive pix & info on the latest Mario adventure: Yoshi's Island!" Perhaps EGM felt obligated to rattle on about the game until everybody knew they were the first to break this information. Oh look what you made me do, I got so busy talking about EGM and their exclusives that I almost forgot that there was a rumor here ...

It looks like Quartermann wasn't content with just reporting on EGM's exclusive, he had to go that extra step and made stuff up. He says that "Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and even Warior" are in the games ... but the truth is that only two are in the game. In nearly every one of those "exclusive" pictures EGM was able to uncover you can see two characters, baby Mario and Yoshi, so how shocking is it that Q gets that right? But Luigi and Wario? Sorry, but this wasn't their time to shine.

Oh, and before I forget, Quartermann does indeed get it right when he says that a new Yoshi's Island is being developed for the Nintendo 64 ... what he forgets to mention is that the game is TERRIBLE!
Conclusion: Did you forget that EGM has an exclusive on Yoshi's Island? Quartermann does what he can to report on this exciting news, but his predictions that Luigi and Wario are in the game come up untrue.

Rumor #5 - When a Prediction Isn't Really a Prediction!
"Speaking of new softs from RARE, the Q has learned from sources in

John Madden says, "stop buying my games!"
the know that Super Mario Kart will be available for Nintendo's next gen machine, while EA sports will dish up John Madden '96 courtesy the programming wizards at Sculptured Software."
Reality: Oh shock, one of Nintendo's most popular Super NES games is going to get a sequel on the new next generation system? That seems like a pretty safe prediction to me. About as safe as predicting another Madden game ... oh crap, he did that too! Man, this Quarter-guy is on a real roll here. I wonder how he was able to make such accurate predictions ...
Conclusion: I'm going to go you one better, I predict there's going to be a new Madden game next year, another game with Tony Hawk in it, and yes, maybe even a new Super Mario adventure. Take that Quartermann!

Rumor #6 - Nintendo Pulls Out of the Winter CES?

Looks like E3 isn't the only trade show with completely out of place women!
"The slew of recent U64 software sightings is interesting, considering that Nintendo has just announced they are backing out of the Winter Consumer Electronic Show being held in Las Vegas in January. This was when they were planning on showcasing the Ultra 64 to North American buyers and the media."
Reality: Nintendo pulled out of the 1996 Consumer Electronic Show in order to focus their attention on E3, the event that would become the official trade show of the video game industry. Nintendo was not the only company to leave the halls (er, tent) of the Winter CES, Sega, SNK, and many other companies packed their things and headed to sunny L.A. And you know what? I don't blame them. Don't get me wrong, I was at the CES in 1996 and it was a lonely place ... but E3 was the right way to go. Having our own trade show helped solidify video games as a viable industry, something they couldn't have done piggybacking on an electronics convention.
Conclusion: It's true that Nintendo decided to drop out of the CES, but the Quartermann fails to inform his readers that the reason is because of the far-superior Electronic Entertainment Expo. So really, this rumor isn't all that "interesting" after all.

Rumor #7 - Troubles in the Land of Cartridges!

Damn, that's one big cartridge!
"Outside developers are telling the Q that the learning curve on the cartridge-based Ultra 64 development systems isn't what Nintendo thought it would be and members of their development dream team (no relation to OJ's lawyers) will be hard pressed to have their marquee titles ready in time for the aforementioned April dentonation."
Reality: April?? Oh Quartermann, you better forget about having an April launch now while you still have a chance. As many of you already know, the Nintendo 64 (not the Ultra 64 as it was known at the time) wasn't released until late into 1996. Perhaps the problems Q talks about were part of the reason Nintendo decided to launch so much later, or maybe it was the fact that systems released close to Christmas generally sell better than those released early in the year. Either way, the N64 wasn't ready for April and these technical issues might have had something to do with it.
Conclusion: There probably were some problems developing games for the new hardware, that's the kind of thing I would expect. But I think Nintendo was smart to hold off from releasing the system in April, you really want to get your system out there as close to Christmas as you can.

Rumor #8 - $350 for an Ultra Famicom?
"The Japanese version of the U64, dubbed

Meet April, she doesn't think the N64 is coming out in the Spring either!
the Ultra Famicom, will be released in Japan on November 30 or December 1, for the equivalent of $350 U.S. The machine will come packed with an introductory soft as well as three other titles that will be available on store shelves when the unit makes its debut."
Reality: Ultra Famicom? I won't get into that ... instead I'm going to focus on that supposed introductory cartridge. What do you suppose that would have had on it? Here are some more dates the Quartermann manages to screw up, and that price ended up being WAY too high. But we're talking about the Japanese version; do EGM's readers really care about how much the Nintendo 64 costs in Japan? Do you care that I'm talking about it? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Conclusion: Shouldn't the Quartermann be getting tired of talking about the Nintendo 64? I'm sure tired listening to him talk about it.
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