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They Said WHAT
EGM Sept. '90 - Everybody Makes Bad Games!
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 08, 2006   |   Episode 6 (Show Archive)  

   

SEPT. 1990: Some issues of EGM are in better condition than others!
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 14, September 1990.

Rumor #1 - Sega's Unstoppable CD-ROM!

Sorry bub, you're going to have to pay full price for Sonic CD!
"Chew on this one for awhile: Sega has ditched their plans to market the Floopy Disk Drive System that Sony developed for them and will instead unveil a true CD-ROM interface for their 16-Bit heavy hitter next spring! The machine is rumored to clock in at the vicinity of $200.00 and will be offered at the same time as a half dozen CD titles that should go for somewhere around 25 bucks! Despite some bad shots like the Master System 2 (why?), Sega appears to have the 16-Bit ball entirely in their court with an impressive machine that will soon be able to do it all. CD-ROM seems to be the wave of the future, and for such totally kick price Sega seems to have made the games of tomorrow affordable today!"
Reality: Floppy disk drive system?? Sony?? Are you sure we're talking about Sega here? In past episodes of They Said WHAT?!? we've talked about a tape drive for the NES and who can forget Sony pairing with Nintendo to develop the never-to-be-released Super NES CD, but Sega?? This is all so confusing, I feel like we should have had a "Previously On" before this episode. It seems like the closest Sega and Sony ever got was Virtua Fighter 4 on the PlayStation 2.

But let's move on, let's talk about Quartermann's prediction of $25 games for the Sega CD. $25?? Are you mad??? You better believe that games like Night Trap and Sewer Shark were full price, at least twice the price listed by Q. At least Quartermann was right about one thing, CD-ROMs were the wave of the future ... but Sega (and NEC) were ahead of their time. Here at Defunct Games we salute these systems, but even I can't deny that Sega would have been best to save CD technology for the 32-Bit era.
Conclusion: The first half sounds like Quartermann is confusing Sega with Nintendo and the second half is nothing more than predictions that never came true. Oh Q-mann, you have to do better than that to start a show!

Rumor #2 - Q Wants to Play a Super Famicom!

Not so fast, you didn't beat it twice!
"The Nintendo Super Famicom SFX will soon be on display for the first time in Japan! The upcoming Nintendo Show in Japan will not only be the launching pad for this radical super machine, but yours truly is also expecting to get my hands on hot third-party softs like Ghouls and Ghosts 3, R-Type 2 and Final Fight (which are all around 70% completed). Let's not forget Super Mario World and the other cool games Nintendo is planning! I just want to know when it's heading our way ..."
Reality: Is this a rumor? This sounds more like the Quartermann trying to talk up an event he probably didn't even attend. Every single game he mentions had been announced long before he wrote this, so he wasn't really telling us any info we didn't already know. Was the Super Famicom (which became the Super Nintendo Entertainment System when it was released over here) shown off in Japan? You bet, and were those games there? Sure, but only because the companies had promised them months in advance. Forget it, I'm done talking about it, this is not a rumor and it's time to move on!
Conclusion: You heard the man; it's time to move on!

Rumor #3 - How Now Brown Cow

Universal saved Firefly, I'll let them slide for that reason alone!
"Yes Doc, if you knew anything about games you'd know that Universal hasn't been making arcade games for years ..."
Reality: What's that you say? This is a code, right? Like when the spy sits next to you and says, "The winter in Spain is hot and wet." Ladies and gentlemen, Quartermann is just stating the obvious. Here are a few more I thought of while trying to figure out what the Q-meister was getting at: the NES had two face buttons, Sonic the Hedgehog is blue, Total Recall was a horrendous video game, and Mega Man was in entirely too many games. So Universal hasn't made an arcade game in a long time, what's your point? The Q-mann is starting to remind me of my grandfather when he didn't take his medicines.
Conclusion: Back to bed with you, Q. You'll feel better in the morning.

Rumor #4 - Some Honesty About the Lynx?

Forget the Atari, meet the Lynx!
"The smaller and more compact Lynx is on the way! The machine is almost half the horizontal size of its forefather, and it will come with some nifty new features like an automatic backlight shut-off! Also look for the Atari to redesign their carts into a shape that comes with a shell to protect them from dust and the elements! Combined with the loads of new games expected X-Mas time, the Atari label could become a contender once again!"
Reality: Oh good, now the Q has decided to move on to one of those systems we cover on Defunct Games, the Lynx. Around the time Quartermann wrote this article Atari (sorry, THE Atari) had been dropping some heavy hints about a new Lynx. In fact, they went as far as to show off pictures of in older EGM's. I guess Quartermann was just a little slow on the trigger. But let's not stop with those minor problems, let's focus on some of the claims Quartermann makes. Early into this rumor Q reports that the machine will be "almost half the horizontal size," which is just not true. Maybe 25% the horizontal size, but certainly not half. Oh, and Q, Atari (sorry, THE Atari) would never be a contender again. It's better you accept it now instead of fooling yourself for another decade.
Conclusion: There was a newer Lynx, it sold just as poorly, and it wasn't half the size. The Quartermann gets some of it right, but it's not enough for him to get a cookie.

Rumor #5 - We're Published By Warner!

Oh Warner Bros., you can't feel good about this guy!
"Look for our buddies at Warner Communications, the new distributor of your favorite gaming magazine EGM, to buy back into the video game scene in a major way! The big 'W' has already bought back into Atari Games and there are even rumors that they may make a play for the other Atari with the awesome color hand-held. We'll keep you posted."
Reality: Gee, how did the Quartermann get a scoop like this one? Could it be that he works for the company he's talking about? I suppose I should credit him for disclosing it, but c'mon man, where is the sport in reporting rumors about your own company? But I'll give him a break because he talks about Warner buying into THE Atari (oh wait ... it's just Atari now). All of a sudden all of those cheerful comments about how Atari could become another powerhouse make sense, looks like this is one Q that wants to keep his job. Too bad Warner bought into Atari and not a company that would actually do something worthwhile, like Rockstar or Zipper. But this is a company once known as AOL Time Warner, I think we can tell they've already made a few decisions they've regretted.
Conclusion: Quartermann reported the news, advertised the "awesome" Lynx, and then cashed his pay check.

Rumor #6 - Everybody Makes Bad Games

... Away from this game!
"Interplay, responsible for the latest batch of Acclaim nightmares, has secured their own license to produce NES and GameBoy carts. I'm with you one hundred percent guys, but you're gonna have to do better than Total Recall if you want to survive."
Reality: Okay, you're right, Total Recall was terrible! It had horrible game play, terrible graphics, and some of the worst music this side of Celine Dion. But that's one game. Everybody makes a bad game, even the best developers on the planet. Nintendo didn't exactly hit one out of the park when they made that awful DK: King of Swing title. But I digress, Interplay did eventually go on to make some quality games, including American Deer Hunting, Dragon Wars, and Clay Fighters Extreme. Hey, wait a minute. And what's this, they are the ones responsible for Run Like Hell? Aw screw it, Quartermann, you're right ... Interplay probably shouldn't be making games.
Conclusion: I'm sorry DK: King of Swing, compared to Run Like Hell you are a masterpiece. Oh Interplay, the company you could have been!

Rumor #7 - What, No 'Life In Hell' Game?

That's easy for you to say!
"Look for the Simpsons to be invading the local arcade as well as your living room. While Acclaim will be responsible for bring [sic] bad-boy Bart and the rest of his suburban household to Nintendo and GameBoy screens, arcade powerhouse Konami has secured the rights to the quarter-sucker! Look for a game that is similar in some ways to their earlier arcade mega-hit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
Reality: Here is another perfect example of the Quartermann confusing news with gossip. When this article was written the information he's talking about -- involving Acclaim and Konami making Simpsons games -- was widely known. All Q did was spread news that should have been in the "news" section of Electronic Gaming Monthly. But this is issue number 14, Electronic Gaming Monthly didn't have a news section; Q was wedged between a bunch of reviews and a bunch of pages of previews. So it's up to Quartermann to tell us about this licensing agreement, I guess that's fair ... but it's not a rumor! And for the record, you just can't convey the Simpsons' witty humor in a video game, reducing it down to nothing more than catchphrases is not only offensive, but it shows a general lack of knowledge about the Simpsons. It's a shame, because 16 years later this one little cartoon would be one of the longest running TV shows of all time. If only they had waited.
Conclusion: Simpsons games suck ... and this isn't gossip!

Rumor #8 - Q Whines About the Turbo Express

This has to be the most boring picture in this article!
"Ever since NEC was nice enough to give Senator Harris one of the first Turbo compatible Expresses, I've managed to sneak in late a couple of times to test it out. Not only does this machine blow away the competition, it also sucks the life out of batteries like nothing you've ever seen! One set we had only lasted 45 minutes! The display also burns white text into black backgrounds. For instance, on the first stage of R-Type, after the R-Type logo appears and you push start, you get to see the silhouette of the logo throughout the entire first level of play! Besides these minor shortcomings, and the fact that the text and the graphics on several games are hardly legible, the Turbo Express is absolutely in a class by itself."
Reality: There's no point in arguing, Quartermann is absolutely correct about the short comings of the Turbo Express. But that's because systems like it (and the Lynx, Game Gear, etc.) were ahead of their time. Due to batteries and the technology of the time, NEC and Atari were forced to release systems with fatal flaws. All of those early Game Boy rivals had short battery life problems, something that would eventually be resolved after they conceded. They did their best to provide something that Nintendo wasn't offering, but the technology wasn't there. If you want to see a culmination of all of these Game Boy rivals, Sony's PSP comes the closest to actually being a system that provides on its promise without any fatal flaws. But that's not what the Quartermann was saying. What he was saying was that the Turbo Express was flawed, which was his opinion. Hey, wait a second, how is this a rumor?
Conclusion: Informative, but not a rumor. Though it did give me a chance to mention the PSP, not every rumor allows for that!

Rumor #9 - Legal Portable NES?

It's just not the same!
"While we're on the subject of hand-helds, I just got word that another company has devised a portable color NES that will play all compatible carts without infringing on any of Nintendo's copyrights! This hot hand-held, which is rumored to be the same concept that BDL used in their stunning Express - uses Nintendo carts on the go - will be making a big splash soon."
Reality: All this is good and all, but Q didn't get some of his facts right. Unfortunately these products DID infringe on Nintendo's copyrights, which is one of the main reasons you never saw these units at your local stores. That's not to say they weren't created, but they weren't legal and Quartermann should have reported that. But really, how on Earth would a portable NES work? Have you seen the size of those cartridges? The machine itself would have to be twice the size of the Lynx ... and not the new Lynx Q talked about earlier. What a beast, why would anybody want that?
Conclusion: Don't you think a portable NES would be too heavy? And for all those interested, it is no longer against Nintendo's copyrights to make this portable NES. So get on that, boys!

Rumor #10 - Get Off the Drugs!

Tough, and kind of creepy!
"Rich,Tough, Turf - Tough, Turf, Rich. Is there a connection?"
Reality: I'm talking to a schizophrenic, aren't I? There are other people that work at this magazine, you know. These people work hard, they come in each and every day and write dozens of pages worth of content. But you, Quartermann, you come in drunk and delusional. What am I to think of this act? You should be ashamed!
Conclusion: Dust off those twelve steps, because the Q-Mann is about to get a taste of the double A!

Rumor #11 - Were They That Good?

Oh Natsume, maybe you aren't so bad after all!
"The latest fab NES licensee, Natsume, has decided to add Final Mission to their winning line-up which also includes Shadow of the Ninja! Although they plan to change the name, it is still one of the best 'Forgotten Worlds' style shooters ever to populate Nintendo screens."
Reality: Look at the Quartermann talk up Natsume like he was on the payroll! This is one of those true rumors, but since this is 16 years old and we're at the end of our article I have to wonder if anybody even cares. Woo hoo, Natsume is making another game ... 15 years ago. Yay, the Quartermann is right yet again. Oh the partying we will do. What a disappointing episode this has been, what with all those terrible non-rumors. Quartermann, I give you this gossip, but I feel you owe me for having to decipher rumor 10. That's 10 minutes of my life I'll never see again!
Conclusion: Quartermann likes Natsume ... and avoiding real gossip!

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