['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.]

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Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas from all your friends at Game Mag Weaseling! Unfortunately, what's good for your holiday wish lists isn't necessarily so good for game mags, their pages filled with year-end shopping guides and endless reviews and not much in the realm of really interesting content afoot. 'Tis the season for distributor circulation statements, though, and I'll be doing a full piece on those once I have 'em all -- a couple are already out below, and heavens, GamePro's dropped a bit.

Anyway, click on for all the details of the game mags that hit US mailboxes in the past fortnight.

Edge December 2008

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Cover: Reviews special

Remember when Game Informer did reviews-special covers for their December issues? And it was always a whited-out mess that looked like it should've been an advertisement for cosmetics instead of a video game magazine? This is how you do a reviews-roundup cover, assuming you really have to do one. It's, at the very least, extremely colorful and fun to look at, like a lot of GMR's old covers. I approve.

This is a reviews issue and therefore there isn't a whole lot to say, but one thing that struck me is that the Deus Ex 3 feature is a whopping four pages long, two of which comprise a collage of concept art -- the sort of thing you'd expect of a GI cover feature on some way-pre-alpha game. You can tell Edge's heart isn't really into the feature, because they devote twice as many pages to a dissertation on the state of shooters in Japan, complete with an interview with Tez Okano (who was just in Edge's pages to discuss Segagaga a few months back). The history-of-3D-technology-in-games piece is fascinating stuff, too, offering a quick, bitesized reference to all the jargon you've read and forgotten about over the years.

Humorous: A spread interview with the head of Gamecock Media Group, which must have taken place literally minutes before he sold the company to SouthPeak in October 'cos none of that is mentioned in here -- it's still the usual pioneering-guerrilla-blablabla that every bit of Gamecock media coverage has been.

Nintendo Power December 2008

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Cover: Animal Crossing: City Folk

I am really digging NP's new cover style for subscriber editions. Mainly it reminds me of Nintendo: The Official Magazine's look -- and, come to think of it, I wonder how much that UK magazine is influencing NP design nowadays. Haven't seen a physical issue of it on sale in the States at all.

The AC piece is nice 'cos of the perspective -- it's actually written by an ex-member of NOA's localization department, and he interviews some of his old co-workers in the 19-person (!!!) staff working on City Folk's script, which I'm sure is larger than any RPG. If you want an inside look at this process -- no small part of why Nintendo's titles are special, in my opinion -- you'll want to read this.

Official Xbox Magazine Holiday 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Left 4 Dead

Paid Distribution: 404,301

Best cover of the month, I absolutely believe. I remember, back when I worked for print mags, there being something of an aversion to putting Resident Evil on the cover. I think that wasn't because consumers didn't like RE so much as putting a closeup shot of a zombie's face on the cover of your mag is not very appealing. This stuff is, totally.

Otherwise, though, it's a nearly pure reviews issue. That, and there's a Halo novel except. Arrrgh!

GamePro December 2008

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Cover: 2009 preview guide

Total Distribution: 183,274

Cool bit: A news piece with six games the ESRB gave the wrong rating in GP's eyes (I agree with their conclusion that M for the Halo games is too high, not that it seems to have affected sales any). Not so cool bit: A 50-page preview feature in a 108-page magazine, one that uses Cooper Black for its title and headings for no good reason. Yes, I know Cooper Black is my favorite typeface, but even I have trouble seeing it as a "futuristic" font, you know?

PC Gamer Holiday 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Star Wars: The Old Repubi

Whoever designs PC Gamer's covers wasn't paying attention to the subscriber edition this month. Otherwise he/she would've noticed how the space for the address overlaps the game's logo and chief coverline (world exclusive first what? Hot dog?).

On the plus side, the Star Wars feature is well laid-out and thought-out, and there is a picture of a ferret in the letters section. Smiley face goes here.

Ultimate Videogame Codebook (CHEATS!) Volume 17

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I like spending money on things I don't need. Frowny face goes here.

[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.]