['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.]


I had a doctoral student from Texas mail me the other day asking if I could track down any issues of RePlay and Play Meter magazines from the mid-70s until 1983 for her. She's writing a paper about the economics of the classic-era arcade industry, and she's interested in looking through all the little fine-print distributor advertisements in the back of both mags.

I'd like to help her out, but I regrettably don't have much of either publication. I used to own a fair bit of RePlay from the late 1990s, but I sold them out many years ago because the contents weren't of much interest to me -- endless pages about redemption games and Chuck E. Cheese kiddie rides and not very much you'd care about if you aren't a working operator. They are also very heavy and large, making storage a pain in the arse.

Still, both it and Play Meter (which, sadly, had most of its back-issue library destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, I hear) would be a nice resource to have available for reasons exactly like this, especially issues from the early years. If anyone has any sort of collection of either magazine, by all means let me know (kgifford at magweasel dot com) and I'll get you in contact with her -- 'ell, I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who collects either mag anyway, given that both have circs in the 5000-ish range.

Moving back to the modern era, click through to see commentary on all the mags that crossed my desk in the past fortnight. This is the first month without any EGM, sadly:

(Don't ask me when the retrospective piece I wrote for their phantom final issue will go up on 1UP, 'cos I sadly don't know. I did get paid for it, however, proving that Ziff is far nicer to its freelancers than most publishing houses that close mags. Thanks, gentlemen.)

Edge January 2008


Cover: Uncharted 2

This issue's a bit old by this point; I forgot to cover it in the last installment for some reason. The cover piece is nothing too new from GI's a little bit ago, just with some more concept screens, a wee bit more in dev commentary, and a great deal of tech detail. The nerd's version of the GI piece, in other words. More interesting is an interview with Apple's VP of iPod and iPhone marketing about his devices' gaming possibilities -- like any Apple vice president, he talks a great yarn about being "the future" and all that, and spins faster than the fan on my air-conditioning unit as his product's faults get brought up.

It's not a very big surprise that LittleBigPlanet wins most of the bigger awards in Edge's 2008 roundup. It's also no surprise, given that the holidays are over, that the reviews are pretty harsh this month -- nothing gets over 7 and most are a fair bit below that, such as the 5 Prince of Persia earned.

Game Informer February 2009


Cover: Singularity

Yep, it's another exclusive GI cover featuring a very brown game starring a futuristic, brooding army dude killing squadrons of enemies with his bare hands. I know it's my imagination, but GI seems to do 8 covers like this a year.

The interior succeeds in making the game look a great deal like BioShock, which might be the point, but unlike many GI features, both the devs and the visual accompaniment have a great deal to say to you. The secondary feature on Fight Night Round 4 is way more engaging in my opinion, but a) I am a boxing fan b) I know sports games never, ever make good cover subjects.

The Connect industry-news section is pretty packed this month -- afterthoughts on Far Cry 2, a quick bit with Nobuo Uematsu, and (most interestingly) a spread on Bang Camaro, a band who owes much of its popularity to being in Harmonix games.

GamePro February 2009


Cover: Halo 2009

The Halo stuff on the cover kicks off a big 360-in-2009 preview feature inside. Most of the feature isn't that memorable, but Halo's got awesome art and awesome design! Seriously, they out-OXM'd OXM here. No earth-shattering new information, but a great piece overall.

PC Zone January 2009


Cover: Warhammer 40K Dawn of War II

Reason why PC Zone is worth buying, part X: The opening paragraph to their Left 4 Dead review, which is as follows -- "Any game whatsoever can immediately be rendered fun through the inclusion of a co-op mode. A game in which four players stand around slowly getting buried deeper and deeper in sand would be fun, for example, simply for the witty repartee of your friends and glib remarks about its (presumed) crap framerates and crippline load times. A game in which you and your strangely dressed companions stand around next to a tree, discussing bags and boots while waiting for someone else to log on so you can get on with things -- that's pretty much World of Warcraft, and 11 million people can't be wrong..."

This month's PCZ (and PC Gamer UK, too) also comes with a booklet on "How You And Your PC Can Beat the Credit Crunch," except the "e" in "credit" is replaced with a pound sign, and it's just too cute!

PlayStation: The Official Magazine February 2009


Cover: Killzone 2

PTOM's got the hot-sclusive review of this very fine, very brown game, extending over eight pages and looking pretty sharp.

PTOM's also got engaging page design down to a science by this point, I think -- I'd like to believe that's part of why it's relatively successful today. Even their '08 game awards feature is neatly designed, which is more than I can say about any of the similar features in other mags this month, including Edge's.

Other highlights: a "how to get easy trophies" feature similar to what OXM's done with achievements, and a spread where the managing editor's son reviews PS3/PS2 kiddie games that's funnier than you'd expect.

Official Xbox Magazine February 2009 (Podcast)


Cover: Brutal Legend

Double Fine's latest is now an EA-published title, and OXM celebrates with five radical, radical pages with Tim Schafer, kicking off a preview feature/industry piece about the 100 most awesome things about '09. I like it, and while the "best of '08" feature isn't as nice-looking at PTOM's, it's similarly bite-sized and fun.

Nintendo Power February 2009


Cover: RPG special

I noticed this issue that Nintendo Power has a bunch of advertising that no other game mag gets. It's mainly DS/Wii casual stuff, but I wonder if it's that advertising that keeps NP vibrant.

RPGs are the top theme all issue, starting with PS0 (an extraordinarily long feature for a DS title, longer than even GTA Chinatown Wars a few months back) and continuing with Fire Emblem and a crapload of others. It's all your basic preview type coverage, but at least it's pretty and interview-laden -- in fact, kind of like the big-arse preview features of 2004-era EGM, complete with humorous boxes that link each game together (the "RPG Cliche Checklist," for example).

NP also talks to Uematsu this month, and they're kind enough to give him three pages instead of GI's 0.5 pages.

Beckett Massive Online Gamer March/April 2009


Cover: Guess

Yep, more Beckett MOG. I feel bad about it, but I've long since run out of stuff to talk about with this mag -- it's the same thing each month, fer Chrissakes. The same WOW stuff, the same strategy guides for Korean games you never heard of, and occasionally some hot cosplay. Yippee!

Game Developer January 2009


Cover: LittleBigPlanet

Aw, who can forget about Game Developer? The LBP postmorterm is worth reading more than others, since it's such a unique (and small!) team behind the game. (Good things about a small crew: smooth, informal company style: Bad things about a small crew: crunching for half a year before launch.)

[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.]