['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day.]


Look! Raku is playing with free crap that came with a UK magazine! That must mean it's time for another Mag Roundup, Brit-edition!

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N-Revolution (Imagine) and N-Gamer (Future) are the two kid-oriented Nintendo mags in the UK; Future also publishes the slightly more upscale Nintendo: The Official Magazine in the region, much like it published both MEGA and Sega Power at once 15 years ago. (Tone-wise, Nintendo Power is somewhere in between the two, leaning a fair bit towards N:TOM territory.)

In terms of freebies, N-Rev wins by a country mile, thanks to my ferrets (and dog) going crazy for the packed-in miniature beach ball. There's also an enormous -- I'm talking movie theater-sized here -- double-sided poster for Opoona and Viz anime MAR; nothing interesting content-wise but I've never seen any mag in the US pack in such a massive poster. N-Gamer has more "stuff" -- one SSB:B guidebook, one Mario iron-on patch (randomly inserted from a set of four), stickers from New International Track & Field, and a Guitar Hero On Tour-themed Nintendo DS decal -- but plainly my animals can sniff out the better freebie out of the lot.

Between the covers, both mags have the usual reviews, previews and silly features. N-Rev seems a little bit more packed, with lots of tiny columns interspersed throughout, while N-Gamer occasionally seems to stretch out its text to fill up its 112 pages (though it's admittedly a slow time in N-Land over in Europe).

Advantage: N-Rev

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Total PC Gaming (Imagine) doesn't compete directly with PC Zone (Future) or Future's other mag, PC Gamer, as much as it tries to trump 'em both by not packing in a DVD and being way cheaper as a result, despite boasting more pages (132 vs. 118).

I've written about both of these mags in the past, but I still like 'em both for separate reasons -- TPCG for its incredibly exhaustive reviews and intensely readable features (a little reminiscent of old-school Computer Gaming World, assuming CGW had modern art design), PC Zone for taking the exact opposite approach and being undoubtedly the silliest game mag in the English language.

Advantage: Really tough to say. I'm repeating myself here, but I wish PCZ would drop the DVD and get cheaper.


Finally we have GamesMaster (Future). Yes, this is the cover of the mag -- GM, like PC Gamer UK, keeps covers extremely simple and uses the polybag for all the coverlines and eye-catching character art instead. One of the last multiplatform mags in the UK and certainly the most young-skewing, GamesMaster is looking a little anemic these days -- only 100 pages, staple-bound, and offering pretty lame freebies, a general cheat book and the same Guitar Hero DS decal we saw in N-Gamer.

It's still a pretty successful mag sales-wise, though (its latest given ABC figure is 51,389), and I think it all comes down to how well it knows its audience. The internals are packed -- text and screenshots dotted all over the place, giving you tons and tons of content to feast your eyes on with every spread and creating an effect that reminds me of the cell phone wallpaper/games/ringtone ads you see in some mags. In other words, it's the closest thing we have to Famitsu in the English language. I like it a fair bit, even though I wouldn't buy it regularly.

Imagine publishes Pokemon World in the UK, a sort-of competitor to GamesMaster that covers the entire realm of kid-oriented games despite its name.