Can you solve the Mystery of the Video Game Scores? I know I can't. It's kind of a mystery to me why magazines care so much about their review score systems and score this and score that. Though, of course, the public's kind of at fault, too. Who remembers how many stars Roger Ebert gave Movie X?

You probably don't; if you remember anything, it's that he either said it's good or bad, along with maybe a couple zingers here and there. If game writing has produced text as memorable as Ebert's, then that's collectively our problem, isn't it?

And now that I've written enough text to (hopefully) clear this opening image, let's move right on to all the game magazines released within the past fortnight. This update may be a mite on the short side because I'm rapidly preparing for a trip to Japan, where I will be this time next week.

Hopefully I can visit all the secret places I know I can find old game mags for sale. (No, I won't tell you where they are. I can't have you go buying them all up before I get there!)

Edge April 2008

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Cover: Grand Theft Auto IV

Like this month's EGM, the main focus is on a long interview with Sam Houser as he discusses his soon-to-be-born baby. This piece is a bit different -- where EGM's had a lot of pictures and sidebars and other doohickeys, Edge's is virtually a 16-page wall of text. You will get a load of Houser as he goes over the entire GTA series, particularly GTAIII and later, performing a barrage of postmortem discussions years after the fact on all of 'em. There isn't much new on GTAIV if that's all you care about, but still you get Houser's opinion on virtually everything else under the sun in gamedom. Edge is willing to let him talk on for as long as he likes, and the magazine is a better thing for it.

Other highlights: Edge's late-as-'ell GDC coverage ("A large number of game design lectures related to narrative, and most mentioned BioShock or Portal in the first two minutes"), retro bits on SCE's Siren and Spectrum classic (I suppose) Pyjamarama, and a couple of rah-rah pieces on UK developer projects Race Driver: Grid and Lostwinds, a WiiWare title. Also, this issue marks Mister Biffo's last column for real -- yahoo!

Play April 2008

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Cover: Death Jr. Root of Evil / Okami Wii

Dave Halverson is leaving his editor-in-chief role at Play -- "promoting myself," as he puts it, to Publisher/Creative Director of Fusion Publishing. In his editorial, Halverson states that this'll allow him more time to write features instead of just gush all over platform games in his reviews, as well as work on some of his manga projects (heavens be!). Brady Fiechter is the new EIC, although it seems like it's pretty much been that way the past few issues anyway. I hope he has great luck in his future endeavors, 'cos like him or not, he's done a lot to define US game mags.

However, as if to prove that the more things change the more they stay the same, this issue kicks off with a massive Halverson-written preview of the Wii Death Jr., a title I'm really not sure a lot of gamers care about. Okami is the chief review, and it's filled with lovely art, which is the important thing with a game like this.

PC Gamer May 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Action-shooter preview blowout

I'm not sure what brought this about, but EIC Kristen Salvatore takes her editorial this month to re-explain PC Gamer's review and advertising -- we review only finished game code, edit and advertising are wholly separate departments, and so forth. If PCG's integrity was brought into question, I musta missed it.

Otherwise, pretty typical issue -- a nicely-put-together preview roundup on shooting things (all 13 pages of it), then a small handful of previews, reviews, and tech stuff. Cellplay is back, but thankfully only four pages of it.

GamePro May 2008

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Cover: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Huge bits on GTA4 multiplayer and The Force Unleashed, the latter of which is quite nice and extensively introduces the nuts and bolts of the game the way old Nintendo Power liked doing. It's a nice change of pace. A spread containing a world map with the locations of developers contains a few odd typos -- Dhruva Interactive is listed as being in "Bangaluru, India," which is what Bangalore is called in the local language.

Hardcore Gamer Spring 2008

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Cover: Super Smash Bros. Brawl

This magazine is the most crappity of crappy crap I ever did see. 68 pages for $6.99 is bad enough, but when you open it and realize that it's a bunch of reviews of ancient stuff, you start to feel doubly ripped off. A feature on how much money you can feasibly make as a professional gamer is kinda neat, but the cover review of Brawl is a mess -- far too little text for the eight pages it covers, with the amusing result that literally half the review's real estate is spent bitching about Subspace Emissary mode, despite the game getting a perfect 5 out of 5 score in the end. What the heck?

Future specials

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For the spring, Future's prepared two "How To" one-offs, one for PC owners and the other for Xbox 360 maniacs. Both are primarily republished content, although the PC one has a bit more "original" stuff (original assuming you've never read PC Gamer UK before).

Neither are probably worth buying if you already read OXM and PC Gamer, but if not, they're pretty interesting reads to strum through. Although the copy editor must've been asleep when these mags were created -- one how-to in the PC mag references a sidebar that doesn't exist, while another kicks off with the sentence "Start by designing the terrain that'll be accommodate [sic] your new town."

And the rest

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Veteran readers will know by now how little enthusiasm I have for Tips & Tricks Video Game Codebook and Beckett Massive Online Gamer. And yet I renewed my subscription to both just the other day. What is wrong with me? I should probably see a shrink about this.

T&T has feature previews on Link's Crossbow Training and Assassin's Creed, the latter of which is old and the former of which is pretty superfluous. After that, it's all codes. Beckett MOG has, surprise surprise, a bunch of inscrutable strategy features and inane interviews, although this issue introduces a terrifying, badly-drawn webcomic reprint for good measure. Arrrgh!

[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 at PiQ magazine.]