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Nintendo Power's Top 10 Reviewed Games of 1993
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 09, 2016   |   Episode 91 (Show Archive)  

The year is 1993. Jurassic Park takes a bite out of the box office, Mulder and Scully begin their decade-long search for the truth and Bjork is attempts to understand Human Nature. But we're not here to talk about Iceland's top musicians, because today we're counting down Nintendo Power's top reviewed games of 1993.

The Incredible Crash Dummies
Max Headroom, Joe Isuzu and even Bill Cosby; the 1980s sure had a lot of weird spokesmen. While most were contained to a few commercials, the crash test dummies managed to inspire a life of their own. We saw toys, comic books and cartoons based on the public service announcement, as well as a video game released on a bevy of 8- and 16-bit consoles. While most critics seemed mildly amused by the concept, Nintendo Power had a different take. They loved the cute characters and silly concept, giving it a 4 out of 5. Despite the high score, they did have one complaint. "The Stages aren't as imaginative or funny as those in the Game Boy title, nor do they fit the theme as well." They gave the Game Boy version a 3.3 out of 5.
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Speaking of characters that know how to sell products, the Super Star Wars sequel was a big hit with critics in 1993. According to Nintendo Power, Super Empire Strikes Back had "excellent graphics and effects, superior sound, a wide variety of game play and a close interpretation of the movie." That said, they complained that "some players may object to departures from the original story, especially at the end." While it reviewed well, critics weren't as excited about this sequel. Electronic Gaming Monthly's Al Manuel complained that his hopes were too high. "The game tonally blows," he says before giving it a 6 out of 10. That said, GamePro gave Super Empire Strikes Back a perfect score ... because it's GamePro.
E.V.O.: Search for Eden
Long before Will Wright tinkered with Spore, there was another game toying with the concepts of evolution. That game was E.V.O.: Search for Eden, a Super NES exclusive that Nintendo Power loved. Giving it a 4.1 out of 5, the magazine noted the great concept and weird creatures. Despite the high praise, Nintendo Power also offered a number of criticisms. "The selection of body parts is limited to eight categories with several choices in each" and, worst of all, not based on scientific theory. Both GamePro and the Super NES Buyer's Guide were charmed by this gimmick, but not Super Play. Rick Pelley complains that it's a "splendid idea, but a very mediocre game."
Super Mario All-Stars
The concept of HD remasters and game compilations may be old hat in this day and age, but it was a new concept in 1993. Super Mario All-Stars promised updated versions of the first three Super Mario Bros. games, as well as a sequel that hadn't been released in the U.S. before this collection. As you might imagine, Nintendo Power excitedly covered this full-priced compilation. They were especially impressed with the battery save functionality, a big selling point according to Nintendo Power. Die Hard Game Fan's Skid had a completely different take. "What a thrill, all of my bad memories of 8 bit in living color, boing, boing, happy, happy" he sarcastically begins. "I'm sorry, but the old Mario games just haven't stood the test of time. I believe it's time to retire Mario for a more nineties character." Speak for yourself, buddy.
Star Fox
From the moment Nintendo showed off the geodesic dome at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show, everybody knew Star Fox was going to be one of the biggest games of the year. So what's it doing at sixth place? As it turns out, Nintendo Power had a lot of problems with Star Fox. They complained that the "polygon graphics lack detail" and the "hit detection on some objects, such as asteroids, seems to extend beyond the object itself." Still, they loved the 3D effects and sound. Believe it or not, Nintendo Power scored the game significantly lower than the rest of the press. Nintendo Magazine System gave it a 96%, it was all 9s from Electronic Gaming Monthly, Video Games & Computer Entertainment, and Die Hard Game Fan.
Boxing Legends of the Ring
Forget Street Fighter II Turbo and Mortal Kombat, 1993's best fighting game is Boxing Legends of the Ring. Okay, so maybe that's not true, but Nintendo Power couldn't get enough of this curious Electro Brain cart. Scoring it higher than both Star Fox and Super Mario All-Stars, Boxing Legends of the Ring delivers "excellent graphics and options," as well as "good punching control." To Nintendo Power's defense, both Super Play and SNES Force gave the game high scores, and GamePro even gave it a perfect 5 out of 5. That said, Electronic Gaming Monthly was not impressed. Sushi-X concluded that "hardcore boxing fans may thrill to find all the pros in this new boxing cart, but most fighting fans will find the controls too awkward to control. He gave it a 5 out of 10.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Starship Enterprise may be able to travel at warp speed, but bringing Jean-Luc Picard to the Game Boy proved to be a slow process. Debuting six years after the TV show launched, Star Trek: The Next Generation is a sci-fi adventure game that puts you right in the captain's seat. Nintendo Power loved the creative use of the license and raved about the graphics. They were also impressed with the game's story, which featured a stunning 100 missions to complete. While this may seem odd, the other magazines back up Nintendo Power's excitement. Video Games & Computer Entertainment gave it a 9 out of 10, calling it "a creatively designed, skillfully programmed video game experience."
The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse
By 1993, Mickey Mouse had already starred in a number of well-received side-scrolling action games. Unfortunately, none of those appeared on Nintendo platforms. While Sega loaded their hardware up with Castle of Illusion, World of Illusion and Land of Illusion, Nintendo fans were left to suffer through Mickey Mousecapade and Mickey's Safari in Letterland. The Magical Quest was essentially Mickey's first great Super NES game. Nintendo Power couldn't stop gushing over the graphics. They loved all the small details in the animation, suggesting it looks as good as a cartoon. They also noted the costumes and bosses, both of which still stand out to this day.
Believe it or not, a futuristic role-playing game based on a pen-and-paper series rated better than Star Fox and nearly became Nintendo Power's top game of 1993. Shadowrun benefited from not playing into the JRPG tropes, something that the editors took notice of. They praised the "great story and depth of play," adding that "the action and adventure elements of this game take it beyond the realm of standard RPGs." Both Electronic Gaming Monthly and Super NES Buyer's Guide disagreed, giving it middling scores. "Shadowrun has a few really good moments, but left me overall unimpressed," complained Martin Alessi. He sang a similar tune in EGM, where the game received mixed reviews.
Kirby's Pinball Land
In a year filled with major hardware and software innovations, Nintendo Power's best reviewed game ended up being pinball on the Game Boy. To be fair, Kirby's Pinball Land is a lot more than just another pinball game, it's an action-packed twist on the formula that could only be done as a video game. Despite the high score, Nintendo Power didn't gush over Kirby's Pinball Land. They called the game "neat" and noted the "good control and graphics." Their big takeaway was the "fun bonus levels." Not exactly the ringing endorsement I was expecting. In fact, they spent a lot of time complaining that "getting to the bosses can be tedious and frustrating." Electronic Gaming Monthly also had a complicated opinion of Kirby's Pinball Land, though they mostly complained about the outdated Game Boy hardware.
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