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Retro Gaming Magazines

Retro Gaming Magazines: A Look Back at Classic Publications


Retro gaming magazines hold a special place in the hearts of many gaming enthusiasts who grew up during the 80s and 90s. These publications were more than just periodicals; they were gateways to new worlds, sources of invaluable tips and tricks, and the ultimate companions for gamers navigating the ever-evolving landscape of video games. In this blog, we will explore the rise and fall of these iconic magazines, their influence on the gaming culture, and the lasting legacy they left behind.

The Golden Age of Retro Gaming Magazines

The 1980s marked the beginning of the golden age for video games, and along with it, the birth of gaming magazines. Publications like Nintendo Power, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM), and Computer and Video Games (CVG) began to appear on newsstands, providing gamers with a treasure trove of information. These magazines were essential for staying up-to-date with the latest game releases, cheats, and industry news at a time when the internet was not yet ubiquitous.

Nintendo Power, launched in 1988, was one of the first and most influential gaming magazines of its time. As an official publication from Nintendo, it offered exclusive content and insights that couldn’t be found elsewhere. The magazine was known for its detailed walkthroughs, comprehensive reviews, and colorful layouts, which captured the imagination of young readers. It wasn’t just about the games; it was about the entire Nintendo experience, creating a strong sense of community among its readers.

The Editorial Giants: EGM and GamePro

While Nintendo Power catered to fans of a specific platform, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and GamePro provided comprehensive coverage across all gaming systems. Founded in 1988, EGM was renowned for its in-depth articles, multiple reviewers’ perspectives on each game, and infamous April Fools’ pranks that often tricked readers with fake game announcements and features. EGM’s broad scope and high editorial standards helped establish it as a leading voice in the gaming industry, setting benchmarks for quality and reliability in game journalism.


GamePro, launched in 1989, quickly became famous for its “ProTips,” offering readers valuable gameplay advice and strategies. The magazine’s distinctive art style, featuring colorful and dynamic illustrations, set it apart from its competitors. Each issue of GamePro was packed with previews, reviews, and feature stories, making it an indispensable resource for gamers of all ages. The magazine’s unique approach to content, often incorporating humor and a conversational tone, helped build a loyal following and cement its place in gaming history.

The Role of Fan Art and Reader Contributions

One of the most beloved features of retro gaming magazines was their inclusion of fan art and reader contributions. Magazines like Nintendo Power and Sega Visions regularly showcased artwork, letters, and stories submitted by readers, fostering a strong sense of community and engagement. This interaction between the magazine and its audience was a precursor to the user-generated content that is so prevalent in today’s digital landscape.

The fan art sections were particularly popular, as they allowed young artists to see their work published and shared with a broader audience. This not only encouraged creativity but also created a sense of belonging among the readers. Many gamers looked forward to these sections each month, eager to see if their submissions had made it into the magazine. This level of reader interaction was instrumental in building a dedicated and passionate fanbase for these publications.

The Impact of Tips and Tricks Sections

Before the days of readily available online guides and forums, gaming magazines were the primary source for tips, tricks, and cheats. Sections dedicated to helping players navigate difficult levels or unlock hidden content were a staple in these publications. Magazines like Tips & Tricks specialized in providing comprehensive cheat codes, walkthroughs, and secret strategies for a wide range of games, making them invaluable to gamers seeking to master their favorite titles.

These tips and tricks sections were often the first place gamers would turn when they found themselves stuck on a particularly challenging level. The detailed maps, step-by-step guides, and secret codes provided by these magazines were often the difference between success and frustration. This practical information, combined with the excitement of discovering new secrets, made these sections some of the most popular and frequently referenced parts of gaming magazines.

Cover Stories and Exclusive Previews

Cover stories and exclusive previews were another major draw for readers. These features offered an inside look at upcoming games, often with insights directly from developers and behind-the-scenes access. Magazines like Game Informer and Official PlayStation Magazine frequently landed exclusive scoops, making them essential reading for gamers who wanted to stay ahead of the curve.

The anticipation generated by these exclusive previews was immense. Gamers eagerly awaited each new issue, hoping to catch a glimpse of the next big hit. The detailed articles, high-quality screenshots, and in-depth interviews provided a tantalizing preview of what was to come. This coverage often helped build hype and anticipation for upcoming releases, contributing significantly to the success of many games.

The Rise of Strategy Guides

In addition to regular issues, many gaming magazines launched special strategy guides for popular games. These guides offered comprehensive coverage, including maps, walkthroughs, and detailed strategies for completing every aspect of a game. Publications like Nintendo Power and Prima Games became renowned for their high-quality guides, which serious gamers often considered essential companions.

Meticulously crafted with input from game developers, these guides provided the most accurate and detailed information possible. They not only helped players complete their games but also enhanced their overall gaming experience by revealing hidden secrets and offering expert tips. The success of these guides demonstrated the strong demand for in-depth, authoritative gaming resources, making them an indispensable part of the gaming landscape.

The Art of the Interview

Interviews with game developers, designers, and industry insiders were a staple of many retro gaming magazines. These interviews provided readers with valuable insights into the creative processes behind their favorite games, as well as a glimpse into the minds of the people who made them. Magazines like Next Generation and Edge were particularly known for their in-depth and thought-provoking interviews.

These interviews often revealed fascinating details about the development process, from initial concepts to final execution. They also highlighted the challenges and triumphs faced by developers, offering readers a deeper appreciation for the artistry and effort involved in creating their favorite games. This behind-the-scenes access helped to humanize the industry, making it more relatable and engaging for readers.

The Decline of Print: The Internet Takes Over

The rise of the internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s marked the beginning of the decline for many print gaming magazines. Online forums, websites, and digital publications began to offer the same information faster and more conveniently. The immediacy of online content, combined with the ability to interact and share experiences with other gamers in real-time, made print magazines seem outdated by comparison.

Many traditional gaming magazines struggled to adapt to this new digital landscape. Some attempted to launch online versions or incorporate more multimedia content, but these efforts were often too little, too late. As advertising revenue shifted to digital platforms, the financial viability of print publications became increasingly precarious. The once-thriving market for gaming magazines began to shrink, leading to the closure of many beloved titles.

The Legacy of Retro Gaming Magazines

Retro gaming magazines played a crucial role in shaping the gaming culture of their time, providing a sense of community and shared experience for millions of gamers. These publications established standards for game journalism and criticism, influencing the way games are covered and discussed even today. Their impact on the gaming industry remains evident, with many former readers going on to become game developers, journalists, and industry professionals.

The sense of nostalgia and reverence for these magazines has led to a resurgence of interest in retro gaming. Fans seek out old issues and collectibles, celebrating the rich history and influence of these publications. This enduring legacy highlights the significant role retro gaming magazines played in the lives of gamers, preserving a piece of gaming history that continues to inspire and inform.

Collecting Retro Gaming Magazines Today

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in collecting retro gaming magazines. Enthusiasts scour online marketplaces, flea markets, and specialty shops in search of rare and valuable issues. Collectors value these magazines not only for their nostalgic appeal but also for their historical significance and the unique insights they offer into the gaming industry of the past.

Collecting retro gaming magazines can be a rewarding hobby, but it also requires a certain level of dedication and knowledge. Understanding the rarity and condition of different issues, as well as the market value, is essential for making informed purchases. Many collectors also take pride in preserving these magazines, ensuring that future generations can appreciate and learn from them. The resurgence of interest in these publications highlights their enduring appeal and the lasting impact they have had on the gaming community.

The Nostalgia Factor: Why We Still Love Retro Gaming Magazines

The nostalgia factor plays a significant role in the continued affection for retro gaming magazines. For many gamers, these publications are closely tied to their formative years, representing a time of discovery, excitement, and community. The act of flipping through the pages of an old gaming magazine can evoke powerful memories and emotions, transporting readers back to a simpler time when gaming was a new and thrilling adventure.

This nostalgia is not just about the games themselves, but also about the experience of reading the magazines. The anticipation of a new issue arriving in the mail, the joy of discovering new tips and secrets, and the sense of connection with other gamers are all part of the enduring appeal. For many, retro gaming magazines are a cherished part of their personal history, and revisiting them is a way to reconnect with those happy memories.

Conclusion: Celebrating the Legacy of Retro Gaming Magazines

Retro gaming magazines were more than just sources of information; they were a vital part of the gaming culture that helped shape the industry we know today. They provided a sense of community, offered valuable insights and tips, and created lasting memories for millions of gamers. As we look back on these classic publications, we celebrate their contributions and recognize the enduring legacy they have left behind.

In a world where digital media dominates, the physical presence and tangible nature of these magazines offer a unique and nostalgic experience. While the golden age of print gaming magazines may be over, their impact continues to resonate with gamers old and new. By preserving and cherishing these publications, we honor the history of gaming and ensure that the stories and experiences they captured will never be forgotten.

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