Phew! After two series of an epic twenty-six episodes each, I needed a bit of a break. However, things get a bit more manageable now as the series episode count drops to eighteen episodes for series four. Still, a lot to cover, but at least they won’t take as long to do, as with the last two series. I’m still doing this as a two-parter though just to make things a little easier for both you and me. Oh yeah, and things get back to ‘normal’ after the madness of series three.
Aired from the 20th of September 1994 to the 14th of January 1995, things have changed once more. Gone is Dexter Fletcher as host from series three and back is Dominik Diamond. So too is St Paul’s Church, Dock Street, London, which was the filming location of series one and now this series too… Though it looks unrecognisable thanks to some set dressing. If you’ve been keeping up with the ‘story’ that’s been going on within the show, then you’d know that Dominik actually died at the end of series two when the oil rig exploded, thanks to Auntie Marisha’s cooking. So, how is Dominik Diamond brought back from the dead? Well, we don’t know just yet, series five will answer that with some retconning. In the meantime, all you need to know is that series four takes place in Hell, so DD is still definitely dead. However, what is open to question is why Dominik Diamond had turned into a Bond villain since series two.
We are taken to eternal damnation via a train ride quite literally to hell. And that’s the set-up for series four. In terms of the format, it’s still pretty much as it has always been, but there are a few little changes in how news and features are shown. Instead of being at the end of the review section as before, they now kind of (annoyingly) interrupt the challenges before they begin proper. You’ll see what I mean as I go on. Plus if anyone puts in a particularly poor performance, they are punished by being locked into a cage.
There’s always been one burning question I’ve wanted answering with series four. See, the reason Dominik Diamond gave for not wanting to do series three was that he didn’t agree with McDonald’s being the sponsor of the show. But series four is also sponsored by McDonald’s… So why did he return to a show sponsored by McDonald’s if he disagreed with the fact McDonald’s sponsored the show? I guess money can make you sidestep your personal moral compass? Anyway, on with series four.
Mortal Kombat II (SNES) is the very first game chosen for the first challenge of the first episode. Three challengers take on the game, but GamesMaster has thrown in a little twist. The three are Graham, Daniel and Zen The twist the big guy has added is that all three have to fight Baraka from the game. I don’t mean they have to fight the character in the game (though that’s exactly what they do), I mean they have to fight against Baraka in person. Baraka being played by actor Richard Divizio (who actually played Baraka in the game) in a Baraka costume. Up first is Graham, who plays as Jax while Baraka plays as… well Baraka. It’s actually quite a close fight with both of them getting down to a couple of hits left before losing. But Baraka manages to take the win and even tops it off with a fatality finish too. Daniel takes the SNES pad next, playing as Kung Lao. Daniel gets off to an amazing start and takes away half of Baraka’s health in about three seconds with some great combos. Baraka makes a comeback, but Daniel isn’t having any of it and wins with yet another fatality. The final challenger, Zen, is next and he chooses Kitana as his character. The exchange blow for blow in this very close fight, each with only one hit left. Baraka jumps in with a kick and wins. No fatality here, but a nice friendship finisher instead… in a seemingly carefully edited clip. So with both Graham and Zen losing, leaving only Daniel as a winner, the first golden joystick goes to him.
As is the format of the show, it is review time next. Alien vs Predator (Jaguar) gets 83%. Strange beat ’em up Ballz (Mega Drive) is given 80%. Then finally, Smash Tennis (SNES) sores a very worthy 95%. Celebrity guest challenge time. It is the football game, Super Strikers 2 (Neo Geo) as the game picked by GamesMaster. Taking on the game is football fan and comedian, Frank Skinner and going up against Frank is non-celeb Hugh. Frank plays as England, while Hugh favours Brazil. Hugh wastes no time in tucking a goal away, which Frank responds to by putting one away himself, 1-1. Hugh manages to put another away just before half-time and takes the lead. Frank starts the second half strong and scores, as the final whistle blows, it’s 2-2. So it’s onto sudden death penalties. Frank goes first and his shot is saved, but when Hugh takes his shot, Frank stops it from going in. The second round of shots goes the same way too, both being saved by the keepers. This sudden death penalty shootout is actually quite tense. Frank takes his third shot and puts it away in the top left corner. Hugh needs to score or he’s out… he scores, neither player able to take the win. The fourth shot by Frank is saved, while Hugh scores and wins the golden joystick. Honestly, that was genuinely tense.
As is the norm, it’s time for a few games to get some help from GamesMaster himself. Mortal Kombat II (Mega Drive and SNES) gets a few secrets revealed. Then, of course, it is final challenge time. Earthworm Jim (Mega Drive) is the game of choice and two contestants have sixty seconds to collect as many neutron capsules as they can. But there’s a quick look at the making of the game first (this is that interrupting of the features I mentioned earlier). Anyway, playing Earthworm Jim are Eddie and Tim, with Eddie going first and managing to nab thirty-six neutron capsules, a very decent score. Tim gets off to a very slow start, but with some deft platforming skills, he manages to grab thirty-eight and wins the golden joystick as well as an Earthworm Jim statuette too.
Golden joysticks won – 3
GamesMaster picks Mehmet as the challenger for the first game and that game is Road Rash (3DO). More of the, annoying break from the regular format, as the first challenge is interrupted by some gaming news. The impressive sales of the home console versions of Mortal Kombat II are looked at. The Imaginator, a ride/game that used to be at the Trocadero arcade in London is also given some screen time. Then to finish, the GamesMaster Network (it gets a mention several times through the series), a very early interwebs website dedicated to all things GamesMaster is given a plug. After which, the first challenge begins and Mehmet has to finish in first place in the race to win. Mehmet gets off to a cracking start, from fifteenth, he makes his way to tenth place with ease. He manages to get up to eighth place at one point… before crashing into a tree and dropping down to twelfth place. Back on his bike, Mehmet finds himself in sixth place, with not too much left of the race and a clump of other racers in front of him. Offering a few slaps to the face, as is the way with Road Rash, Mehmet takes first place with only about four seconds of the race left to win.
Yes indeed, it is review time again. The all-time classic Shaq Fu (Mega Drive) get a way too high 65%. Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City (SNES) gets a still too high 60%. Then 3D space-shooter Infernal (PC) is given 80%. Aussie soaps Neighbours and Home & Away provide the celebs this time around. It is the trio of Bruce Roberts, Dan Falzon and Sarah Vandenbergh who are taking on this one and GamesMaster gives them the three-player, based on the movie of the same name, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (SNES). A classic last one standing wins scenario here as three Bruce Lee’s punch and kick each other in the face. Sarah is the one who gets off to the best start in this melee but the other two begin fighting back and health-wise, it’s all pretty much even. Sarah is the first one taken out, despite her initial lead. Quickly followed by Dan, leaving Bruce (quite aptly) as the winner.
More hints & tips are dished out by GamesMaster. Pete Sampras Tennis (Mega Drive), FIFA International Soccer: Championship Edition (Sega CD) and The Adventures of Mighty Max (Game Boy) get some help. On to the final challenge which is on the prehistoric beat ’em up, Primal Rage (arcade). Taking this on is Eddil playing as Blizzard and Paul as Diablo. But before things get underway, a quick ‘making of’ feature is shown that covers how the devs got the dinos in the game to look so Ray Harryhausen-like. Anyway, the fight begins proper and its a close one, but Eddil takes the first round… and the second. It really wasn’t much of a fight to be fair. Eddil wins the golden joystick.
Golden joysticks won – 3
Kicking episode three of is a challenge on Novastorm (Sega CD) and it is James and Chris. The challengers have to take it in turns to score as many points as possible in sixty-seconds but before that… gaming news. A little look at The Lion King game is shown, Cybermax, an early VR headset for home use is given a look Then Dino Island, a motion-ride gets a quick mention and a feature looking at a Loch Ness interactive ride is also sown. Then after all of that, the first challenge. James goes first and manages a score of 376,900 points. Not too shabby. Chris goes next and gets a slightly better 385,510 points to win the golden joystick.
Games under review this week are Doom II (PC) which gets a criminally low, but still great 88%. Ghoul Patrol (SNES), the follow up to the much loved Zombies Ate My Neighbors lands a reasonable 70%. While Way of the Warrior (3DO) gets a way too high 72%. This episode’s celebrity guest is an old friend of the show, snooker supremo, Jimmy White. Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker (Mega Drive) is the game here and in a rather unusual twist, Jimmy has to play against the game on a real snooker table. Both the game and the real table have the balls set up the exact same way and Jimmy has to pot all of the coloured balls on the real table before the AI can do the same on the game, both playing at the same time too. Jimmy misses the first ball and loses valuable seconds over the game, after sinking the first ball, he then misses the second, leaving Jimmy White way behind the game at this point. Making up some much needed time, Jimmy pulls level and both he and the game are on the pink ball… which Jimmy sinks first, just a second or so ahead of the game. Jimmy eyes up the final back ball and misses, just as the game lines up the final shot. With only a second or less left, Jimmy takes another shot at the black ball and pots it with mere moments to spare. Jimmy White wins himself a golden joystick.
More helpless folk seek help form GamesMaster. Super Metroid (SNES), Micro Machines (Game Gear) and Cybermorph (Jaguar) have their secrets revealed. The final challenge is on Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy (Neo Geo) and trying to win a golden joystick are Jonathan and Colin The challengers have just 1 minute to score as many points as possible. Jonathan goes first and chooses to rush through the level, missing a lot of easy points to get to the mech weapon in an attempt to use it to gain more points later. It’s a risky strategy and he ends up with 9.400 points. Colin is up next and that 9,400 is certainly beatable… but Colin is completely pants and dies early doors with only 4,900 points. Jonathan gets the golden joystick despite his very beatable score because Colin was so crap.
Golden joysticks won – 3
The gaming challenges continue in the bowels of Hell and first up is Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Mega Drive) and the challengers have to finish the first level as fast as possible while using the Knuckles character. Playing this one are Tom and Daniel. News time first though and there’s a look at a couple of Star Wars related games. First up, we get a sneak peek at Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger starring Mark Hamill… he was in Star Wars don’t you know? Star Wars: Dark Forces gets a preview ahead of its release. Back to the first challenge and Tom goes first to try and finish the level in the fastest time. After hitting a few obstacles and losing a few seconds, Tom manages a beatable time of 51 seconds. Daniel takes the controller next and really messes up, aside from hitting some easily avoidable hazards, he struggles with some of the famed Sonic loops and doesn’t even make it to the end of the level in 51 seconds, never mind finish it. Tom wins the golden joystick.
After the first challenge, kicking off the reviews this episode is Sega’s famed mascot himself as Sonic Triple Trouble (Game Gear) gets 85%. Earthworm Jim (SNES & Mega Drive) scores a very high 94%. While Bubsy II (SNES & Mega Drive) is given a still to high 70%. Kart game Street Racer (SNES) is the game picked by GamesMaster for the celebs this time and it’s a simple case of whoever crosses the finish line in first place wins. Taking on this challenge are these cheeky Geordies and stars of kids drama series Byker Grove, PJ & Duncan and they’re certainly ready to rhumble. Wey-Aye Man! PJ really doesn’t do well at all and stays in last place for the entire first lap. Duncan barely does much better and struggles too… just not as much. After the second lap is done, Duncan finally gets the hang of the game and even manages to finish in a fairly respectable third place. PJ though, well he only manages a very poor seventh place… out of eight. But to be fair, he was blinded by paintballs in Byker Grove. Still, neither of them actually won the race as per the challenge, so they are punished by being put into the cage. Of course, the duo do eventually get out of the cage to become the hugely popular and very highly paid TV presenters Ant & Dec… the bastards.
No prizes for guessing what’s next and I’m not giving you any hints & tips either, that’s the GamesMaster’s job. Mega Man X (SNES), The Jungle Book (Mega Drive) and John Madden Football (3DO) all get some much-needed assistance. There’s a feature looking at the popularity of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Then the final challenge comes in the shape of Sonic & Knuckles (Mega Drive) as the trio of Sam, Scott and Phil have to take it in turns to collect as many rings as they can in 45 seconds. Up first is Sam and she manages to grab an impressive forty-eight rings. Scott is next and he just about squeezes in a better fifty-three rings. Then finally, there’s Phil who, despite a bit of trouble with one of the enemies, ends his run with a winning fifty-six rings to take home the golden joystick.
Golden joysticks won – 2
GamesMaster picks the rather overrated Ecco: The Tides of Time (Sega CD) for the first challenge and challengers are given just 1 minute to finish a level. Robert and Adam are the guys to try this one… After the news. A look at the sales of Doom II, there’s also a peek at soon the be released arcade games Cruis’n USA and Virtua Cop. The Neo Geo CD console gets a look in, while Bass Masters Classic (SNES) gets a mention (am I the only one finding this interrupting the challenges with news and features a tad annoying?). So, back to the first challenge and Robert goes first and has a bit of trouble with one of the enemies on the game, he runs out of time before the challenge can be completed. Next up is Adam and he has much more luck, finishing the challenge with 13 seconds still on the clock to win the golden joystick.
The games up for review this time are The Lion King (SNES & Mega Drive) gets 87%. Mega Bomberman (Mega Drive) blows up with 91%. Finally, Cluedo The Mysteries Continue (CD-i) is given 51%. So, time for the celeb challenge once more, we have former English footballer, Andrew Cole, going up against former American footballer Kasey Keller. I don’t mean Kasey played American football, he played English football for the US team. Basically, two football players going up against each other. And this is another one of those mini-football tournaments that GamesMaster likes to throw into the series every now and then, with the winner going on to the final held in a couple of episodes time. The game of choice is FIFA Soccer 95 (Mega Drive), with Andrew playing as Newcastle while Kasey plays as Seattle. It’s quite a slow and uneventful first half with neither team scoring. The second half is a bit more interesting and when Andrew gives away a freekick, Kasey tucks one away in the back of the net. The game ends with Kasey Keller the winner and going through to the final.
Time for GamesMaster to throw a bone to the poor gamers seeking help. Time Trax (SNES), The Jungle Book (Mega Drive) and Tempest 2000 (Jaguar) are all helped. Before the final challenge, there’s a look at Double Dragon (the movie). Then we get to witness one of the worst beat ’em ups ever made with Way of the Warrior (Jaguar). Taking on this challenge are Ian and Andrea, who are said to be a couple, so a few rounds on a beat ’em up should sort out any relationship issues. Ian takes the first round while Andrea wins the second. So onto the final round, which Andrea wins. I suppose I could’ve given this challenge a bit more coverage, but Way of the Warrior is such a shit game that I really can’t be bothered. Anyway, Andrea wins a golden joystick. The end.
Golden joysticks won – 2
This episode is a Donkey Kong special according to Dominik Diamond and the first challenge is on the arcade classic itself. The challengers have to finish the first level of Donkey Kong (Arcade) in the fastest time. Chi, Simon and Alistair are the trio taking this one on, but first, the news. A preview of the Mega Drive add-on, the 32X and a handful of games is shown. With Chi going first to try and take pre-Mario to the top of the screen and save Pauline. Chi does some pretty nifty barrel jumping and makes it to the top in 29 seconds. Simon next and he has a barrel miss him by mere millimetres… only to come a cropper soon after and fail. Alistair is just as nifty as Chi before him, in fact, he’s about 1 second more nifty as he finishes the challenge in 28 seconds to win the golden joystick. With more Donkey Kong action to come later in this Donkey Kong special episode.
Reviews this time are Street Racer (SNES) which gets a 91%. Tiny Toon Adventures: ACME All-Stars (SNES & Mega Drive) scores 75%. Finally, Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures (SNES) finds itself with 83%. The celeb challenge is the next part of the FIFA Soccer 95 (Mega Drive) mini-tournament, with the winner here going through to the final against Kasey Keller from the previous episode. Playing a game of football this time is old friend of the show and footie player turned actor, Vinnie Jones and ex-pro footballer Andy Townsend. Vinnie playing as Wimbledon while Andy as Aston Villa. Despite a few attempts on goal by both teams, the first half ends 0 – 0. With only 30 seconds of the second half left, Andy puts one away and Vinnie is just not able to claw his way back. Andy Townsend wins and goes through to play Kasey Keller in the final.
The Incredible Hulk (Mega Drive), Ruff ‘n’ Tumble (Amiga) and Theme Park (PC) are all given a leg up thanks to GamesMaster. Then we get a world exclusive behind the scenes look at Donkey Kong Country (SNES). Which according to Dominik Diamond, is the first time the game has ever been seen on TV. There are a few words from legendary game designer Tim Stamper as he shows how a level in the game is made. Then yes, it’s final challenge time, a world exclusive too as it is on the already mentioned Donkey Kong Country. Three challengers have to finish the first level in the fastest time. Tim, Christian and Sharif are the lucky people who get to be some of the first in the world to play the game. Tim is up first and he uses a hidden shortcut to get a time of 46 seconds. Christian chooses to not go for the shortcut and gets a time of 36 seconds, a whole 10 seconds faster than Tim… who used a shortcut. Finally, there’s Sharif who wastes valuable seconds at the start along with going for the not so short shortcut, he gets a time of 45 seconds. Christian’s impressive 36 seconds wins him a golden joystick.
Golden joysticks won – 2
GamesMaster selects the very tough The Lion King (Mega Drive) for the first challenge. Lewis and Michael are the two taking on this one and they have to get to the halfway point of the second level of the game in the fastest time. But first, the news. A VR Disney game based on Aladdin is shown and the very little known, educational Pico console from Sega is shown too. Anyway, Lewis goes first on the challenge and he gets off to a blistering start, but messes up on a double jump and fails. Michael is next and as Lewis failed, he can take as much time as he likes and still win… and he does in 1 minute and 4 seconds. Not that the time even matters, Michael wins the golden joystick.
The trilogy of reviews this time include, Twisted (3DO) gets an unexplainable 81%. Dynamite Headdy (Mega Drive) is given a reasonable 89%. Then the cut-down Samurai Shodown (SENS) is awarded 79%. There’s a quick preview for Thunder in Paradise (CD-i). If you’ve been keeping up, then you’d know that it is time for the final of the GamesMaster mini-football tournament, only there’s been a last-minute substitute. Instead of playing on the previously used FIFA Soccer 95 (Mega Drive), GamesMaster has chosen FIFA International Soccer (3D0). It’s Kasey Keller vs Andy Townsend in the final, with Kasey playing as USA while Andy favours the Republic of Ireland. Andy puts an early goal away, thanks to a fumbling goalkeeper… followed by another. The first half ends 2 – 0 to Andy. The second half doesn’t exactly go Kasey’s way either as Andy outs two more away. Kasey does get one goal back, not that it matters as Andy pelts another ball into the net to make the final score 5 – 1 to the Republic of Ireland. Andy Townsend wins the golden joystick.
Time for GamesMaster to share his vast knowledge once more. Battlecorps (Sega CD), Benefactor (Amiga) and Archer Maclean’s Super Dropzone (SNES) are all helped. A feature looking at various football management games is shown and… that’s it, no final challenge in this episode, which I think, is the first time ever in the entire show there hasn’t been a final challenge. Bit of a damp squib to end on really.
Golden joysticks won – 2
Straight into the first challenge and it’s a driving test on Power Drive (SNES). The challengers are Ricky, Mervin and Tom. For this particular driving game, GamesMaster is staying away from the typical racing and instead, opts for something more precise. Each of the three must come to s stop from speed in a small box, then they have to reverse into a parking space, followed by speeding through a multi-chicaned road, a winding set of traffic cones is next and the challengers have to dive into the middle of a spiral without hitting any of the cones, then finally, they have to stop precisely in the finish box. It’s a five-point challenge on this very tricky driving game and they only have 1 minute to complete the whole thing. But first is the news. There’s a mention of the Timecop game, based on the Jean-Claude Van Damme flick of the same name. A look at the first-ever fully CGI TV show, ReBoot. And a quick preview of the Sega Saturn console. Back to the Power Drive challenge and up first is Ricky and while he manages the first stop with ease, he really messes up on the reversing part, smashing his car in the process, he struggles to get into the parking space, losing valuable time before finally reverse parking. Ricky does make it through the chicane road… with several more bumps before the cone spiral, of which he crashes through and fails the challenge. Mervin next and he passes the first step easily, the second one just as easily, makes it through the next step with a few bumps. And so it’s onto the spiral cones, where Ricky messed up so badly. Mervin, very sensibly, takes his time here and almost makes it to the middle… before deciding the slam on the accelerator and crash through the cones for no reason, failing the challenge. Finally, it’s Tom. Step one, easy, step two, easy, step three, easy, step four, the spiral cones… Yup, he messes up just as badly and fails. No golden joystick for anyone and all three are locked in the cage for such a poor performance.
Time for the reviews again and Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure (SENS & Mega Drive) gets 81%. Virtua Racing Deluxe (Sega 32X) wins an impressive 90%. Then Newman/Haas IndyCar featuring Nigel Mansell (SNES) is given a still too high 60%. Ian Kelsey and Camilla Power from popular soap Emmerdale are the celebs for the next challenge and GamesMaster has them going up against each other on ClayFighter 2: Judgment Clay (SNES). Ian playing as Kangoo, with Camilla using Goo Goo, the fight gets underway. Ian takes the first round fairly easily and the second round just as easily… but he was just spamming one move over and over. It was a cheap win, but a win none the less and Ian Kelsey wins himself a golden joystick.
GamesMaster throws out more gaming life preserves in the shape of Sonic & Knuckles (Mega Drive), Doom II (PC) and Donkey Kong Country (SNES) all get some much-needed assistance. then there a feature looking behind the scenes of the awful beat ’em up Supreme Warrior (Sega CD). Final challenge time… or at least that’s what Dominik Diamond introduces, but GamesMaster says he’s had enough challenges and instead plays a special feature. Ridge Racer (PlayStation) is put under the spotlight and given a good look at. No final challenge for the second time running.
Golden joysticks won – 1
Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (SNES) is GamesMaster’s first challenge and for this one, contestants have just 45 seconds to get as many Jedi coins as they can. Goldie and Richard are the two tackling this one, but first, news. There’s a look at the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers game (SNES), the long cancelled AT&T and Sega team attempt at early online gaming is looked at, then there’s a bit looking at a two-way TV that allows you to interact with various TV shows. So back to the challenge and Goldie goes first, managing to go the wrong way and to mess up quite a lot, to only grab thirteen Jedi coins, very beatable. Richard goes next and pretty goes the same (bad) route as Goldie before him, missing so many easy to get coins. Richard only just about wins by nabbing fifteen Jedi coins before his time is up. Both were very poor, but Richard wins a golden joystick.
Donkey Kong Country (SNES) is the first game up review and it gets a very worthy 90%. Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament (Mega Drive) scores a very high 92%. With FIFA International Soccer (3DO) getting an 84%. Rugby players Rupert Moon and Dewi Morris are the celebrities taking on GamesMaster’s next challenge. Rugby World Cup ’95 (Mega Drive) with Rupert playing as Wales and Dewi as England. Rupert scores the first try as well as scoring the following goal kick, 7 – 0 to Wales as the first half ends. But England scores a try in the second half… only to miss the goal kick. The game ends 7 – 5 to Wales and Rupert Moon wins the golden joystick.
More hints & tips from GamesMaster. Pink Goes to Hollywood (SNES), Shadow of the Beast II (Sega CD) and Micro Machines (Game Gear) are the trio of titles that get a leg up this time. Next up is a feature looking at LucasArts’ Full Throttle (PC) adventure game and Star Wars: Dark Forces (PC). As well as a chat with the developers of the games an a few behind the scenes secrets are revealed. Then finally… a final challenge! GamesMaster selects the beat ’em up The King of Fighters ’94 (Neo Geo) for this one. Michael and Stephen take each other on in a classic, best of three rounds bout. The first round goes to Michael all too quickly, with Stephen hardly even putting up a fight. Stephen comes out fighting for round two and gets in quite a few good hits… then Michael completely decimates him to win the second round and the golden joystick.
Golden joysticks won – 3
Were halfway through series four now and there’s still more to come in part two to finish this series off.
Total golden joysticks won – 21