['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.]


Things are finally beginning to heat up with 2010's two new print-mag properties.

First off, EGM has launched a teaser site, complete with some of the content from the never-published February 2009 issue. I'll reserve judgment on the online interface once they're creating original, modern content for it and not shoehorning old print material inside, but I do invite you to sick around for Part 2 of "The Lost Issue," which should feature the massive EGM history/retrospective piece I wrote long ago.

Subscriber copies of the first print issue will be out "in a little more than a week," according to Steve Harris, and there's also an iPad interface in the works.

EGM may have some unexpected competition next week, because (as discussed in this blog earlier) Dave Halverson's new GameFan/MoveFan magazine is reportedly shipping to stores right now. Info is still a bit hard to come by on this publication, oddly -- when asked whether Play subscribers will get any reimbursement, art director Rob Duenas wrote in Play's old forums (now offline) that "he hasn't been allowed to speak publicly...while he attempts to regain control over the copyright" during Fusion Publishing's bankruptcy proceedings.

The premiere-issue cover looks suitably Play-y, nonetheless, and if the concept of Play Magazine minus everybody except Halverson and Duenas excites you -- I know it sends shivers down my spine -- you'll be looking forward to the moment GameFan hits stores with bated breath.

Getting on to what's out now, however, click on to see all the mags that crossed my desk in the past fortnight:

GamePro #260, May 2010


Cover: Splinter Cell: Conviction

The cover art, posted by John Davison online a while back, doesn't need me lauding praise upon it -- folks all over Twitter have been passing it around amicably for a while now. It was created by Brazilian graphic designer Gui Borchert, who's also done similar text-illustrations of people like Obama and Hendrix.

Davison may have a sense for nice magazine art, but his staff's even better at making devs and studio folks say interesting, compelling things on the record. The cover story is a pretty unique example of a dev team manning up and talking about what's gone wrong with their game...even though the game hasn't hit stores quite yet. But then, Conviction's always been a unique project -- over two years late, on its third project lead, making a nearly 180-degree turn in gameplay focus since the media began talking it up in 2006. The resulting pre-post-mortem is really neat and another feather in the new GP's cap.

Also nice this month: The piece on Metacritic, similar to one Game Informer did half a year or so ago but focused more on the process behind the site and less on dev whining. In particular, it has a quote from Bethesda's VP of marketing that I think sums up the problem with game reviews perfectly -- "If you're score something higher than everyone, well, you're just a moron. But if you think a game is worse than everyone else, then you're the cool, see-through-it, not-buying-the-hype guy who's not afraid to tell the truth. That's always been the way, and it will always be the way."

I think it's no secret by now that I'm a hopeless fanboy for the new GamePro, but one thing does bug me about it -- the paper. It's molecule-thin and nearly every page has problems with bleed-through, exacerbated by how much more whitespace the new GP's design uses. It's AAA-grade content in a B-grade container. Can't IDG shell out to thicken the paper stock just an eensy bit? Please?

Edge #213, April 2010


Cover: L.A. Noire

It's a somewhat gun-happy issue of Edge, with main pieces on Team Bondi's latest followed up by previews of Vanquish and Bodycount. By far, however, my favorite article is one that points out there are no game publishers or developers in the UK stock market any longer, part of a broader examination of why the "bigger than Hollywood" game biz boasts very few publicly-traded companies with stocks that perform really well. It's one of those a-ha topics that didn't occur to me until I read it, and reading dev takes on the topic (including one from former Argonaut head Jez San, who "hated every second" of being public) makes me feel a lot smarter about the business than I used to.

Otherwise, the two-page takedown of Final Fantasy XIII in the reviews section may be the most memorable part of this month's issue.

If you're in Europe, Edge is currently offering one of the more impressive subscriber bonuses I've seen -- a licensed Genesis-compatible portable system with no cartridge port but 20 games built in. Rebellious American scum like me, sadly, can't get it.

PC Gamer #200, May 2010

Cover: 200th issue


Happy anniversary to PC Gamer! They're celebrating with a new and extensive redesign, one that makes its internals look more-or-less the same as the UK edition, right down to the "Extra Life" catch-all section in the back.

I explored PC Gamer UK's design in-depth last summer, and while I can say a lot of the same things about PC Gamer US's take on that visual package, my overall impression is very positive. Each page looks a lot more packed with content than before, though I'm sure that's partly because of compression, PC Gamer UK being about an inch taller than its Yankee counterpart.

It's certainly a major departure from Gary Steinman's more free-form approach, but it's nonetheless novel, striking, and nice on the eyes in its own way.

I am also a big fan of their "200 reasons to like PC gaming" cover story, done in the same tongue-in-cheek fashion as the similar piece Nintendo Power did not long ago.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine #32, May 2010


Cover: Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Snowblind Studios' latest, the first LOTR game made with an M rating in mind (I never realized), gets a hot-sclusive reveal this issue. It's interesting to me that Snowblind is calling this their "first big-budget title," and it's also something of a relief to me they're still around, considering the only thing they've released in the past four years is an XBLA game.

Regardless, the cover feature itself is an endearing mix of just-the-facts gameplay report, developer commentary, and humorous sidebars about Ring Pops and LOTR games of the past. It's a fine piece that performs its function well, but I liked the feature that followed it -- a collection of game boxes with critiques on how closely they actually match gameplay -- a bit more from a reader's perspective.

Official Xbox Magazine #109, May 2010


Cover: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

Like with PTOM above, the cover story fulfills its purpose, but the articles following -- a group of suggestions to revitalize the music-game genre and a look at summer games that's rather oddly themed as a guide to picking up dates -- kept my interest a bit longer.

OXM's got its own box-art analysis article this month, too, although this one talks to marketing folks at companies and gets them to explain exactly what the reasoning was for having the Big Daddy here and the Little Sister there and so on.

Retro Gamer Issue 75


Cover: John Romero

John Romero "taking over the magazine" basically means he has box-outs here and there commenting about NBA Jam, the Famicom Disk System, adventure-game guru Dave Grossman, and whatever else the mag talks about in its pages. There's also an interview with Romero, of course, one where he talks a lot about his Apple II and Softdisk days -- of interest to me and probably not a lot of other people.

Game Developer April 2010


Cover: 2010 salary survey

Ah, wonderful, my annual reminder that I've completely wasted my computer science degree! Oh, if only I had applied myself, kept up-to-date with programming trends, pulled the all-nights, gained the right connections! I could've been making an average of $80,320 as a programmer right now -- and likely hating every waking moment of my life, but that's immaterial here.

Otherwise, this issue of GD has a decidedly retro bent itself, from a David Crane interview to an article exploring design lessons that can be learned from the first Doom.



The trickle of Future one-off specials continues, this one touting a bunch of posters, a sheet of stickers, and about 44 pages of content -- one spread for every "main" Mario game plus a bunch of extra content about his other efforts.

This special's obviously meant for younger folk and so I won't rate it harshly, but I think the cover's misleading -- there's only one small sentence or two about Mario's mustache. I wanted more, dammit!

[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.]