"A preservation of the shady side of the 90s internet in Japan"
January 27, 2020 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Game Urara (ゲームウララ) was a Japanese magazine focused on underground gaming culture (and BBSes and fetish material and warez and hacking and piracy) with a short lifespan of just five issues in the mid-1990s. The content could be described in one word: Madness. Every issue of Game Urara is available online at the Internet Archive [NSFW].
Picture yourself in mid-90s Japan, Tokyo. After hearing rumors from your friend about a supposed magical device that would allow you to play “virtually every single Super Famicom game,” you take an interest in hunting down said device and pay a visit to a shady part of Akihabara that you know of. Within these suspicious stores, you come across a row of magazines with attractive ladies on the covers and huge, bold text with too good to be true claims of a CD-ROM with “every Super Famicom game” and game copying devices called Magicoms. Without realizing it, you’ve discovered the world of the underground gaming community.

Boasting more than 200 pages in each volume, Game Urara was infamous for its off-kilter presentation with absolutely no filter. Even though it remained in obscurity after its quick demise in 1996, it’s still remembered fondly by those who managed to read it back then.
[...]
The magazine quickly transitions from casual discussions of video games and guides, to borderline illegal practices of suspicious “drug” dealings, piracy, hacking, and whatever of illegal interest found in the communities back then. It’s genuinely a bizarre sight as among the innocent video game content lies disturbing articles and ads, such as Mr. Kurosawa’s (of Hong Kong 97 infamy) shock value section, and advertisements for an extremely bizarre “do it at home” foreskin removal tool. (Yes, you read that right.) This magazine did not attempt to sugar-coat gore, scat, and other bizarre paraphilia, and neither did it try to filter its advertisements.

We want to share a few of the most intriguing parts of the magazines here, to help guide you through the madness that is Game Urara.
posted by youarenothere (12 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Slightly related to this post.

I really wish that gaming magazines were a bit more common in 2020. I know you can still pick up PC Gamer, Game Informer, and a few others. But I miss that golden era of gaming magazines. A lot of the content and content producers have had to shift to online gaming sites that larger corporations now own. So you lose out on the heart and uniqueness of a specific magazine/-zine.

This is fascinating stuff and I look forward to poking around a bit when I'm now on an office machine. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Fizz at 1:55 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Oh my god I live for this sort of archeological gem. Thank you.
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:45 PM on January 27


I know you can still pick up PC Gamer

Back when it was 200+ pages. Those were the days.
posted by Beholder at 4:46 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Huh, that's much better quality than the description lead me to expect. I was thinking more like a shabby zine or something.
posted by sotonohito at 6:00 PM on January 27


Agreed, Fizz. EGM was so fun during the first 30 issues or so. I think I enjoyed reading it almost more than playing the games.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 6:04 PM on January 27


Ah, game "backup" systems and porno, those were the days.
posted by Reyturner at 6:12 PM on January 27


Thanks for posting! I remember visiting mid-90s Akihabara with great fondness, so I’m struggling to decide if I was missing out that I had never heard of this magazine or that I had dodged a bullet. Shock porn aside, it seems like it would have been a lot of fun to read.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 6:44 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


The articles about removing mosaics in porn images really remind me of scenes in 'The Naked Director', a Japanese series on Netflix about the porn industry in the '80s. They show kids using margarine or butter to rub on the magazines to try to get rid of the mosaics. I have a feeling that those techniques were about as effective as the ones described in this magazine.
posted by Quonab at 8:29 PM on January 27


The articles about removing mosaics in porn images really remind me of scenes in 'The Naked Director', a Japanese series on Netflix about the porn industry in the '80s.

I used to play so many of these terrible games (and there were so many...way too many...as well as porn mahjong) just out of curiosity when I ran across a rom of them. The design and music choices were all so fascinating. They really were the peak grime that this magazine embodies.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:32 AM on January 28


Fizz: I know you can still pick up PC Gamer

Beholder: Back when it was 200+ pages. Those were the days.

WIRED used to be the scale of a proper book, in the infancy of the internet. I think bigger tech magazines were from the period when there were far fewer websites. See also: the period when it was viable to run a for-pay video game phone line.

From what I recall, fansites (and BBSes, and random FTPs) captured some of this sort of Everything And The Kitchen Sink fanaticism, in addition to this grey area information, but you had to know how to find them, so their reach wasn't as good as published materials. And because of that, there were more marketing dollars going to print materials, instead of websites, which in turn supported bigger (and more) magazines.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on January 28


Thanks, now I need to call my mum to ask whether my old Amiga Power issues are still stored in the attic and whether she can bring them over next time she visits.
posted by Captain Fetid at 8:12 AM on January 28


From what I recall, fansites (and BBSes, and random FTPs) captured some of this sort of Everything And The Kitchen Sink fanaticism

http://www.textfiles.com/
posted by mikelieman at 9:18 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


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