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Games TM eMag Volume 01 mini-review (plus PROTIP!)


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Discussing the Games TM e-Mag in the Shoutbox recently, KiwiArcader's comment about poor quality had me wondering. Everything I had viewed was more than adequate in terms of compression and resolution.

So I decided to take a closer look.

If you're unfamiliar, this so-called "e-Mag" is a DVD with the first 50 issues of Games TM stored in PDF format, along with a front-end program which essentially acts as an middleman before loading your PDF reader. Standard fare for these types of compilations, really.

The front-end provides launch links to view the "Whole Issue" or to perform a "Quick Search." Quick Search is really just a convenient series of menus, with magazine content sorted by type, then by issue number or alphabetically, etc. Once you find what you're looking for, you're thrown to your PDF reader to read the actual article.

Owning the DVD for a short while, I've been using Quick Search to browse the contents of the DVD, including covers for RetroMags indexing purposes.

But today, while exploring further, I loaded up a "Whole Issue" PDF and - ugh - what a mess. Now I understand completely, KiwiArcader!

Here are some visual comparisons:



As you can see, Quick Search content is far superior to Whole Issue content in terms of image quality.

Unfortunately, entire issues are not available via Quick Search - reviewing issue 001, approximately 3/4ths of the issue exists in high-res. Most of the missing material is largely innocuous (contents page, some art pages, next issue summary, contact information page, etc), but still disappointing.

Quick Search organization isn't perfect, either. I noticed a number of articles - clearly attributed to issue 001 - not actually found in the whole issue. (This could be a case of the whole issue not being whole - page numbering actually reflects this - but there is a great deal of overlap with the limbo articles, so I suspect they actually reside in other issues.)

I also noticed the Quick Search PDF of issue 004's news section uses the lower quality res as found within the whole issue. This is the only instance of Quick Search and low quality I've found, but I'm worried more may exist.

So the point of this little essay?

1) Don't assume a digital magazine collection is going to provide the best possible quality, even if it should.

2) PROTIP: If you intend to buy or already own this DVD, pull the Quick Search PDFs from the disc for best quality.

3) Buyer beware. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Imagine Publishing also offers Retro Gamer via e-Mag, but I believe less issues are collected per disc. If this is the case, I very much hope the quality is improved.

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In answer to the quality on Retro Gamer compilation DVD's ..... NO!!! The quality is just as substandard for the PDF as the Games tm disc.

What they have done is store and use higher quality individual article pages for the quick search feature. Doing this keeps the whole mag PDF down size wise and not having good and bad quality images mixed in together. I merged the quick search pages into the PDFs manually as described by RetroDefense above ages ago and while it makes them somewhat more bearable it really still renders them mediocre as far as I am concerned. Added to that they have stripped out all the advertising content and replaced it with "E-Mag" filler pages which is a cardinal sin.

In my mind every issue of Games tm from #01 to 83 needs to be scanned for preservation purposes. 84 onwards are available in proper digital versions from the iTunes store and appear to be 100% complete.

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