Not strictly related to video games, but is this not the best magazine cover you've ever seen? The Cooper Black font, the eerie CGI bits, the way everything fits together like a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces broken and crushed in a vain attempt to make them snap together? This is what we need more of, people! (And yes, I really did buy the mag just for the cover. I dig reading about electronics projects, yes, but I don't buy these mags regularly.)

On a slightly related note -- do you folks really like me doing these Mag Roundups? I'm beginning to get the impression that I'm repeating myself in most of these -- US mags are tiny and their preview sections are boring, Britmags are nice but expensive, Nintendo Power interviewed this guy, hooray. Do you readers want me to continue with this, or would my time be better spent covering fewer things in more detail instead of giving a more general view? Feel free to leave your replies below.

Until then, however, here's a look at all the mags of the past fortnight. It's the big ad-sales season for game mags, not that you can really tell anymore...

Edge November 2008


Cover: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

This is one of those uncommon occasions when Edge, for the most part, gets outrun by pretty much every other media outlet in America. Nintendo Power already did a big cover blowout story on GTA:CW (complete with separate spread devoted to Dan Houser PR'ing off in the engaging way he's capable off); Official Xbox Magazine also visited Rare this month to take an insider look at the new Banjo; and the "how Harmonix became such an important developer" piece was done a couple months back in Future's Guitars & Gaming one-off. (Edge interviews the VP; Guitars & Gaming interviewed the co-founder.)

The highlights of this month's issue, then, are in the littler things -- the way the reviewers pick on games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Spore and Mercenaries 2; the retrospective piece on ridiculously ambitious 8-bit art piece Deus Ex Machina; and most impressively, the first interview Chris Crawford's given to the game media in about a million years. (If that name doesn't ring a bell, then...ah, never mind.)

Retro Gamer Issue 55


Cover: Ant Attack

Speaking of obscure Brit 8-bit games, here's one that the editor-in-chief obliquely compares to Ico in his editorial -- which is stretching things more than a little bit, but it's a lovely little making-of piece regardless, covering a game that spawned the first real overnight sensation in the out-of-the-basement British computer games industry.

RG continues to straddle the line between new and super-retro, covering PlaneScape: Torment in one feature and Defender in the next. Lotta neat stuff.

Total PC Gaming Issue 11


Cover: FarCry 2

Oh God, what has happened to my Total PC Gaming? It's now in a plastic polypag, comes with a DVD and some other crap, and the price has gone up by five bucks (a pound and a half in the UK). I thought the point of this mag, the thing that made it truly stand out from PC Gamer and PC Zone, was that it didn't rely on stupid "free gifts" to shift copies! What the hell, Imagine?

The stupidity of the free stuff in this ish is in the eye of the beholder of course. This one has a DVD where the only exclusive content is some editor commentaries laid on top of trailers (stupid); an except from an EVE Online novel (novel excepts are the only thing I hate more than useless DVDs); and a handbook devoted to PC overclocking (useful, but there's no reason why this should be a pamphlet with black-and-white photos and not inside the magazine). No way, no how is this worth $5 more to me. The content of the mag itself is nice as always, but I'm having trouble putting this above PC Zone in my mind any longer...even though I still have trouble getting PC Zone over here.

Electronic Gaming Monthly November 2008 (Podcast)


Cover: Resident Evil 5

Ahh, and now it's time to leave the Brit-mags and turn back to the American pamphlazines. EGM, at 100 pages (39 of which are ads -- a stat I hate pointing out becuase it's such a trivial thing to criticize mags for, but it becomes harder to ignore with page counts like these), is smaller than both GamePro at 114 and Play at 112 this month. Seriously, smaller than Play?! The mag that was lucky to break 80 pages a few months back?

I'm a little spoiled on the RE5 piece because I read the meat of the gameplay reveals in Famitsu last week, but it's got a nice avant-garde vibe in the design. It anchors a preview roundup of games with heavy co-op emphasis, which I hope you like, because that's about it after reviews and the front-end news section.

GamePro November 2008


Cover: Gears of War 2 has been redesigned, if you haven't noticed. That website's easily seen more redesigns than any print-mag site I'm aware of; this is the second or third large-scale redo since I was working there in '03. It looks nice, and while nothing's changed with the mag's design, this is a pretty solid issue, with more Cliff freakouts (how does the man find time to develop games in between all the media interview he does?) highlighting one of those massive GamePro-trademark preview blowouts for Gears 2. Which I hope you like, because that's it beyond reviews, etc., etc.

Play October 2008


Cover: Splatterhouse

Classic Play 'ere, as a Halverson interview with the leads is the entire content of the cover story and The Legend of Spyro gets about 100 times more coverage than in any other game media out let (print or online). Solid consistency.

PC Gamer December 2008 (Podcast)


Cover: Empire: Total War

If it weren't for that topmost coverline (which I love), this would look almost like an old CGW cover -- all that old historical stuff taking center stage instead of Crysis or Fallout or whatnot. This issue's heavy on the reviews and short on features -- I guess PC games are getting done for the holidays sooner than their console counterparts, or something.

Game Developer October 2008


Cover: Top 20 Publishers

Aww, and you can't forget GD, either! This issue's most interesting bit to me: A report from the GameStop Expo in Vegas, the only one I've seen from someone who wasn't posting on a message board. [EDITOR'S NOTE: There's an adapted version of the same write-up on Gamasutra, too, FYI.]

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]