Tuesday, December 14, 2010

[Archives] Gamepro Hot Tips Adventure Games

Archives is my catch all topic header for things involving Castlevania that are not actual games.  Things like magazine articles, hint books, toys, CDs, ect, ect.  These are the goodies that helped bring the games to life, gave us a helping hand, or as Mel Brooks said, "MERCHANDISING!  Its where the real money is made!"  Wisdom.

As I have mentioned December is the hell month for me where I barely get much project related things done.  Work extra hours, holiday blahs, and just general chaos from Thansgiving through the first week of January.

But I am preparing for Castlevania 2.  As folks probably know, and the legendary James Rolfe got his big start discussing this game, Simon's Quest is confusing and illogical, an NES version of a Sierra Adventure Game.

This is a game where you need a map (or a good memory, something I don't much have.  My brain is too full of stuff.  Right now its more focused on Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey things.  Next month it might be full of something else.) and some help for really oddball puzzle solutions nobody is going to figure out without hours of boring trial and error.

Thus hint guides were born.  Both a way for game companies to make some extra cash selling the solutions to their ridiculous leaps in logic, and a way for magazine and book publishers to make an easy buck in the days before the Internet was there and somebody on Gamefaqs will solve the game in less than a month from release date and want to be the first to put up a full solution guide just so they can have the minor fame of doing it.

(And any gamer who isn't a total nostalgia whore can be irritated at their Game of the X polls which always end up with either a Squaresoft or Nintendo game winning anyhow.)

Game magazines did this the most and the fastest, with legendary publications like Questbusters and Nintendo Power providing maps and walkthroughs, which would later on get compiled into book formats.

The overly excitable little kid of the magazine crowd was Gamepro.  Their magazine was a multiformat console rag (mostly) for the the good old USA and aimed at a younger crowd.

They too got into this, taking their "Protips" which were little tips in previews and reviews and more full on strategy articles and making some books.  (Protip has become a meme largely due to many of these tips being something anyone with an IQ higher than a Fox News viewer would figure out within minutes of play anyhow.)

Note the cover of this pre SNES era book cover:

Now its 1990 and by IDG.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are pretty much THE thing on the schoolyards.  Of course its gonna be the cover art and first game mentioned.

What does our back cover say since I was 15 at the time and actually had to use my own money earned from doing the ridiculous level of chores my mother assigned when she wasn't just yelling at me for the hell of it?

OMG IT WILL MAKE ME A VIDEOGAME STAR!  Ok.  Not really.  But 10 bucks wasn't a bad price for a 207 page book (plus ads in the back for dumb stuff) in the Trade Paperback type format.  (You know, bigger than your usual paperback book, but smaller than most hardbacks.)

Pages 8-186 are a mixture of basic game information with various hints and cheat codes, 188-197 are previews of upcoming games (its a BOOK.  Does this really even need to be here?), and 199-207 are just cheat codes for other games.

The book covers NES, Genesis, and Turbografx 16 games.  (Or Famicom, Mega Drive, and PC Engine if you are a wanker.)  Obviously being this early on in the Genesis and TG16 lifespans the book is more heavily focused towards Nintendo which also makes sense given how Nintendo had like 90% of the videogame market or so.

The big first section had a chance to be nice quick walkthroughs and mini reviews, but it fails on both counts, being more kiddified general overviews of the games covered, some photographs of screens, and haphazard hints, tips, and codes.

Since this is a Castlevania blog, let us see them.  Perhaps we shall learn some good things when I get off my keister and go through Simon's Quest eh?

Wait.  This is from a magazine whose contributors were all aliases and cartoon identities.  And if Diehard Gamefan taught us anything, you just cannot trust such a magazine.  Or a book made of magazine stuff.

For a simple basic overview of the game its not too bad, albeit it sounds a little like a marketing speech.  They had a chance to also make a nice capsule review of the game, informing kids, their parents, and teenagers who weren't cool enough to be buying booze and smokes if the title was worth it.  

But that last paragraph was SOO needed.  Ugh.  I feel dumber having read it. 

While not a full walkthrough of the game, given how Simon's Quest does puzzles and all, the bullet point tips actually kind of HELP for this game without taking you step by step.  Back in the day, I beat the game with a FULL walkthrough that included maps from Game Player's.  Its a lot easier and faster, though this might be better from a spoiler standpoint.  But really.  Look at a few of the tips.  If you are THAT hopeless at videogames to not know to talk to everyone or how the healing system works you MIGHT want to reconsider your videogame selection.

This bit annoys me.  Instead of providing a nice mini map which could fit here if done simply (Gamefaqs has a nice quarter page game map right now.) or some extra tips we get a game destroying set of passwords.  I guess its nice if you lost your password notes or just had a couple hours with a game, but.. I never much cared for passwords being posted in magazines and tip guides.  It goes from helping you through the game to basically playing it for you.

And that's basically what the book is like.  Its not awful or anything, but its only somewhat useful.  But its a nice bit for my Castlevania collection, and there is a blurb for Castlevania 3 in the back.  I might post that when we get to said game, possibly in February.

I am forgetting there is art in the book too.  Art of various games that compared to some of Gamepro's terrible videogame drawings isn't all bad.  I am unsure if they are cover art, interior, or a mix since I didn't read Gamepro much (even I had some standards back then!) and its been TWENTY FREAKING YEARS.

This is one of the best pictures in here, though its accuracy to the game I THINK it is supposed to be art of (the legendary Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System) is quite questionable.  Odin with a lightsaber?  Alisa Landale getting about ten years of age and a bleach job?  Myau and Noah turned out pretty solid though.  However.  SEGA MASTER SYSTEM GAMES AREN'T COVERED IN THIS FREAKING BOOK.  Way to just use art you own guys!

I really can't say anyone should want or need this book, but its a nice little curio I already owned and its fun to share the memories.