['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.]


While in New York last week I had a chance to pick up the latest edition of Arcadia, which is (if I'm not mistaken) the only print mag left in the world that's completely devoted to arcade games.

As their whimsically machine-translated English page shows, Arcadia is the spiritual successor to Gamest, a magazine launched in 1986 by a group of fanzine authors. It started as a bimonthly title, but switched to monthly after six issues and twice-a-month publication in 1994, growing along with the '90s Japanese arcade bubble and the worldwide fighting-game boom. The mag was shuttered in 1999 after the publisher went bankrupt, and the vast majority of its staff moved on to ASCII (currently Enterbrain) and founded Arcadia in late '99.

The last time I looked at an issue of Arcadia in 2008, it struck me as "not nearly as hardcore-oriented" as its pedigree would've suggested. Maybe I just caught Arcadia at a bad time. The April '10 edition, as you can see, is nearly 100% devoted to the Neo Geo's 20th anniversary, packed with info on past releases, interviews with the SNK old guard, and fond reminisces from all kinds of people in the business. The rest of the mag's pages are straight-on, totally hardcore game strategy, complete with those little tables of combo patterns and move lists that I used to identify with Gamest.

I don't think Arcadia can enjoy a very large circulation -- how else to explain a 128-page magazine selling for over ten bucks? -- but its continued presence is a testament to exactly how dedicated to their hobby arcade rats are in Japan today.

Anyway, click on to check out all the new US mags that have crossed my mailbox in the past two weeks:

Nintendo Power April 2010


Cover: The Next Scribblenauts

The cover piece on the (as yet unnamed) DS sequel is pretty extensive, although since there isn't anything thaaaat new with the game, it lacks the surprise effect of the original.

If anything, NP's editors seem to have put more effort into the odder corners of this issue, from the Sonic preview at the start to a six-page retrospective on Super Mario Bros. 3, of all things. (It's the tenth anniversary of its USA launch, yes, but it still seems like such a delightfully random thing to devote so much space to. Good article, too.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I just got a Mario-themed Nintendo Power special issue with lots of posters/stickers and retrospectives on Mario titles, so guessing the editors yoinked it out of that into the main monthly magazine.]



Cover: Final Fantasy XIV

I never received Issue 3 of Future's Nvidia-branded seasonal mag (a problem I've since had worked out), so it was a pleasant surprise to see this sucker in my mailbox once more. Doubly so, in fact, because the mag's really living up to its mission now, covering everything behind the art styles of MMOs to making-of bits that examine motion capture.

(Particularly surprising: Coverage of new graphic technology in health care, from 3D sonograms to fighting H1N1. Yeah, maybe it's all an Nvidia PR vehicle, but at least it's an engaging one.)

Tips & Tricks June 2010

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Cover: Tatsunoko vs. Capcom

Besides fearing a huge Tatsunoko vs. Capcom poster, this issue also reminded me of the fact that Ace Attorney Investigations is out in stores now. Oops!

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]