Retro Gamer Magazine

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VideoGameCritic
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Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby VideoGameCritic » November 23rd, 2017, 9:02 pm

My nephew gave me an old copy of Retro Gamer Magazine and I found it really fascinating. It had a special section of the Sega Saturn, and a lot of articles about games I didn't know about. Big pages and a lot of colorful screenshots.

Is this magazine still in business? Do any of you read it? I'm thinking about getting a subscription. Right now I only subscribe to Game Informer.

Sut
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Re: Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby Sut » November 24th, 2017, 2:09 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:My nephew gave me an old copy of Retro Gamer Magazine and I found it really fascinating. It had a special section of the Sega Saturn, and a lot of articles about games I didn't know about. Big pages and a lot of colorful screenshots.

Is this magazine still in business? Do any of you read it? I'm thinking about getting a subscription. Right now I only subscribe to Game Informer.


Yes it’s still going strong. You can pick up official DVD’s of the back issues. Please note it is British though in addition to consoles you’ll be familiar with there are a lot of articles dedicated to home computers which were popular here like the Spectrum, C64, Amstrad, Amiga and ST. You won’t find much NES love as it wasn’t that popular here but there are still plenty of Nintendo articles.

pacman000
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Re: Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby pacman000 » November 24th, 2017, 5:56 am

Yes, it's still around: https://www.retrogamer.net

Never bought one, but I've seen it at Barnes & Noble. Always has an overwhelming amount of info, which is a good thing.

And it's British, so you get Spectrum reviews.

Verm3
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Re: Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby Verm3 » November 24th, 2017, 8:25 am

Yes they are; https://www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/ ... gLx6fD_BwE

I am a subscriber to them.

ThePixelatedGenocide
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Re: Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby ThePixelatedGenocide » November 25th, 2017, 12:04 pm

I'd really advise picking up all the back issues you can. Sure, it's mostly written from a British perspective, but think of the European scene as a mirror universe where Nintendo was clueless, arcade ports were hit or very miss, and literally anyone could code the next big hit from their bedroom.

It's a fascinating story, even for us Yanks.

To ease you in a bit, here's a newbie guide for the 8-bit microcomputers:

A. C64: This one was considered the system to beat, with a price point to match. And no wonder, with its built-in hardware sprites, it was the closest thing to a proper gaming console.

It was the best selling single computer model of all time, and even hit it big in America. There's just nothing on a Tandy or Apple IIc that can touch the all out intensity of Turrican 2.

Unfortunately, the king of 8bit computers had a weakness. One worse than the low resolution graphics, slow processor speed, or muted color palette. Or load times. Or single button controller. They were all an accepted part of gaming, with 1982 tech. The real problem was quality control. Most fans will admit that they care way more about the music from the almighty SID chip than anything that happened to poor Double Dragon.

Twice. Do you prefer your Double Dragon with only 3 moves, or only 3 character sprites?

And if you think Acclaim's licensed games were bad, you won't last 5 minutes with the A-Team. It's a Space Invaders clone. You shoot their giant deformed floating heads.

It may be a cry for help. We'll never know.

Then there's Robocop, which you can't even beat, because Ocean didn't bother to finish the game before releasing it. Genius. That version of the game was game of the year material everywhere else.

But damn, all that horror could almost be forgiven, because the C64's music was bloody marvelous. Check out Monty on the Run. That soundtrack would make Bubsy seem badass.

B. The Spectrum: The machine built for the common people, by the uncommon Sir Clive Sinclair. It was half the price of a C64.

Of course, in order to be affordable, it was compromised from the start, with the entire 48k range suffering under a soundchip that beeped wet baby farts and a color clash problem that limited how many colors could occupy any given block of the screen at the same time. The color clash makes half the library look like a bad attempt to colorize the Virtual Boy by gluing cellophane strips to the screen, and the other half look like the best Tiger LCD handheld ever seen. Seriously, Sir Clive? Transparent sprites are just tacky.

And yes, I'm aware that sprites had to be coded into the software. And that Sir Clive, despite being a pretty good guy (one of the best!) overall, didn't care about the games to begin with.

But games were what sold the machine.

Occasionally, someone actually figured out how to work miracles around the problems, and the result ...well, it looked like a Colecovision screenshot turned into punk graffiti. If that doesn't make anyone reading this nostalgic for the early 80's, nothing will.

Right now, the machine probably sounds like the worst joke ever played on the poor, but the Spectrum has one secret up it's sleeve: Blast Processing.

No, seriously, it sported a much faster Z80 processor the other micros. Those graphics I made fun of earlier? I wasn't kidding when I said it looked like a Virtual Boy. But the Virtual Boy wasn't 8-bit.

Check out Chase HQ; if it were in full color, you'd swear it was ready for the Genesis. It blows away the same game on the C64. Also, on the NES and Master System. I think it might even be better than the Genesis sequel. Do you know what poor kids in America were playing, at that time?

Pole Position. On the 2600.

Just kidding. We played Enduro instead, both because it had more to offer, and sometimes, the dense fog gave us an exciting preview of Nintendo's future.

But it was no Chase HQ.

So, yeah - The playground wars between those who could afford to be disappointed by the C64, and the proud Spectrum rebels were every bit as intense and kind of sad in the UK as Sega vs. Nintendo was in America. Nobody really scored a knockout victory, but it was a fun way to compare notes.

Which leads us to the Turbografx of this story.

C. The Amstrad CPC.

We can thank Alan Sugar, for this one. He's the UK's Donald Trump. Not only did he host The Apprentice, but he was equally famed for his good manners and sophisticated taste. Which is why he was the perfect man to design a gaming computer. If any computer manufacturer was going to capture the neon explosions of the arcade, with pixels that could melt your eyeballs out of their sockets...

Anyways, the absolute bastard absolutely pulled it off. Although chunky, the colors were every bit as gaudy and over the top as you'd expect from that build-up. Just look at Contra. It's beautiful, even without the scrolling.

Shame then, that most of the games it received were lazy Spectrum ports in a 4 color high resolution mode. To say there wasn't much excitement surrounding this machine - at least among the biggest developers - would be an understatement.

Anyways, the most important thing to remember about this three way 8-bit battle...which was actually at least 8 ways or more (Sorry Acorn fans!), was that literally anyone could make a game for these systems. It was both their greatest strength, and ultimately, the source of their downfall. For every Elite that delivered the universe to your doorstep, there was a bad Frogger clone that couldn't make it across the street, without crashing.

And there were good reasons for gamers not to care.

Because piracy was easy as Hell. Remember the Dreamcast and PSP? Imagine an entire industry that was trying to survive despite that kind of hackability. And that was just on the user side of things. Also working against the industry was its own greed.

Imagine a publisher handing a popular arcade license over to a kid still in school. On a tight deadline. And no, the Japanese parent company isn't sharing assets.

The kid is expected to pay money to play the original game in the actual arcade, and then rebuild it from memory. All for the glory of being torn apart when the reviews came.

When something amazing came out of this mess anyways, like R-Type on the Spectrum? You're just amazed at how unlikely it all really was. Both the programmer overcoming the color clash limitations, and the resulting fight for his program code, reads like part geek nostalgia, and part true life thriller. He was literally caught in the middle of everyone who wanted to publish the game, and whoever lost that fight had threatened to make him pay.

It was the ultimate no-win scenario. How many people would be able to bug test under those conditions?

Ultimately, all of this anarchy couldn't sustain itself. By the end of the 16 bit era, consoles were as much a factor in the UK, as they were everywhere else in the world. Despite cartridge games costing up to 10 times what a tape did, and console libraries that were limited compared to what computers offered, the Megadrive and the SNES did a few things very, very, well. And with far more polish and style. The UK gaming press raved over these new machines. And the industry saw a new medium to work in, that was nowhere near as easy to copy.

And that would be the end of the story, except the internet happened.

Retrogamers got nostalgic, and compared notes. And all the old stories were told. Stories of the market crash Europe never experienced. And how Nintendo saved the day, everywhere except on their shores. Everyone blasted Acclaim and LJN, but what about US Gold and TierTex? And couldn't Mario and Donkey Kong step aside long enough for Jet Set Willy and SabreWulf to receive their due?

Again, I'm just an ignorant Yank. I can't begin to do justice to it all. It's other people's nostalgia, and I'm an intruder there.

But the best thing about Retrogamer, is that now I kind of know what I missed out on. Even decades later, the passion's still there for the scene, and there's never been anything quite like it since.

I can't begin to imagine what it was like, back then, to actually be a part of it all.

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Re: Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby Retro STrife » November 29th, 2017, 1:45 pm

I've bought one or two copies of this magazine over the years. Personally I've never subscribed, because I have enough trouble finding time to read Game Informer each month, let alone another magazine.

That said, it is a really great magazine and worth subscribing..really well done and a lot of passion put into it. Several retro gaming magazines have popped up and quickly fizzled throughout the years, but only Retro Gamer Magazine has stood the test of time. As others have mentioned, it does have a European slant, so expect to read a lot about '80s computers that you might not care about. But there's plenty of stuff in there that would appeal to US gamers as well. The biggest drawback is the price-- a single issue is like $15 or more, while a years subscription is over $100. I think part of that is due to shipping from the UK, and the other part is that it is a niche magazine and must charge high prices to make up for the lack of volume sales.

Sut
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Re: Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby Sut » November 30th, 2017, 11:38 am

ThePixelatedGenocide wrote:I'd really advise picking up all the back issues you can. Sure, it's mostly written from a British perspective, but think of the European scene as a mirror universe where Nintendo was clueless, arcade ports were hit or very miss, and literally anyone could code the next big hit from their bedroom.

It's a fascinating story, even for us Yanks.

To ease you in a bit, here's a newbie guide for the 8-bit microcomputers:

A. C64: This one was considered the system to beat, with a price point to match. And no wonder, with its built-in hardware sprites, it was the closest thing to a proper gaming console.

It was the best selling single computer model of all time, and even hit it big in America. There's just nothing on a Tandy or Apple IIc that can touch the all out intensity of Turrican 2.

Unfortunately, the king of 8bit computers had a weakness. One worse than the low resolution graphics, slow processor speed, or muted color palette. Or load times. Or single button controller. They were all an accepted part of gaming, with 1982 tech. The real problem was quality control. Most fans will admit that they care way more about the music from the almighty SID chip than anything that happened to poor Double Dragon.

Twice. Do you prefer your Double Dragon with only 3 moves, or only 3 character sprites?

And if you think Acclaim's licensed games were bad, you won't last 5 minutes with the A-Team. It's a Space Invaders clone. You shoot their giant deformed floating heads.

It may be a cry for help. We'll never know.

Then there's Robocop, which you can't even beat, because Ocean didn't bother to finish the game before releasing it. Genius. That version of the game was game of the year material everywhere else.

But damn, all that horror could almost be forgiven, because the C64's music was bloody marvelous. Check out Monty on the Run. That soundtrack would make Bubsy seem badass.

B. The Spectrum: The machine built for the common people, by the uncommon Sir Clive Sinclair. It was half the price of a C64.

Of course, in order to be affordable, it was compromised from the start, with the entire 48k range suffering under a soundchip that beeped wet baby farts and a color clash problem that limited how many colors could occupy any given block of the screen at the same time. The color clash makes half the library look like a bad attempt to colorize the Virtual Boy by gluing cellophane strips to the screen, and the other half look like the best Tiger LCD handheld ever seen. Seriously, Sir Clive? Transparent sprites are just tacky.

And yes, I'm aware that sprites had to be coded into the software. And that Sir Clive, despite being a pretty good guy (one of the best!) overall, didn't care about the games to begin with.

But games were what sold the machine.

Occasionally, someone actually figured out how to work miracles around the problems, and the result ...well, it looked like a Colecovision screenshot turned into punk graffiti. If that doesn't make anyone reading this nostalgic for the early 80's, nothing will.

Right now, the machine probably sounds like the worst joke ever played on the poor, but the Spectrum has one secret up it's sleeve: Blast Processing.

No, seriously, it sported a much faster Z80 processor the other micros. Those graphics I made fun of earlier? I wasn't kidding when I said it looked like a Virtual Boy. But the Virtual Boy wasn't 8-bit.

Check out Chase HQ; if it were in full color, you'd swear it was ready for the Genesis. It blows away the same game on the C64. Also, on the NES and Master System. I think it might even be better than the Genesis sequel. Do you know what poor kids in America were playing, at that time?

Pole Position. On the 2600.

Just kidding. We played Enduro instead, both because it had more to offer, and sometimes, the dense fog gave us an exciting preview of Nintendo's future.

But it was no Chase HQ.

So, yeah - The playground wars between those who could afford to be disappointed by the C64, and the proud Spectrum rebels were every bit as intense and kind of sad in the UK as Sega vs. Nintendo was in America. Nobody really scored a knockout victory, but it was a fun way to compare notes.

Which leads us to the Turbografx of this story.

C. The Amstrad CPC.

We can thank Alan Sugar, for this one. He's the UK's Donald Trump. Not only did he host The Apprentice, but he was equally famed for his good manners and sophisticated taste. Which is why he was the perfect man to design a gaming computer. If any computer manufacturer was going to capture the neon explosions of the arcade, with pixels that could melt your eyeballs out of their sockets...

Anyways, the absolute bastard absolutely pulled it off. Although chunky, the colors were every bit as gaudy and over the top as you'd expect from that build-up. Just look at Contra. It's beautiful, even without the scrolling.

Shame then, that most of the games it received were lazy Spectrum ports in a 4 color high resolution mode. To say there wasn't much excitement surrounding this machine - at least among the biggest developers - would be an understatement.

Anyways, the most important thing to remember about this three way 8-bit battle...which was actually at least 8 ways or more (Sorry Acorn fans!), was that literally anyone could make a game for these systems. It was both their greatest strength, and ultimately, the source of their downfall. For every Elite that delivered the universe to your doorstep, there was a bad Frogger clone that couldn't make it across the street, without crashing.

And there were good reasons for gamers not to care.

Because piracy was easy as Hell. Remember the Dreamcast and PSP? Imagine an entire industry that was trying to survive despite that kind of hackability. And that was just on the user side of things. Also working against the industry was its own greed.

Imagine a publisher handing a popular arcade license over to a kid still in school. On a tight deadline. And no, the Japanese parent company isn't sharing assets.

The kid is expected to pay money to play the original game in the actual arcade, and then rebuild it from memory. All for the glory of being torn apart when the reviews came.

When something amazing came out of this mess anyways, like R-Type on the Spectrum? You're just amazed at how unlikely it all really was. Both the programmer overcoming the color clash limitations, and the resulting fight for his program code, reads like part geek nostalgia, and part true life thriller. He was literally caught in the middle of everyone who wanted to publish the game, and whoever lost that fight had threatened to make him pay.

It was the ultimate no-win scenario. How many people would be able to bug test under those conditions?

Ultimately, all of this anarchy couldn't sustain itself. By the end of the 16 bit era, consoles were as much a factor in the UK, as they were everywhere else in the world. Despite cartridge games costing up to 10 times what a tape did, and console libraries that were limited compared to what computers offered, the Megadrive and the SNES did a few things very, very, well. And with far more polish and style. The UK gaming press raved over these new machines. And the industry saw a new medium to work in, that was nowhere near as easy to copy.

And that would be the end of the story, except the internet happened.

Retrogamers got nostalgic, and compared notes. And all the old stories were told. Stories of the market crash Europe never experienced. And how Nintendo saved the day, everywhere except on their shores. Everyone blasted Acclaim and LJN, but what about US Gold and TierTex? And couldn't Mario and Donkey Kong step aside long enough for Jet Set Willy and SabreWulf to receive their due?

Again, I'm just an ignorant Yank. I can't begin to do justice to it all. It's other people's nostalgia, and I'm an intruder there.

But the best thing about Retrogamer, is that now I kind of know what I missed out on. Even decades later, the passion's still there for the scene, and there's never been anything quite like it since.

I can't begin to imagine what it was like, back then, to actually be a part of it all.


This is a great post, couldn’t have put it any better and I lived through it.

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scotland
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Re: Retro Gamer Magazine

Postby scotland » November 30th, 2017, 4:49 pm

In a similar vane, at https://fusionretrobooks.com/collections/black-friday

There are PDFs of several books of the era from the British perspective still on sale at the retro fusion site, even if its after Black Friday. There is a volume on the Amiga, the C64 (which I bought for all of $2.89), and a 3 volume set on the Speccy. There are also books on Ocean Software and US Gold.


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