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I'm back! And holy cow, take my advice, don't launch a new magazine! It takes a lot of work and you wind up forgetting to clean the litterbox too often!

I have a ton of mags to catch up on, all of which you'll find under the cut; apologies I don't write my usual depth, but there's a huge stack to get through.

But before we begin, I thought I'd show off something I found amusing. On the top left you have the Japanese box art for Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer. On the right, you have the US magazine ad for the game, as seen in this month's Nintendo Power. Holy cow! Shiren's gotten kind of edgy! And Koppa (his white weasel companion) went from cute and merchandisable to eat-the-faces-off-babies demented! I haven't seen such a breathtaking concept-art transformation since the glory days of the NES! Thumbs up, Sega! Moving on, though...

Electronic Gaming Monthly February 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

12 different covers doesn't come close to beating the 20-ish Official PlayStation Magazine had for its Def Jam: Fight for NY coverage in 2004, but this go-around is a lot nicer looking -- who can hate a magazine with Pit on the cover? (Not that I got him in the mail or anything. mbl grmbl) In case you're interested, the full cover list: Link, Wario, Pikachu, Donkey Kong, Sonic, Kirby, Mario, Pit, Samus, Yoshi, Snake and Bowser.

Anyway, there's a neat compilation feature about the game inside, discussing the culture around it and the things that make Nintendo-produced titles unique. It's bookended by a not-so-unique preview feature and the review section, with several big-name postmortems (SMG, Rock Band, CoD4).

Game Informer January 2008

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Cover: Resistance 2

GI world exclusive features are always best when the game in question is legitimately something new and exciting, and while all the top innovations of Resistance 2 are printed right there on the cover, the feature inside (albeit excessively brown) is still good reading -- as is the other bit on LEGO Indiana Jones, which would've made a hilarious cover subject (though I'm a little weird that way).

Edge February 2008

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Cover: Far Cry 2

Edge putting a pretty brown (and prety GI-like) cover this month, but I'll forgive 'em because the feature inside is a beautiful piece of design and content. Long interviews with Spector, Yoshiaki Koizumi and Suda51 keep the spirit alive, as well as a surprising "The making of" on The Black Onyx, the blockbuster ancient Japanese RPG created by Henk Rogers and a game I've examined a fair bit on my own in other pages.

Play February 2008

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Cover: Afro Samurai

12 out of 92 pages this month are devoted to Afro Samurai. I'm honestly not sure why it's so big, either -- the enormous art, textless 2-page intro spread and relatively tiny article make me wonder if other things dropped out at the last minute. Pretty, though. There's an even longer 2007 year-in-review piece/2008 preview piece, as well as... erm... no reviews. What the hey? I've written here extensively about how game-mag reviews, as they are, are old hat, but I don't know about eliminating them completely.

All in all, a strange issue.

GamePro March 2008

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Cover: Rainbow Six Vegas 2

It's preview feature-a-rama this issue, as well as the introduction of a little mobile phone game coverage.

PC Gamer March 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Zombies!

Sub editions of this issue have a wraparound advertisement for the HP Blackbird 002 gamer PC. This wouldn't be noteworthy if it weren't for the fact that it dovetails an internal ad inside written by Greg Vederman, PC Gamer's last editor. I'd consider that very fishy (Vede, who joined HP's crew after leaving is apparently shootin' to be the Bob Vila of the game scene) if it weren't for the fact that this advertorial is extremely funny, self-referential, and genuinely hip in a way that ads generally aren't known for. So, I can't complain too loudly, I suppose.

Out of all the current mags, I think Future's handle the new 100-page-book future the best. There isn't a single wasted page, and no matter where you flip to there's something quick and eye-catching to grab your attention. You can see it in the zombie-game preview feature -- every page has something neat, whether it's an unusual-looking screenshot, a sidebar, or a set of Aperture Science-inspired icons for dealing with the undead.

Cellplay returns in March Future ishes. Fair warning.

Official Xbox Magazine February 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Turok

"Fix your Rock Band hardware" is an odd choice for a lead feature (even with the freebie RB songs included on the disc -- very nice), but it's interesting to read in that Make-magazine sorta way. Turok is also kind of an odd choice for a review cover, considering it only gets 7.0 inside (things like NFL Tour and the newest FFXI expansion outscore it). At least you can't accuse OXM of playola, huh?


Nintendo Power February 2008

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Cover: Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

That title's a little fanfiction-y, but -- wahey -- it turns out the art for the game is brilliant, making this an excellent cover and even more excellent internal feature. The art kick continues with a piece on the visual design of Okami, which similarly rules, and there's even a stick thrown to the nerds with a feature on good or humorously amusing Japanese first-party games that never made it to the US.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine February 2008

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Cover: Crisis Core: FFVII

PTOM's third issue, and things are starting to get more interesting, especially with a creator-roundtable piece where four people from Insomniac and Naughty Dog talk about how the PS3's been treating them so far.

Tips & Tricks March/April 2008

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Cover: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

It's T&T, all right! The SSBB cover feature is a preview masquerading as a strategy guide; kind of a neat bit of subterfuge there.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He's also Executive Editor of PiQ, a new magazine hitting stands in March.