Gaming Magazine Covers – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Post by Patrick

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Covers, it’s the first thing we see as we glance over magazine racks at the bookstore or supermarket, they communicate a message and inform us of what we’ll find on the inside. The magazine cover plays a part in creating an identity through use of typography, color, the layout and logo. Part of the magazine covers job is to help distinguish itself from the others, and to communicate what you’ll find on the inside the magazine. If you were to remove the EGM, GamePro and Edge logo from a cover chances are you’ll still be able to tell which is which because they each possess their own identity.

I was a fan of two gaming magazines, Electronic Gaming Monthly and Edge, while I sporadically bought issues of GamePro, PSM and Nintendo Power. My least favorite kind of covers were the ones that used in-game graphics (they were never going to age well), 3D rendered characters or ones that reused box art (Fabio anyone?). My favorite kind of covers either featured interesting artwork (1, 2) or used commissioned artwork (more info about those covers here). But even commissioned artwork didn’t always come out great; for instance EGM’s 100th issue had an uninspiring cover illustrated by Allan Ditzig. Who for the record, is actually a good artist and is a veteran of the game industry. The early 90′s was not a good time for magazine covers, they were mostly uninspiring and not very exciting. some early issues of EGM (1, 2, 3) and GamePro (1, 2) were horrendous but they improved as time went on and computer hardware and design software got better.

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Edge seemed to consistently have the best covers. They chose to go the minimalist route and not cram the front with text while choosing interesting and unique visuals for each cover, for instance their 100th issue featured artwork by Shiguro Miyamoto. Besides featuring distinct covers Edge was also different than the majority of gaming magazines on the inside as well. You could only find the names of the contributors at the beginning of the magazine and not under each article, preview or review. They used to also feature various in-depth articles like a Making Of and a Videogame Diary which would by written by different professionals in the game industry discussing their jobs. Edge had a reputation of being hard to please when it came to reviewing a game, since its conception in 1993 they’ve only given out sixteen perfect scores.

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Looking back at all the issues of EGM and Edge it’s difficult to pick just one favorite cover. One of the most memorable and nicest looking covers I remember was a limited edition Final Fantasy X cover made for EGM illustrated by the legendary Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. Another favorite of mine was the one that featured Donkey Kong 64 on the cover as it was visually iconic with DK holding out a banana. I think it’s even harder to pick a favorite cover of Edge since they had a lot of special ones. The issue that featured the 100 most significant reviews was pretty cool. The cover was a collage of screenshots from 100 games that formed a large E. Another cover that I have a soft spot for featured Link and was printed on a gold foil so it was nice and shiny looking, making it an even more unique cover to own. Print media has been on a decline and has become less popular as years go by while digital media has become dominant so it’s nice to see magazines embrace the Internet. Edge has since moved online with a nice looking website while the magazine is still being printed and is also available for subscription on tablet devices like the iPad.Electronic Gaming Monthly has become a shell of its former self. It’s still in print but the quality of writing and reviews as decreased dramatically. They also have a website, but it’s poorly designed and maintained.

Even though it’s difficult to get your hands on old video game magazines nowadays some can be found digitally, Edge for instance has made all their covers from 1993 till 2012 available online and there’s also a huge archive of magazine covers at VGMuseum.


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