['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which covers video game magazines from the late '70s all the way up to right now.]

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Since GamePro's settled that issue for me, I'll just get down to business -- the last Mag Roundup of the year. Click on to read all about the magazines that have hit stands and/or mailboxes over the past two weeks. Happy '07!

Official PlayStation Magazine January 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: MotorStorm

I've been witness to a few very sad magazine closes in my lifetime, having written a column about them back in September. This one, however, has to be the saddest I've personally been around to see. Not only is an "official" console magazine closing after an uninterrupted run of almost 10 years, but it's doing so not because its circulation was low (not that it didn't need some improvement) or because the platform it covered was down on its luck (not that the PS3 and PSP don't need some improvement).

Instead it closed because...well, you won't find an answer to that in this particular issue, but you will find a great deal of content commemorating OPM's end, including an expanded letters section with condolences from readers, a list of all the regulars from OPM's 1up message board, and a back-page editorial from Joe Rybicki, the only staffer who was on board for all 112 issues. Also featured (and duplicated on two different pages) in subscriber editions is a notice that readers will receive credit for 2 EGM issues per OPM issue remaining in their subscriptions -- or a refund, your choice. Nice of 'em.

This is probably the only mag: To cover the live launch of the next great system the mag's named after in the same issue that it closes. OPM's coverage includes the usual people-standing-in-line stuff, as well as discussions with David Jaffe over the PS3 network and Dr. Richard Marks on his invention, the EyeToy. There's also an enormous feature on MotorStorm and other potential 2007 winners.

Reviews: The rest of the PS3 launch lineup is put up on the line this month, and they're quite a bit rougher on the games than other mags have been -- Ridge Racer 7 gets six out of ten, and Fight Night scores highest of all with an 8. The "Kids Roundup" section makes one final return -- and this time it's two pages of cutesy kiddie-game coverage, complete with adorable spot illustration by Karen Chu. The new PSP SOCOM gets 10/10 out of nowhere.

The disc: Goes out with a fearsome wimper, as all the new demos are kiddie junk -- Flushed Away, Arthur and the Invisibles, and Monster House. Ah well. It had its time, I suppose.

Electronic Gaming Monthly January 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: PS3 vs. Wii

A very plain cover for the second issue of EGM's redesign -- a little too plain, you could say, although it doesn't matter much since all EGM newsstand issues are encased in an opaque polybag these days anyway. The feature it touts occupies most of the issue's midsection, an extention of Review Crew with a few extra mini-previews and a "Final Word" roundtable where all the editors (yes, even executive editor Sony Bettenhausen) admit that the Wii had a far more robust launch lineup. The Twilight Princess review (the first straight-10 rating since GTA: San Andreas in '04) also has a sidebar with a Tingle cosplayer that may be worth the price of admission all by itself.

Otherwise: Not a lot to report about this issue, which is review-packed from start to finish. Seanbaby makes me laugh for the first time in a while with a look at the top eight hillbilly-est games of all time. There's also an exclusive look at the new Wii SSX if you're interested in that stuff, but my taste in snowboarding games died after Amped 2 came out...

Games for Windows: The Official Magazine January 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Command & Conquer 3

PC Gamer had this cover a little while back, but GFW's is better because it has an army guy on it! There's nine pages devoted to the game inside, looking nice as always.

Otherwise: A pretty run-of-the-mill issue, one that's remarkably close in content to PC Gamer's February issue with all the same previews and hardware coverage. The main highlights are in Extend, with Tom playing Bruce in DEFCON and Jeff Green returning to his roots with a reinstall of EverQuest 1.

PC Gamer January 2007 & February 2007 (Podcast)

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Covers: Spore and The Ultimate Guide to Gaming Hardware

I managed to forget PC Gamer in the last Mag Roundup, so here are two issues this time around. Neither are much great shakes contentwise, but a slight retooling in January has changed PCG in one much needed way -- the individual "Strategy," "Shooters," etc. sections are gone, and the mag's reverted back to your typical news/previews/reviews page progression. A smart choice, I'd say -- the genre-divided sections were confusing to casual readers and didn't offer much new to hardcore folks the way they were being written.

Tips & Tricks January 2007

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Cover: Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles

T&T's worth noting this month 'cos it's got a new editor-in-chief -- none other than Bill Kunkel, former editor at Electronic Games (both versions) and VideoGames & Computer Entertainment and freelancer for just about every magazine ever. He replaces Chris Bieniek, who's changed titles to simply "Editor".

Already Bill's hiring has brought some big changes to the mag. After the editor's letter, this issue kicks off with "Our Gang," a page of inside-the-office pictures that's basically T&T's version of Game Informer's GI-Spy page. After that is a feature not devoted to strategy at all -- it's an editor roundtable on the best next-gen system to get right now, and (if I'm not mistaken) it's the first plain-old "feature" to ever appear in T&T. The previews section has gotten a facelift that makes it look much more palatable and interesting to read, and T&T now officially covers PC games -- a few are previewed this issue, and maybe we'll see strategies in the future.

For T&T (a magazine whose internals have not changed dramatically since 1998), these are some pretty revolutionary changes. It'll be interesting to see how much it'll help T&T, which traditionally relies on newsstand sales far more than its rivals, establish more of a permanent presence in the minds of gamers.

Also out now: is T&T's Super Video-Game Codebook, the third cheat-compilation special from the mag this year. I'd like to tell you more about this issue, but unfortunately the US Post Office only delivered the cover sheet to my mailbox, the rest of the pages presumably having been ripped off along the way. Sigh.

GamePro February 2007

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Cover: Mario: Man of the Year, an intro to your typical "Nintendo in '07" feature

Change is also in the air for GamePro -- or, at least, that is what's promised in the next-issue blurb. I'm definitely looking forward to it, and I hope that we'll have a real change on our hands this time, 'cos that's what this title needs more than anything else right now.

Official Xbox Magazine January 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Lost Planet

Not much interesting going on this month, other than reviews of all the late-coming Xmas titles. The best bit is a feature on all the things OXM's editors want next-gen publishers to knock off, including plastic skin, light over-blooming, and worthless Achievements.

I also want to note that OXM wins the prize this month for "Most Annoying 'Truth' Anti-Smoking PSA", featuring a thick sheet of stickers that makes it tough to flip around the rest of the mag. I'm gonna take up smoking in protest, I am.


[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He's also an editor at Newtype USA magazine.]