Ok, so here's the deal. As much as I like the idea of a magazine dedicated almost completely to retro games, for a while now I've been observing a recurring trend which I'm not a huge fan of. Before I get to the point, if you're reading this and you're thinking to yourself "Oh man! here we go, a hater! Let's destroy him with anti-hater one-liners and drown his criticism in a sea of unconditional Retro Gamer fan love", let me stop you in your tracks. I've been buying Retro Gamer for years, which, as far as I'm concerned, entitles me to give its creators a piece of my mind, and that's exactly what I'm going to do.
I'm yet to get my copy of issue #100, but it was this issue, or rather its table of contents from the RetroGamer.net website, which caused this message to be typed in. As a magazine publisher, you're all aware of big numbers, magazine anniversaries, etc. I'm quite sure that issue #100 didn't catch you all by surprise. While I think the inclusion of Retro Gamer #1 is a nice touch, and a great gift to all those who've missed it, what's up with all the recycling?
Yes, that's my main complaint. Over the years, on countless occasions I've seen numerous topics being discussed on the pages of your magazine over and over again. I understand, that people like reading about certain games, but how many times am I supposed to read about the making of Sonic? How many times do I have to read about how the idea for Pac-Man came about? He's a pizza. We get it. It's not that I don't love these characters. I do, really, but Retro Gamer isn't the only magazine in the world which ran those stories, and running them multiple times doesn't really change the past, does it?
One hundred issues. Wow. That really is something. I'm trying to imagine how this issue came to be and who was responsible for the choice of articles. "Let's give our readers something special. We've hit #100 after all!" A celebration of "Elite"? Why not. It's not like it was a cover story of issue #47
. Oh, wait ...
That, of course, is one example, but not too long ago we had an issue with tons of information on Sonic, not to mention the slightly older #26. Sure, we might get a single bit of information that wasn't discussed before in Retro Gamer, but like I said, RG isn't the only magazine that ever thought of asking Yuji Naka about how he made his game. Oh, and we had the history of GTA before, but this time it's "the making of", so that must be completely different.
By now you've probably picked up on my disappointment, but I'm sure this situation is like one of the most common break-up scenarios, when the girl tells you it's not you, it's her. The magazine is doing fine, obviously, so it must be me. I just wished for something more, if not from the magazine as a whole, from the issue #100 alone.
I will however reserve my final judgement for after I've read the thing. Who knows? Maybe the list of classic gaming moments will buy you a pass? Are you planning on making any other lists? Like the most iconic heroes in gaming, or top ten shower scenes, or cutest girls in games, or top ten game smokers, or ... Ok, now just I'm being mean.
The point of this rant is this: After #100 issues, you've established yourselves as a retro force in the gaming magazine world. You obviously have good enough contacts with foreign developers and gaming is a huge world to explore. Do you really have to keep going back to those "crowd-pleasers"?
Oh, and one more thing, or two things maybe. I've always wondered about one particular section of your magazine. "The Unconverted" to be exact. Seems to me like you're simply plowing through MAME romsets. How about a picture of the person who wrote the article holding up an actual PCB? Or how about a new column, "The Unemulated"? Anyone can get a ton of ROMs these days, faster than you can say "is this even legal?", but not everyone can play those unemulated titles, and there are a few. I for one would like to read about those in your magazine.
Also, Iain Lee should get his own magazine and call it BBC Micro. In this magazine, he'd write about how superior BBC Micro games are to their counterparts on other platforms. He could also write about more random stuff, like hitting kids over the head with a bible, and with luck, while running his BBC Micro mag, he wouldn't have the time to spare and his column in Retro Gamer would cease to exist, but that's neither here nor there.
P.S. - I love how in one issue you can answer a letter with "Oh, we didn't know game ABC existed, because we've never owned platform XYZ" just to write about the said game two issues later, after you've researched it. Good stuff.