['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.]

Normally this week would be a Mag Roundup where I cover all the magazines that I've received in the past little while. The situation's a little unique this time, though -- I've been traveling around for most of the past two weeks and still am right now, so I haven't actually gotten to my mailbox lately. (That, and I think I may've forgotten to renew my assorted Future subscriptions. Oops.)

So Mag Roundup will come back next week, probably. In its place, a few quick tidbits:

druagabook2.jpg   druagabook1.jpg

- As mentioned last week, I picked up the latest issue of Dengeki Games in Japan and rather liked it. I also found something else which isn't quite a magazine, but is nonetheless a neat piece of game-related print merchandise.

Solo RPG gamebooks, like the Fighting Fantasy series and so forth, were all the rage in Japan during the mid-1980s, much as they were in Europe and (later on) the US. Most of the gamebooks released in Japan were translated versions of Fighting Fantasy or other game series, but one or two home-grown titles popped up here and there -- and as I discovered during this trip, a guy named Naoto Suzuki wrote three books based on The Tower of Druaga, one of my favorite retro arcade games ever. (The one on the left is an original from 1986; the other one's a larger-sized reprint put out in 2008.)

These three books -- Spellbound By the Demon, Heroes of the Magic Labyrinth and Fall of the Dark Empire -- together tell the complete story of Gil's journey up the tower. Each book covers 20 floors out of the 60 the tower's comprised of. The game system used is a tad more complex than Fighting Fantasy's, as Gil has both battle, weapon, and defense stats for you to juggle during battle, and mapmaking is pretty much a must if you expect to get anywhere without cheating.

I'm not sure I'll ever read these without cheating, speaking of, but they're neat souvenirs nonetheless. The publisher, Tokyo Sogensha, also did a gamebook for Xevious of all things.

- I was alerted, via Simon, via Twitter, that the publishers of GameSide (the recently deceased magazine in Japan that covered all manner of retro games) has been resurrected, in a way. It's called Shooting Gameside and it's now devoted completely to shooting games -- strategies, previews, dev interviews, and retro coverage. It looks neat, and I don't know how I missed it while I was over in Japan. Ah well.

gamestm101.jpg   gamestm102.jpg

- Finally, I want to thank Mr. Ashley Day for sending me a couple of the latest GamesTM issues after I lamented about how long I have to wait for them over here. It was a very kind gesture and one I wouldn't normally accept, but since this is a UK mag I'll make an exception.

I've only thumbed through the issues as of yet, but so far they seem to confirm what I saw when i covered their 100th issue -- it's high on dev interviews, in-depth articles, and pretty low on extraneous fluff, or a lot lower than it used to be at least. Well done, gentlemen.

[Kevin Gifford used to breed ferrets, but now he's busy running Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]