Sometime during the first few months of every year, Electronic Gaming Monthly would release a buying guide for the year that had passed. These issues basically took every game review that EGM had published during the previous year and accumulated them in one issue. They’d also give out a few end-of-year awards and run some features on the most-popular games of the year. All in all, the buying guide issues were great summaries of the year in gaming that had passed.
I was able to uncover my 1995 and 1997 versions of these issues (I know that I have more issues somewhere, and one day I will find them). But the two issues I was able to find are really great, and it’s pretty interesting to see how greatly the video game landscape changed in the two short years between 1995 and 1997.
First up, we’ll look at the 1995 issue, then the 1997 one. Note: The 1995 issue covers games released in 1994, and the 1997 one covers all games released in 1996.
There’s the cover. As you can tell from the games pictured, this issue is almost entirely focused on 16 bit. The major 32 bit systems hadn’t yet been released, so this issue was from the last true year of the dominance of the Genesis and Super Nintendo.
The first two pages of the game of the year awards. Donkey Kong Country was awarded both Game of the Year and Super Nintendo Game of the Year. Earthworm Jim won Genesis Game of the Year, a choice I have no problem with whatsoever (I absolutely loved that game).
A list of the games of the year for the major systems at the time, and the games of the year in a few popular genres. I love how there’s actually an award for Sega CD Game of the Year AND an award for the CD-I Game of the Year. I’m sure all three people who owned those systems were on the edge of their seat waiting to hear what games walked away with those crowns.
More award winners, accompanied by a full-page ad for Beavis and Butthead the video game.
The final page of awards. I’m pretty sure the 3DO, the Jaguar, and the Phillips Cd-I all launched in 1994, so it’s saying something that the Jaguar beat out the other two for the Worst System Launch award. I would’ve probably gone with the 3DO as the worst system launch. It had much better games than the Jaguar, but the people at Panasonic had to be delusional to think that people would spend $700 on that system at launch.
Also, I love the final line in the little write-up under the picture of the Jaguar: “It was a slow start, but the Jaguar is roaring now!” Um, ok. Sure, EGM. Whatever you say.
Reviews of all of the current systems by the four Review Crew members. The Super NES walks off with the win, while the Sega 32X and Neo Geo CD pull off the upset by tying for second place.
I have no idea who “Danyon” is, but I think the guy is crazy. He gave the 3DO a 9 and the CD-I an 8.
Here are more system reviews, and the reviews on this page raise a single question in my mind: What in the HELL is the Laseractive?!? Is this a real thing? Video games were basically my life at the time that this issue came out, and I have never heard of a Laseractive. According to the Wikipedia entry for the machine, it was a system that cost $980 and played games on laserdisc.
So, actually, that’s kind of cool. Laserdiscs rule.
The final page of system reviews, and these reviews beg another, similar question: What in the HELL is an Amiga CD?!? I haven’t heard of this system, either.
Some digging around on the internet reveals it to be a system that was released abroad in Europe and Japan but never made it to US soil due to how poorly it performed. This is a pretty hilarious review of the game packaged with the system. The best part? The review absolutely roasts the game, and the review was written for the OFFICIAL AMIGA MAGAZINE. The first sign that your system sucks is when the official magazine dedicated to promoting how great your system is can’t even fake a positive review.
Also, you know that this is an old ass magazine when the freaking original NES is featured in the system reviews section. Low marks for the NES, unfortunately. It even lost out to the Amiga CD.
A comprehensive list of what scores practically every game for the major systems received from the Review Crew. I took a highlighter to all of the better reviewed Genesis games for some reason.
Sadly, no Amiga CD games are reviewed in these pages. I’m sure “Danyon” would’ve given them all 10s, though.
Special feature on the arcade version of Primal Rage. Anything involving dinosaurs is cool in my book (particularly when the dinosaurs have grenade launchers strapped to their back), but a fighting game featuring a bunch of giant dinosaurs really is one of the better ideas ever. The game was pretty successful, and even spawned a sequel that was never released (in which you could fight as either giant humans or giant dinosaurs (!!!)). But I feel like Primal Rage should’ve been so much more, like a series that’s still having games released for it today. Is there any way that an Xbox 360 version of Primal Rage wouldn’t be absolutely incredible? Super-realistic, 3D dinosaurs fighting each other to the bloody death? Sign me up.
One of the finest games of the 16 bit era: Pitfall. It’s a remake of the 2600 game (which in turn was one of the finest games that system had). This game had a ton of secrets and hidden passages and it was a true blast to play.
NBA Jam. Legendary. I was able to name 49 out of the 54 players featured in the game (their grainy pictures are on the right).
The back cover of the issue is a cool ad for a WWF Raw game.
And that’s it.