Interview: Out of Print Archive

Many gamers of a certain age will no doubt recall those halcyon days when the only way to really get your fix of gaming news, was to await the monthly publication of your favourite magazine. The internet of the early '90s was far removed from the internet of present year, and as such watching video of new releases or flipping through hi-resolution images direct from developer on social media wasn't something you could do. Indeed, most of my early memories of using the internet to find out about new game releases involve sneaking into the school IT suite at lunchtimes to employ Alta Vista in my insatiable quest for knowledge. Oh, and using Game Sages to get cheats. Does anyone else remember Game Sages or am I just making that website up?

Kids these days will never know the anticipation of that illuminated N *shakes fist at cloud*

Yes, back in the day, the magazine was king and it was through reading those printed materials that I took an interest in pursuing games journalism as a profession. Nowadays, I'm actually quite glad that I am not a professional games journalist, such is the the way online discourse has morphed, but for a period back in the late '90s and early 2000s it was all I wanted to do with my life. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that ambition either. 

Magazines of that period, and more to the point - the people who created them, were our heroes. They were the influencers of their day. Gus Swan, Marcus Hawkins, Caspar Field, Les Ellis, Jaz Rignall, Radion Automatic, Zy Nicholson, Wil Overton, Paul Davies, Keith Stuart, Simon Phillips, Ed Lomas, Tim Weaver, Mean Yob...just a few of the names I can instantly rattle off as an avid reader of a plethora of UK magazines from the 90s and 2000s. And I'm sure those in other parts of the world, and of a certain age can name the authors of their favourite magazines too.

The point I'm trying to make is that magazines were a huge part of many gamers' formative years, and the popularity of podcast Maximum Power Up's superb series of interviews with journos of yesteryear proves this. Furthermore, one website which encapsulates the magic of print media and preserving those memories is the excellent Out of Print Archive. A repository for digitised copies of print magazines of a bygone era, the Out of Print Archive has cemented itself as one of the premier online destinations for anyone who is looking to re-read those magical tomes of their childhood and take a walk down memory lane.

For this reason, we thought it would be pretty cool to speak to the people behind Out of Print Archive, ask them where the inspiration for the site came from, their digitisation process for various Dreamcast-related (and other format) magazines, and to find out what makes them - and the Archive itself - tick. Enjoy...

DCJY: Thanks so much for agreeing to speak to us about all things magazines! Could you tell us a bit about who you are, and what your roles are at Out of Print Archive?

Andy: Hello, my name is Andy (meppi64), I’m from Belgium and I’m working my way through scanning all my UK magazines, editing and restoring them. I also do all the coding and design work on the website itself and I run the Twitter account.

Neil: Hi, I'm Neil, I'm from the United Kingdom (Scotland) and I am one of the admins at Out of Print Archive. One of my initial roles when starting the project was to reach out to the UK publishers in an effort to obtain permission (officially and unofficially) to archive their back catalogue of gaming magazines. 

This allowed us to archive classic video gaming magazines without the nagging feeling that a publisher might come along with a cease and desist order. I have also written the odd article on classic magazines and have caught up with a few important people from the magazines in questions for an interview or input for a feature.

What’s the origin story of the Out of Print Archive? When and why did you decide to set up the site?

Neil: I have always been a fan of classic gaming magazines which lead me to create my own digital retro gaming magazine called Retroaction in 2008. After the release of the first issue, Carl, a fellow retro gaming magazine fan commented on how the ‘zine reminded him of the classic magazine GameFan, particularly its design and layout. 

He asked if he could post the news of the release with a small write up on the retro gaming forums where he was one of the admins along with Andy. This in turn introduced me to the world of magazine archiving and to Andy and his fantastic method of archiving Official Sega Saturn Magazine. I knew then that I wanted my own magazines to be archived in a similar way.

By 2009, we felt we needed to start our own archiving project. One that was totally transparent: free from ads, donations, or any other hindrance. Our main reason for this was to follow on from one of our main goals, in that to reach out to the publishers from yesteryear and get their permission to archive their back catalogue of magazines.

Andy: Originally I came across just 3 digital scans of the Official Sega Saturn magazine online, this must have been somewhere around 2004-2005. No matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find any more. Reading through these made me remember just how incredible this magazine was and how it was seemingly lost to time, hardly 6 years after the final issue was released.

So this set things in motion for me. I started the hunt down a complete set, with the goal to scan them (in a rather poor fashion at that time) and looking for various ways to get them into peoples hands again. From here, it snowballed into collecting a lot more magazines.

I met Neil as well as Carl, who has since moved on to other projects, on a message board and after a lot of trial and error, as well as seeing how several scanning projects handled things in ways we didn’t agree with, we decided to set up our own site. Focussing on putting quality above everything else, but also doing things with respect towards not just the publishers, but also the editors, writers, designers, etc.

Basically all the people who originally created these magazines we all fell in love with at one point of our lives.

Wow, so we effectively owe the creation of the Out of Print Archive in some way to the Official Sega Saturn Magazine. Not what I was expecting! You clearly have a love of print media - what are your earliest memories of print magazines?

Andy: My earliest memories of a print magazine has to be Club Nintendo. Not quite sure how I found out about it, but I believe there was some kind of postcard included with certain NES games, which you could send in to Nintendo to request a subscription. Once you were signed up, every 2 months you would receive a free copy of Club Nintendo magazine, which lasted from 1989 to 1993.

Neil: My earliest memory of print magazine is picking up C+VG in 1988. I was fairly late to notice magazines, considering I had been playing games for at least three years up until that point, but C+VG opened my eyes to the wonders that were out there. I eventually reserved a copy of C+VG and continued to receive a copy of it until the early 2000s. My other earliest memory is of grabbing a copy of Amstrad Action in 1989. It was an anniversary issue where they gave away a cover-mounted cassette tape with demos and freeware stuff. This issue also reviewed one of my favourite computer games of all time, Laser Squad.

Interesting - I also remember Amstrad Action. It wasn’t so much the magazine I was interested in back then, more the demo tape that came with each issue. Apart from your earliest memories, did you have any particular favourite magazines?

Neil: There are three main magazines that had a massive influence on my formative years: C+VG, Amstrad Action, and Mega.

Having an Amstrad CPC in the mid 1980s meant that I was into Amstrad Action throughout the late Eighties and early Nineties. While the magazine was always equally focused on technical and leisure, I would always focus on the games only. The design was fine, but it was the reviews and actual content that held my interest, as well as its cover-mounted cassette tapes.

While single format magazines came and went, C+VG was a mainstay through all the changes from the 8-bits, the 16-bits, the 32-bits. And for some reason, C+VG was also available at the school library. A bunch of us would spend our break times drooling at the next generation consoles that were making their way to UK shores, such as the PC Engine and Mega Drive. 

By 1992, I was heavily into Sega Mega Drive territory, and with this came a journey through many Sega publications. I had early skirmishes with Sega Power, Sega Force, and Sega Pro before settling down with Mega magazine that launched in the latter half of 1992. Mega, to me, was a fabulous magazine: great design, fine writers, great content. An all rounder for the gamer. 

Andy: Oh yes. Being from Belgium, we only had a limited selection of UK magazines available at the time. And this varied greatly from place to place. So I missed out on some big ones originally. Mean Machines for instance, as well as Super Play, and even - like Neil - C+VG early on.
One of the first print magazines I remember picking up was a copy of the French magazine: Joypad.

It was in a small game shop far out of town, which I was never able to find again.
This shop had a Neo Geo AES and Last Resort on display, which could be played by customers, this blew my mind at the time as I’ve never seen one before in real life. Issue 18 was the very first issue I bought right there and then, so that would make it March of 1993. Even with my rather limited knowledge of French, I loved this magazine.

It covered a ton of Japanese imports, including systems such as the Neo Geo and PC-Engine, so this not only cemented my love for video game magazines, but also started my fascination, or should I say obsession with Japanese imports, as well as with the PC-Engine and Neo Geo. I wouldn’t own either system for another 10 and 11 years respectively though.

I started heckling the local news agent to try and source JoyPad as well as keep a look out for others like it. This way I ended up discovering C+VG, N64 Magazine, which got a translated version into Dutch over here, at least for a while, as well as Nintendo Official Magazine and Dreamcast Magazine later on. Years later, he told me I made him a lot of money thanks to getting magazines like this in his shop, as these turned to be very popular. 

C+VG especially was really important for me as it linked up with my tastes in games very closely.
 I learned so much from this magazine. It’s the magazine that actually made me purchase a Saturn, which is still my favourite system till this day.

Another huge influence on me was the previously mentioned Official Sega Saturn Magazine, which was a magazine I have never seen in any regular shops, which isn’t that surprising as finding a Sega Saturn was not that easy over here either as most retailers quickly dropped it in favour of the Playstation.

I came across OSSM in this small import shop, that I used to travel to by train once a month. The shopkeeper recommended it to me as he was always trying to convince people into getting a Sega Saturn, including myself. So you know he’s a person of immaculate taste! (Hi Ali! :D)

By the time I started buying OSSM, they were already on issue 34, so sadly, 3 issues later the magazine would end its run.

I have great memories of most of those magazines you both mentioned. C+VG, Amstrad Action, Sega Saturn Magazine, Games Master, Sega Power and N64 were just a few of the magazines I enjoyed prior to the release of the Dreamcast. Speaking about the current state of the magazine market,  does the decline in print media worry / sadden you?

Andy: It really does. Perhaps it’s just part of getting older, but to me it doesn’t really feel the same as it once did. Reading features and reviews online, compared to waiting a month to get a new issue from the newsstand and then going over it again and again till the next one came out.

Everything is much more direct now, but it also feels a lot more fleeting as there’s a constant stream of info. It feels more fleeting, like it could be here today, gone tomorrow. With magazines, you don’t have to worry about reading them 20-30 years later, at least in theory.

Neil: For me, I’m not really saddened as such, more disappointed. The further we moved away from the millennium, the more inevitable it became. However, by the time it started affecting the big publishers, I had moved away from the current generation of consoles, and concentrated solely on retrogaming. 

Retro gaming seems to be one area of gaming that has almost weathered the storm. Magazines such as Retro Gamer and the various crowd funded offerings continue to be successful. Moving on, do you have sizeable physical magazine collections yourselves?

Neil: During the late Nineties, I must have amassed over a thousand magazines while still living with my parents house, but due to a pre-move clean up and misunderstanding, the vast majority were taken to the local dump. Over the past 15 years I have managed to recover the vast majority of those magazines, either from eBay hauls or generous donations. I now have hundreds stored away in the loft, including Mega, C+VG, Sega Power, Arcade, PC Zone, PC Player,  and various issues of Official Dreamcast Magazine, DC-UK, Dreamcast Magazine, Dreamcast Monthly, and Official Dreamcast Magazine (US).

Andy: I would say so, yes. I find it hard to put a number on it, but I would say around 90% of the magazines on the site are from my collection. With around 250 waiting in the wings in various states of being edited, as well as at least another 150 or so that I’m yet to scan.

Neil, I feel your pain - I have mentioned this multiple times on the podcast but I too amassed a huge collection of magazines throughout my childhood. When I joined the navy and went away, my dad decided to burn - yes burn - my entire collection on a bonfire in his back garden. I still have no idea why. Before I burst into tears, let’s move on. Do you buy any contemporary magazines? If so, which ones?

Andy: I’ve had a Retro Gamer subscription (both print and digitally) for so many years now. I believe my print subscription started in 2006, maybe 2007, after the magazine was rebooted as it closed down the year before and was purchased by Imagine Publishing. I also have a Patreon subscription to Nintendo Force magazine as well as Switch Player and Mega Visions.

I keep up with Ninty Fresh on Kickstarter and also quite a few gaming books, like Dreamcast: Year One and Two by Andrew Dickinson, the PlayStation Vita: Years series by Sandeep Rai. Quite a few Bitmap Books publications, the NES and SNES Encyclopaedias by Chris Scullion and I just discovered a great line of books by Geeksline Publishing.

I’m sure I’m forgetting others! So while there are few actual magazines left, there’s still a lot of love and passion being put into print in various forms.

Neil: I don’t really buy contemporary magazines at all. I used to buy Retro Gamer religiously, but I now only get the odd issue if something takes my interest in the issue. The main problem I have with Retro Gamer is that it hasn’t really changed, especially design wise, in the 15 years of its publishing run. 

The early issues by Live Publishing had a great fanzine feel to them, but since Imagine Publishing took over, it became very clean, generic, and... 'safe' to put a word on it. Another problem with the publication is the stagnation of the editorial team. It’s amazing to think that the magazine has had – more or less – the same editorial team for 15 years. That would be unheard of back in the hey day of video gaming magazines. 

Editors and writers would not stay still for too long in those days (around 12 months on one magazine was considered a long stint). Publishers would also make sure that magazines were overhauled and re-designed to keep everything fresh and exciting. The past few years has also seen a lot of errors creeping in to the writing style: grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style formatting – to someone with editing and designing background, these things stick out. These problems have affected Retro Gamer greatly, at least for me anyway. 

Turning to Out of Print Archive then, what’s the process of ingesting a magazine into the Archive? How do you go about digitising the magazines and how do you decide what to digitise?

Neil: From the very beginning, it was always my aim to digitally archive my beloved Mega magazine. Well, the first 23 issues anyway – the sale of Mega to a rival publisher harmed the magazine’s continuity greatly, with a different team, different content and layout. I always made sure I had copies of Mega because it is best to debind them (cutting off the spine so that the pages are loose) which makes scanning the pages much easier. 

Andy: Oh, if I’m not careful, this one could go on for hours and hours, so I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible!
 Selection is rather easy. It can’t be any magazine that is currently available in any official form.

There also needs to be quite a few years between the time we decide to work on a publication and the last issue that was released of it. The second consideration is rather basic: it has to be a magazine that one of us really enjoys or has a soft spot for. See, it takes a lot of commitment to create a digital version of a single magazine, let alone a complete set, so being passionate about the content you work on for hours on end is a huge bonus.

So if it’s an era, a system or a topic that you aren’t particularly fond of yourself, working on it will quickly turns into a slog, as creating digital reproductions of magazines is an incredibly repetitive process at its core. This project would quickly turn into more of a job and it wouldn’t take long before I’d get burned out on it.

For instance, I’ve never really been a PC gamer. Well besides the late 80’s DOS gaming, and the 6 years I spent playing Half-Life death match. And I have no real history with the British micro scene either, besides playing some C64 at a friend’s home back then. So while I do appreciate those systems for all the games and experiences that no doubt enriched this hobby as a whole, for me personally, that’s not where my heart lies, so I focus on other things instead.

I love working on anything that is Sega or Nintendo centric, but also things like Neo Geo and PC-Engine coverage, which tends to be really hard to find over here. Also anything arcade based or that has to do with the Japanese gaming scene from years passed are the topics that I love to read about and work on.

The digitisation process itself is a lot tougher. It starts off simple enough though: Scanning all the pages in a magazine. The first problem we run into is, that about 95% of the time a magazine does not quite fit on an A4 scan plate. So each page has to be scanned, once from the left side, and then again from the right side. This alone takes about 4 hours for roughly 100 pages. Afterwards, the pages get cropped a few inches on the side that hangs over the scan plate to get rid of the warping effect.

Then the pages are stitched together again with photomerge in Photoshop and manually inspected for errors. From here every page gets straightened so that all the text and images line up nicely and then gets cropped so you get a clean looking page. A lot of the time, parts of the bottom of the pages will not be fully scanned either. And there tends to be a number of pages in each magazine where the spine side will still appear rather blurry, or will look warped.

So rescans of those sections have to be done. These parts then get added back into the main pages manually with various editing tricks until they look perfect. This part of the process takes roughly 5-6 hours, sometimes more depending on the magazine.

 From here the final work can begin. The actual restoration. With a whole host of techniques and tricks that I’ve learned over the past 15 years, I do my best to turn back the hands of time on everything that the past x amount of years have added to these magazines. This means yellowing of the pages due to age, spots and blemishes, dust, scratches and tears, as well as filled out surveys or scribbling in the magazine from previous owners. And sometimes even printing issues, like ink smears, faded text due to a printing problems, etc.

Basically anything and everything that shouldn’t be there, in an attempt to make the magazine appear exactly like it just hit the newsstand back in the day. This part can easily take up 30 hours by itself for a 100 page magazine, sometimes 40 depending on the extent of the damage.

Wow - that is a very comprehensive insight into the ingestion process. I would imagine a lot of people may think it’s just a case of putting the magazines on the scanner, hitting ‘scan’ and that’s it. Fascinating stuff. Very much a case of digital archiving. On the topic of individual magazines, are there any particularly uncommon or rare magazines you haven’t been able to find that you’d like to digitise?

Andy: Not quite sure how rare they are, but I would love to be able to find a complete set of Nintendo Magazine System, Cube Magazine, Official Nintendo Magazine during the Wii generation. And actually, the original Official Xbox Magazine as well. As that’s one of the systems with magazines that seem to get overlooked a lot, and I have always had a soft spot for the underdog. I would also love to find issues of C+VG from the years leading up to issue 168, which is where the Paul Davies era started, and which is are the years I’ve been focussing on up to now.

Neil: Fortunately, I have copies of all my small selection of favourite magazines, or they have already been digitised online. There are a lot of latter issues in many Sega publications that seem to be extremely rare or lost to time, and 30 years on, perhaps we have to come to terms that no copies of them ever being found.

Image courtesy of Sega Mags

Interesting. There do seem to be a few magazines that have become lost to time, or are just quite mysterious, such as the fabled Total Dreamcast or issue 3 of Mr. Dreamcast. More about Dreamcast magazines shortly, but which magazines seem to ignite the most nostalgic comments from readers when you release a new scan?

Neil: It looks like Nintendo magazines get a lot of interest, especially the Super Play/N64 Magazine run. Will Overton’s fantastic cover art for those publications helps greatly in generating interest from fans, and rightly so.

Andy: Oh that has to be be N64 Magazine for sure. Super Play as well. There’s a massive fanbase out there for not only the Nintendo 64, but also for N64 Magazine. So many people still revere it as their favourite magazine ever. Super Play gets a ton of praise, especially for its heavy focus on RPGs and its Japanese focus in general. You can see an incredible amount of excitement whenever a feature gets posted about any Rare game, or when a magazine gets released with a Rare property on the cover.

Totally share your sentiments. I met Wil Overton once at an event, very nice chap. I can see why Nintendo themed magazines are popular - I too owned an N64 immediately prior to the Dreamcast, so it holds a special place in my heart!  When reading magazines back, which parts are your favourite? Reviews? Previews? Cheats? Mailbag?

Andy: A combination of all of these really! Since so much of the content inside these magazines is intertwined with the memories of playing the games, or looking forward to a specific game for months and months before it was released. So it all kind of blends into each other.

The mailbag is also a great place to see how things were going at the time, especially during the troubling Saturn and Dreamcast times. As it shows the worries and frustrations of gamers, but also the joys and excitement about games that just got released, or things that were just on the horizon. These are great little time capsules.

Previews and coming soon features certainly make me relive the anticipation and hype for a lot of games. Some of the more fascinating ones are when information on a new system was starting to come out. I personally love in-depth features as well as interviews that go a bit deeper than just telling the reader to buy or avoid a game. MAXIMUM was really good at this and would do 16 page spreads all the time.

Neil: The reviews will always be my go to section of the classic magazines. The mail section were always an interesting read, too. Mega had a great section titled Arena that featured Weird and Wonderful Happenings, and Wacky Challenges. The latter was where suggestions were printed on how to prolong your favourite games, like playing the game not as intended. My favourite being to play NHLPA Hockey ‘93 with no goal tender. I wrote about this challenge in my Tenth Anniversary issue of Retroaction.

Speaking of games, let’s speak more about games! When did you get into gaming, and what - if you can recall - are your earliest gaming memories?

Neil: The mid-Eighties was when I rescued my sister’s abandoned Amstrad CPC, which was given to her as a Christmas present to help with homework and studies. While the Amstrad CPC was perfectly set up to use as a business or tech machine, I used it just for gaming. The earliest games I remember playing on the Amstrad CPC include Oh Mummy, Harrier Attack, and Manic Miner.

Andy: Well, I grew up in a small pub, so from the time arcade machines started popping up, there was always one near me, just a couple of meters away. Pinball cabinets as well in fact. These machines got switched out for new ones every couple of months to keep people playing, so I played tons of them.

As soon as I could stand on a chair to reach the joystick and buttons of an arcade cabinet or pinball machine actually. So that would have to be 1979 (I was born in 1976). My first memory of playing an arcade game like that was a black & white version of Space Invaders. I clearly remember it having different coloured strips of cellophane overlaid on top of the CRT, to simulate colours. Although I can’t seem to find anything online these days about a Space Invaders version that had these…

From there on, there seems to have been an endless stream of arcade games that I played. From Galaga to Asteroids, Elevator Action, Rush ’N Attack, Pengo, Donkey Kong, Popeye, Amidar, Xevious, Wonder Boy, etc. As well as pinball machines such as Buck Rogers, Solar Fire, Trident and many more. I got to play my sister’s MicroVision and later on got my very first system: A Popeye Game & Watch. Then a NES not too long after it showed up in stores, and from there, nearly every console and handheld since.

Wow, lots of gaming heritage there then. Again, the Amstrad CPC 464 was essentially the first gaming machine I owned (not that it was built exclusively for gaming). The first dedicated console I owned was the Mega Drive, again not long after it came out in the UK. Do you have a favourite retro console and/or favourite retro game?

Andy: Oh, that’s an easy one! The Sega Saturn and NiGHTS into Dreams. While I adore a ton of games, if I may name a few: Sega Rally 1995, WaveRace 64, Crazy Taxi, Panzer Dragoon Zwei and Saga, Earth Defense Force, tons and tons of shoot ‘em ups, and way too many others to count or name here. But NiGHTS into Dreams is just a magical game to me.

It came at a time where the PS1 scene was moving onto more and more “mature” type games.
 Dark, brown and grey textured, more western style games really, leaving 2D gaming as a whole by the waste-side for the most part, as well as moving away from arcade style games. So after I got my Saturn, which I bought mainly for all the colourful arcade ports. 

It took a while before I finally was able to find a copy of NiGHTS with the 3D pad. And it absolutely blew my mind. That was when I vowed I would never hesitate to buy a Sega System ever again, as it took till May of 1997 before I got the Saturn myself. It really cemented my love for Sega till this day, even though I did have a MegaDrive as well as a Game Gear pretty early after they came out.

Neil: My favourite console would have to be the Mega Drive. This was when we all seemed to be into the same system and same games. The early Nineties was a great time to be into video games while still at school. I had many Mega Drive games that I played constantly. I am a big sports fan so the likes of PGA Tour Golf, Sensible Soccer, Speedball 2, and NHLPA Hockey ‘93 got the most plays. 

I am a big strategy fan so the likes of Shining Force, Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday always got a look in. Strider is an excellent conversion of the arcade version with super visuals, level design, and soundtrack. Flashback is also a fantastic game that blends many sci-fi classic tales with lush visuals and gameplay. A special mention must go to Sonic 2, if only for its unique launch and just being a great game to have a bunch of school friends around to play with.

Moving to the Dreamcast specifically, on your site you mention that no magazines from later than 1999 will be archived, but there’s a special dispensation for Dreamcast magazines - what brought on this special treatment?

Neil: The cut-off point was  agreed upon after consulting with publishers at the time of creating Out-of-Print Archive. The special dispensation for the Dreamcast coverage was due to the fact that the console was released before 2000, despite many of its magazines spanning across into the new millennium. Whereas the other consoles were released post 2000, after our cut-off date. 

Ah, thanks for clearing that up. On the topic of the Dreamcast itself then, did you own a Dreamcast during its natural lifespan?

Andy: Yes I did - day one in fact! I got it at a local store as soon as it opened, early in the morning.  Coupled with a VMU and Sonic Adventure as well as Virtua Fighter 3TB. Later that afternoon, I returned there to pick up my copy of Sega Rally 2 which hadn’t arrived yet and came in with a late shipment. Got up to the register and they told me that I should know that the game didn’t work on a PSone. I replied: "yeah, I know - I picked up a Dreamcast from you this morning!" No idea why that stuck in my mind for 20 years…

Neil: Unfortunately, I had moved away from the console scene during the late Nineties, so I didn’t actually own any consoles from this time. I have seen and played on many Dreamcasts since though.

Back to magazines again - do you have a favourite Dreamcast magazine?

Neil: The three main magazines are all solid enough, but my favourite is probably the Official Dreamcast Magazine, if just for the behind the scenes information I was able to get hold of. In among one of the generous magazine donations, I was given a handful of Dreamcast magazines, including a couple of rare dummy issues of Official Dreamcast Magazine. 

With the help of the then editor Mark Higham, I was able to write an article about them. The dummy issues have since made their way to a massive Dreamcast collector by the name of James (aka Blue Swirl). He covered the issues himself on his blog, from which they were also able to be covered on the Dreamcast Junkyard itself.

Andy: For me that would have to be a cross between Dreamcast Magazine by Paragon Publishing and DC-UK. While I do enjoy the Official Dreamcast Magazine, it felt more like a lifestyle magazine for some reason. With a lot of focus on what happens around the fringes of the industry and such, and what random passers thought about the system, more so than in-depth gaming features. I’m also not a big fan of the look. It looks a bit too clean for my taste, if that makes any sense. No where near as colourful as Dreamcast magazine or even DC-UK.

But then again, that was a deliberate choice by Sega. They liked how it felt more like a lifestyle magazine than a gaming magazine. Something which the launch editor, Mark Higham thought they were wrong about, and I have to say, I agree with him.

It also tended to have rather brutal reviews at times, to the point of being unfair even, especially for 2D games or arcade ports. That makes it sound like I hate the magazine, which is far from the case. It’s just that with people such as Ed Lomas, Steve Key and Tom Guise on it, I kinda was hoping for it to be C+VG part 2, which for me it wasn’t.

Some really insightful comments on the Official UK Dreamcast magazine there. I was always more of a Dreamcast Magazine reader, although on occasion - and when I could find them - I would also buy DC-UK or Dreamcast Monthly (and on one occasion, Mr. Dreamcast). So the burning question now - what is your favourite Dreamcast game?

Andy: Another easy one! Crazy Taxi hands down. While I love the Dreamcast catalogue, this one is very special to me. It’s one of the few games that whenever I get burned out on games, is able to rekindle my love for the hobby and makes me remember why I’ve been gaming for 40 years now. The games that have this effect on me the most are Crazy Taxi, Sega Rally 1995, NiGHTS, WipEout and WipEout 2097, and a ton of shoot ‘em ups. Batsugun, Xevious and Dodonpachi Resurrection being some of my favourites.

Neil: I have always enjoyed the likes of Max Payne on PC and hoped it would come to the Dreamcast (which it famously didn’t), and Shenmue is a very unique game, but the game I played the most must be Resident Evil: Code Veronica – I was into the Resident Evil games in a massive way at the time. 

Interesting mix there. On the flip side, do you have any Dreamcast games you particularly dislike?!

Neil: No, there have not been any Dreamcast games that I have actively disliked. Having said that, by this time, I was very choosy in what I spent time playing - if any game even looked like it would not appeal to me I never even gave it a second glance!

Andy: I had a hard time thinking of one actually. At first I thought maybe Plus Plumb? But I couldn’t say I hate it, just that it’s really average. But after going through my game collection again, I came across Langrisser Millennium. It has to be that one. I was so hyped for the game as I love Langrisser and imported all the Saturn releases in the previous years.

So when I finally got my hands on Millennium, I was so let down. It was a blind buy so I didn’t even know what I was in for. Oh, Rainbow Cotton was another one! Can’t say I hate it, but again, it was such a disappointment after Panorama Cotton as well as Cotton 2 and Cotton Boomerang on Saturn.

Are there any games are you particularly fond of from the current generation (PS4 / XB1 onwards)?

Andy: Since I’m an arcade gamer at heart, I still heavily gravitate towards those kinds of games, although they have become rather rare these days, when it comes to new releases at least. So I try to look for games that share some of their DNA with the arcade scene. 

Some of my favourites being: Earth Defense Force 4.1 and 5, Gundam Breaker 3 Break Edition, Pinball Arcade and Pinball FX3 (especially for the Williams tables, which are brilliantly replicated here), Streets of Rage 4, Umihara Kawase, Tetris Effect, ESP Ra. De. Psy and Killer Instinct.
 But I do play a ton of genres with one notable exception: sports games. Unless they are of the arcade kind.

Others I’ve enjoyed immensely over the past 6 years or so are the Yakuza series, Toukiden Kiwami, Nuclear Throne, DriveClub, Samurai Warriors 4, Bayonetta 2, Sonic Mania, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate and World without a doubt, Danmaku Unlimited 3, Crimson Clover, Sunset Overdrive, the Ori games, Sekiro, Ace Combat 7, Grid, Breath of the Wild, the Trials series, Bloodstained. I could go on and on.

Neil: To be honest, I haven’t even touched the last two generation of gaming consoles at all. Since Sega left hardware manufacturing, the gaming scene has been very samey. The only console I have even touched in the last 15 years is the Wii, and that was more to do with the kids having it, and it having lots of retro gaming potential.

Going back to games journalism and the magazines of the past, as you no doubt see a lot of articles, features and reviews, do you notice a particular change in style as time goes by? Like, do you think certain eras have their own tone?

Neil: A lot of magazines seem to have lost their charm during the last 20 years. I see them as having taken a safe route of clean, safe design and bland content. Nothing really stands out on its own anymore. Why design a magazine in clean white design with black text when you can do this exact same style online? It’s not like the days of when EMAP, Europress, Dennis Publishing, and Future Publishing would release vastly different magazines to each other - both visually and editorially.

Andy: Oh for sure. Although it really depends on the team behind the magazine. While some became a lot more serious and went for a much more professional look and tone, others evolved, but still retained the colourful designs as well as a ton of humour. It really depends on what kind of magazine they set forward to creating and the chemistry between the people involved. At least that’s how I feel.

I do miss the more humorous style of writing seen in magazines such as Mean Machines Sega and Amiga Power, and to some extent beyond magazines with the content of Teletext’s Digitizer. What are your thoughts (if any) on modern games journalism and how it differs from print journalism of the past?

Andy: It’s a bit hard for me to comment on this as I don’t keep up with any of the big sites.
For some reason, it seems to be harder for me nowadays to connect with how their scores and reviews translate into wether or not I will enjoy or dislike the games myself. For instance, one of my favourite games series, or genre if you will, tends to get ridiculed or just brushed aside by a lot of the modern review sites.

I’m talking about musou games. Only recently, with the Zelda and Fire Emblem entries do they seem to be getting a fair shake, mostly due to the IP linked to them. I’ve seen so many reviews of them, that, if you’re somewhat of a serious fan of them, you can pick apart in the first couple of sentences.

As it becomes clear how they just played for half an hour and then quickly written a bunch of superfluous stuff that could apply to any random entry from the past 20 years. That’s just one example though. There are obviously plenty of people out there doing a great job. It’s just that in this day and age, where everyone gets a voice, it seems to be harder to find the ones you can rely on, and more specifically identify with.

Neil: Modern games journalism is more or less a writer for hire. I see some journalists giving the impression that they don’t even care about the game/subject/hardware they are reviewing. A complete contrast to the ‘80s/’90s heyday of gaming journalism when they wrote about what they loved doing: gaming and nothing else. 

Without getting too heavy into the subject, dare I say that there is no longer games journalism, but journalists who happen to write about games. At first glance, it appears that the games journalism scene has regressed back to the early 1980s when non-gaming journalists would be paid for their views on video gaming. 

And on that note, are there any particular writers from magazines of the past or any particular magazine articles or features that stick in the mind? I don’t know why but Jes Bickham’s review of Ocarina of Time in N64 Magazine always stays with me as a really great piece, for some reason.

Neil: There have been lots of favourite writers from the Eighties and Nineties but a small handful have had a big influence on my gaming path. People such as Rod Lawton, Julian Rignall, Steve Jarrett, Dave Perry, and Neil West guided me through my gaming journey, be it choosing games consoles or games themselves.

Andy: Oh yes. Keep in mind, this has a lot to do with nostalgia and especially how it affected me personally, as they steered me towards rekindling my love for Sega. The first big name that comes to mind is Paul Davies. C+VG under his watch was something truly special. A magazine I knew I could trust, despite a couple of reviews being a bit too harsh for my personal liking (Alundra 3/5 comes to mind), I can’t remember a single instance where they steered me wrong.

 The opposite in fact. 

The insane amount of passion and love that shone though the pages whenever Ed Lomas would talk about NiGHTS for instance, whether that be in coming soon features, the review itself, where Paul Davies, Ed Lomas and Tom Guise gushed about what a magical game it really was, all the way to the countless random mentions that popped up throughout the magazine, from the letter section to, well, every possible opportunity where they could bring NiGHTS into the conversation, even many months after the game was released.

These people were responsible for sitting me down with a pen and paper, a big stack of C+VG issues, as well as an equally big stack of JoyPad ones, and making the decision that, if I could make a list of at least 20 Sega Saturn games that I had to play, I would actually buy the system.
Remember that this was a system that everyone around me, as well as a lot of people in the industry kept saying was a complete failure and a waste of time as well as money.


It didn’t take long before I had a list of well over 20 games and I started looking to getting a Saturn. Which wasn’t easy at the time and took me halfway across the country!  Nearly 25 years later, and it’s still my favourite system as well as the period in gaming for that I still look back at the most fondly. And more importantly, I’m still a huge Sega fan. They were the reason why I wanted to have a Dreamcast on day one, as to avoid my mistake of being late to the party like with the Saturn.

As I missed out on quite a lot of magazines originally, I’m so grateful to have been able to discover the work of people such as Richard Leadbetter, Wil Overton, Chris Scullion, Paul Glancey, Julian Rignall, Jes Bickham, Jonathan Davies and many, many others.

A specific article that has stuck by me is in Club Nintendo Volume 2 Issue 5, from 1990. Namely the Game Boy special. Seeing the Game Boy and the first screenshots of games was a real revelation to me, especially since Game & Watch games were the standard for portable gaming at that point for me. And now that I think about it, the Super Nintendo reveal from Club Nintendo Volume 4 Issue 4 from 1992 is another one of those standout moments. Drooling over those first picture of Super Castlevania IV, F-Zero and Super Mario World for months on end.


One more memory that is burned into my mind is the reveal of Diddy Kong Racing in Nintendo Official Magazine 61 from October 1997. That game felt like it came out of nowhere, especially as it would release not even 2 months later.

 My favourite part though, from working on all these magazines over the past 15+ years, is not only discovering or rediscovering magazines, articles, or even games that I hadn’t seen before, or perhaps had forgotten about. 

But getting to talk to a lot of the people who worked on these magazines originally, and realising just how friendly, kind and supportive they really are. Some even sending over magazines from their personal collection to get digitised. The amount of positive reactions we have gotten over the years is truly incredible and makes me think we are meeting the goals we set out to accomplish.

To make them proud in how we present their work in digital form all these years later and to try and preserve the legacy of a medium that in this day and age often is forgotten. And how people who didn’t grow up with these magazines, don’t even realise just what in integral part they played in the hobby as a whole.

It’s been so much fun to be able to relive and share a ton of memories with not just fellow gamers, but also the people who we looked up to back then to inform us, help us make good purchasing decisions, make us laugh and help us discover so many things we wouldn’t even have known existed.


Huge thanks to both Andy and Neil for taking the time to speak with us about all things games magazine preservation. Be sure to visit the Out of Print Archive and follow the main account on Twitter here. Are there any magazines you are particularly fond of? Let us know in the comments!


  1. I just discovered your website. It's great. I love it. Nearly 40 something's from the UK that were young gamers had a special connection to their stack of gaming magazines.

    I honestly don't think iwould be able to read or write as well had I not spent my preteens trying to decipher the words and pictures of Amiga magazines clearly aimed at adults.

  2. Great interview!! Out of print page is in my "favorites" fold since its inception! Beign a Brazilian, I have to say that I followed Videogames Magazines here since its beginnings, in the end of 1990 (in a special edition of a magazines which is call " Semana em Ação"). By mid 1991, around July, we already had 3 monthly magazines (Videogame, Ação Games and Supergame), being one of them a exclusive SEGA Magazine (Supergame). We had some magazines in Brazil in our Atari age (that was between 1983 and 1988... By the way, I started my life in gaming around 1986/1987, with a Atari 2600), but the 3rd generation game consoles scene really kicked off here in 1991 (together with the beginning of the 4th generation), with 3 exclusive magazines and a lot of Videogame Shops around the country.