The Official UK PlayStation Magazine achieved miraculous things for Future Publishing, with one issue in particular – issue #42, which came with a playable Metal Gear Solid demo – selling over 450,000 copies.
The monthly publication ran from November 1995 until March 2004, even sitting alongside The Official PlayStation 2 Magazine on newsagent’s shelves for a number of years. Amusingly, this caused a few letters of complaint from PS2 owners who mistakenly picked up the wrong magazine, claiming that they’d “wasted a fiver” and that Future should make it clearer it was dedicated to PSone, not PS2. You’d think the front cover would be the giveaway – later issues featured images of the PSone and the original PlayStation in the top right corner to prevent potential confusion.
Another reader also wrote in to complain that one issue featured Crash Bandicoot on the cover, yet there was nothing about a new Crash game inside. That cover feature? A look at the PSone’s greatest games of all-time.
Towards the end of the PSone’s life new releases started to become thin on the ground, prompting the writers to fill pages with features such as the above instead of usual reviews and previews. During one quiet month the budget price re-release of James Pond 2: Robocod even managed to take the cover. By the time the final issue rolled around it was painfully evident that the PSone was on its deathbed. Just two new titles were reviewed – budget games Ford Truck Racing and XS Junior League Soccer, which was described as being “easier than Jordan”. New demos were scarcer still, sometimes two or three issues apart.
We can only speculate figures for OPM’s twilight years, but we imagine that they were moderately healthy for Future to keep it going for such a long time. The Official PlayStation 2 Magazine, in comparison, ended in 2008 despite a fair few releases still in the pipeline. Apparently it was becoming frustratingly difficult to acquire screenshots and preview code of PS2 releases from publishers.
Like OPSM2, OPM (née PSM) was geared more towards younger gamers in its final days, such was the current demographic. This didn’t stop the writers from sneaking in a few lewd jokes however, making it an enjoyable read. They had no qualms about dishing out 1/10 review scores either, with many Midas Interactive and Phoenix Games titles garnering this score. On the other hand, the magazine had something of a reputation for penning exceedingly positive reviews – particularly during its heyday – with all five Tomb Raider games gaining perfect 10/10s. Yes, even The Last Revelation and Chronicles.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was another game that gained an overwhelmingly positive review, resulting in an unexpected 9/10. This review ultimately damaged the magazine’s credibility, as it was later revealed that staff members were whisked off to Skywalker Ranch prior to the magazine hitting newsstands. An all-expenses paid trip, no doubt. Some fifteen years on, grease palming is still a major issue within gaming industry.