Thursday, August 5, 2010

Old German Game mags (1)

So I'm back in Germany for now and digging through my own old magazines. Here's what was my most favourite game mag during the mid-90's (it was published from 1993 to 2000). UK readers might recognize the name, as it was licensed from a british mag. I'm talking about the Nintendo-only mag Total! It wasn't a translated mag, though, but had its own editorial stuff and content.

The second annyversary issue was the first one I bought myself, the first two years I used to read my cousin's copies.

Early preview of Street Fighter Alpha, then with the working title Street Fighter Legends. Screenshots are of course from the arcade version, back then I couldn't believe how good the background in the lower screenshot looked.

Julian Eggebrecht of Factor 5 used to be a freelancer for the mag. They also were pretty good for reports on import games, as they later got a Japanese freelancer (who was later employed at Squaresoft for localizations, I think). Only their viewpoint was a bit European-centered in hindsight, one time they called Seiken Densetsu Squaresoft's most important series (the only Final Fantasy game being released in Europe by then was Final Fantasy Mystic Quest). I think they were also among the first in Germany to include decent Anime coverage.

Review of Super Turrican 2 (not reviewed by Eggebrecht ;) ). Games were ranked in German school grades (1 being best and 6 being worst).

I think not many people have this issue. The old publishing house went bancrupt by the end of 1995, so issue 12/1995 never came out. The staff didn't give up, though, but founded their own publishing house (Xplain Verlag) after wrangling for the licensing right for a month. So everyone thought the mag was gone, and no one expected it to resurface it with issue 1/1996. I saw it by chance and of course bought it immediately. But only a few days after it came out, someone went out of their way to file a cease and desist order because of the Mortal Kombat logo on the cover. Mortal Kombat 2 was completely banned in Germany (not the regular no-advertisement and only sell to over-18 regulation, but actually criminally punishable prohibited. IIRC, MK 2 was the first game without Nazi symbols or open racism ever to be "graced" by a complete ban). No one bothered to notice that the logo was actually from the movie, which was rated 16-and-up, nor that the magazine had printed the Mortal Kombat 3 logo before without any problems. So as a result, the issue disappeared from shelves quickly, and may be the rarest next to the first issue.

They also offered newsletters via pagers. It's the 90's, baby!

The exclusive comic strip was discontinued with the change of publishing houses, sadly.

In later years with the SNES discontinued and little to report on the disappointing N64, the team found other ways to fill their pages, like with this kind of photo stories. Thanks to stuff like this, Total! is still the game mag many people in Germany have the fondest memories about.

By far the most interesting anecdote in the history of the mag has to be the Nasty Zone "scandal". Another mag had printed a non-existing game in their release schedule list, which reappeared in a Total! list. The problem was: Neither the game, nor the alleged developer "Haip" ever existed. The (already not very popular, later hated by some) editor in chief of that mag immediately blamed the Total! of copying "stealing" information from his publication, he was quoted saying "I thought the xx or the yy would fall for this, but I never imagined the Total! would be so stupid." and that he suspected "for a long time" that someone was stealing from his mag.

The would-be game was called Nasty Zone (after the mag where it first was listed, N-Zone) by the nonexistent company Haip (after the Editor in chief's name, Hans Ippisch).

The Total! made an honest apology for the fauxpas of not double-checking their research and promised to stick to reliable sources in the future, but also made fun of the whole Incident, even showing fake screenshots of the "game":

Research in 'reliable sources' is the nuts and bolts in our job. On the right picture you can see how our technically far advanced video game mag production machine (TOTAL-o-matic) processes hard facts within seconds.

(the mag on the copier is an issue of the N-Zone, below is the Total!)

Nasty Zone - Mega-Hype around stillbirth

Rarely has been made such a turmoil about a game hardly anyone even got to see a single pixel of. As usual, we have researched fiercly to present exclusively the very first images of Nasty Zone, which sadly inspire little hope for a decent title. In the interest of all honest N64-owners we convinced the development team to cease work on the project and do something more meaningful with their time.


  1. If with "Japanese freelancer" you mean Tetsuhiko Hara (who does work at Square/Enix now), he wrote for Video Games - I don't remember him writing for Total! too. But it's entirely possible that I missed that.

  2. No, that was Hiro-something (They usually caleld him short Hiro). Gotta look up the full name some time ...

  3. Isn't that Unicycle game the one Pixar tried to sue, because somehow I guess they think they invented unicycles?

  4. I only know it had its title changed in Europe due to some legal issue.

  5. The game was called Uniracers in the U.S. It was made by the team that would become Rockstar North. They got sued by Pixar just as Sean said. Pixar actually won the case and production of the game was limited to 300,000 copies.

    I thought the game was unique, but it didn't maintain my interest for very long.

    Thanks for the rundown on these old magazines! It's fun to see what other countries were writing about in their video game publications.

  6. I never realized that the Turrican villain, until now, looked a lot like Galactus.
    That leads me to the question, was Turrican actually developed in Deustchland?

    Speaking of which, I feel sorry for gamers in that country since they have to deal with their media-Nazi government. If I remember, they're lucky that they haven't yet banned violent games altogether... or did they?

  7. His name was Hirofumi Yamada. I really miss this magazine :( They introduced me to Imports, to anime and a whole lot of great games. Well, here's a site with more infos and scans (although in german)

  8. Game magazines with pictures of the staff? And not just at press events, but actually doing things in the office (even farcically)?

    I cannot comprehend this. I need booth babe photos, STAT!

  9. Ah yes, Total! The only game mag I ever subscribed to, though I don't remember the year I went from buying it at the newsstand to subscribing to it.

    I bought all issues except for 6/93 (the very first one) and 12/93, and I still have them.

    Btw, I'm not so sure about Total! being the mag Germans "have the fondest memories" of; I think that title goes to Video Games.

  10. Didn't really noticed before, but the one with the Unirally cover, was the first issue I bought :D And thats only because the Mega Man in the corner catched my attention^^

  11. Huh... I actually don't remember Total! at all. Strange.

    Probably because I had no Nintendo hardware other than the Gameboy when I was little. As such, I read mostly magazines that covered gaming on home computers. In terms of magazines I have probably the fondest memories of the PC-Player and the two Jokers.