[Magazine veteran -- and proud ferret-breeder -- Kevin "Magweasel" Gifford takes an analytical look at the latest video game magazines, all of which are currently trying to squeeze in all the E3 hype they can.
Summer is upon us. It's upon me
, anyway, with nothing but searing heat and vengeful hurricanes in my future for the next four months, and it can put even the stoutest of men into a severe state of melancholy. It's fortunate that May's apparently the new November when it comes to massive game releases, and between covering all those titles and gassing up the E3 hype machine, game magazines are understandably having a tough time cramming it all into their 100-page books. Click on and watch as they try valiantly:
Edge June 2010
Cover: LittleBigPlanet 2
Game Informer had the first word on LBP2
in this month's issue, but I haven't received it yet (I have a suspicion my subscription expired and I didn't notice) and so I can't comment on it. Edge has always loved this series -- this is the third time LBP's
been on the cover, if you count the subscriber edition of the 200th issue -- and the cover piece inside is a new chance for the editors to go all rah-rah on the British game development industry at a time when the general outlook's violently vacillated between rosy and wilted.
The Euro-love continues with preview pieces for games like Limbo
, but the highlight for me this month lies in all the interviews. Shigeru Miyamoto, John Smedley, and some of the staff behind the original Halo
all take fond looks back at their respective careers, and it's all fascinating (if not all that novel). The "remember when" theme of the issue reaches its climax toward the rear, which includes a deep look into -- of all things -- Ground Zero: Texas
, a Sega CD full-motion video title that both epitomized the short FMV boom of the early '90s and marked its last hurrah before games like Doom killed it.
PC Gamer July 2010
A pretty pedestrian issue, one that's nearly all previews and reviews (along with the hardware section, which has a neat feature on how to delete unskippable opening movies in certain games).
The only thing I'd call a straight-on feature per se is a six-page excerpt from the new issue of World of Warcraft
Official Magazine, which I liked seeing about as much as I liked seeing strategy-guide excerpts in GamePro and video-game novel adaptation excerpts in Future's assorted mags -- i.e., not very much.
World of Worldcraft Official Magazine Spring 2010
:OM may have a new editor-in-chief for its second issue, but -- at least in presentation, anyway -- it's still firing on all cylinders. Both the front and back cover are pretty fold-outs, the production values are high as ever, and there's a massive double-sided poster mid-way through that'd look perfect in anybody's
war room. I wish more magazines were this way, but that boat's already left the dock, I suppose.
The tactical content is over my head, but there's some neat coverage into the process behind making WOW
quests and a travelogue-style guide to places that are either going away or changing dramatically after the Cataclysm expansion. There's also an amusing interview with a guy who made it to level 80 while not killing anything ("There are times I just hang around a zone, hoping someone kills the mobs I need").
Retro Volume 3
GamesTM's third volume of reprints from its "Retro" classic-game section is now available in some US bookstores. I picked it up because I don't buy GamesTM itself -- nothing against the magazine, it's just that I have to draw the line somewhere
with this hobby. I paid $20 for it, a pretty steep markup from the ￡9.99 ($14.45) list price.
The 256 pages of content in this magazine/book is similar in style to the beat Retro Gamer covers every issue, which makes sense because both mags are from the same publisher. Unique regular columns include "Converstion Catastrophe" (a look at very bad home ports of very good arcade games), "Collector's Corner" (profiles of extremely valuable old games, plus an interview with a collector who owns them), and "Hall of Fame" (histories of famous video-game heroes with a humorously deep analysis of their 8- or 16-bit sprites). The rest of the content is nice, too -- along the same lines as Retro Gamer but a bit more approachable, with pieces like the history of first-person shooters and the video-game crash of 1984. (There are also a couple of articles that'll appeal strictly to the uber-hardcores, such as the interview with the Japanese actor who played Segata Sanshiro
It's frankly amazing how much retro-oriented content Imagine Publishing produces every month, much of it better written -- and all of it definitely better looking -- than what you can find on the net. I wish there was a wider American outlet for it, although I have the suspicion that overseas sales already go a long way to keep Retro Gamer in business.
Tips & Tricks July 2010
Cover: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
If I had a time machine, I wouldn't assassinate Hitler or give myself winning Powerball numbers -- I'd go back to 1990, when Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima began work on the original Sonic the Hedgehog
. "Look, forget about trying to create a new Sega mascot," I'd tell them (in Japanese, so they'd know I was being serious). "I have come to you from the year 2010, where I just saw Alex Kidd on the cover of a video game magazine
. You've got to stick to your guns!" Then I'd come back home, no doubt to a fantastic new world where the Saturn never existed and Nintendo's new iPad is the must-have gadget of the summer. (Don't ask me to explain; the reasons are complex.)
It's a very retro edition of T&T overall, what with Sonic
and Mega Man
and Metal Slug
titles all getting front treatment.
Beckett Massive Online Gamer July/August 2010
This is the 25th issue of Beckett MOG, a number I never thought it'd reach. It's hard to believe that it's already been four years since it launched. It just seems like the exact same thing in my mail every other month; I must have not noticed the passage of time along the way.
The best part of this issue is the piece way in the back that interviews five students at video game vo-tech schools. Some of them sound like decently talented folks (one of them was the art guy for AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!
), while some sound like...well, like the guys you see in late night Adult Swim advertisements. You want to stick your head into the pages and shout "Don't do it! Give it up! Just get a degree in IT and figure out something later!"
[Kevin Gifford used to breed ferrets, but now he's busy running Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]