[Kevin Gifford's regular "What The (Game) Papers Say" roundups chronicle the world of video game magazines, this time looking at how mags get creative in the pre-E3 news lull.
Everyone could use a break, especially after finishing up a big project or two for my day job -- and not my "day job" of chasing ferrets around, either. And so this week's column is being broadcast to you from lovely Austin, TX, as crows fly around and my dog chases after them.
Magazines may not be my primary focus at this exact moment, but that's all right, because things are relatively slow in the game industry -- not too many big games coming out, things in that pre-E3 lull in terms of preview coverage. Regardless, here's what the magazines of the past fortnight have provided to us:
Game Informer May 2010
Coverage-wise, this is a bit of an interesting one. There are four features inside -- Bulletstorm, Avalanche's Toy Story 3 licensed game, Dead Rising 2's co-op mode, and F.E.A.R. 3 -- and while none of them are absolutely mind-blowing in terms of original content, all four are very lovingly designed and written. It belies a renewed effort at GI, I suppose, to get into the stories behind games instead of relying on really flashy cover stories...at least, it seems that way from my external perspective. Then again, maybe it's just Pre-E3 Syndrome afoot.
The Toy Story one, in particular, is interesting because it takes a look behind an endeavor, the merchandising-license game, that is even more fraught with risk than traditional game development -- after reading it, I almost felt sympathy for the developers willing to take up such a seemingly thankless challenge.
Edge May 2010
GI gave just a bit of coverage up front to the Move and other revelations from the Game Developers Conference, but Edge takes a more proactive approach this month, putting the Move on the cover and talking with folks like Shuhei Yoshida about what makes the thing important and why it's not just another me-too move from Sony.
More interesting in my eyes, though, is the Resident Evil 4 feature hinted at in the cover. Edge has a bit of history with this game, having written one of the best preview features I'd seen about it back in 2004, and their post-post-partum look back on it this month -- fueled with lots of commentary from Shinji Mikami -- is quite a sight.
PC Zone May 2010
Just Cause 2
Like a ninja in the night or a stray cat in the morning, PC Zone has apparently returned to Texan store shelves. I'm happy for it, because this issue features the usual humorous slant on the field it covers, including a piece on Dungeon Keeper 3 and other famously-cancelled titles of the past.
This is the first issue released since the Audit Bureau to Circulations revealed the magazine's average circulation in 2009 to be 11,357, which is pretty dang low even by British standards. The editors comment on this in a tiny paragraph in a corner of the contents section: "Are you there, readers? Is this thing on? Why are you leaving us, in your thousands? Is it something we said? Because we can change, readers. We'll be whatever you want us to be. Please just tell us, just talk to us. We love you, you fickle bastards." Awww.
Nintendo Power May 2010
Super Mario Galaxy 2
It's not the most exciting time of the year for the Wii, the review well constituting a whopping four games this month -- Monster Hunter 3 gets a four-page review as a result, although it's not an undeserved one. The previews and features take center stage in May as a result, with SMG2 leading, Shantae and Arc Rise Fantasia following, and even a couple pages devoted to a developer look back at Zelda: Spirit Tracks, a game that came out a third of a year ago.
I can't complain, but man, I can't help but be reminded of the sorta things we had to do to fill up pages in Newtype on months when nobody released any new (legal) anime into the market. Hang in there, gentlemen!
[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]