Back in the day when people still read magazines, GamePro magazine was my gaming magazine of choice. Sure I had a handful of issues of Nintendo Power, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and Sega Visions. But GamePro was the one that really resonated with me.
You know how people on the Internet will give you snarky advice preceded by “ProTip” sometimes? ProTips come from GamePro magazine. True story!
I started reading GamePro in 1992, so I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the covers of all 12 issues from that year.
Hook was a live-action movie that acted as a sequel to Peter Pan. It starred Robin Williams as an adult Peter Pan who forgot his life in Never Never Land, Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell, Bob Hoskins as Mr. Smee, Dustin Hoffman as the titular Captain Hook, and was directed by Steven Spielberg. This was also the movie that introduced the word “Bangarang” into the public lexicon.
The film was released in December of 1991, so kicking off the new year with what promised to be the biggest movie of the moment was pretty smart! The cover also boasts FIFTY-SIX new games reviewed! Wow! I guess putting out releases around the holiday season has been a practice longer than I thought! I don’t recognize all the games listed, but Bucky O’Hare is solid, and Golden Axe II is a personal favorite.
This was my first issue of GamePro. The promise of a THIRD TMNT game for the Nintendo was enough to get me to beg my mom to buy this issue for me when I saw it on the counter of Blockbuster Video (geez, 1992 was a long time ago). I must have read this issue, cover-to-cover, half a dozen times just that weekend.
I’m clearly 100% biased, but even in early 1992 the TMNT were still strong enough to be able to sell magazines just by sticking them on the cover. The headlines also mention a Genesis buyers guide for 1992, highlights three early Super Nintendo games — Contra IV (4?), Smash TV, and Joe & Mac — AND previews the Sega CD (which was called the “Mega CD” outside of North America). But all that mattered to me was the Turtles.
While the game was released in February 1991 in Japan, Street Fighter II doesn’t have a confirmed release date for North America that I can find. The game was a huge hit (Street Fighter 6 was just announced for release in early 2023), and the move guide that GamePro includes in this issue would be invaluable, especially since the Super Nintedo port of the game would be coming out soon!
This art (and the TMNT cover from last month, actually) was proably done by GamePro’s in-house artist, Francis Mao. Usually his work had thick black outlines, but even with this airbrushed work, I can recognize his style and proportions.
Last issue boasted a preview of Contra IV for SNES, but this month updates the game to its proper title — Contra III!
Francis Mao gets a break from cover duties to give us this photo of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls logos edited off his jersey. Jordan vs. Bird gets the top story, and this would have come out during Larry Bird’s final season in the NBA.
A buyer’s guide for both of the major 16-bit consoles comes just two months after the Genesis buyer’s gude in February, while we get reviews for the excellent Kid Chameleon, the lackluster Super Scope 6, a bunch of games nobody remembers, Out of this World (known as Another World outside of North America)…and there’s a contest to win a color TV. In 1992. Um, okay?
Francis Mao returns for this cover, featuring Splatterhouse 2, one of the most gruesome video games on the Sega Genesis. Honestly, the actual game’s cover might have been too frightening to put on most news stands at the time, so having the in-house artist do a new piece that’s a little more family-friendly was probably a smart move.
The pretty excellent Darkwing Duck (NES), the classic Out of this World (SNES, and the all-but-forgotten Alisia Dragoon all get reviewed, while TMNT 4: Turtles in Time (SNES) and the incredibly over-hyped Faceball 2000 get previews.
There’s a call out for upcoming games based on The Simpsons, and Street Fighter II‘s first update, Champion Edition, gets a one-page preveiw.
Taz-Mania was a half-hour animated series airing on Fox Kids that showed what family life wa like for the Tasmanian Devil. It’s also the show that canonized “Taz” as his nickname. It got a video game that had pretty excellent animation with excrutiatingly average gameplay.
Turtles in Time gets a full review — That’s two TMNT games in less than 6 months in case you forget that the Turtles still ruled the world in 1992 — along with other games of varying quality that mostly haven’t withstood the test of time.
The cover for the Alien 3 comic by Dark Horse — Painted by Arthur Suydam — pulls double-duty this month as the cover for GamePro. It’s pretty fuckin’ cool.
Unfortunately, none of the games on this month’s cover are all that great. Actually, that’s not fair. I’ve never played Gargoyle’s Quest II, and Capcom usually makes pretty solid games. I guess I should read this issue and see what the game pros at GamePro thought!
Amusingly, Hook finally gets a SNES port, half a year after GamePro featured the 8-bit NES’s version on the cover.
For my birthday this year, my mom got me a subscription to GamePro, and this issue was the first one I got in the mail. Renewing the subscription was part of my birthday gift every year until 1999, when I felt that the Internet had rendered magazines kind of pointless.
Anyways, I never saw the Universal Soldier movie, nor played the game. I think all of the games listed on the cover were at least decent — Street Fighter II on the SNES ended up selling over 6 million copies, making it Capcom’s best-selling home game for nearly 20 years, and the best-selling third-party game on the SNES.
Also, this issue covers The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I still think that game is better than Ocarina of Time.
Spider-Man & the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge has one of the coolest opening intro songs ever. Legendary Spider-Man artist, John Romita, drew the assets that GamePro plucked from the game’s box art to make this cover.
There’s a preview for a SNES CD that never happened, but would basically be the reason the Sony Playstation happened.
Team USA Basketball by EA celebrated America’s dominance in the Olympic Games that summer.
This issue was the first of a four-part pull-out strategy guide for Street Fighter II on SNES, with one part being included in each issue of GamePro for the rest of the year.
I literally don’t remember this cover (also probably my Francis Mao), but I know I had this issue, because I remember those Street Fighter II strategy guides.
People today don’t remember how huge SFII was. It’s been mentioned on the cover of five of the 10 issues of GamePro released at this point this year, and two of those were as the cover story. That’s HUGE.
“Sci-Fi Carts!” is a fun headline — I just went and checked, and the list of sci-fi games previewed is followed by a preview for the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy), which started in 1992…and was also the new home for GamePro TV. Ahh, that brings it all together.
What the heck even is this cover? I’m not ranking these covers at all, but if I was, this one would be in last place for the year. I wonder if this one was by Francis Mao, as well? It’s a shame, because Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is awesome, and this cover… isn’t.
I wonder if the game “Dolphin” listed as a Genesis review is Ecco the Dolphin? And look! A THIRD Ninja Turtles game came out in 1992 — This one is Hyperstone Heist on the Genesis.
Oh hey, Mega Man 5 on NES is here — The 8-bit machine still had a couple years of life left in it, even though we were firmly in the 16-bit generation of gaming by this point.
Chester Cheetah, the mascot for Cheetos snacks, got a video game in 1992. What a wild year.
Street Fighter II Turbo gets previewed in this issue, in addition to the SFII pull-out. That’s TWO Street Fighter II mentions on this single cover. Madden ’93 is the first sequel to THAT franchise, which still gets annual updates to this day, THIRTY YEARS LATER. Super Mario Kart still gets new sequels. Streets of Rage 2 is a personal favorite. Lots of good stuff in this year-end issue.
Street Fighter II is mentioned on SEVEN of the twelve covers for the year, making it THE game of 1992 as far as GamePro was concerned. Is it any wonder I became minorly obsessed with that franchise?
I honestly forgot that three TMNT game were all released in 1992. I’m not sure we got three TMNT games in the 2010s. The Turtles were literally everywhere for about five years, and I think the fact that they get mentioned so much on these covers is a testament to that. It really wasn’t until the third live-action movie flopped in 1993 that the franchise lost its mainstream appeal.
It’s interesting to see the year start out with cover stories for 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System games in January and February, hit an arcade game in March, and then it’s all 16-bit Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games for the rest of the year. The Genesis had been out since summer of 1989, and the SNES hit in late summer of 1991, so 1992 was THE year that gaming journalism shifted focus to the more powerful machines. But NES games are still mentioned on every single cover all year, the last game for the console being released in 1994.
While I’m usually a fan of Francis Mao’s artwork, this year’s covers weren’t his best showing. But that’s okay — He got hired by the magazine after winning a drawing contest, and he’d stick around GamePro for YEARS. Eventually, Mao ended up as a creative director at Capcom. He did okay for himself, even if that Sonic 2 cover is a little shaky.
I hope you had as much reliving these game magazine memories as I did! And even though I mostly just looked at just the covers, I went and added links to scans of the magazine on The Internet Archive (archive.org) for every issue — Some have browser previews, but others will require downloading. Sorry, that’s out of my hands! Regardless, click the month name of the issue you want to see, and check out the full issues for yourself!