['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. This time -- an analytical look at the latest video game magazines released in the last couple of weeks.]

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Happy holidays, gentlemen and ladies! "'Tis the season to be sharing," as Santa told Fred Flintstone countless times on TV throughout my childhood -- and plainly Official Xbox Magazine is in a sharing mood, because page 25 of the January 2011 issue features this wonderful, informative, uplifting article that put me in the Christmas spirit like nothing else before.

Previous issues of OXM have taught me how to excel at online Call of Duty, what games to look out for this Christmas, even how to pad my Gamerscore with the least amount of actual gameplay. Now they're going a step further and actively trying to help me with my sex life!

This in-depth feature tells the inspiring tale of John Alanis, a man intent upon imparting the secrets of a "short, fat, dumpy guy" who taught him how much of a "paint-by-numbers, step-by-step, brain-dead simple process" it is to deal with women. Such a wonderful piece of affirmation to all males everywhere! And there's a handy URL to consult for all the secrets, too!

(On his website, Alanis asks $9 for shipping/handling in order to send the report with the really, really big secret to scoring chicks, but what the hell, I need all the help I can get!)

Although the Great Magazine Die-off of 2009 appears to be over (there are actually more mags being printed in the US this year than last), advertising continues to be pretty slow in the gaming genre. I noted a couple columns ago that ESRB filler ads (which get printed for lack of actual paid advertising, sort of like public-service announcements on TV) were popping up in the Future mags a fair bit lately, but I think I may still prefer those ESRB ads over weaselly airline cabin magazine-style ads like this one. What pays the bills pays the bills, though, eh?

Regardless, let's move on to covering the mags that made it under my door in the past two weeks. It may be my last Mag Roundup of the year, so enjoy the rest of it!

Game Informer January 2011

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Lara Croft is getting a new, grittier update, and the US Postal Service obliged by making my copy of the new GI just as scuffed-up and torn apart as the cover subject. Thanks, guys! The cover article is a "debut preview" in every sense of the term -- the art assets mostly serve to show off Lara's new look and the article doesn't talk much about real gameplay -- but the story behind the new game, as told in the text, is still pretty compelling.

It being January, it's maybe appropriate that the front section has its eyes fixed straight on the future. There's a roundtable profiling the job of video-game analysts like Michael Pachter, an interview with Sega's VP of sales about where the company's going in '11, some analysis about the Supreme Court game hearing, and more. Considering the mag's only 100 pages this month, I'm pleasantly surprised that the opening piece about Iran's game rating system was given a full spread -- the article's really neat, albeit a bit tantalizingly short.

Official Xbox Magazine January 2011

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Cover: Bulletstorm

In addition to helping me with my game at the college bars, this month's OXM tells readers about the top 11 games for 2011 -- a basic sort of preview feature. The features following, including a guidebook on how to make non-crap game movies and how to play Halo: Reach really, really well, are a lot more memorable.

Nintendo Power January 2011

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Cover: Mario Sports Mix

Aiee! A game that only the most crazy-hardcore of Nintenbots will care about graces the cover -- no offense meant to NP's staff, of course; I know the pickings aren't super bountiful right now. Games like ATV Wild Ride and Captain America: Super Soldier get full-page previews inside, but the longer feature on Majesco's Monster Tale (one of those portable side-scrollers heavily influenced by old Genesis games, the sort of stuff WayForward is normally known for) is pretty remarkable for its depth and prettiness.

Retro Gamer Issue 84

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Cover: 25 years of Rare

You would have to be very, very British in order to appreciate this cover -- it's done by Oliver Frey, who drew cover art for dozens and dozens of British game-mag issues between 1984 and 1992.

His style is unique and quite nice when he's drawing cars or spaceships or armored warriors or somesuch, but I'm not quite sure it works as well with "cutesy" subjects like this. The piece accompanying the article is pretty massive, encompassing the entire history of the developer and interviewing all sorts of dudes.

Fun fact: At 116 pages, Retro Gamer is actually the largest issue in this Mag Roundup in terms of number of pages -- and #1 in number of edit pages, too. A mite more expensive, but...

[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.]