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orthicviper

magazine vs. magazine - comparing the good and the bad of various magazines

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orthicviper    6

I want to get some of your opnions on what might have been the best VG magazine and what were some bad things about some of them. I'll start with my own opinions.

Game Players: A hilarious magazine!

Nintendo Power

Pros: Frequently gave stats on which games had password or battery save features (i wouldn't buy most games without these features). Sometimes the information was wrong about which gaves lacked saving, though.

Cons: Excessive crap. ~14 pages of comics, celebrity interviews, etc. Often wouldn't even give a new game release one picture's worth of mention.

GamePro: Subscribed to it for a year but not sure anymore what stands out about it. I guess it's reviews were a little more detailed than EGM's but I'm not sure. April Fools issues were cool.

EGM: Don't remember any standout features or lack thereof.

Diehard GameFan: Wikipedia says the screenshots were higher quality in this mag because of the paper. I don't remember this myself. If its true they should have advertised that fact as if I would have realized this I might have even chose it over Game Players.

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orthicviper    6

I'll also add the bias of Nintendo Power. At least for me they seemed too favorable of their own games. I guess that is to be expected. But for me they lied about Mortal Kombat. They acted like it was just as gory as the arcade version. They never once mentioned the removal of blood from the game (from what i could tell). The replacement censored fatalities were described as some all new finishing moves that were exclusive and cool.

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TheRon    1

Well, I have to say if anyone has any interest in retro games, or the history of the industry, then Retro Gamer is a must-read. They are a fantastic source on the games of old and don't just stick to the things that we're all already familiar with.

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RetroDefense    136

Yeah, early Game Players - before the reboot - were really dull, actually. Drab, uninspired layouts with blurry screenshots and boring game commentary. They were rarely critical of anything.

But they did cover lots of games equally, and were cheap, so I'd usually read them after reading everything else I could get hold of. Lots of nostalgia there. :)

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Anthony1    11

Here is how I rank the best USA mags of the early 90's

Tier 1

1. DieHard GameFan (Dave Halverson Era) - Late 92 to 98 ish ? - say what you will about all the Halverson related drama and everything else, these issues take me back to the time and place better than anything I can think of. Each page just dripping with color. Lots of spelling errors, gramatical errors, etc, etc, but true love for gaming. They scored games way too high, but other than that, much love.

2. Next-Generation - 1995 to 2000 - Next-Gen was a really good magazine for it's time. Unfortunately, it got started when the Genesis and SNES were old news, and everybody was interested in the Playstation and Saturn. If only Next-Gen hard started a number of years earlier. Still, no magazine was better at hyping up a future game than Next-Gen. Also, they would have great, insightful interviews, and they covered the industry battle better than anybody.

Tier 2

3. EGM - The Early Years Pre-1995 - I prefer EGM in the early years. The thing is, EGM is both great and bad. The great, was the fact that they broke info before any other magazine, and pre-internet, that was freaking HUGE. I'm talking HUGE. You found out about amazing new hardware and games, in EGM before any other magazine. (Starting in 1993, I'd say GameFan was neck and neck with them in getting the most up to the minute news in their issues). The 4 man review format was a great idea. The only thing that sucked with EGM, was the previews section. They basically wasted a bunch of space with nothing but PR drivel from the back of the box.

4. GamePro - The Early Years Pre-1995 - I really have a soft spot in my heart for GamePro. GamePro was the first video game magazine I really got into, in late 1989. I didn't really know much about video game magazines prior to that. GamePro was obviously geared to the younger set, but I still thought it was a decent mag. I'm actually a huge fan of some of the cover art by Francis Mao

5. Video Games & Computer Entertainment - The Andy Eddy years - You know, it's crazy to think that I would rank VG & CE so low at No.5 overall. It's almost disrespectful to do such a crazy thing. VG & CE is such a damn fine magazine. A real class act. The only thing is, I was buying VG & CE's back in the day, and while I really liked the mag, one thing that really bothered me was that the spent so many pages of the magazine on computer game coverage, and I didn't own any computer during the early 90's, and could care less about all the computer stuff. Sometimes I'd read some of the computer previews or reviews if the game looked particularly interesting, but I mostly considered all of that waste of precious space that could have been used on console games. The other thing about VG & CE, don't look to them for breaking news. They normally took their time with stuff, and they weren't that concerned with what was going on in Japan at the time.

Tier 3

6. Game Players - Mid 90's era - I actually like the later version of Game Players a bit better than the super early version of the late 80's and really early 90's. The super early ones had super cheap paper, and they were just kinda boring overall. I mean, they were ok, but it was the least exciting magazine of the ones on the USA magazine racks of the time. Once the Chris Slate era started up in earnest, it became a solid magazine.

7. Super NES Buyers Guide - At first, I wanted to write off this magazine as just a cash in by EGM. They just cut out some SNES coverage from EGM and resell it. But actually, after looking at the issues more and more, it seems to be a bit more than that. For example, it has reviews of SNES games that were bypassed for one reason or another in EGM proper. So you get some move reviews to look at. The previews and stuff are in more depth. I give Super NES Buyers Guide it's props

8. Mega Play Magazine - Much of what I said about the SNES Buyer's Guide rings true with Mega Play. You'd assume it to be an EGM cash in on Sega stuff, but it's actually a bit better than that.

9. Sega Visions - Sega Visions is pretty lame overall, if you really think about it, but at the same time, it has a nice nostalgic factor to me. I remember a bunch of those early issues fondly.

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KiwiArcader    471

No USA mags can hold a candle to the likes of the Brit mags Computer & Video Games, Edge & Arcade from a content or layout perspective other than the fact they beat the crap out of everyone else's mags for the sheer volume of advertising content.

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twiztor    100

Nintendo Power always has, and always will be my go-to source for information on NES games. their connection with Nintendo gave out "insider info" before the other mags regarding future projects, and they always worked to hype upcoming games. it always worked on me.

granted, they were always biased towards big N games, but they legitimately were always among the best.

also, it was my first exposure to gaming mags, so it holds a special place in my heart. i loved the "excessive crap" and looked forward to checking out the comics, power rankings, etc.

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E-Day    699

If I would judge them based on reading them for the first time now, I would probably rate VG&CE at the top. But rating them as someone who has read them in the past, GamePro is my number one. Most of that is nostalgia and remembering how much I enjoyed reading a new issue. Luckily I started reading it with the January 1992 issue. By then the writing wasn't as dreadful as it was during the first couple of years. It was still geared to younger readers, but I was fine with that since I was a younger reader. Needless to day I read it until late 1995, when everything shifted to the ugly 32-bit games.

Though I didn't read it as a kid, I would put VG&CE as number two. I like how they laid out the pages, as well as the writing. I put it above EGM, which I read growing up, but only in the summer when I needed more to do, and around Christmas because no one made a thicker magazine than they did. I liked their early access to games, but everything else was just okay. I wasn't a fan of their short, often poorly written reviews. They didn't give you any real details about a game, though four opinions was interesting. And I was never crazy about half the magazine being previews of games that were mostly screenshots.

I lived in a small small town, so magazine selection was very limited. I think GamePro was the only one you could find in the town and in the next one in the early 90s, so that is how I started reading it. If it were another magazine that was the only one to be found, chances are I would be speaking of it the way I speak of GamePro.

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ArcaneSylph    10

Ooooooh, I LIKE this thread! Let's keep it alive.

Here is how I rank the best USA mags of the early 90's

(insert detailed list here)

Interesting choices! I'd put the reboot version of Game Players (the Slate era and the year or two before Slate took over as EIC) in Tier 2, though. It had a lot of personality and generally good writing. GameFan's Golden Era was definitely Volume 4 and early Volume 5. I also really like Next Generation, and it's probably a testament to their writing that they rank so high. For example, Game Players and GameFan were great magazines, but I also remember them for their writers and their personalities. Next Generation was one of the magazines that did not say who wrote what article or review (unless said writer was a guest star columnist), so the entire magazine felt like a single, official sounding voice rather than a ragtag group of game journalists and enthusiasts. And their voice was appealing. Had it not been, the magazine would have crumbled sooner.

Also, yeah, GameFan DID score games too high (Bubsy 3D, Metal Head for the 32X, and several others...). Their enthusiasm made them hard to hate, though. A shame that some of Halverson's high scores in Play Magazine were accompanied by petty scorn directed towards other reviewers (the prime example being Golden Axe: Beast Rider). GameFan definitely was a good source for Japanese game news.

On a side note, am I a bit odd for thinking of GameFan as a Nega GamePro? They both had aliases for their writers, GameFan loved RPGs while GamePro generally shrugged them off, GamePro was very child-friendly while GameFan was a bit edgier, both magazines are fairly polarizing, from what I've read (you either love or hate them)...it might just be me, though.

Oh, and awesome first post, Anthony.

Edited by ArcaneSylph

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roushimsx    10

I have a strong personal preference for PC Gamer US because of their generally consistent scope/depth/tone for covering the PC gaming scene. Their layouts were great and even at their worst, they were still generally better than what the other mags were doing. Computer Gaming World and Computer Games Strategy Plus (later Computer Games Magazine) were equally fantastic resources, but paled in comparison for readability and personality. CGSP in particular was just way too messy with how the reviews/previews rambled together without proper page breaks, and CGW, while containing a hell of a lot of awesome text, was really plain for most of its run. PC Gamer just nailed it so hard from the get go and even after a few design missteps, always remained interesting and easily digestible. Picked up a couple of international issues when I visited various countries and it was always fun to see that same format with new content.

What little I've read of PC Games and Computer Game Review put them somewhere between Computer Games Strategy Plus and PC Gamer, feeling like a midpoint for the two styles. Really would like to dive into them more when I have more time/space.

Echoing the love for Next Generation for making deeper industry content accessible. The interviews were the main hook for me on that one, but there were just so many terrific articles about emerging trends and the direction of the industry that rarely fell prey to the same levels of shilling that some of the more base publications of the time succumbed to.

GameFan was a favorite for screenshots and flashly layouts, but it tried too hard to hype up import titles that weren't always worth hyping. The upside of their unbridled enthusiasm for import gaming (maybe, maybe not related to running an import business that they advertised in the magazine) was that they gave coverage to a whole hell of a lot of stuff that never got any real coverage elsewhere. Those pages are a goldmine for under the radar gems that would later become cult classics.

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Anthony1    11

No USA mags can hold a candle to the likes of the Brit mags Computer & Video Games, Edge & Arcade from a content or layout perspective other than the fact they beat the crap out of everyone else's mags for the sheer volume of advertising content.

Wasn't Next-Generation just a USA version of EDGE for a number of years ? I've always wanted to get my hands on the issues of EDGE that were available before Next-Generation got up and running. Unfortunately, the cost of shipping has killed any deals I've seen on getting some of those early EDGE issues.

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