['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.]

Ho, ho, ho-ly cow there are a lot of magazines out the past two weeks! Before I get to all of them, I wanted to point out a few British selections that you might be able to find at your local newsstand right now (the Barnes & Nobles near me seem to stock all of these regularly).

First off, GamesTM celebrated its 50th issue a month ago -- no small feat, considering its original publisher went bankrupt in January 2006. This would normally stop a US game magazine in its tracks, but the title (which focuses on Edge-type "mature" coverage and boasts exactly 180 pages each issue) got purchased by Imagine Publishing soon after and resumed regular printing in March. This sort of thing has been happening a lot in England lately, as dwindling sales has set off a great deal of consolidation in a marketplace that thought it had already gone past all that, now that Future owns about fifty squillion game mags and the other publishers are just collecting the crumbs. Regardless, it's a good magazine with a fine retro section every issue, and my congratulations go out to it.

Second, Edge released the first edition of File to stands a little while back. A relative steal at $12, File no. 1 is a compilation of all the good features, reviews, and so forth from the first 12 issues of Edge, from 1993 to 1994. It looks like they'll be doing one issue of File for each year in Edge's history, and this first one is a must-get if you aren't familiar with the Edge of this era, covering chiefly 16-bit titles with the same hardcore gusto that it covers the state of the art today. There's also a remarkable retrospective piece that goes over the prehistory of Edge and interviews the editorial and design team behind the first issues -- itself a reprint from 2003, but who's counting? The reprint quality isn't perfect (it's obvious they had to scan physical issues instead of going back to long-lost Quark files), but it's still an invaluable resource for mag fans.

Third, Retro Gamer is still awesome. Just in case you had forgotten that.

Anyway, click on to read all about the magazines that reached U.S. game maniacs over the previous fortnight. And merry pre-Christmas!

Game Informer January 2007

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Cover: Top 50 Games of 2006

Whoa, it's a Game Informer without a World Exclusive Feature on the cover! In fact, this marks the first time a GI cover hasn't been devoted to any one game since way back in January 2004 -- the "Video Games 2003: The Year in Review" cover, which used the exact same greyscale-character-art-collage design as this issue's front page. (The effect doesn't look quite so slick this time around, though, if only because a lot of 2006's hottest game characters are tough to recognize when monotonized up like this.)

The funny thing: Is that the standout feature arguably isn't the Top 50 rundown -- instead it's the knock-down drag-out PS3 vs. Wii showdown that spills over ten pages of the Connect news section. Wii scores over Sony's system by just a smidge, and editor commentary and exhaustive pro/con lists are certain to fuel online debates somewhere. I think this is the nicest of the console rundowns I've seen so far, although the new EGM hasn't reached me yet.

Back to the Top 50: It's actually a relatively wussy feature, because the top 50 aren't ranked, as such, save for Twilight Princess winning Game of the Year honors. Side bars devoted to the top ten heroes, villains, dorks, disappointments, and "moments" spice things up remarkably well, though.

Zelda Superlative: "There really is no better introduction to a new console, or a better game for that matter..."

Nintendo Power February 2007

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Cover: Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

Joy! I may get my Ziff Davis mags extremely late, but Nintendo Power comes incredibly early once again, revealing a mess of new info about the Wii Wario Ware title over seven pages (plus a poster, plus a review). Nice!

Also interesting: A four-page feature on the Cave of Ordeals in Twilight Princess that brought up flashbacks of the Second Quest strategy way back in the first issue of Nintendo Power. Oh, also a full Virtual Console checklist for all you completists out there. Also, five pages on Hotel Dusk, which I'm 100% sure you won't find anywhere else. When did NP get so good again?

PSM January 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Army of Two

In this exciting issue of PSM, EIC Chris Slate all but wishes the PS2 a slow, painful death in its editorial: "I sure am glad that I don't have to look at its butt-ugly games anymore...for the past year we've had to watch the guys at Official Xbox Magazine play their 360s every day, and that's just annoying."

It's only understandable, then, that this issue kicks off with an enormous PS3 preview feature, starting with eight pages on Army of Two and continuing with bits on GRAW 2, the new Brothers in Arms, Cipher Complex (ooh my, an unsigned game!) and even a full page of speculation on GTA4, even though there's still no information out on it.

Reviews: This is the first PSM with real PS3 reviews, and there's lots of love everywhere. Resistance gets four pages and a 9.0 score, and about half of the launch lineup scores over 8.0 as well.

Kind of a neat contest: A pack of 20 Blu-Ray movies are up for grabs on page 93. Economical.

Play January 2007

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Cover: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT may be on the cover, but the real highlight of this issue is Dave Halverson feeling inspired to defend his 8.5 Sonic the Hedgehog score from last issue in the letters section:

"All I can say is that I spent 3 days with Sonic the Hedgehog and came out of it with a mega smile on my face...I have to tell the truth. I love the game. So the rest of the press doesn't like it. I didn't expect they would. They crap on pretty much any character-based platformer that comes down the pipe...Does it bother me that I'm more in tune with gamers who lay down $60.00 and play every level than I am with the press? Hell no. I'm with you. Always have been -- always will be."

Dave got his old GameFan mojo rising for this impressive rant, and if you got a copy of the magazine, all of you should read it right now.

Anyway: The TMNT feature makes the game look pretty fun, if nothing new. There are a couple nice interviews with Cliffy, Nolan Bushnell, and George Harrison (the Nintendo one, not the dead one). They really like Zelda.

But wait: Play's also released the amazing fourth volume in the Girls of Gaming series of yearly specials. As before, you can buy it off the newsstand or download the digital version from Play's site, complete with random bonus content. Some surprisingly obscure ladies adorn this issue, including Annet from El Viento (a Genesis game I won't expect you to know), assorted ladies from the Valis series, and a Rabbid in a bikini. Oh, and Rouge the Bat. :-(

GamePro January 2007

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Cover: Metal Gear Solid 4 or Lost Planet (Level-2)

Freebies abound in newsstand editions of this issue, which include another console launch guide (if you missed it last month), a World of Warcraft Trading Card Game card, and a sweepstakes offer for some South Park stuff.

There's also a feature on MGS4 which is actually pretty darn impressive, especially by GamePro standards. Unlike a lot of GP features, this one has a ton of content, from the usual Kojima interview to all sorts of little useless details that fans will eat up voraciously. Good work there, men.

I just noticed: That the strategy guides in GamePro are about as useful as the strategy guides in Code Vault -- i.e., not at all. This issue has a hot walkthrough for a little piece of Act 3 of Gears of War, which I guess is great if you're stuck in, uh, that particular part. Why doesn't GamePro just drop the strategies entirely if they're so sick of writing them themselves?

Computer Games January 2007

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Cover: Supreme Commander

Speaking of magazines hating themselves, how d'you like Computer Games for including a full wraparound ad for Massive Magazine with subscriber copies of their latest issue -- one that's bound into the mag itself, so you can't see the real spine and you can't take it off without ruining the magazine? I sure don't!

Regardless, this issue has CGM's usual neato news features, including one on in-game advertising, as well as a blowout on Supreme Commander that got even me pumped about it, and I don't care about PC games. Mostly.

Speaking of which, Massive Magazine #2 is on stands now, and I'm just waiting for it in my mailbox. Hope it'll be as good as the first. I heard that Cindy Yans, features editor of CGM and pretty much the main lady behind Massive, recently left the company; hopefully that won't affect the quality of their new MMO mag too much.

Hardcore Gamer January 2007

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Cover: Rogue Galaxy

It seems like Rogue's getting a somewhat cool reception from mags so far (Game Informer being an exception), but HCG can't get enough, giving it an eight page feature much in the style of GTA:VCS's all-but-a-review a couple months back. Hey, I wonder if that has anything to do with DoubleJump publishing the official strategy guide for it?

Sadly: This issue of HCG is a tad light on the next-gen coverage, as Tim Lindquist admits that "we had to go to press early because of Thanksgiving." I can empathize with that, since I'm experiencing the same pre-Christmas rush right now with my mag...

Game Developer December 2006

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Cover: Defcon

I usually peel the subscription stickers off my Game Developers, but I musta done a bad job this time because the results look pretty darn ugly over this lovely cover art. Sorry, Simon.

The postmortem this time around is damn interesting, though, covering a game done on a budget below $100,000. There's also a totally arrr-some article on the state of piracy around the world.

Beckett Massive Online Gamer December 2006/January 2007

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Cover: WoW (what else?)

My subscription to Beckett MOG started up! Hooray! This issue has another WoW TCG card (with all these free cards, I may just have to start playing soon, assuming I can find someone nerdy enough to join me), an enormous list of all the WoW cards, and the usual incredibly wordy features on all the current PC MMOs. In classic Beckett tradition, the WoW Auction House Price Guide has now expanded to two pages.

Assorted Future Publishing Cheat Specials

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Rounding out this update are three cheat compilations from Future, two of which I mentioned in passing last week. These would have cost me $35 to purchase at the stands, so I have to thank Mr. Dan Amrich for being a Magweasel fan and sending these to me directly. The 2007 PlayStation Cheater's Handbook has no introduction or anything -- it's just wall to wall codes for 114 pages -- while Xbox Cheat Guide Volume 5 has a very quick two-page intro spread that at least includes something of an index.

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And hey look, it's time for another Ultimate Videogame Codebook! Volume 11 of Cheats! is the same as all the other volumes, so I really don't have much more to say. Happy holidays!

[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.]