Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A look at some recent German gaming mags

Hardcore Gaming 101's effort to make everyone a cosmopolitan of video game journalism goes on. Introducing a couple of mags you can buy in Germany today.


This is the last of the review machinery type publications I have any respect left for, maybe because it is the oldest suriving console-focused mag (started in 1993). Originally it was called Man!ac, but the name was changed about two years ago. I still keep my subscription, the good thing with that is that you get a better-looking cover without all that advertising headlines stuff. The current issue with the E3 logo is pretty ugly, so I put the last one next to it.

Then again, nothing says "your hobby still has some growing up to do" when the report about a major event starts out with a full page of photos showing all the scantily clad advertisement women.

The features make up for such sillyness, though. Each issue contains a 4-page "love letter" to a vintage device on which people used to play games, here the VIC-20 (VC 20 in Germany). Not much text, but a lot of images.

They also printed the first reasonable Duke Nukem Forever review I've read (for anyone who cares, their rating is 73 out of 100). Censored by me.

A few pages of space dedicated to download-only games. Censored by me.

Usually (not always, unfortunately) there is also a 2-page making of for a really old game, here berzerk. Notice how all retro related articles totally use the same color scheme as HG101?

Hah, not all of them! Here's one of my favourite columns: Each month they research about the first games that made use of a certain feature. This month: Optional vehicles. Somehow Ultima seems to have completely eluded them, though, as they give the prize to Front Line from 1982. On the right you see the explanation of the rating system. Another thing that gives the mag a nostalgic charme are the stupid faces that come with each editor's personal opinion (which a lot of German mags used in the good old days).


Next up is Games_Entertainment_Education, or at least that's what used to be written below the logo. Maybe now it isn't supposed to be an abbreviation anymore, I don't know. GEE was the most succesful of the "gaming as livestyle" mags that appeared in the early 2000s (first issue came out in 2003). You may notice the weird dimensions of the cover. That's new. Recently they have made a transition from print mag to iPhone/iPad app. The print version will be more of a digest in the future, to be published quarterly (originally it was 8 issues per year, the App thingy I think is done monthly)

They focus more on features than your usual mag and are not super crazy about covering every game that's released, but limit themselves to games someone thought they would have something interesting to say about, maybe a bit targeting the educated non-gamer or people who are fed up with the popcorn mainstream. Their biggest review this issue was Child of Eden, the most praise they give for the American McGee's Alice sequel, a game which has received mostly lukewarm reviews elsewhere.

Their writing is what purists would call pretentious, but others may call taking your medium serious. Christian Neeb (Editor-in-Chief, I believe) in his review for Goichi Suda's latest work Shadows of the Damned, for example, likens the game to the commercializing of punk rock and how it ended up having a diversifying influence on pop music.

Explanation of the term "Metroidvania" before reviewing three downloadable games that are vaguely inspired by the Genre.

This feature is pretty cool, an interview with a collector of gaming curiosities. Did you know that Rainbow Arts released a game compilation for C64 on CD, released in 1990? No CD-Rom mind you, the games were played by simply jacking an audio CD player to the C64. Complete with additional music tracks by Chris Hülsbeck. Awesome!

You've surely noticed the Transformers 3 cover above. The review comes with a retrospective on the history of the franchise.

Since they're an iThing app now, I guess they just have to spend a few pages on iThing games.

This is weird. Pixellated fashion by Kunihiko Morigana. For a "lifestyle" magazine, there's also the obligatory music, movie and gadget reviews, but only 2 pages each.

Finally, they usually print a classic review for one of the writer's most favourite games of all times. A lot of gushing ensues, at least in this case.


Another mag where one doesn't really know what the letters are supposed to stand for. It is a brand new mag done by the people from an online gaming site, but actually it's not really a gaming mag, but a "lifestyle" mag divided into games, movies, literature, art and stuff. Frankly, it does nothing of that terribly well, no features whatsoever, it's just a series of reviews whose writing doesn't bring anything particular on the table. Some reviews are ranked in a 5-star rating, others don't have a rating at all, quite confusing.

A pretentiously designed TOC doesn't make a good mag, no. Only reason I bought this is because I make a habit of grabbing first issues of mags when I spot them. I kinda regret it now.


Kinda the German equivalent to Retro Gamer, this is another quarterly. The first issue cover was so awesome, I'm sad I missed that one (wasn't in Germany when it was first published).

To no surprise, this is also mostly feature-driven. My highlights in this issue are the history of pinball games (did you know that Pinball was originally Pachinko? The levers were only invented about 20 years later) and a whooping 14-pager(!) on the many methods to upgrade your C64 with mass memory. The game is more leaning to the home computer side of things, because those were more popular than consoles in the 80s here. In the beginning, it was almost all about them, but console related content has gotten more and more over the years.

Article on the roots of computer adventure games & RPG, the Dunjonquest series is prominently featured. I wonder if the author read the HG101 article (their pedit5 screenshot definitely originates here, as it shows the name of my character ;) )

The reviews are only just a little more than a dozen pages, with two reviews of more or less recent games of retro interest (Child of Eden and Muramasa), this Evergreen/Nevergreen page with a game that's still great and a game that always sucked; afterwards there's just a bunch of short reviews with b&w screenshots, alternatingly old and new titles (the latter preferably inspired by some vintage favourites or straight remakes/sequels).


  1. Retro looks pretty nice; if I wasn't so averse to reading in German again I'd pick it up.

  2. Nice, thanks for that. You should make some Youtube videos of you leafing through them!

  3. diese germans sind schon lustig drauf, hast du gut gemacht..

  4. Ah yes, the M!Games/Man!ac. I wonder how many people went straight to it after Video Games was discontinued. But yeah, their tendency to show boobs where no boobs are needed is a little annoying; as you mentioned, it (at least at this point) hurts the image of video games.

    Also, AGM reminds me ASM, the old home computer magazine.

  5. Thanks for this article! I'm a german guy but left the country to live in Japan 6 years ago. I remember GEE, this one had a really outstanding layout, but it's basically a german cop of the UK magazin EDGE which has the same format and layout, so GEE is just a copy of EDGE. While the writing in EDGE *is* pretentious, I would say that that the guys writing GEE are just trying to be pretentious and are failing even at that. They are not on the same intellectual level as EDGE. However the concept of GEE, combining games, entertainment and education really fascinated me. But there wasn't much education it it. Some other gemran mags like PC Games Hardware had much deeper articles on topics like game AI, 3D, physics, sound simulation etc.

    > Did you know that Rainbow Arts released a game compilation for C64 on CD, released in 1990?

    Yes! Because I read the original review of that compilation in the ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) when it came out. ASM and PowerPlay where *the* main german gaming mags in the 80s/90s.

  6. I went straight to Man!ac after Video Games closed shop :-) Also i fail to see (even at the age of 30) what's wrong with boobs...

  7. @ Martin: Trust me, AGM is nothing like ASM, despite the similar abbreviation.

    @ Anonymous: Did you read any issues of GEE recently? I found the recent ones to be way improved over the early years.

    @ Steiner: There's nothing wrong with boobs, but there are sometimes occasions where it's not appropriate to show them.

  8. @derboo:
    well, as i child it was always a happy day if Video Games decided to show some saucy shot. I remember the first VG i bought contained a report on the PC FX which in turn featured a panty shot from some kind of Princess Maker clone... Graduation or something similar that thing was called. ... funny, that was about 17 years ago and i still remember...

    Boobs aside, it seems to me that the circulation of M! Games has decreased somewhat. I couldn't find it at the newspaper stands at the train stations i passed today in Bavaria.