The times, they are a-changin'…and DuoWorld is going through a period of transition: Up until this point, DuoWorld (and its predecessor, TurboPlay) were in the hands of Video Games & Computer Entertainment's editors: Andy Eddy and Chris Bieniek (who replaced Donn Nauert at the very end of TurboPlay's lifespan). In the summer of 1993, however, Andy Eddy left, and, apparently, his departure resulted in a complete overhaul of VG&CE, which was renamed Video Games. New name, new layout, new editorial staff. And so, the responsibility for creating DuoWorld shifted to the editors and staff of the newly re-envisioned Video Games.
PORTRAIT OF EVIL: The stunning Dungeon Explorer II Centerfold (1300x1747 .jpg) ▼ is a brooding scene that effortlessly blends H.R. Giger's influence (where fossilized creatures, reminscent of Alien, are not only decorative bas-relief but also essential elements of the architecture) with the classic fantasy setting of Dungeons & Dragons.
CHARACTER PORTRAITS: Individually, the character portraits above look quite nice. However, the resulting Dungeon Explorer II Character Poster (1300x1747 .jpg) ▼ is far less impressive than the centerfold. Sadly, the Character Poster suffers from an uninspired layout and poor choice of fonts. It is certainly not a horrible mini-poster, but a talented graphic artist could have taken the same raw ingredients and served a more enticing entree.
Regardless of the reasons that prompted the publisher, L.F.P., to make these changes, TG-16 fans found themselves in a difficult position. On the one hand, the future looked grim: DuoWorld #2 was but half of its former size (an anemic 16 pages compared to the debut issue's healthy 32 pages). On the other hand, the future needn't be so dire: the skimpy second issue might simply be an aberration, the expected consequence of a magazine switching editorial staff midstream. Who knows, maybe the new team would make DuoWorld into an even better magazine? Either way, things were a-changin'…
Table of Contents for DuoWorld #02▲
- 01 Cover: Dungeon Explorer II (1993, CD•ROM2). Artist: Unknown.
- Unlike its predecessor (NEC Home Technologies), TTi wisely used the original Japanese package art for many of its North American releases, including the brooding cover art for Dungeon Explorer II, which graces the cover of this issue.
- 02 Cool Stuff: Mini-poster of DEII characters.
- Mini-poster depicting six main characters from Dungeon Explorer II, namely: Dorz (dwarf), Sepi (thief), Efrem (wizard), Riot (bard), Sorn (cleric) and Fina (elf). Sadly, Alex (fighter), Ardin (hunter) and all of the unlockable characters were not included.
- 03 Table of Contents for issue #2.
- Jack Lacan is the new editor-in-chief, design / photography director, plus he writes all three game reviews that appear in this issue. Is Lacan responsible for all of the content in this magazine?
- 04 Soundboard: Letters from our loyal readers. 04 05
- Can you subscribe to a Japanese PC-Engine magazine? Why are there Bonk games on Gameboy and SNES? When is Godzilla (SCD) coming out for DUO? And more…
- 06 DuoNews: Matthew Sweet, SFII bubblegum. 06 07
- A new Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero television series is due out in 1994. Street Fighter II cookies, stickers and chewing gum now available. Recording artist Matthew Sweet loves playing TG-16 HuCARDs on his TurboExpress.
- 08 Cool Stuff: Dungeon Explorer II Centerfold Poster. 08 09
- tg-16.com says: Holy crap, we love this centerfold poster!
- 10 Duo Review: Exile: Wicked Phenomenon. 10 11
- "The key word for playing Exile: Wicked Phenomenon is patience. It's not like other adventure games that you have to hack or shoot your way through as quickly as possible. Instead, timing is of the essence when battling the various beasts."
- 12 Duo Review: John Madden Duo CD Football. 12 13
- "What's really cool about Madden Football is that it uses real-life footage to illustrate referee calls and other plays.…All of these video samples are accompanied by audio samples of the ref calling the play, crowd screaming or football players grunting."
- 14 Duo Review: Dungeon Explorer II. 14 15
- "Some of the music is so good, it's hard to believe you're playing a video game…With it's mixture of adventure and role playing, Dungeon Explorer II is a fun game that keeps your interest. I especially liked its ominous tone and five-player capability."
- 16 Back Cover: Poster.
- "The front and back covers combine to create one scene from…yup, you guessed it: Dungeon Explorer II."
OUT WITH THE OLD…▲
As you might expect, replacing DuoWorld's entire editorial staff resulted in a completely new look and feel for the magazine: the page layouts and aesthetics became much slicker and polished, a new format for software reviews was introduced (now four reviewers provided scores for each game under review) and now several pages of each issue were set aside solely for artwork (i.e. the centerfold, the back cover, plus one additional page).
CHARACTER PORTRAITS: The stunning Dungeon Explorer II Poster (1300x1747 .jpg) ▼ is far less impressive than the centerfold.
Not surprisingly, DuoWorld's new look and feel was completely modeled on the existing format of Video Games (seriously, you could easily mistake the two magazines if you laid them side-by-side). There is nothing inherently wrong with this (TurboPlay and the debut issue of DuoWorld were modeled after VG&CE, after all), but I don't think many Turbo fans were delighted with all of the changes.
ADDITION & SUBTRACTION…▲
Most notably absent from the "new" DuoWorld was Victor Ireland's superb Games Around the World column that covered PC-Engine games in Japan. This was a grave loss for many readers because the PC-Engine DUO was still going strong in Japan and it was always fun to get a glimpse of the thriving scene.
Now, don't get me wrong: learning that recording artist Matthew Sweet was a fellow TG-16 / PCE fan was mildly amusing, but no substitution for actual coverage of PC-Engine imports. I must admit, though, that Matthew Sweet was pretty hardcore: he played North American HuCARDs on his TurboExpress whilst touring, but he also bought a bunch of Japanese HuCARDs when he was in Japan (most notably Street Fighter II') to play on his PC-Engine console. Knowing this, we can forgive him for titling his then-current album Altered Beast instead of Shape Shifter (or Night Creatures)! Sweet clearly enjoyed video games and anime, as this excerpt from a 1992 newspaper article reveals:
"At the time of this interview, Sweet was taking a few weeks off from his touring schedule. The break wasn't planned, however. He was originally scheduled to produce a record in Chicago, but that was postponed. "This is the first time I've been home this long year, so it's kinda crazy," he said. "I just hang out and be lazy. This used to be my normal mode of life, but I've just been touring and touring and touring." During the year that he believed the album was not going to be released, Sweet sat around and played video games at home. It was with the help of friends like Quine that he was able to get through the period. "He was really one of the most supportive people I knew and was really there for me," Sweet said. "When I had no money, he would buy video games for me and stuff. He was really great. He's a really cool person."
Now that he's on the road, Sweet doesn't have the chance to play with his TurboGrafx or Genesis systems. "I have a handheld TurboExpress, that's really cool, so I can play that on the road. That's just another thing I can credit Japan for in my life." He also credits the country with japanimation, a form he used in his music videos and which he collects. He has a tattoo of a Japanese animation character on his arm. In the fall of 1993, Sweet and his band toured Japan. He had known his album was available in Japan and he was getting good offers for dates, but he was surprised to find out the amount of fan support in the country. "I did an interview when I was over in London last week (July 19, 1993) for a Japanese magazine and the woman said, ‘You are very famous among young people in Japan for your videos and tattoos.’ She was asking, ‘Which animations would you like your fans to bring you’," Sweet laughed. "I was like, ‘They can bring me anything’."
Sweet seems genuinely delighted by the fact that he could play TG-16 games on his TurboExpress whilst touring. If only Sega had released the Nomad a few years earlier! Sweet would have been doubly pleased! More importantly, I would love to find out if Robert Quine (yes, the former guitarist for the Voidoids!) purchased any TG-16 games for Sweet during his "slump". And wouldn't it be neat to find out what Sweet's TG-16 library consisted of in the early 90's? My ponderings are sincere, lest you think I'm joking.
A RANT, OF SORTS…▲
Personally, back in the day, I would much rather have been informed of the latest titles being released for the DUO in Japan than to have a goofy portrait of Prince Erik wasting an entire page of an already-emaciated magazine. Wait…what's that I hear? Oh, you do want a poster of Prince Erik to adorn your bedroom wall? Well, you'll have to wait for the next issue of DuoWorld (and its coverage of "Beyond Shadowgate") for that treat. And with Prince Erik's asymmetrical face, droopy sword and fancy belt, it promises to be quite a treat, indeed.
But, that was back in the day, back when it was difficult to obtain reliable information on the PC-Engine software library. Back when every single screenshot was savored. Back when any description of a game, however brief, proved immensely helpful (especially when buying import games). Today, of course, things are much different: all of this information, and then some, is readily available at our fingertips.
AN EPIPHANY, OF SORTS…▲
Since a significant portion of the TG-16 / PCE library is well-documented on the web now, I've had a change of heart: I no longer consider the artwork in DuoWorld as simply "filler" material. Quite the opposite, in fact. Now I cherish the art for being rather unique items in the TG-16 universe.
It's rather interesting: over time, the value and usefulness of the content in older magazines has changed. Back in the day, magazines had immense value because they were the primary source of information, regardless of how imprecise or incomplete that information was. Today, however, online catalogs and databases provide all of the basic info and screenshots you need, rendering columns like Games Around the World somewhat redundant. Don't get me wrong, I still love GATW, but the content in that column is no longer as reliable or as exclusive as it once was. As a result, I've found myself scouring magazines for content that isn't "redundant"—content that is unique and has yet to proliferate the internet.
And now you know why I have come to appreciate magazine art, even a piece as goofy as Prince Erik's portrait! As fate would have it, the centerfold in this issue is my favorite: where else would a Turbo fan obtain a large reproduction of the somber, H.R. Giger-esque art from Dungeon Explorer II (which is some of the best artwork to be found amongst the entire TG-16 and PCE library)? Too bad this masterful DEII centerfold is ruined by the ostentatious (and ill-placed) "DuoWorld" logo that is plastered on it! The panel on the left features some decidedly Giger-esque creatures in bas-relief—gorgeous and genuinely creepy! Actually, the entire composition seems to be inspired by Giger, sans Phades, who, despite looking pretty bad-ass, has a rather generic character design. Despite this disparity, the two components fuse together seamlessly to create a unified composition that evokes a somber, brooding atmosphere.
Dungeon Explorer II was the second Hudson game to capitalize on Giger's art. Yes, Hudson Soft's earlier Necromancer (1988, HuCARD) features some wicked Giger-esque cover art as well. Oh wait, Necromancer uses an actual, bonafide painting by Giger (we need to find out the title and date of the painting in question—help us if you can). Awesome.
In Closing: Something I had once loathed has managed to squirm its way into my heart—the "filler" material has become worthwhile! The times, they certainly are a-changin' (sorry, that's the last time, I promise).
Return to top of page…