['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.]

I know it's post-E3 and few people may care very much about print mags that came out before the event, but if you buy one mag on the shelves right now, I recommend this one:

GamePro July 2011

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Cover: Street Fighter X Tekken

I think I'm starting to repeat myself in these descriptions, but I'm starting to think that GamePro, more than any other US mag at the moment, knows how design spreads well.

This is worth pointing out, because while advertising pages have plummeted in game mags over the past five years, a lot of mags are still designed on a page-by-page basis in order to make it easier to insert a page ad without screwing up the design. For most US mags, this (for better or for worse) isn't much of a worry any longer.

GamePro's art folks realize this, and their mag just looks different as a result of it. It's still under 100 pages, but every two-page spread is stimulating enough that it seems like you're getting a lot more out of it. It works to the mag's advantage, making readers stop and look at pretty much any feature, from the cover bit to the preview of Skyrim to the high-end PC hardware guide that'd be pretty boring in nearly any other situation.

I say that even before getting to the "Periodic Table of Computer & Video Games," a look at the "fundamental elements" (the genre pioneers) of gaming. It's a hell of a thing from Julian Rignall, well-researched and well-written. Rock on to him for that.

I'd write more (haven't even gotten to the cover yet, either, which rocks), but I think you get the idea. I love GamePro.

@Gamer June 2011

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Cover: Gears of War 3

Being the consumer-oriented mag it is, @Gamer starts right out with four pages on Madden and NCAA Football -- man, is it that time of the year alerady?

The cover feature is a pretty nice nuts-and-bolts look at GOW game mechanics, best suited for core-type folks, but it's immediately followed by a buyer's-guide roundup of gear for portable game systems which is much more casual in nature. Perhaps even more casual than that: A papercraft GOW3 figure you can cut out in the back of the mag. That I dig.

Official Xbox Magazine July 2011

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Cover: Batman: Arkham City

The first memorable thing about this issue -- the inside-cover ad is still for Halo: Reach, nine months after its release. The second -- the "Friendly Enemies" feature inside, a humorous chronicle of two friends engaging in co-op games with varying degrees of success. The text is pretty funny, as is the art, drawn by some guy whose stuff resembles Penny Arcade but isn't.

On the more serious end there's an interview with the curator of the Smithsonian's video game expedition, as well as a very long piece on female game protagonists that's not all that visually interesting, but still makes its point well.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine July 2011

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Cover: Skyrim

Chiefly a preview issue outside of the cover story, which does a great job with the visual assets as it gives a play-by-play of the editors' hands-on session. It's followed by a Mass Effect 3 feature that is even more laden with info, although it's a little too text-heavy for me.

While I'm thinking about it, I'd like to note that the subscriber editions of OXM and P:TOM both have an advertising cover glued on top of the real cover, like you often see in Future mags. However, the ad covers this month actually come off clean from the magazine -- unlike previous ad covers, which ofttimes either ripped the real cover a bit or left a dark, wet stain. For degenerate collectors like, the new move means a lot. Thanks, guys.

Nintendo Power July 2011

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Cover: Sonic Generations

The cover story was the toast of the Internet after it broke, and it's a helpful feature, although it's mostly retro-content instead of real details when you get down to it. There's also a long feature (with interview) on Mega Man Legends 3, a fan-driven project that's been ongoing for a while in Japan but has received little press outside of that country, so it's a welcome thing to see it in here.

Otherwise, it's largely Nintendo Power doing its best to fill up the pages in the pre-E3 era.

Retro Gamer Issue 90

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Cover: The Legend of Zelda

A gold-foil cover (which never scans well, apologies) bookends a pretty typical Zelda retrospective, one with a few choice quotes from outside devs on what they think of the series. It's nothing special otherwise, though, and I was more impressed by the "bluffer's guide to Mac gaming" later on -- a lot of it covering the black-and-white era that I still find really fascinating.

Game Developer June/July 2011

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Cover: Rift

Reading the postmortem of Rift chiefly makes me feel like I never want to work on an MMORPG if I can help it. All that work and stress! Heavens! My hats go off to anyone who manages it.

[Kevin Gifford owns over 8000 video-game and computer magazines. Despite this, he is capable of sustaining a conversation with a woman for at least three minutes per go. He runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things, and in his spare time he does writing and translation for lots of publishers and game companies.]