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Nintendo Power's Top 10 Reviewed Games of 1992
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 10, 2015   |   Episode 89 (Show Archive)  

The year is 1992. Reservoir Dogs turned Quentin Tarantino into a critic's darling, millions of people were having sex to the soulful sounds of Boys II Men and The Larry Sanders Show was giving viewers a look behind the curtain of the late night talk show wars. But we're not here to reminisce about 'Hey Now' Hank Kingsley, because today we're counting down Nintendo Power's top reviewed games of 1992.

NCAA Basketball
"Your eyes will pop and your mind will spin," promised Nintendo Power in their NCAA Basketball review. Before you scoff at their hyperbole, there's some truth to their wild claims. Breaking free of the usual 2D perspective, NCAA Basketball used Mode 7 effects to simulate a 3D experience. Sure, it looks a little rough by today's standards, but this was unlike anything we had seen before in 1992. The rest of the media was equally impressed, with N-Force giving it a 91% and GamePro a perfect 5 out of 5. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Sushi-X said, "This is innovation in the making!" Martin Alessi, who already looked like a referee, took it one step further. "This is probably the most realistic B-ball game I've ever played," he trumpets. He later concludes that "HAL will be for Super NES what EA is for Genesis."
Street Fighter II
After seeing Sonic the Hedgehog dominate 1991, Nintendo returned with the first major third-party exclusive of the 16-bit war -- Street Fighter II. This arcade hit helped to kick off the fighting genre and bring lots of gamers to the Super NES. Nintendo Power was impressed with the graphics and gameplay, but they didn't seem as blown away as everybody else. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game two perfect scores and named it their Game of the Year. Sushi-X called it "Phenomenal!! Awesome! The Best! Street Fighter Ii is the only game I have ever seen that really deserves a 10!" Sure, it changed the industry forever and helped the Super NES become a sales powerhouse, but I'm sure the next game is even better.
Contrary to what Walt Disney's White Wilderness told you, lemmings do not commit mass suicide. That's a myth. Lie or not, this misreported phenomenon did lay the groundwork for one of the best puzzle games of the 1990s. Released just after the Super NES version, this 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System game offered the same levels and gameplay. As expected, the presentation took a hit, but that wasn't enough for Nintendo Power to complain. They gave the puzzler a 4.1 out of 5, earning it a spot on the top 10. GamePro also reviewed this NES cart, but ultimately recommended people stick with the Super Nintendo version.
Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins
Nintendo Power chose not to review Super Mario Land when it debuted with the Game Boy back in 1989. This was not a mistake they planned on making again. The magazine spent months gushing over Six Golden Coins, a Super Mario Land sequel that managed to not only mimic the fun of the series, but actually add to it. Rob loved the Bunny suit, while George focused on the brand new enemies. The other magazines agreed, with Electronic Gaming Monthly giving it 9s and GamePro awarding a perfect 5 out of 5 score. Across the pond, both N-Force and Nintendo Magazine System were slightly less enthusiastic, with both giving the black and white platformer an 87%.
The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare
For Bart Simpson, the path from TV superstar to video game hero was a rocky one. Critics were mixed about his first foray against Space Mutants and seemed to hate everything after that. That is, until The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare, a game that took everybody by surprise. Nintendo Power praised the characters and inventive levels, finding very little to complain about. They ultimately gave it a 4.2, which isn't far off from Game Informer's 8.75 and the 87% that came from N-Force. Super Play went one step further, giving it a 91% and calling it one of the year's best action games. GamePro seemed a little less excited, only giving the Super NES release a 3.5 out of 5. Still, it definitely showed that The Simpsons were on the right track.
Super Star Wars
If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that games journalists love Star Wars. No matter how bad the games got, the editors of your favorite magazines would find a way to feature it on the cover. So you can imagine how excited everybody was when JVC Digital published a Star Wars game that didn't suck. Super Star Wars was a breath of fresh air, and critics were quick to shower the game with praise. Nintendo Power gave it a 4.3, calling it a triumph for action games. Electronic Gaming Monthly agreed, naming it their Game of the Month. Martin called it "a dream come true for Star Wars fans," while Ed Semrad said Super Star Wars is "easily one of the best games of the year." I certainly know a few people who would agree.
Contrary to what Walt Disney's White Wilderness told you, lemmings do not commit mass suicide ... hey, wait a second. That's right, Lemmings was so good that it earned two spots on Nintendo Power's list. With a rating only slightly better than its 8-bit counterpart, this Super NES puzzler was a big hit with Nintendo Power's editors. In fact, this adorable oddity won over critics across the board, no matter what system it was on. We saw Super Play give it an 86%, N-Force at 90% and Nintendo Magazine System at 92%. The lowest score I could find was a 7 in EGM's sister magazine, Super NES Buyer's Guide. Critics were happy to be playing a puzzle game that didn't shamelessly rip-off Tetris.
Out of This World
Although they would eventually turn on the technology, critics were blown away by the rotoscope animation and ambitious story found in Out of This World. Nintendo Power couldn't believe their eyes, gushing over the game as if it was a cinema brought to life. Even though some of the gameplay missed the mark, Out of This World left an impression with the editors. They weren't alone, as most other magazines called it a landmark release. You saw GamePro quick to give it a 5 out of 5, Game Informer with an 8.75 and N-Force at 89%. Electronic Gaming Monthly echoed those sentiments, calling it "Totally original and totally awesome." Martin says that it's "beyond any cinema intermission" he's seen before, and the type of game you'll want to show your friends. Wait until they get a load of Flashback.
Super Mario Kart
These days, everybody takes kart racers for granted. However, that wasn't the case in 1992. Unsure exactly how to market Super Mario Kart, Nintendo Power spent a lot of time comparing it to F-Zero. Beyond the familiar cast, the big selling point was the two-player gameplay, an absolute must for any racing game. It won't come as a surprise that the other critics also loved Super Mario Kart, giving it nothing but high scores. Both Super Play and Game Players gave it a 94%, while GamePro went one step further with a perfect 5 out of 5. However, there were a few critics that weren't ready to name it the year's best racing game. EGM's Sushi-X called it "Jammin!" and then misspelled Super Mario Kart. Make of that what you will.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
With a score of 4.9, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is Nintendo Power's highest scoring 16-bit game of all time. The editors were blown away by the graphics, story and boss fights, and it's easy to see why. This set the standard for action/adventure games, and Nintendo Power knew they had a winner on their hands. They couldn't stop gushing about Zelda III, and they weren't the only ones. The game earned near-perfect scores from Nintendo Magazine System, Super Play, N-Force and Super NES Buyer's Guide. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Ed Semrad said "this is the closest a game has ever gotten to a perfect 10," and then complained about the crummy graphics. The lowest score I could find came from Steve Harris, who complains that the game doesn't make radical changes to the formula and gave it an 8 out of 10.
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