dorchadas: (For the Horde!)
When I was young, my parents bowed to my pleading and got me a subscription to Nintendo Power. I got on the hype train pretty early, around issue #9, and most of the cover articles were on the games you'd expect--Mega Man II, Super Mario Brothers III, Tetris, Ninja Gaiden II, Final Fantasy, and all the games that have stood the test of time. There was one game that doesn't quite fit in to that hallowed pantheon, however, that still got a cover and lit a fire in the imagination of young me: Metal Storm.

Check out those high-rez explosions too.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Not the Tale)

I don't actually remember how I heard about Kinfolk originally, but I started following them on Twitter months ago and heard them talking about the Japan issue and that got me hooked. I devoured the whole thing in less than an hour, and then immediately went to [ profile] softlykarou and asked her if we could subscribe. And we did, and the Aged issue came...and then I let it sit for a while, because I have to admit that the concept didn't grab me quite as much as the Japan issue did. Then I read it today.

It's a mix. There's recipes, like this lamb shepherd's pie recipe that [ profile] softlykarou made that was absolutely fantastic, because I'm not a huge fan of mashed potatoes even though I'll tolerate them on shepherd's pie because it's so tasty, and with this recipe I don't have to worry about that at all. There's photo series like this one about centenarians' hands or this one about glaciers. There's short articles, like one about preserving or curing foods or or one about Shaker crafts or one about how your tastes change with age.

I know that last one's true, because just in the last few years I've grown to like onions, which [ profile] softlykarou always used to have to leave out of everything because I hated them; beets, especially when they're pickled; and olives, though black ones are still a stretch. That last one is especially worrisome for [ profile] softlykarou, because of the How I Met Your Mother rule about olives in relationships.

The one thing bothers me is that none of the articles are more than a two-page spread unless they're recipes, where you might sometimes get a photo and an interview with the chef, or photo essays. I'd really like if there were more long-form articles--or "longreads," I suppose is the current parlance--but I guess that has the benefit that any of the articles I didn't really care about were over pretty quickly.

The Lost Art of Reading Aloud especially stuck with me because for the last year or so, I've been intermittently reading The Lord of the Rings aloud to [ profile] softlykarou, and I'm noticing a lot of stuff that I hadn't noticed before even when I've read it probably a dozen times. It's more obvious how much the language changes from being similar to The Hobbit to being similar to The Silmarillion. Some of the subtle humor in the character interactions. It probably helps that I'm using different voices for different characters, which [ profile] softlykarou has commented on as being something she really enjoys.

I was also surprised by just how much I liked sitting down with an actual paper magazine in my hands to read it. The new magazine smell, the feel of the paper, the way the light glints of the magazine gloss... I've almost entirely switched over to ebook and PDF since I got an iPad, because the convenience of being able to carry almost all of my RPG collection plus a small library around in my satchel is just too high, but I definitely enjoyed the act of reading the Aged issue more than I liked the Japan issue even though I liked the content of the Japan issue better.

Man, I really am a hipster.
dorchadas: (Not the Tale)
Well, in PDF form.

Occasionally for the last few months, I've been trying to find a copy of a magazine that I remember reading over and over again when I was young. Unfortunately, I didn't really remember much about it, and while I do remember that my family subscribed to PC Gamer, Dragon Magazine, and Nintendo Power at various times, I went through the digital archives that are variously maintained online, but I couldn't find anything. I even checked Electronic Gaming Monthly but that didn't turn up anything either. It wasn't until last night that my brain dug up a random memory that a magazine existed called "Computer Gaming World," so I started poking around it's own archive. I originally checked 1993-1995, and it wasn't anywhere in there, and then I started going back earlier and I found this:

I remember I read that magazine over and over, because this was back in the day before I could find all of the gaming news I wanted for free on the internet. I remember thinking a lot of it sounded amazing, but I had no idea how to get a hold of most of those games and didn't want to ask my parents for anything that couldn't be found in a store. The only two games I ever acquired from mail order were Castle of the Winds 2: Lifthransir's Bane, which is an awesome mouse-based dungeon-crawler that's now freely distributable, and Aethra Chronicles, which was a party-based RPG using Rolemaster--I think the only CRPG that used Rolemaster. Which is somewhat odd, because Rolemaster would work way better on a computer that can easily calculate all those critical hit tables than with a GM that has to flip pages all the time.

Huh. Random aside, if you want to hack off people's limbs Rolemaster-style in your d20 games, I found this webpage.

Anyway, here are my observations after having paged through it for the first time in nearly two decades.
  • Advertising - There are a ton of ads in here. I'd estimate that at least 50% of the page space is taken up with ads and it might be even more. Having used adblockers for most of a decade at this point, I sometimes forget exactly how saturated with ads the internet actually is and how much old magazines were similarly ad-filled. And modern magazines, I guess, since that's a common complaint leveled against fashion magazines. On the other hand, when there were a lot fewer ways to learn about games, I was more tolerant of them. Some of those ads even now make me curious about the games, and at least one of them was effective--I ended up buying Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, and the CD is sitting on my desk even now. Also, the way the ads talk about the games hasn't changed all that much. Everything is the most awesome graphics, advanced AI, and heart-pounding gameplay that has ever existed, and then there are pictures of blocky pixels killing other blocky pixels.

  • Proto-MMOs - Those and play-by-mail strategy games. There are a lot of ads for them in here. Stuff like The Shadow of Yserbius or Star Quest or The Hundred Years War or Portinium or The Next Empire or Legends of Future Past or The Island of Kesmai. I guess that makes sense, because putting ads in computer gaming publications was probably the best way for them to get new players.

  • The Hundred Years War - I put a link above because apparently HYW is still going--or was pretty recently--and reading the webpage I can kind of see why. It seems like a proto-Crusader Kings II crossed with an MMO. There's an article in the magazine (starting page 146) that talks about playing it and mentions that each player takes the role of a noble in Hundred Years War-era France or England and then is statted out with various traits and characteristics like glutton. Also, it was real-time--each turn was one day of real time for 90 days of in-game time, and if you didn't log in one day, you might come back to find you'd been assassinated, your family killed (which was bad, because if your character died and you had an heir, you could keep playing), and your lands laid waste. This in the era of dial-up.

  • Origin - On page 176, there's an article about EA's acquisition of Origin. I know a lot of people were annoyed at EA's Origin downloader because they view EA as a murderer that killed Wing Commander and Ultima and stripped Origin's corpse before dumping it by the roadside. I was never really into Wing Commander--I was an X-Wing player--and haven't beaten any of the Ultima games, but I've seen enough complaining on the internet that it's interesting finding this article buried at the end of the magazine.

  • Filler - In the first half of the magazine, there's a review of The Legend of Kyrandia and then in the second half, there's a "Game Hints" section on the same game that repeats a lot of the basic information. I remember that even at the time I thought this was kind of silly and that they should have combined them into a single article. Also, I already mentioned how many ads are in here.

  • Scathing Reviews - The review of The Dark Half on page 58 is pretty funny because the reviewer really rips into it. With all the worry nowadays about how game reviews are just ads for the industry, it's nice to see an extremely critical review in a vintage publication. And the magazine has enough ads already, so making the articles ads would have just been too much.

  • The JetpackVR Future - On page 80, there's an article titled "Affordable VR by 1994," and it's completely hilarious to read in hindsight now that VR headsets are only really becoming popular 20 years later. There's a guy in the article predicting home VR by 1995 who said, "In a full virtual world, 3-D, interactive, everything. I think in December or January of '94 or '95. It'll do what a workstation will do right now. You'll be inside the world, flying airplanes or playing interactive games where you can have four to five players in one game." That's some 640k-is-enough-level incorrectness there. The article also has some nice pictures of dorky old VR setups.

If you have time, give the PDF a download and take a look into a age that has faded into the past.


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