Gamespite Quarterly just published its fourth issue last week, available for order on Blurb and my copy just came in over the weekend. It's probably the best one yet, with a ton of interesting stuff. The overall theme is game mechanics and how they can make or break a game (check out the table of contents), but there's an eclectic bunch in there too, including a brief history of space flight sims a la Wing Commander and X-Wing, and a piece on the recent resurgence of adventure games. Also included is pretty much the definitive piece on magnificent Dragon Quest V - well-deserved, considering it's the game that totally made me reconsider the series - as well as an analyzation of Final Fantasy's character development systems and how they relate to the narrative. Other interesting bits include an analysis of the stripping away of traditional JRPG mechanics and what they mean for modern games, and a bit about the de-RPG-ing of Mass Effect 2, a topic which could potentially reek of master race PC elitism in the wrong hands, but here is a remarkably even-handed treatment of the subject. While only a couple of articles are online at the moment, they'll eventually put up over the next few months. It's always worthwhile to support independent sites, especially through the exchange of cash moneys (trust me, if Ars Technica is complaining about ads, smaller sites have it a zillion times worse, and Gamespite doesn't even host advertisements) and the actual book is classy and compact.
Previous volumes include a tongue-in-cheek compendium of 8-bit heroes, ranging way into the super obscure category; a Top 40 Best Games of All Time cataloging, which is a pretty well chosen list; and an ode to the original Gameboy. There's also a volume which includes the half of the complete listing of all articles posted on Gamespite in 2008, all great stuff. Blurb shipping can be a bit pricey - they ship through Fed Ex instead of US media mail - but for the moment there's a few free shipping codes - WESHIP (for US purchases), WESHIP2 (for British folks), or WESHIP3 (for other Europeans.) This expires on March 21st, though, so order up quick.