ST Magazine issue 132
We see a famous French ST mag finally come into a clearer view for the rest
of us. This is the first english-translated issue, which is number 132. It
is distributed in the UK by 16-32 Systems of Jagfest fame. The issue under
review is dated for Oct 2003, and covers Atari activity going on through
To take our first physical impression of the beast, it has a soft and
slightly glossy cover, and weighs in at 36 pages. The impact of that
generous page count is lessened slightly by it being an A5 'booklet' size.
So it looks more like a very upmarket fanzine, rather than a news-stand
quality mag. The cover is in full colour, with the front end showing a
picture of the CT60 getting its chips out for the lads! This gives a tasty
hint of one of the major features in the mag, a full review of that hefty
Having suitably impressed the Atari print media starved masses with their
extravagance of a coloured outer cover, the contents settle back down to
being shown in a more sedate and familiar black and white. The text and
screenshots are laid out in a very similar fashion to the late and departed
'Atari Computing' magazine, of which I have fond personal memories.
The contents can be considered thus:
We are introduced to the first text on the inside cover, no hanging around
with the editorial. The thoughts of Cyril Denis, redactor in chief, about
the new English language edition of the mag, are given full rein here. His
view for any more? Well wait and see! Incidentally, we have to thank Bruno
Aubin for his "Mastery of Shakespeare's idiom and playing the guitar like
nobody else" for our chance to review this magazine in detail.
A functional contents page next, with a list of contents, thanks, and URL's.
'In Brief' is a procession of fast and hot headlines. They think that the
CT60 being available is worth mentioning. Also various other items cover
things like the Jaguar Connexion, and version updates of various software
perennials such as Draconis, Highwire (then at v1.4!) Mymail, PMDoom,
Nethack, and more.
Stepping lightly over the single page advertisment for a French retro-gamer
mag 'ReVival, we come to the 'Sharewares' section next. This is a series of
brief reviews. This starts with a bit of a bollocking for all those software
authors who don't come forward with news of new versions of their work, in
spite of being asked to do so! Up for review, are a bunch of games and apps,
which are all French in origin, and in some cases, these have never been
seen overseas before! For example, I'm not sure if the game 'Bouche Cousue'
will set the world alight in the same way that a Reservior Gods release
does, but I wonder how many more forgotten gallic classics there are still
Applications such as Hyp-view, Fashion Icon editor, and the Xairon personal
organiser/calender and several others round out this section of several
pages. Hopefully Cyril will get the response he is looking for in time for
the next issue?
A double page spread concerns Cubase Lite, which gives the lucky reader a
list of mouse and keyboard shortcuts. Handy to have around in a handy
portable A5 format, I guess.
The theme of higher-powered Atari systems gets off to a roaring start with a
four-page review of Aranym, the generic sort of Falcon-like in places
emulator for Linux, which can be tamed to run on things as diverse as Sparc
Stations and the Pegasos PPC board, not to mention common or garden wintel
boxes. The author is quite enthusiastic, in a market with a limited range of
options (we get to CT60 nearer the end!) Aranym comes across as a very
useful bit of kit. Quite a lot of information about using it is given as
well, even to the point of tailoring the linux core to let your Aranym
system have direct access to the internet. Highwire 2.0 from a virtual
system? Cool or what! Not to mention that certain games like Double Bobble
2000, and Bunion Canyon have been cited as running under it as well!
Eric Hall, of MyMail, blasts through an interview, in which some of the
questions seemed to be hard for him to follow, although some useful
information as to future developments is gained.
Something calling itself "GFA Punch", which seems to be a concept and title
more familiar to regular readers. It provides a detailed dissection of three
lines of working GFA Basic code, and how it could be improved. We look
forward to an assembly language 4ktro listing in the next issue? ;-)
Next, we have something scantily covered in the previous mainstream printed
mags, although we did our bit to change this in Atari Computing. Yes, it's
time for some demo reviews! These are mainly concerning certain releases
from the Error in Line 3 party. The author is fixated on the Reservoir Gods
for some reason, as both 'Grimey' and 'Hallucinations' are covered, they are
generously screen-grabbed, along with the 'Echoes' 96ktro. Coming in at two
and a half pages, I guess that the 'Posh' demo would run to a three-part
series in the limited space available!
Almost as a space filler, and very belatedly, a review of that 1998 RG
classic, 'Bunion Canyon' fills up half a page.
The best has been saved until almost the end. This is a five page CT60
review by Pascal Ricard. Quite a lot of ground is covered, from describing
the board itself, through to installation and using it with certain favoured
applications. This article is heavily illustrated throughout, with photo's
of the unit, screengrabs of the config and flash tools dialogue boxes, and
even what looks like Rodolphe's original schematic blueprint for the CT60.
The author seems to like what he has got, a common reaction to us all!
The end is in sight, but a bunch of diskmag reviews distracts us first. We
are pleased to see a screengrab of the front end of Alive issue 7.
Undercover 24 also finds a place here, although we are warned that
"Moondog's sharp tone will not please to everybody!" Ah well, a risk we will
have to take, Eric's a lovely guy when you get to know him better! Even
Chosneck, the third issue (the one before the current issue two, for the
benefit of the terminally confused!) gets a mention and a gorgeous
screengrab of the "excellent magazine", according to their reviewer.
Letters to the editor, and subscription details, with cover illustrations
from past issues pop up right at the end, no English language subscription
yet, they are still deciding whether to kick out more of these english
editions in the future.
And then it is all over, to the rearmost cover, which has many coloured
screengrabs all jumbled together in a demo/diskmag/CT60 motif! Truly this
has been an experience, but has it been worth the money?
Well yes it is. Maximum points and respect are due to anybody who makes an
effort with such a time and cash consuming, and space limited media such as
paper. For all the problems we have in putting a worthy diskmag together, I
really don't envy the job of the ST Magazine team at all. Especially as they
are under pressure to release issues reasonably regularly. In this case, it
is quarterly, but going on for bi-monthly in the more recent past.
The style reminds me a lot of a franglicised version of Atari Computing. The
english translator, Bruno Aubin has done a very good job. There is very
little sign of the text being derived from a French language original. Apart
from isolated words and phrases which hark back to the original mother
tongue, this is nearly perfect. The retention of the remaining little
linguistic "flaws" only adds to the charm of the whole venture, in my
Content-wise, they have been very ambitious in a limited amount of space.
Covering two major accelerators, a shedful of releases and updates of
different genres, not to mention some technical and coding stuff, not to
mention an interview. I get the impression that they had a lot to cram in,
and the CT60 and Aranym reviews might have unbalanced the whole issue a
little bit. I guess that more and bigger pages are out of the question? ;-)
That's another thing that appeals about diskmags, although there is a lot of
space to fill, when you actually get down to writing for them, you can just
stretch out your ideas and style, and relax, not worrying about article
length or filling up a word-count too quickly.
At the time of writing this review, I'm not sure if there will be future
issues of the ST Magazine english language edition? I hope there is going to
be, and I'm sure many other people would be interested in a new viewpoint
and some fresh news from the ST Magazine team.
It's comparable to Atari Computing in quality (high-end amateur)
A very good French to English translation!
Has a generally easy and accessible style
There is a wide range of topics covered
There are a couple of must-read texts (Aranym and CT60 reviews)
They are demoscene and diskmag aware (Hooray!)
You are left wanting more!
Small pages (A5) size (Can't be helped if it costs more to make it bigger)
Most articles and reviews are brief, constrained by the size limits
By the time it has got to us, a lot of the mag is old news from last year
You are left wanting more!!
A final note, it has been confirmed that issue 133 will be available in an
English language edition shortly! 16/32 Systems are looking into setting up
a six-issue subscription system, to maintain the momentum. RAAAAY!
CiH for Alive Diskmag,June '04