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Well, after many years of on-and-off trying, I am finally to the point where I consider my Japanese Mega CD collection complete. I am counting a total of 117 releases. (I'm missing one or two demos, but oh well.)

Mega CD is fun because it's not that large a library to collect, it's mostly cheap, and there are more than a couple of hidden classics to be found. I'm especially proud of this because, for the most part, I did it the "hard way" -- going around shops and flea-markets in Japan when I lived there and whenever I came back for business and such. I didn't go to the auctions or to other collectors until I needed 3 or 4 titles to finish up.

Above are all the games laid out on the futon (plus a dog's leg). On the bottom-most row are the games I had the most trouble finding: Surgical Strike, Fahrenheit, Psychic Detective Series Vol. 4: Orgel, and Sing!! Sega Game Music. (The first two are really the only Mega-CD games that go for serious premium prices in Japan.)

Exciting? Ohhhhh yes it is! But not half as exciting as all the new magazines on the stands I have to cover this installment. Onward!

Game Informer October 2008

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Cover: Star Trek Online

For better or for worse, this issue of GI perfectly encapsulates the video game industry as it stands today. The thought first struck me when I read Andy McN's editorial about why it's unfair gamers think GI is being unfair to Nintendo, and began to hit me repeatedly with a stick when I hit page 26, a profile of Pokemon tournament champion Knight Silvayne, an 11-year-old boy who looks like every "plays too much Nintendo" kid that's existed since 1988. (Knight also gets his picture in this month's Nintendo Power, making him 2008's answer to Thor Aackerlund. He is wearing the same Lucario t-shirt in both mags, too.)

It's really plain with the cover feature this time around, though. There are many, many people in multiple industries who would love to see Star Trek be a presence in video games the way Star Wars is. It could be argued that its unsuccessful track record in games puts the franchise at a serious disadvantage to that other famous series with "Star" at the front of it. This article (which isn't all thaaaat world exclusive since they sorta announced it last month and held a big presser in Vegas about it and everything) concentrates on the challenge the devs at Cryptic face with this game -- there's a lot more than the fate of just another MMO at stake here -- and it does a pretty good job of capturing the mood.

That's the main draw to this month's GI; otherwise there's a newbie guide to LittleBigPlanet and the usual reviews and previews.

PC Gamer November 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Spore

PC Gamer has the first print review of Spore, which is kind of a funny sight because all the online reviews have long since scrolled off the front pages of websites and all that's left is incessant bitching about DRM, none of which is mentioned in here. It's a lovely eight-page overview of the interactive toy, though.

It's bookended by a seven-page buyer's guide to laptops which is kinda neat -- that, combined with the usual big hardware section in the rear, makes this a remarkably tech-oriented issue.

PC ZoneOctober 2008

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Cover: STALKER: Clear Sky

This issue is worth it for the four-page overview of the Russian game dev industry, something I haven't seen any US mag tackle (not lately, anyway). That and the sheer "care" thrown into the writing of every review and preview. PC Zone articles are actually funny. I swear. Funny enough, at least, that I buy the overpriced mag just to read them. Give it a shot, if a store near you has it.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine November 2008

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Cover: Resistance 2

This issue seems thicker than it really is, thanks to a couple of large, foldout ads that get in the way when you actually try to read the thing. You will want to, though, because PTOM seems to be getting back a lot of late-era OPM's dev- and interview-oriented coverage again. You can see it in the cover feature, which (sort of like how GI handled Star Trek Online) portrays R2 as Ted Price's battle against his company's own massive ambitions, along with profiles of the Max Payne movie dudes and game freelancer Rhianna Pratchett (who is, in fact, a real person, and not an NPC from EverQuest II).

Nintendo Power November 2008

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Cover: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

With this issue, NP has started doing what GamePro kicked off a couple months back -- separate covers for each issue, with subscriber editions dropping the newsstand mag's coverlines for maximum graphic-design beauty. The more the merrier, absolutely. A customer has never, ever, ever turned away from a magazine because the cover was too uncluttered.

I'm never sure how they do it, but NP's news is the only brand-new coverage in all of US magdom I could call timely and fully worth reading. There're bits on Vanillaware's Muramasa, the first English report on Suikoden: Tierkreis, to say nothing of the cover feature itself, which has the first concrete details ever on the DS GTA. Frankly, it looks rad, and the three pages of pure, unadulterated Dan Houser that round out NP's coverage is the cherry on top of the coffee, if you will.

Official Xbox Magazine November 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Gears of War 2

What is promised on the cover is exactly what you get in the sprawling six-page feature inside. It's good and well-written and all, but -- in my humble opinion, anyway -- it's something better suited for online sites. What will be the point of reading this article once GOW2 comes out?

This issue's worth reading, though, for the studio visit to Rare. Rare isn't as secretive as they used to be, but actually getting to see the place and talk to the staff and see pictures of them is something that literally happens once every few years, if that. The fact that OXM got the chance shows that they are a magazine with impeccable taste.

Beckett Massive Online Gamer November/December 2008

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Cover: Warhammer Online

If you care about that sort of of thing, this issue contains four free items from three different MMOs. I don't care about that sort of thing, and Beckett MOG is still no fun to read, either.

Hardcore Gamer Fall 2008

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Cover: Dead Space

I nearly had a hernia picking this issue up off the ground, given that it weighs in at a whopping 70 pages and everything. Is the print edition of this mag subscriber-only now? I haven't seen it in any newsstand lately.

There's a great, fun feature inside about old copy-protection methods and how they were bypassed. Go to their website to read it if you aren't a subscriber. It'd be a lot more at home in Edge, I think. Or Retro Gamer, at the very least.

Tips & Tricks Video Game Codebook November/December 2008

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Really can't say much about T&T these days -- just the usual code lists and strategy guides to months-old games -- except that they were the only print mag man enough this month to do a preview of XSEED's Retro Game Challenge.

Nintendo Power Presents the 2008 Wii/Nintendo DS Holiday Buyer's Guide

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Not a reprint collection, remarkably -- just a collection of paragraph-long overviews of potential gifts. Not bad, but nothing worth going out of your way for.