With the arrival in yesterday's mail of Electronic Gaming Monthly issue 5 (the 1990 buyer's guide issue), I've achieved an important milestone for any game-mag collector -- a full run of all 207 issues of (possibly, arguably, you never know, it might be) the greatest console magazine of all time. I was so proud that I couldn't help but take a picture.
They say that EGM enjoyed national distribution from the beginning and had a circulation of 64,000 by 1991, but honestly, the first 20 or so issues are damned hard to find these days. Issue 5, in particular, I've been relentlessly pursuing for literally years -- Ziff Davis doesn't even have a copy (not that I was gonna steal it from them) and I literally know only two other people who do have one, neither of which were about to give it up. I finally found one available for trade last week, though, and while I gave up a ton for it (and am not particularly fond of the condition it's in), I'm extremely happy to have EGM done and over with. Now to tackle Game Informer, which I'm sure will be even more painful.
Going back to the modern age, a total of eight game mags hit the stands in the past two weeks, two of which have Shaun Alexander on the cover. Find out which (and a lot of other interesting things besides) by clicking through.
Electronic Gaming Monthly September 2006 (Podcast)
I know I completed the set and everything, but I have to admit that I don't have much to comment on with Issue 207 here. There's a crew-cut space marine on the cover, but I'm willing to forgive it 'cos the game it's for, Bioware's Mass Effect, looks superb. The main preview feature this time around is "Tough Guys", covering badarses like Tony Montana, the Sopranos, and that guy from Yakuza -- all rated with the "Thompsonometer," with one Jack Thompson head being benign and five being the subject of a guest appearance on Hannity & Colmes.
The big draw this month: Might be the reviews section, which is the liveliest in several months -- not only are there some actual good games on the block this month, but the disparity in ratings between reviewers can get pretty dramatic in certain games. Deep Labyrinth gets everything from 2.0 to 7.5, for example.
I keep on forgetting: To mention Seanbaby's two pages in the back, which are also the funniest he's been in a while as he tackles games set in a postapocalyptic world that was supposed to happen around now -- for example, Revolution X, where the new world order comes along and outlaws music (and also Aerosmith) on November 11, 1996.
PSM September 2006 (Podcast)
You can tell there was a whole lotta nuthin' going on around PSM Towers when it came time to put this issue to print. I can feel their pain, definitely -- the PS3 is ostensibly coming out three months from now, but there still isn't much to cover about it yet, and in the meantime the PS2 review lineup is getting downright laughable (this issue came out before Valkyrie Profile 2 or Okami was available; they both got reviews in EGM).
The result: This is the most random-filler-laden issue of PSM I've ever seen, arguably more so than later issues of Amiga Power and other late British mags. Features include two pages on the future viability of the PS2, a spread speculating on the PS3's online interface, and full pages on Metal Gear fan favorite Meryl Silverburg and a bikini-laden Japanese PSP commercial. There's even four pages on Pelican's TiltForce 2 pad -- a PS1 controller released in 1999, but dredged up in an attempt to
fill space see how tilt functionality could affect a wide variety of future PS3 games.
The cover: is Resistance: Fall of Man, the Insomniac game that many say looks better than Gears of War. There's 12 pages of coverage on it, including 4 devoted to an interview with company head and all-around nice guy Ted Price.
Nintendo Power September 2006
This issue of NP feels remarkably thick, and that's thanks to two things: a big pamphlet-like ad for Nintendo's Touch Generations lineup, and an insert Pokemon comic (part 1 of 6) to celebrate Mystery Dungeon. The poster this month is also a beaut -- it's for Rocket Slime and I'm seriously debating the merits of putting it on the wall. I'm at the point in my life where it really doesn't behoove to put video-game posters on the wall any longer, but...
The cover: Is for the Wii Rayman, which doesn't say much new but succeeds in making me (a) much more excited for the game (b) a massive Michel Ancel fanboy. Seriously, he's a nutter.
There's also: A big preview of Red Steel, but seriously, with this game, mag previews are becoming a case of fool me once, fool me twice...
NP-only interviews this month: Include Takeshi Horinouchi (Mega Man ZX) and Nobuyuki Inoue (Magical Starsign)
I just noticed: that Nintendo Power and EGM now have the same number of issues (207) under their belt. EGM's gonna have to put out another "holiday" issue like they did in 2004 to get ahead again.
Tips & Tricks September 2006
Tips & Tricks may have the highest number of regular features of any game mag today. It's getting almost Famitsu-like in size. In this issue, we have 2-page spreads on: game figures/toys; game-based anime and cartoons; gear; Mega Man; game-based comics; games on film (making its debut this month); Final Fantasy; mobile gaming; online gaming; sports games; Halo 2; classic game collecting; and finally Japan news. That's 13 columns, and it almost guarantees that no matter what game you wanted tips on, there's got to be something here to strike your fancy.
Naruto update: T&T was nice enough to follow up on last month's Naruto: Ultimate Ninja strategy, in which the editor ran out of time to finish the game's final challenge of playing through over 18,000 matches. This month it's revealed that your reward for doing this is...an S-rank certificate screen. Wooo.
Computer Games September 2006
CGM has it pretty rough these days. It skipped its August issue (the last ish was "July/August", similar to what Game Developer does and what CGW did a year ago); the beta test access code for MMORPG Vanguard in the June issue became useless after the game got delayed (and switched publishers); and Donna Collins wrote in to the letters section to express her disgust at June's feature on sex-oriented games ("I will be filling as many complaints against your company as humanly possible").
The cover subject is Sid Meier's Railroads!, and it's a great excuse for CGM to pick Meier's mind on all sorts of things, including lost 3DO classic CPU Bach ("CPU Bach...umm...is a piece of software... that creates music... somewhat in the style of Bach").
Also worth noting: A very nice introductory feature on EVE Online. If this is what Massive magazine (still due out September) is going to be like, my hopes are definitely up.
I noticed: That the console-game coverage is almost gone from the mag. There used to be several pages on it, but this issue there's only one roundup-type article. Maybe it's been gone for a while and I hadn't noticed, but man, that didn't last too quickly.
GamePro September 2006
GamePro's "real" cover this month is a hot world-exclusive on Tecmo's DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2. However, I seem to be getting the Level-2 edition of GamePro about two weeks before the regular edition, so instead the cover's a big heaping bowl of Shaun Alexander in my face. Thanks, Best Buy.
Regardless, DOAX2 is a surprise cover for GamePro in my eyes -- especially considering Wataru Maruyama, ex-GamePro staff and a man who was obsessed with the first DOAX, left the magazine years ago. As you'd expect, the six-page feature is packed with ladies, and while the game really doesn't look all that different, I'm sure Team Ninja fans won't mind much. There's also a hot-sclusive on Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam for the Wii.
Top Itagaki quote: "[With] a game like this, you have to respect your characters and show love for them...you want to capture the girls in a natural environment, acting the way they'd really act. If you were to show a naked girl jumping on a trampoline...it's obvious they'd been forced to do that. It loses any sense of sexuality that it could possibly have had."
Strangely familiar: A preview feature that covers violent, crime-oriented games, headed up by John Woo's Stranglehold. Each game is rated one to four bullets based on the level of carnage. Funny how EGM came up with basically the same preview-feature theme this month...and even most of the games covered are the same, although GamePro's got more of a movie theme going. Great preview editors think alike, obviously.
Beckett Spotlight: Sports Video Gamer
I know I've spent the past few months trashing everything Beckett prints, but I'm letting up with this latest one-off 'cos it's actually pretty good if you can ignore the molecule-thin paper. For one, most of it's written by video-game freelancers, IGN folks, and the editors of Beckett's assorted sports mags, so it's all people who (at the very least) have picked up a controller and/or football once in their lives. For another, it's filled with quick little features that're fun to read even for a non-hardcore sports freak myself. Chief among them are IGN Sports editor-in-chief Jon Robinson's six-page overview of the the history of sports games (from Atari 2600 Football to Blitz: The League); a similar history of the Madden franchise; and an utterly enormous litany of articles on Madden strategy, Madden websites, Madden team profiles, Madden this, and Madden that. If you're a year-in-year-out Madden buyer, I can absolutely see the worth in buying this mag.
The best feature of all: Four pages of quotes from NFL players about video games and playing as themselves in Madden. Reggie Bush admits to being a Tecmo Bowl man, while Jacksonville QB Byron Leftwich whines about his stellar speed rating of 48 ("Even the long snapper is faster than me").
Game eveloper August 2006
And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't start covering this mag -- I never could find it at any local newsstand, but my subscription has finally started up, so all's well again.
I have to admit that I'm running out of time and this just arrived in the mail a couple minutes ago, so I can't cover the more techy articles in much depth right now. There's a postmortem on Tomb Raider: Legend and an interview with Masaya Matsuura, so it can't all be bad.