JoyStik: How to Win at Video Games is a magazine primarily devoted to arcade games, although coverage of home systems gradually increased in later issues. Its extremely unique approach to content and design, coupled with its relative rarity, makes it arguably the most sought-after classic-era title in the US marketplace.
Similar to Electronic Games, which was spun off of Video magazine, JoyStik got its beginnings from the success of another publication. In JoyStik's case, the title served as a continuation of several one-off arcade strategy books published by Consumer Guide magazine in 1982, including How to Win at Video Games, How to Win at Pac-Man, How to Win at Donkey Kong, and Pac-Mania!. The "How to Win at Video Games" logo would wind up appearing on all but the last three issues of JoyStik.
The basic structure of How to Win at Video Games wound up dictating JoyStik's design to a large degree. Every feature in JoyStik is structured largely the same: first, a two-page graphic spread to introduce the game, a thorough introduction to play screens and controls, and finally a detailed strategy guide.
It was the design of JoyStik that set it apart from the rest, however. In addition to the frequent use of screenshots (back when taking clear screenshots was often an arduous task), the magazine featured singularly bright and flashy art throughout, often enhanced with an airbrushed luminous effect to make everything appear as if it were in a video game. This stereotypically '80s art style is completely unique to US game magazines, and only contemporary Japanese titles like Beep took this extremely free-thinking approach to visual design.
Despite this, though, the magazine was never very popular and went de-facto quarterly in early 1983 as the early signs of the video-game crash began to make themselves known. Only ten issues were published (and two of those are primarily composed of reprinted material), but the modern demand for JoyStik is such that copies in good condition regularly go for $20-30 on eBay.