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Looking Back With Virtual Boy Tinted Glasses
September 4, 2012 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Do Go On - A tumblr celebration of totally rad 90s video game magazines [via mefi projects]
posted by The Whelk (42 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
remember when things were cool and it was okay to be unselfconsciously enthusiastic

on an unrelated note, about how long is it gonna take everyone who is between 25-35 now to die off
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:53 AM on September 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


You still have that METALLICA logo you carved with a dud ballpoint pen into the cover of your maths duotang, don't you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:57 AM on September 4, 2012


Nintendo Knitting Machine? WANT.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:01 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Based on his pose, this gentleman seems like he should be a scantily clad female superhero. Spines are not meant to do that.
posted by brundlefly at 12:02 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


<3!
posted by griphus at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


This, of course, alludes to you:
"on an unrelated note, about how long is it gonna take everyone who is between 25-35 now to die off"
About ten years more than it will take everyone who is 15-25 to die off. Trust me, those 5-15 year olds are just waiting for that.
posted by charred husk at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there some time period in history that has better video game magazines? Aren't video game magazines exactly as terrible as safety magazines ("featuring Superman!") only better read due to the fact that it gave you a game fix at times when you couldn't actually play (i.e. in church)?
posted by DU at 12:05 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Also, if anyone, anyone at all can explain to me this headline, I will be forever thankful. So far all I've got is "UK magazines were raunchier than their US counterparts," which certainly beat my theory of "there's a famous UK skier named Percival Dickwad, maybe" but still doesn't explain it.
posted by griphus at 12:06 PM on September 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know if I should be happy or sad that I am now too old for people to want me to die off.
posted by DU at 12:06 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there some time period in history that has better video game magazines?

Do you mean that as in "they've been the same quality all along" or "this was the best era for video game magazines"?

The (few remaining) rags we have today are better in a lot of ways, mainly in that they're not inherently shooting for the teenage boy market (BOOBS! FARTS!), the video game companies are a lot more cooperative, and the layouts are done by professionals with experience.

Look back at some magazines from the 90s and you'll see "screenshots" of new arcade machines that are clearly photos of the screen. Like, they're cropped to look like a screenshots, but they're obviously photos because either the magazine didn't have the PR connections or resources to get actual screenshots, or because the publishing house was just "who the fuck are these guys?"

In the 1990s desktop publishing was just taking off, and you can really see that reflected in the design of the magazines: unreadable text because of typeface/background pictures, different resolutions of picture next to each other, all sorts of really just amateur-hour issues. Which is okay, because most of these were made by young people with not a lot of experience.

So there's really a specific form of earnestness to the 90s magazines that the ones from previous years lack, especially when the market was healthy enough to support a whole bevy of publications.
posted by griphus at 12:14 PM on September 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


@charred husk

i've turned old enough to drink. to death

...wait
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:15 PM on September 4, 2012


Apparently ASCIIpads have the power to turn you into a kind of New Wave Harvey Dent
posted by The Whelk at 12:19 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy shit radical dudes need to make a comeback in things.

D4V3 1S TH1S YOU
posted by emmtee at 12:52 PM on September 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Look back at some magazines from the 90s and you'll see "screenshots" of new arcade machines that are clearly photos of the screen. Like, they're cropped to look like a screenshots, but they're obviously photos because either the magazine didn't have the PR connections or resources to get actual screenshots, or because the publishing house was just "who the fuck are these guys?"

How else are they supposed to get screenshots in the 80s/early 90s? They couldn't exactly slap Printscreen in MAME.

IMO, this made those "game maps" they often included in Nintendo Power extra impressive. Dozens of photographs, collaged together!
posted by neckro23 at 1:00 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Also, if anyone, anyone at all can explain to me this headline, I will be forever thankful. So far all I've got is "UK magazines were raunchier than their US counterparts," which certainly beat my theory of "there's a famous UK skier named Percival Dickwad, maybe" but still doesn't explain it.

It's a Terminator joke.
posted by zamboni at 1:04 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


How else are they supposed to get screenshots in the 80s/early 90s?

By contacting the publisher or dev, who can just hit printscreen. Easier said than done, of course.
posted by griphus at 1:13 PM on September 4, 2012


Who has this hanging in their closet? Fess up.
posted by dortmunder at 1:13 PM on September 4, 2012


...the video game companies are a lot more cooperative...

Cooperative? I've always just assumed that they were basically funded, if not written, by the game companies. Haven't we seen that time and again with game review websites?
posted by DU at 2:04 PM on September 4, 2012


griphus, yes, but that brought us a step closer to the cozy relationship that game magazines/sites and studios have today, in which the companies have a lot of power over the press, through their ability to pull resources, leads and advertising away from them, to the extent that I'm starting to feel like I shouldn't even call it "journalism." Remember when GameSpot fired a long-time reviewer because he didn't give a sufficently glowing review to Kane & Lynch? That's only the visible roach; piles of them lurk hidden in the walls. I'm sick to death of mainstream game journalism, not just for that reason, but it's a big one.

Is there some time period in history that has better video game magazines?

Back in the classic era (that's pre-1984 you whippersnappers) there were some quite interesting magazines, like Electronic Games. My personal favorite is Joystik, which is admittedly hard to read sometimes with its day-glow, CRT-mimicing art design, but which interviewed real arcade champions and revealed their actual strategies. It didn't last long, but what there was was great and worth scouring the internet to find archives.
posted by JHarris at 2:12 PM on September 4, 2012


I've always just assumed that they were basically funded, if not written, by the game companies.

There's official magazines -- your Nintendo Powers and Sega Visions and so on -- and unofficial magazines -- your EGMs and GamePros. The official magazines are basically the propaganda arm of the company; they'll rarely give poor reviews to first-party titles (if anyone at all) and have much deeper access to company documents, and news. The unofficial magazines (technically) aren't beholden to anyone but the publisher (and, in turn, whoever is advertising the magazine.) So, they can give a bad review to anyone they want. They can say that a certain piece of hardware sucks. They can complain about anti-competitive practices.

And they did all these things! Sometimes! The problem is that if you piss off a game publisher, they'll stop being cooperative; you're not the only game in town, after all, and they can just take their business (read: ads) elsewhere. But that goes both ways: my childhood favorite magazine, VideoGames, was published by Larry Flynt, who probably had more money than many of the game publishers appearing in the magazine. So there was a back-and-forth. There was a lot of shady stuff going on though. If you take a look at early-90s magazines, you'll actually see 4, 5, 6-page spreads layed out to look exactly like magazine content, but say "advertising" in wee tiny letters at the bottom.
posted by griphus at 2:15 PM on September 4, 2012


Someone reach out to K Gillen about Dickwad. P sure he didn't work for that saturn mag (and my chum who worked for Future says it wasn't a Future thing) but someone must know about Richard Wad.
posted by subbes at 2:20 PM on September 4, 2012


I give you an A for effort but that was pretty crappy IMO you left out all great games except Phantasy Star and threw OJ Simpson in there?
posted by jestingfan at 2:27 PM on September 4, 2012


Also, keep in mind that they were reviewing expensive things that kids and teenagers (who have little-to-no disposable income) wanted, and targeted the review to the kids/teenagers. So if some 12-year-old reads a review of Superman 64 that says it's the best thing since pizza, and they ask for it for their birthday, or save their paper route money for months upon months, and get Superman 64 and it's godawful, there's a good chance they'll be reaching for someone else's magazine (and looking at someone else's ads) next time.
posted by griphus at 2:28 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone reach out to K Gillen about Dickwad. P sure he
this isn't scanning and I've re-read it like two times


also yeah what game magazines that remain are a lot less "lame" and amateurish but on the other hand there is no longer a video game magazine published by Larry Flynt
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:39 PM on September 4, 2012


K Gillen = Kieron Gillen, ex-New Games Journo and now working in comics
Dickwad = the skijumping ad from Saturn Mag that had "Dickwad" on it
P sure = "I'm pretty sure"

BASICALLY I want K Gillen to become Mefi's Own because of reasons and this is a good excuse.
posted by subbes at 2:48 PM on September 4, 2012


if i said "im p because reasons" would this be adequate to describe my plastic surgery
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:25 PM on September 4, 2012


Oh, God, Burn Cycle.
I found the game unplayable (but that could just be because I am not so good at PC games), but still listen to the soundtrack album on occasion.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:59 PM on September 4, 2012


Mister Moofoo: "Oh, God, Burn Cycle."

Ahem, it's spelled Burn:Cycle.

Show the CDi's only barely worthwhile game some respect.
posted by wcfields at 4:25 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


On griphus's ad pages pretending to be print, Electronic Games Monthly would do that for 16 page spreads.
posted by JHarris at 4:26 PM on September 4, 2012


All you youngsters can go ahead and be embarrassed (though I know you're not) for loving these rad magazines in the 90s, but for those of us who had their first adult paychecks around the same time, we bought all the crap they were advertising. It's so hard to try to sell gaming furniture 15 years later if you want to keep the console.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:40 PM on September 4, 2012


EA got mad as fuck at Database Publications/Europress when I only gave Populous (Amiga) an 80%. It had to be re-reviewed (got a glowing 90%+) before they'd calm down.

The difficulty with publisher-supplied images (which were most often supplied as trannies even up to the early 90s) was that they often showed retouched scenes from the most graphically-capable machine. If you were reviewing on a different platform, you knew that it wasn't right. A well-shot image from a good CRT beat the muddy TIFFs that we first started to put in — but the TIFFs were so much cheaper to include that they quickly won out.

We did have a hardware hacker that developed several screen buffer dumping add-ons. The first ones were a pain, as they crashed the machine as you got the image. If you were taking a series, you'd have to play the game to the right point each time, and restart after each picture. Often we'd have the cheat codes to make this a bit easier. Sometimes the publisher could get us copies of games quicker via cracking groups than their own PR people; more than once CRACKED BY QUARTEX had to be edited out of a game image ...
posted by scruss at 4:46 PM on September 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


I remember Burn:Cycle chiefly from early Comedy Central (nee comedy...channel?) days:

Don't you hate it when you go to see the golden buddha? And you pick the leaf with the virus on it?!
posted by CharlesV42 at 5:14 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The difficulty with publisher-supplied images (which were most often supplied as trannies even up to the early 90s)

These screenshots are offensive to transsexuals
posted by LogicalDash at 5:35 PM on September 4, 2012


"supplied as trannies"

wait what?

Oh, transparencies. Not people like me. Wow. That was confusing.
posted by egypturnash at 6:04 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


So many memories - although I stopped reading gaming mags by the '95 or so (went off to college in '96), thanks griphus!

dortmunder - Who has this hanging in their closet? Fess up.

I wish.

This reminds me of the phenomenon of ridiculously over-modded AR15s. I know there's a term for this but my google-fu is weak right now.
posted by porpoise at 7:20 PM on September 4, 2012


In the 1990s desktop publishing was just taking off, and you can really see that reflected in the design of the magazines: unreadable text because of typeface/background pictures, different resolutions of picture next to each other, all sorts of really just amateur-hour issues.

Every nineties issue of Wired ever....

Which is okay, because most of these were made by young people with not a lot of experience.

...but there it was design and style, rather than incompetence.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:55 PM on September 4, 2012


EA got mad as fuck at Database Publications/Europress when I only gave Populous (Amiga) an 80%.

And rightly so.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:03 AM on September 5, 2012


on an unrelated note, about how long is it gonna take everyone who is between 25-35 now to die off

Being 28 myself and unabashedly, unironically enthusiastic about a lot of things and knowing tons of others in that age group who are as well, this seems somewhat cruel.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:13 AM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


> And rightly so.

Not really. It was a decent enough game, and I only gave it 80% 'cos that was officially a "good review". Like all world-building games, it's pretty slow to get going.

Ah, now, Battle Squadron was well worth the 109% I gave it ...
posted by scruss at 6:52 AM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I owned 2 ASCIIpads for the Genesis. I did not acquire Radical Xtreme facial scars or tattoos. I feel cheated somehow.

(They were actually decent controllers for someone with crap fine motor skills at the time, along with an adjustable turbo button made things easier to play.)
posted by Hactar at 7:42 AM on September 5, 2012


It is the reviewer's job to determine a rating, and it should reflect only his opinion, not that of external factors. It is no crime not to like Populous; ideally, the reader would get an opinion of whether his opinion would align with that of the reviewer from reading the text of the article.

What's that you say? No one reads the text? Then no one deserves the damn information. You can't reduce the quality of a game to a simple number.
posted by JHarris at 6:56 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nintendo Knitting Machine? WANT.

RIGHT?? There must've been some kind of safety concerns. Or maybe the world wasn't ready for kids to make their own clothing by choice.

I don't know. I just like sitting here imagining an alternate universe where a kid's cool factor was determined partly by how awesome the clothes s/he made at home via their Nintendo were.

"Check it out! Jonny knitted a black and greenTMNT hoodie!"
posted by revmitcz at 10:43 PM on September 5, 2012


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