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Electronic Gaming Monthly's Worst Reviewed Games of 1990
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 28, 2017   |   Episode 105 (Show Archive)  

The year is 1990 and I'm on GamePro TV spoiling the end of Ghouls 'N Ghosts. This was the year Sofia Coppola single-handedly ruined The Godfather trilogy, America kicked off the first Gulf War and Ice Ice Baby was turning Vanilla Ice into a household name. But we're not here to stop, collaborate and listen, because today we're counting down Electronic Gaming Monthly's worst reviewed games of 1990. Let's kick it!

Shove It!
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Old school graphics don't belong on next generation consoles. It's the mindset that has prevented some gamers from experiencing a whole library of amazing indie games, and a school of thought that dates back to the earliest game systems. This was a common mantra amongst critics in the early days of 16-bit. If you're going to make a Genesis game, you better deliver on the graphics and sound. Critics wanted to see a real advancement over the Nintendo Entertainment System, or else.

Shove It! turns out to be a good case study of this phenomenon. When Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewed the same puzzle game on the Game Boy, they gave it (mostly) strong scores. I mean, it wasn't going to win any awards, but it did pick up a couple of 7s. But the same editors were less than enthusiastic about the Genesis port released only two months later. Steve puts it best: "It was great on the Game Boy as Boxxle, but as a 16-bit entry it comes up way too short."

As you might expect, the rest of the critics weren't as kind. "C'mon, please tell me you're joking," whines Sushi-X right before asking one of the dumbest questions of all time: "A puzzle game like this on Genesis?" Martin also had inflated expectations, noting that "with all the power that the Genesis has you would expect more than just a regular puzzle game that was done just as well on the Game Boy." Harsh. Shove It! averaged a horrific 3.25 out of 10.
Hyper Lode Runner
If EGM hated Shove It because it went from a handheld to a home console, then what happens when a game does the reverse? Well, would you look at that, we don't have to look any further than the next game on our list for the answer. To quote Jim: "Lode Runner was lousy as a computer game, lousy as an arcade game, lousy as an NES game, and remains lousy as a Game Boy game." So, I guess the answer is no.

"I never liked Lode Runner at all since there are no weapons and no easy ways out," explains Steve. "The graphics are O.K. but the puzzling game play is no fun at all." Ed was less kind. "The NES version was a dog and so is the Game Boy copy." But it's not all bad, and Martin was quick to find the silver lining. He liked the "decent game play and art edit mode." I guess that's something. Between the 3s and the 4, Hyper Lode Runner averages out to a pathetic 3.25 out of 10.
When EGM complained about Shove It on the Genesis, it brought up an important question: Will 16-bit graphics improve the score of every game? All we have to do to answer that question is look at our next game, the generically titled Zoom. At its core, this is nothing more than a maze game on the Genesis, and the review crew weren't having any of it. Martin says it best: "A good example of how 16-bit processors and advanced graphics don't make a good game."

The rest of the critics were a little more blunt. "This is a horrible game," starts Jim. "From the rudimentary game play, to the repetitive sound, to the incredibly bad combat, Zoom is annoying from beginning to end." Steve agreed, complaining that "Zoom is a game with some 16-bit looks, but game play that feels like it's been lifted straight from a 2600 game." This slur against the Atari 2600 is Steve's go-to analogy, and it's a little hyperbolic in this case.

Although it tied with Hyper Lode Runner and Shove It with an average of 3.25 out of 10, there's a good reason why Zoom is ranked at number 3. When Ed says this is "easily the worst Genesis game yet to appear and not worthy on any system," you better listen.
Dynamite Dux
I don't know if it's just me, but I always found it weird that Sega released Dynamite Dux the same year they gave us Dynamite Duke. They're completely unrelated games that fit into two different genres, yet they share so many letters. It's confusing, right? Of course, this coincidence doesn't even make EGM's short list of complaints. They hated this game with a fiery passion.

"This is a game Sega should have forgotten about," Ed says as he's getting his punch ready. "It's a stupid concept, the characters are lame, and the game play is too simple. If you're old enough to read this review, then you're too old to play this game." Ouch! Steve also had a long list of complaints. "Dynamite Dux is slow, looks bad and is way too easy, even for beginning players." And Jim's list? "It doesn't move well, it isn't interesting, and it isn't even any fun." Agreed.

Just in case you're wondering, Electronic Gaming Monthly's average Dynamite Duke score was a middling 5.25. That's not great, obviously, but it's a whole lot better than the 3.25 average we saw for Dynamite Dux. It's bad. I mean, real bad. But it's not the absolute worst game of the year, that honor goes to ...
Total Recall
If you read our list of the worst games of 1989, then you'll already know that Electronic Gaming Monthly is hard on movie games. The first time around they gave Friday the 13th a 2 out of 10, and now it's Total Recall. At least it led to this hilarious review: "In the movie of the same name, Arnold's character's memory was erased! This game based on that movie should also have its "memory" erased! Total Reject!"

Earning 3s from the rest of the critics, Total Recall was hammered for just about everything. "NES video games just hit a new low," complains Steve. "Total Recall is a total bore that has sub-standard graphics, fair gameplay and is just not what one would expect from Acclaim." Martin said basically the same thing: "There is little animation in most of the characters and it has 2600 sound effects. Acclaim should 'recall' this one." Oh, I see what he did there.

The game was actually so bad that it won the Worst Movie to Game award in their 1991 Video Game Buyer's Guide. "You win some and you lose some. With Total Recall we all lost." Too true. While there are still people defending that Friday the 13th game, I don't remember anybody standing up for Total Recall. This game averaged a terrible 2.75 out of 10.


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