['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.]

I have to admit, I'm late for something that I really need to be out the door for, and so let's waste no time and get right to covering all the lovely US mags that have hit stands in the past fortnight. It's the summer of our discontent in terms of page counts (and Nintendo Power's future is still pretty darn murky), but there are some highlights here and there...

Electronic Gaming Monthly July 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: BioShock

The cover does nothing for me (the art's just too small; it's barely bigger than the EGM logo), but the contents are quite nice this month. The main previews are all games done by Game Informer earlier (GTA4, Splinter Cell: Conviction), but EGM treats them better. The GTA4 feature attempts to match publicly-released screenshots with their real-life counterparts, which is a brilliant idea and one of those wonderful only-a-print-mag-can-do-this articles that I wish I saw more of. BioShock goes as detailed as possible on the internal game process, which is pretty nice to read even though this is one of those games where still screens can only portray so much of the experience.

There's also a great deal of new little columns and side bits here and there, from a business column written by ex-freelancer Scott Steinberg to an Onion-style point/counterpoint between Sonic and Amy regarding the former's ring obsession.

Nintendo Power July 2007

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Cover: Resident Evil games

This magazine deserves more attention than usual, chiefly thanks to the uncertain future of Nintendo Power itself (covered extensively here and elsewhere), but really there isn't much extremely new to discuss about the contents this month. This is, for better or for worse, your typical issue of NP -- lots of very early previews, a couple of heavily-compartmentalized features, and a handful of interviews with developer folk that never seem to talk to the rest of the gaming media. Ah, and let's not forget about silly fanart, either.

Official Xbox Magazine July 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Unreal Tournament III

This issue of OXM reads like a love letter to Mark Rein, mostly -- six pages on UT3 that heavily quote him, and then five more pages on a bunch of crazy dudes who build a squadron-load of Gears of War armor and make a pilgrimage to Epic's North Carolina offices. Pretty neat stuff, actually. The highlight to a certain contingent of gamers, however, may be the piece in the way back about the Xbox 360's presence as a proverbial set-top box in the American household...which would have been boring if it weren't for the fact Tim Schafer wrote it.

Armored Core 4 and Monster Madness lead up the disc, along with yet more building of random stuff in OXM: Universe land. [NOTE FROM SIMON: Also, the bonus for playing through all the demos on the disc is some exclusive Beautiful Katamari gamer pictures, which are King-tastic. Rawk.]

Tips & Tricks July 2007

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Cover: Shadowrun

T&T loves Shadowrun, kicking off the mag with a three-page developer visit and continuing with a five-page strategy this month. The lifestyle section is hardcore as ever, with the WoW column featuring a bit on "The Personalities of World of Warcraft" which is far more amusing than anything I've read in Beckett MOG. (It's also illustrated by a Rick Bieniek, whom I'm guessing is Chris' son or half-brother or long-lost cousin. Family connections can get you anywhere in games media! :wink:)

Play June 2007

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Cover: Hellboy or Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles

Play has another unannounced two-cover month, and looking at the two scans above, I'm sure most of us will agree on which cover we'd like to see in our mailboxes. Sadly, I got the Hellboy one, so I had to visit the bookstore for the other. (Mr. Halverson seems to really like Hellboy, what with making the guy one of the covers for the latest issue of Rocket as well.)

The Castlevania cover touts an interview that "no Castlevania fan will want to miss," and while that may be overstating it a bit, IGA is always engaging and there's four pages of him in here talking about making a 2D game in 3D-space, as well as brain training and Odin Sphere.

PC Gamer July 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Penny Arcade Adventures

PC Gamer has five covers this month, and it's just my luck that I got the ugliest one of the lot in my mailbox. Traditionally, magazine publishers have tried to avoid covers with a lot of green in them, but I hate yellow a lot more than green, myself.

This is immaterial, however, because the article inside on PAA is actually pretty darn nice, designed up in a unique manner and extremely enticing to read, although the game itself...well, it's difficult to say at this point. Still, I applaud PCG for getting out of the "giant logo" and/or "bald space marine" run of covers.

PSM July 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Top 50 Games

What? It's the dead of summer? No hot games to discuss? Ahhhh! Time to break out the "giant preview feature" trump card! And so it is this month, with the previews cavalcade led up by GTA4, Riddick, and a heck of a lot of teeny-tiny other games.

If the Future mags all seem bigger to you this month, by the way, don't be alarmed -- it's just the cell-phone game advertising section making its biannual comeback.

2007 PSP Yearbook

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Yep, a compilation of every PSP game reviewed in PSM. Nothing else. Buy it if, you know, you missed the reviews the first time.

Hardcore Gamer June 2007

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This issue (number 24) marks the second anniversary of Hardcore Gamer's launch, and I do have to commend them for making this far, because I sincerely doubt anyone inside the industry thought the mag would do anything but go horribly belly-up the way GameGO! did. It's carved out a niche for itself, being both "hardcore" but also not so hardcore that advertisers are scared off -- a tough balance, if you think about it.

Top thing to watch for this month: "Growing Together," a loosely-themed feature about hacking up consoles and Wii-motes to do things the hardware makers never intended. The PS3 George Foreman grill, for example. Mmmm.

Beckett Massive Online Gamer June/July 2007

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Cover: LOTR Online

Just like sister publication Beckett Spotlight: Cheat Codes, MOG now has a "flip cover" in the back, a fancy way of admitting that they couldn't find any advertisers interested in buying a spot on the back cover. The logo's also undergone a very subtle redesign, basically making the word "GAMER" larger than ever.

Tons of dev interviews lurk inside, as well as an interesting LOTR Online review -- they gave it to three people (a newbie, a hardcore MMO nut, and a "Tolkien enthusiast") and had each of them write a page on their thoughts. I kind of wish I saw this more often. It's a common complaint that EGM's multiple reviews are often not much different from each other, after all.

There's also an extensive strategy guide for Flyff (Fly For Fun), a game that people apparently spent thousands of dollars on in hilarious/tragic ways.

[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.]