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Nintendo Power's Five Worst Games of 1990
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on October 20, 2015   |   Episode 86 (Show Archive)  

The year is 1990. Microsoft has just debuted Windows 3.0, American jumped into the first Iraq war and Milli Vanilli were outed as lip synchers. But girl you know it's true, there's no time to talk about pop music, because today we're counting down the worst games of 1990, based solely on the reviews found in Nintendo Power.

Mad Max
Thanks to Fury Road, Mad Max is having the best year ever. Critics fell in love with the long-awaited sequel, and the action star even found his way into a game from Warner Bros. Interactive. But the climate wasn't as friendly for Max a quarter century ago. It had been four years since Beyond Thunderdome and critics were not feeling his first foray on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Nintendo Power gave it a 2.5, noting that only the challenge was above average. They were less impressed with the gameplay, having problems controlling both the on-foot and driving missions. The editors complained that Mad Max was not as much an adventure through the devastated world as it is a test of driving combat skills in a closed area. That's not what they signed up for.
Based on the popular arcade game, Cabal is a third-person shooter at time before anybody knew what a third-person shooter was. You run around the edge of the screen dodging bullets and aiming your crosshairs to shoot. Nintendo Power hated it, calling it a light gun game without a light gun. They compared it to Mechanized Attack, Operation Wolf and other action games enhanced by the use of Nintendo's own Zapper. But with only the D-pad to get players by, the editors had a hard time recommending Cabal. They complained about the flickery graphics, unwieldy challenge and terrible gameplay.
Monster Truck Rally
Thanks to the success of Bigfoot, monster trucks were big in the 1980s. INTV was quick to capitalize on this success, launching a poorly-received racing game called Monster Truck Rally. Nintendo Power had very little to say about this game. Actually, they had nothing to say about it. Instead of posting their usual write-up, the magazine chose to simply list it amongst a bunch of other scores. It earned a 2.4, with even lower marks in challenge and play control. Interestingly, no other magazine chose to review Monster Truck Rally. In fact, that's also true of Cabal and Mad Max. Nintendo Power tackled just about anything they could get their hands on.
Not unlike Mad Max, Conan the Barbarian was largely out of the spotlight by 1990. It had already been six years since the last movie, and star Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't seem keen on reprising the role. That didn't stop Mindscape from turning the character into a video game hero. While the concept makes sense, Nintendo Power hated the execution. Giving it a low 2.2, the magazine complained about the graphics, sound, gameplay and challenge. In fact, there's nothing they liked about this clumsy action game. On the other hand, GamePro liked Conan. They praised the presentation and challenge, while calling it one of the most fun games of the year. Both magazines agreed the gameplay could use some work.
Rally Bike
Between Rally Bike and Monster Truck Rally, Nintendo Power sure had a thing against racing games. From Romstar, Rally Bike is a game so difficult that even critics in the 1990s were up in arms. Make one mistake and you'll start over from the very beginning. The editors at Nintendo Power didn't take to the abusive difficulty, scoring this a dismal 2 out of 5. Out of 148 reviews, Rally Bike was the worst. They complained that it was ugly, hard to control and simply no fun to play. And if you are looking for a second opinion, you're out of luck. No other magazine wanted to touch Rally Bike. I can't say I blame them.
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