['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.]

smith.jpg

I figured I should mention that in addition to the magweasels that hang out in my magazine room, I have also added a magdog to my house. So say hello to Smith -- who was sleeping in a most indecent position on my bed this afternoon, so I decided to cover him up using this copy of The Top 100 Videogames, distributed by GamesTM and Retro Gamer's Imagine Publishing.

This one-off is available now at Barnes & Noble stores, but I'd recommend against buying it. In fact, this is just about the worst case of buyer's remorse I've experienced in recent memory, short of that Bowflex I bought off of the Game Informer ad last month. This is just a collection of the top 100 games reviewed in the five-year history of GamesTM -- not of all time or anything -- so it's really just a compilation of old GamesTM magazine content, with a very small 2007 preview section in the back.

All this, once again, for $30 in the US. Thirty dollars! Oh, why didn't I bother thumbing through this before buying it? The UK price is £12.99, and I think gamers get gypped with this special issue on both sides of the pond. (For sake of comparison, Edge's FILE special issues cost £8 in the UK and $12.99 in the US, which actually beats the current dollar-pound exchange rate to the point where Americans pay less for it than the Brits. Plus, FILE is interesting reading.)

Anyway, it's been a slow couple weeks for US magazines, but click on to see what's new in the world of print publications...

Game Informer March 2007

gi-0703.jpg

Cover: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

I just realized that I rarely ever talk about the World Exclusive features inside Game Informer that their covers frequently tout. That's because the great majority of the features are devoted to games that are months and sometimes over a year away, and as a result the content is mostly the standard developer interview, with lots of meandering speculation on the game's internals, concept art, and screenshots that are obviously not honest-to-goodness screen grabs, no matter how much the captions claim it's so. That's the impression I got from this month's Star Wars feature, as well as their other feature on Nihilistic's new Conan game; they seem almost designed to be scanned, summarized, and discussed on web forums instead of actually read.

GI is hardly the only offender with this sort of thing (Games for Windows' The Crossing feature was largely the same way a month ago), but it could be argued that they're the most obvious one, since their cover choices are so frequently centered around games due out far way into the far future.

As usual, Connect is the real highlight here, kicking off by devoting two pages to Super Columbine Massacre RPG! (arguably the most popular RPG Maker add-on ever created) and even interviewing creator (and, imo, attention grubber of Anna Nicole proportions) Danny Ledonne. It continues with eight pages on Gamecock, the reboot of the old Gathering of Developers, which is a surprise to me since they're ages away from having anything extremely concrete to show and the founders seem to be saying pretty much the exact same lines they gave when GOD was founded -- but, hey, it's a newsmaker anyway, and it's fascinating reading. (Play, by comparison, devotes half a page to the same stuff, and PC Gamer hasn't printed anything on them as of the April '07 issue.)

One thing I can't stop wondering about, by the way: Why does Bowflex advertise in Game Informer but no other game magazine in the US? Are Game Informer's readers more obese than readers of other mags?

Play March 2007

play-0703a.jpg

Cover: Bullet Witch

A relatively obscure (and, really, pretty average) Japanese 360 game gets front billing in Play this month, with custom cover art by Dany Oriz and a 10-page spread that includes a review, an interview with the devs at Cavia, and a couple pages of Girls of Gaming type cheesecake. More interesting is the four pages on Calling all Cars, mainly composed of David Jaffe talking about all sorts of nonsense and being his usual interesting self.

The great majority of this issue seems to be reviews, and Play Japan both makes another return and is actually pretty interesting, although a screenshot in the Seiken Densetsu 4 review still has a big fat DengekiOnline.com watermark on it. If you're reviewing it anyway, guys, take your own dod-durn screenshots!

PC Gamer March 2007 & April 2007 (Podcast)

pcgamer-0703.jpg   pcgamer-0704.jpg

Cover: Supreme Commander, Command & Conquer 3

I seem to get PC Gamers in pairs for some reason -- nothing in the mail for six weeks, and then two in the space of half a month. Both are pretty similar externally, featuring world-exclusive reviews on the cover and up-front in the mag (SupCom gets 91%, C&C3 90%). March is the annual awards issue, and for a change, the awards feature is actually well-designed and interesting to look at apart from the awards themselves, using an extremely art-heavy approach and keeping the text very tight. April, meanwhile, is mostly previews, and also includes the usual yearly cell-phone supplement -- which seems to have some bugs in it, since some pages are duplicated elsewhere in my copy of the magazine.

Hardcore Gamer March 2007

hcg21.jpg

Cover: God of War II

HCG continues to do its own thing in the realm of game mags, devoting features to online-game site Skillground and MAGfest, a four-day game convention with the look-n-feel of an anime convention -- or maybe a furry convention, judging by some of the cosplay pics inside.

Game Developer February 2007

gd-0702.jpg

Cover: Resistance: Fall of Man

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I missed GD! This is the Game Developers Conference preview issue, and as such the mag's quite a bit thicker than usual, filled with full-page help-wanted ads from publishers and developers the world over. Neat to look through, and there's a Warren Spector interview as well -- he's sort of the anti-David Jaffe, and he's just as interesting to read.

[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.]