['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.]


Greetings from lovely, straight-from-the-1950s suburban Chicago! Absolutely nothing I did here has to do with game magazines, or games, or magazines, but I thought the picture was too nice to keep to myself.

For game degenerates, however, there is quite a lot to look at with this update, including one cover redesign and one enormous subscriber bonus that I had to whip out the camera to capture in its full glory.

PC Gamer July and August 2009

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Covers: BioShock 2 and the Fresh Prince's dad starring in Left 4 Dead 2

Hooray! My PC Gamer subscription finally fixed itself (sort of -- it claims it expires in October when I just renewed it a few weeks ago), and so I got these two issues within a few days of each other. Convenient, that, because it allows me to show off one rather important difference between the two issues.

As mentioned previously, PC Gamer UK underwent an extensive redesign last month that's got its share of fans and detractors. That redesign included a brand-new logo, and -- presumably for the sake of consistency -- the US PC Gamer has taken on the new logo as well, the first logo revamp since the mag's launch in 1994. I haven't found a UK PC Gamer yet (workin' on it, trust me), but other than the logo, the US mag hasn't changed any, which makes sense considering how much new EIC Gary Steinman has shaken up the internals since taking over.

Internally, Steinman's apparent effort to eradicate plain-Jane previews from the magazine is proceeding along well. The July issue premieres "Classic Games Club," where the edtiors have a roundtable discussion over one old PC title or another (X-COM in this issue). The feature on BioShock 2 multiplayer, which you'd think is kind of an obscure topic to put on the cover, is saved by its lovely illustrations and a ton of dev quotes. The August edition, meanwhile, has a crapload of interesting junk up front (highlight: a (not) exclusive look at Virtual Hilton) and an actually-pretty-neat netbook review roundup in the middle. As usual, my only complaint is that 100 pages an issue just doesn't seem to be enough.

Edge July 2009


Cover: FIFA 10

The reflective gold cover refused to scan correctly, so instead I just took a picture of this issue of Edge complete with the awesome poster that cool subscribers like me got with it. I included a couple of ferrets for scale.

The poster is lovely, but it doesn't make up for the fact that the cover story is among the fluffiest that I've seen Edge do in a very long time. It's GI-y from start to finish -- the lack of any real in-game screenshots, the extoling of the publisher at any chance possible, and the author's odd obsession with Metacritic scores. (Metacritic's mentioned four times in the piece and once in another feature, too, despite Edge publishing an article casting doubt on the site's tabulation practices several months previous. It's clear EA's Peter Moore treats the scores pretty damn seriously, at least.)

It's what's outside the cover feature that's more interesting, as always: a news piece on the console maker's determined drive to make this generation last as long as possible; another one about the secrets of long-selling "under the radar" titles like Carnival Games; a profile of Metalocalypse's Titmouse and their foray into the game business; and a look back at ancient soccer classic Football Manager.

GamePro July 2009

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Cover: BioShock 2

GP has the big console BioShock 2 hot-sclusive this month, pulling its usual MO of taking a title Game Informer revealed a while back and giving it the more extensive treatment a few months' worth of extra development allows. (Some of the content is shared with PCG's piece, including the more memorable disfigured NPC character concepts.)

GamePro has also released their Summer Game Guide seasonal, filled with previews, previews and more previews. They also borrow a page from PC Gamer's recent special and devote over 40 pages to free (or really cheap) games for your PC, console or iPhone. I didn't realize The Suffering was now free on PC. Heavens, how time files.

Nintendo Power July 2009


Cover: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days

Pretty slow issue contentwise -- or so you'd think. But no! The cover feature (which features English-subtitled movie snaps but Japanese gameplay) is the highlight, perhaps, but the other main piece on Scribblenauts is key as well, and the Rhythm Heaven bit that follows -- complete with an interview with music guy Tsunku, who is a really big deal in Japan -- is a pretty remarkable coup, I think.

Nerds will also dig the Power Profile on Hideo Yoshizawa, whose creations (Klonoa and the NES Ninja Gaidens) are far more well-known than his name.

I would like to know what NP's secret is to finding all these interview subjects. They can't be bribing them with Wiis -- it's not like they're scarce any longer. Maybe Future just tells everyone "We're like Nintendo Dream, except American" and that's good enough for all the Japanese folks they find.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine July 2009


Cover: God of War III

Like GP above, PTOM takes a previous "world exclusive" and covers it more in depth. More interesting to some, perhaps, is "PlayStation State of the Union," a multipart series that visits assorted PS3 dev studios and checks out their culture what it's like to work there -- sort of like the back of Edge, except a little less jargon-y.

Game Developer June/July 2009


Cover: Tomb Raider Underworld

Two highlights this issue: an intensely scientific and psychology-oriented treatment of how to get players to finish your games, and the Tomb Raider postmortem. It always warms my heart to see a developer complain about having to produce and show off demos all the time for the marketing department. If I had a dime for every demo I sat down for where nobody in the room wanted to be there, I wouldn't have to write columns about video-game magazines any longer.

Beckett Massive Online Gamer July/August 2009


Cover: Champions Online

I have to admit it -- this mag is actually getting a little better. Not great, but better, from the design (which is finally getting more refined and less everything-but-the-kitchen-sink) to an article on the history of gnomes that I kind of dug. Amazing! I'd still never be reading this if it weren't for my completionist streak, but still!

[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.]