Retro Gamer #149 makes it out for Boxing Day!


Every month, we give you a spoiler-free run-down of what’s in the current (for the United States) issue of Retro Gamer magazine, letting you decide whether or not it’s worth buying.


Of course, we don’t actually celebrate Boxing Day here in the U.S., but I couldn’t think of anything better for the title of this post.  Once again, I managed to pick this one up from the news stand the day it came out, except that this time I made it down there before they even called.  This issue hit the news stand just shy of three weeks after the last one.

Lest anyone think otherwise, I am actually a fan of the Star Wars franchise.  That being said, the media is just over-saturated with it right now.  I haven’t even made it out to see the movie yet and I’m already sick of all the hype.

Obviously the first thing I saw on the cover was the Star Wars story, but my eyes pretty quickly drifted up and to the right.  “Is Virtua Cop still great?”  Uh, yeah?  Is water still wet?  Silly question.  Let’s dig in:

  • The Star Wars feature starts on page 20 and was really the first thing to catch my attention.  I don’t know if this is a thing with British magazines or just with Retro Gamer, but I always appreciate that the main cover story is always the first feature article in the magazine.  Here in the states, the cover story is usually buried in the magazine so that you have to go hunting for it.  At 14 pages, this is a beefy article (which is good!)  The first half of the article covers the original arcade game and its various ports, while the second half lists the top-10 greatest Star Wars video games ever made.  Both the original X-Wing and TIE Fighter (DOS PC) made the list, so I’m satisfied.
  • On the next page after the Star Wars spread there is a HUGE 2-page picture of an Atari Lynx.  Unfortunately that’s all there is, but I believe that they already did a full-length feature on the Lynx in an older issue.
  • The first “The Making of…” feature this month covers a ZX Spectrum game called “Saboteur”.  Since we never got the Speccy here in the US, this is of no interest to me.
  • This is interesting.  An 8-page article called “Acclaim: Gaming’s Most Controversial Publisher”.  I guess I’m just not in-the-know because I wasn’t aware of any controversy there.  I just think of Mortal Kombat, WWF games, and my wireless NES controller when I think of Acclaim…
  • “The History of ‘The Games’ Series.”  Awesome!  This article covers games like “Summer Games”, “Winter Games”, “California Games”, etc.  These were awesome games back then that are still fun to play now.  They should have just tied the Atari Lynx blurb from earlier in with this article, since California Games was its pack-in.
  • Next up is a pretty beefy 6-page article about the “Phillips Videopac G7000”.  You might be thinking “what the heck is that thing” but it’s actually the British version of the Magnavox Odyssey 2.  I actually had one of these for a while but ended up selling it.  But if you have an interest in pre-NES-era video games, this system is super-cheap to collect for and has some cool games on it.
  • The second “The Making of…” feature covers an Amiga game called “Walker”.  As I may have stated before, the Amiga was an incredible gamer’s computer platform that was sadly under-rated here in the US.  I don’t know anything about this Walker game, but it was developed by Psygnosis, who were an awesome development house throughout the 90’s (who should be very familiar to any early-adopters of the Playstation.)  Psygnosis would eventually be bought out by Sony and turned into “Sony Computer Entertainment Studio Liverpool”.  Anyway, Walker is a run & gun (or I guess a walk & gun) in which your character looks like an AT-ST from Star Wars.  Looks like a cool game to me.  Someone send me an Amiga 500/1200!!!
  • Virtua Cop only gets a 2-page article?  Really?  VERY DISAPPOINTING!
  • The next article is an 8-page feature called “Radiating Quality: The Legacy of Half-Life”.  I can’t help but think that if it weren’t for the Star Wars movie coming out, this would have been the cover story.  It should have been on the cover anyway, but I guess they have to sell magazines.  I don’t want to spoil the article for you, but the take-home message in this one is that Half Life was an incredible game.
  • There is a little 2-page blurb with a huge picture of the “G-Con 45”.  This is what the Brits called the Playstation’s Guncon controller.  I guess they couldn’t use the word “gun” in the name?  Suck an awesome peripheral, but their “essential game” for it is Point Blank 2.  That’s a cool game, but I would consider Time Crisis to be the “essential” game for it.
  • Interview with Mike Hally, who was an arcade game programmer for Atari, including programming Star Wars Arcade.  Interviews like this are always cool for learning some “behind the scenes” info.
  • This month’s “End Game” features “Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose” for the SNES.  I guess…

That’s it for this month.  I’d say that if you’re a fan of Star Wars Arcade, Half Life, or the Epyx series of sports games, this one is worth picking up, but otherwise it’s pretty skippable.