Video Gamer

Every month Matt pulls a magazine out for under his bed and gives it a fine going over. Stop giggling at the back there – we’re talking about video game magazines. This month: issue 3 of Future’s Video Gamer from January 2001.

Video Gamer must have been a huge risk for Future Publishing. Retailing at 99p, we assume it must have had to sell three times as well as the Future’s magazines like N64 Magazine and DC-UK that sold for £3 an issue. It was a risk that clearly didn’t pay off – the magazine was scrapped after just a few months.

Although the paper quality was noticeably poor, feeling not too unlike the shiny toilet paper you used to find in public toilets, it certainly wasn’t a budget effort. Martin Kitts was the review editor, while the likes of Mark Green and Tim Weaver provided their gaming knowledge.

The magazine was aimed at the more casual market – one of the girls from Dead or Alive 2 made the cover on this issue we’re looking at, along with the cringe-worthy headline “Huge jugs and shattered jaws on PlayStation 2”. Throughout the magazine there was also ‘Jargon Buster’ box-outs explaining the definitions of such terms as RGB and USB.

The main news story this month was how owners of the newly released PlayStation 2 were disgruntled to find that when using a SCART lead the screen had a green tinge to it. This was down to Sony hoping to prevent PS2 owners from recording DVD movies onto VHS. The Video Gamer guys had done their research – Sony claimed that one of their machines offered RGB outputs but the writer had managed to find a Sony DVD player offering just that.

Confirming that the magazine was well researched was a special news investigation into where your money goes when buying a game. They reported that N64 carts cost a developer £2-£3 each compared to a PlayStation CD that only costs 30p. They also claimed that a console manufacturer takes 47% of your money, which sounds incorrect if you ask us.

Later in the news section there was speculation to the as yet to be fully unveiled Xbox. “According to our source, a developer who wished to remain anonymous, the main body of the console is a dark grey colour and ‘wrapping around’ the console is a raised ‘X’ in a sexy chrome finish. At the centre of the ‘X’ is a green bubble that lights up when the console is turned on.”

This issue also contained player’s guides to Jet Set Radio, Tekken Tag Tournament and Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It’s very easy to forget that the N64 was still around when the PlayStation 2 was released.

The review section took up most of the magazine – it was a multi-format mag, after all – and gave games scores out of 10, with separate scores given for gameplay, presentation and value.

Although the magazine was killed off swiftly in the UK it’s still running in France under the name of Jeux Video, retailing at 3 Euros an issue – around £2.10 in real money.

Issue 3 Highlights

  • Best feature: The XBox Revealed!
  • Best quote from above article: ”Games confirmed for the console include Metal Gear X, Tomb Raider: Next Generation and the much hyped Black & White.”
  • Lowest review score: Woody Woodpecker Racing (PSone), Kao the Kangeroo (Dreamcast) and Tom & Jerry in House Trap (PSone) each scored 2/10.
  • Highest review score: Dead or Alive 2 (PS2), Hitman: Codename 47 (PC), No One Lives Forever (PC), Samba de Amigo (Dreamcast), Escape from Monkey Island (PC) and Jimmy Whites Cueball 2 (PC) each scored 8/10.
  • Best quote from letters page: “I’m not getting into the debate over which console will win. But PS2 will.”

I’ve kept hold of this particular issue of Video Gamer as it features a letter from myself. In issue 2 they claimed that Resident Evil 3 was the best in the series, seemingly ignoring the recently released Code Veronica on Dreamcast, and so I felt the need to write in. However, they edited that part of my letter out and instead chose to only print the start of it: “I do like your magazine: it’s cheap and cheerful like Tesco’s own brand beer.”