['Game Mag Weaseling' is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which covers video game magazines from the late '70s all the way up to right now.]

We're getting into the April issues, and already most magazines are at their smallest for the year, around 100 pages for most titles. This means that (for many mags) most space gets taken up by humdrum game previews and reviews, and pages used to give the magazine some sense of personal touch tend to get short shrift. It's always a drag, but some mags (particularly GamePro and OXM) are learning how to deal with the restrictions pretty well, I think.

This mag contraction made me give a little more thought on what kind of magazine I'd run in my wildest dreams, and I'd like to lay out my proposal to the GameSetWatch-reading audience next week, but for now, click on for a rundown of all the game mags to hit shelves and/or mailboxes in the past fortnight.

Electronic Gaming Monthly April 2007 (Podcast)

egm-0704.jpg

Cover: Ratchet & Clank Future

EGM this month kicks off with a page-sized photo of Peter Moore staring at you. Things can only go up from there, though, and the ensuing interview (coming a year after a similar one in 2006) is the sort of hard-hitting, entertaining stuff that EGM is beginning to make a name for itself with in my mind. There's another interview later on with David Jaffe, once again talking about Calling All Cars and cursin' up a storm, and a quick 3-pager on the console-game scene in a selection of foreign countries is kinda neat.

Otherwise: This issue of EGM plays it pretty straight, and you're more likely to pick it up for all the exclusive coverage in it -- R&C, Spider-Man 3, Mushroom Kingdom Hearts (ho ho ho) and so forth. There's also a roundup preview feature covering Wii games that features some downright scary photography -- I heartily recommend going out of your way to look at it.


Nintendo Power April 2007

np-0704.jpg

Cover: MySims

NP is its usual treasure trove of first-looks this month, with six pages on MySims (which looks so darn cheery, I want to eat its little heart out...wait, that didn't come out right), five on Sega's Alien Syndrome, and little pieces on all manner of hitherto-unknown Wii and DS projects. Again, though, this issue's mainly about games, without much truly wacky going on in the writing...unless you count the letters section, which seems to have grown to four pages, a fact I enjoy greatly.

GamePro April 2007

gp-0704.jpg   gpl2-0704.jpg

Cover: Burnout 5, Guitar Hero II (Level-2 edition)

Well, GP is a pleasant surprise this month. This is the most packed issue of GamePro I've seen in a long time, and the editors seem to put it all together with ease, with only one or two noticeable blemishes (previewing God of War II when EGM's reviewing it this month, for example). The two main game features (the new Burnout and Bizarre Developments' The Club) are still kinda text heavy, but it's interesting text, filled with hum'rous sidebars and developers saying non-trivial things for a change.

What's more, I'm beginning to see the appeal of the "Opening Shots," the few pages up front which is nothing but really big game screenshots. When the screens are really cool, then the pages are incredibly eye-catching, and things work really well this month with a big shot of The Darkness where you're blowing some guy's head away. The "Spawn Point" news section is neat this month (main highlight being a young'un-friendly piece on what it's like to work at EA Tiburon -- wow, they got ping-pong tables and free video games!), and the feature-length interview with jack Tretton, while covering the same territory as EGM's last month, still entertains with its more "fun" approach.

All in all, this is the first issue of GP to really excite me in ages, and I'm glad the redesign seems to be re-energizing the editorial staff a fair bit. Keep it up!

Games for Windows: The Official Magazine April 2007 (Podcast)

gfw-0704.jpg

Cover: Unreal Tournament 3

This is the prettiest issue of GFW yet. The old Xbox Nation vibe is extremely strong in the design this time around, right down to the monotonized game-designer headshots and wildly experimental visual illustrations for each feature. I loves it.

The content ain't so bad either. Besides the games on the cover, there's a piece on professional online griefers (seriously?!!) and "Love + Hate," one of those roundups where the editors ask a bunch of game industry types what they like and dislike about their business. Brad McQuaid complains about long working hours, for example, and Warren Spector gets a whole page to go over all his loves and hates (mostly hate, doled out to everything from money to publishers and bad storylines).

Side note: This issue of GFW features the first advertorial page I've seen (on space RPG Genesis Rising) that actually included a by-line from a real person -- in this case, Scott Steinberg, which makes me wonder if the topic of advertorial-ing gets covered in the videogame writing style guide he co-authored.

cbmComputer Games April 2007

cgm-0704.jpg

Cover: Huxley, I guess? It's not immediately obvious with all those big-sized coverlines if you don't know the game in the first place.

CGM CGMs away as only CGM can this month, giving out the preview/review game features but seemingly devoting most of its efforts to the news-y pieces, this time devoted to in-game advertising, cheaters vs. cheater-killers, and the legend -- nay, myth -- of Derek Smart. (If you haven't heard of him, read CGM, it's quite funny.)

Beckett Spotlight: Cheat Codes Issue #16

beckettcheats16.jpg

Cover: Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

And Beckett Becketts away as only Beckett can this month, too, reviewing two-month-old games and not having any paid advertising pages. I'm impressed at how they do it at times.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He's also an editor at Newtype USA magazine.]