Monday, April 25, 2011
The latest issue of GTM which, as per usual, I received for free. So I am totally biased here as a non-paying reader, plus they send me cash monies every month for writing stuff. Even so, I think the quality stands for itself. Infinitely better than that utterly worthless garbage that was the relaunched EGM (I paid for my 6 issues – I’ve earned the right to bitch until hell freezes over). GTM still doesn’t credit their writers, which is both stupid and unforgivable, but that doesn’t detract from the anonymous people who write this. (I would have put an entry up for 107, but my inside contact was very busy and couldn't post it until recently)
The cover is an in-game screenshot from Epic’s new Next Generation hype nonsense everyone is talking about. I know they’re very proud of their cover, but I inherently dislike CG renders, even if it is in-game and therefore real-time, and I’ve never quite understood the obsession over increasing graphical muscle. I’m still happy playing my retro consoles – which has led to me being viewed as a Mr Retro figure among the gaming press, but I like to think of myself as more all-encompassing, able to play Perfect Dark on the N64 in the morning before playing Metro 2033 on my killer PC rig in the evening. FUN FACT: both aforementioned first-person shooters are excellent, despite the disparity in their graphics.
Taken from Twitter, posted by alialsawaf, another mag cover with in-game screen.
Also, as for the names of the authors, I managed to get the truth out of a mole I have at the publisher of GamesTM. So now we can really know who wrote all these. Bolded for convenience.
This is a sumptuous opening spread detailing all 108 Suikoden characters, because, you know, this is issue 108 of the magazine. In a way I hate this spread, since I many times pitched something similar for Retro Gamer's double pages, but was always shot down because Suikoden is apparently too obscure. So in a way, seeing this is like seeing someone else fulfil my artistic vision. Still, it's a bit goregous, innit?
GTM Author: Tori Black
This 4 page feature on Catherine is reason enough to buy this issue. It's an in-depth, extremely intelligent feature (it could be the most intelligent thing I've read in a games magazine this year), and not only is it fascinating, but it moves beyond mere games. It looks at Japanese cultural trends, their "elevator society", norms and values for the young and older generations, Japan's declining birth rate, the fact that young Japanese are less interested in getting married or having kids, and a decline in people taking adult responsibility. It's also a preview and review for the Catherine game - my god, it is such a forward thinking feature, that it's almost beyond the vanguard of description. I'm going to incur the ire of my superiors, but since it's not on their website, I've included hi-res scans for you to read. It reminds me of my Japanese sociology classes at university, which looked at various aspects of Japanese culture and society - but don't let my academic comparisons put you off. It's woven into the fabric of the Catherine game and the current Japanese game industry. It even draws attention to Haruki Murakami's 1988 novel Dance, Dance, Dance. Bloody fantastic. Best article of the year?
GTM Author: Lexi Belle
A good feature on El Shaddai which reveals fascinating info from the developers, along with a serious and level headed discussion of the religious source material. I'm expecting a lot of other mags to dismiss the religious subtexts, and I think this is wrong, because whether you're an atheist or not, I expect my writers to try to understand what the games they critique are covering. Which is why I was especially pleased with mags that reviewed Okami and made the effort to research Japanese myths and legends.
GTM Author: Ashlynn Brooke (aka Ash)
I haven't read this, but the design is nice and I'm pleased with how GTM continues to cover the niche and obscure.
GTM Author: Dana DeArmond
The showcase section is ace, since it gives you a bite sized chunk of lots and lots of little games which might not get coverage in other magazines which only grant single-page coverage to titles but not less. This is great, because right now, if I hadn't read about these on websites or forums already, I would totally be psyched for: Gungnir, Akiba's Trip, Unchainable Rexx, Rochard, Fancy pants Adventures, A Valley Without Wind (hole bloody hell this looks FANTASTIC), Red Johnson's Chronicles, Fallen Frontier, Yakuza of the End, Amy (by Flashback guy Paul Cuisset, yes yes yes yes yes yes yes YES), Robotics;Notes, Nin2-Junp, Akai Katana Shin, and Earth Seeker.
GTM Author: Chayse Evans
Feature on the next generation of graphics. I read it, and I was a bit depressed by it. Rather like last month's article on independent consultants. It all points to an ever greater bloating of games, with hundreds of people slaving away to make something which lacks soul or creativity. I miss the cottage industry days of 4 guys in a house making games. Still, if you like your graphics PUMPED, then this is a nerdcore article which - to me - appears to revel in geek love for the technology.
GTM Author: Jenna Haze
An article on games which can be played as a family. I didn't read it, and I won't, because I don't care for this. Still, at least they're not afraid to look at unconventional subjects.
GTM Author: Kayden Kross
An excellent feature on the perceived value of games. I can't be bothered to scan it hi-res like the Catherine article, but it's a topical and important subject/feature. The AppStore has let the genie out of the bottle with regards to a better pricing model, and no one is going to be able to get him back in. We're growing accustomed to cheap and free games, which is the way it should be. I hear people still pay $60 for console games? What for? I've recently bought several new PS3 games for $15 each, because I waited a couple of weeks and looked for bargains. The DEATH of expensive games starts NOW.
GTM Author: Jesse Jane
Review of Gemini Rue. A good score for a good game. Glad to see someone on staff like adventure games. I can't wait for GTM's review of HG101's Guide to Adventure Games!
GTM Author: Amber Rayne
A 6 page making of Guilty Gear, complete with photos and concept art from the guy behind it. Nikki clearly likes some one on one 2D action!
GTM Author: Nikki Rhodes
A retro feature on compilations. Sadly it's not very good, and I'm saying this purely because the author doesn't heavily condemn Backbone Entertainment for the utterly shoddy and dreadful emulation work they did on the Genesis collections. Hideous filters, nowhere near as good as what I can get on PC emulators or even the emulators put out by Sega's AM2 division, and no ability to play Sonic 2 or 3 locked on to Sonic and Knuckles. Unlike Sonic Jam, which allowed this. Backbone, aka Digital Eclipse, appear to be utterly insipid and pathetic in their way of handling compilations, and any article which fails to condemn them to the 7th level of damnation, just doesn't pass muster in my book. The rest of the feature was OK, I guess, but I wanted - no, I NEEDED - to see more Backbone vitriol. Those Genesis compilations on PS3 and Xbox 360 were TERRIBLE.
GTM Author: Ann Marie Rios
And finally, I leave you with a letter praising GTM's review of Deadly Premonition. Nay, praising the reviewer, whoever that dashing genius may be. I don't know who it is, but clearly said reviewer is a writer worth his salt, one to watch and lavish praise on (as this letter writer did). Some might even call said reviewer a god amongst demigods, and they would be right. They would be so right. If only we could know who this Messiah of men really is. Such a good review.