['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 New Year! Or, if you're a magazine editor hurriedly trying to wrap up the January issue so he can get out of the office and into his customary seat at the bar, happy Thanksgiving!

Edge, for its Christmas 2010 issue, has obliged with its customary end-of-year present for subscribers -- a full-sized poster/2011 calendar and day planner, complete with the newsstand release dates of every issue of Edge for the coming year. This year's poster is decidedly Mario-themed, with the reverse side done up like a timeline depicting the plumber as he appeared in nearly every game he's starred in.

I've actually taped Edge's calendar posters up to the wall every year since I began subscribing to the mag in 2006 or so, mainly because their compact, fetching design is actually pretty useful when (like me) you've got multi-month project schedules to follow for your job. Thanks for the present, guys. It's not money, but it'll do.

The magazine the poster comes with ain't terrible, either. It's got an MMO bent this time around, between the WOW: Cataclysm cover and an internal follow-up feature on Guild Wars 2 that talks about how the sequel's for people who hate MMOGs because it's got a "bold plan of reinvention" -- a line I've heard before about all manner of MMOs, but at least the devs interviewed in both features are honest and upfront about their games.

A lot more interesting to me is a piece on how modern shooters affect the general public's perceptions of modern war, which gets takes from everyone from Randy Pitchford to US/British soldiers and vets. It's the sort of thing GamePro's been doing a lot of lately, but it's more than welcome here, too.

Click past the fold to check out the other mags that have hit stores lately.

GamePro Jan/Feb 2011

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The January GamePro wins my heart and soul for "Unpublished in Mesopotamia," a wacky yet fascinating 4-page piece about a group of Iraqis who made an Amiga platformer in 1993 that finally found release as an iOS game a bit ago.

Game mags have very gradually begun to explore the Middle East for article ideas over the past few months, it seems, and it's all so novel to me -- kind of like reading about all those weird Super Famicom games that never came out in the US before I could read Japanese and get them for myself.

The core of the January issue is devoted to the process behind creating fantasy worlds, offering analytical pieces on the settings of Zelda, Dragon Age II, and so forth. February, meanwhile, is mainly an '11 preview issue (albeit an impeccably designed one).

But it does have a great feature about exactly how research on the effects of games on the brain is conducted -- complete with a visual design theme involving game controllers and pig's brains that may not be the prettiest thing ever, but is nonetheless eye-catching. I can only hope that GP keeps up its game for the rest of the year.

Electronic Gaming Monthly Jan/Feb 2011

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In the opening of the January issue, Brady Fiechter promises that the preview feature that takes up most of the edit pages takes "a bit of an assertive and surely devisive approach" compared to normal. I'm not all that sure about that -- really, this issue's preview roundup reminds me a lot of what you'd see around this time of year in the "old" EGM, circa 2006 or so.

Big screenshots, a couple paragraphs for each game, and that's about it; the executive-summary "why you should care" type of thing. It's good, but I'm still not sure it's the best use of pages. (Much better this issue: The Cliff Bleszinski interview, as well as a piece on indie devs and their fortunes making casual games.)

Randy Pitchford is the long-interview choice for February -- he's proving to be a pretty garrulous gent in the game media, but if he can stay this interesting, I'm all for it. EGM also did quite a fine job on the SSX cover story; maybe it's not a game everyone cares about, but the piece is pretty, informative, and has me enthusiastic, which is something that practically no plain-Jane preview ever does for me.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine January 2011

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Kratos in my Mortal Kombat? What the hey?! It's all explained inside the main feature, which leads off the usual sort of "2001's hugest games" roundup. In fact, nearly all of the inside content seems to be previews of one sort or other, with the interview with the creator of Scott Pilgrim being the only thing that really caught my eye in the mag.

Official Xbox Magazine February 2011

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The Dead Space review is the main feature this month, complete with a spoiler-laden "secrets" section that's printed upside-down so you won't immediately ruin the story for yourself -- a clever idea.

Like PTOM, there's a feature this month devoted to "resolutions for 2011" -- but while PTOM's was geared toward gamers, this one goes halfway between that and OXM's requests for the game business in 2011, from XBLA advertising its good Indie Games for a change to 343 Studios finally revealing Master Chief's face. The "Kinect Dos and Don'ts" piece that follows is a hilarious bit of art, somewhat inspired by airplane warning pamphlets but also pretty decently humorous with the text.

PC Gamer February 2011

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PC Gamer's own take on the 2011 preview feature -- "Big 10 of '11" -- is par for the course and something I skipped over pretty quickly for the feature following, which can be summed up as a print-based introduction/tutorial for Minecraft.

It's nothing new to anyone who's been online the past couple months, no, but if a print mag is ever gonna cover Minecraft, this is the way to do it -- lots of neat infographics, engaging visuals, and just enough text to link it all together into a nice little package. Recommended reading.

NVISION Winter 2011

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I have regrettably ignored NVISION for a while -- my subscription ran out and I didn't realize it was still going. My apologies about that. (As a not-entirely-unrelated aside, it seems that Tips & Tricks hasn't published an issue since November '10. Hopefully the new issue is just late getting to my newsstands.)

Like how I remembered it from before, the game coverage in NVISION is largely preview-driven and tries to work NVIDIA products in however possible, like in the piece that showcases how the company's Tegra mobile video processor helps developers with their work.

In a way, the mag's approach reminds me a lot of computer mags from the early '80s -- a lot of the features show how NVIDIA GPUs are used for suprising and unusual applications, from Toy Story 3 to military and archaeological work. Neat in a "how it works" sort of way.

Apropos of nothing, there's also a Bruce Willis interview.

Game Developer Dec '10/Jan '11

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Yow! These GD covers are getting more avant-garde by the month! The December issue has an article on QTEs by Tim Rogers -- as you'd expect from him, the article's very long; unexpectedly, it's coherent, filler-less and fun to read, a sign that someone's editing his work well for a change. Bravo!

The January edition, meanwhile, has a piece on where strategy games are (and need to be) going next that encapsulates a lot pretty deep and fascinating thinking. Both pieces are worth anyone's attention, I'd say.

[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.]