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Alive 11

        NB:   Since  this  article  was  originally  written,   Retro  Gamer
        itself  has  been  picked  up by a new  publisher  and  is  back  in
        commission  again.  This  article celebrates the magic of what  were
        the  first  18  issues  of an  intelligent  magazine,  long  may  it
        continue  and  be in the same vein with the  new  publishers.  Issue
        19 is due to be released in early December 2005.


        We  had  a stirring in the magazine sector here in UK  a  couple  of
        years  or  so  ago.  After  the furore over  retro  gaming  back  in
        1999,  when  most  of  the sites dealing in MAME ROMs seemed  to  be
        going  under  with  crazy regularity,  a soon to be  regular  column
        started  to  appear in another weekly magazine  called  Micro  Mart.
        That  column  was called 'Retro Corner' and was written  and  edited
        by a guy called Shaun Bebbington, for a few years.

        I  had,  honestly,  become  sick and tired of the computer  magazine
        market  that  was  around  at  retail  level  in  the  UK.  So  many
        magazines,  upon reading them,  seemed,  in my opinion at least,  to
        treat  their  readers  with disdain,  making them feel bad  if  they
        didn't  have  this  hardware or that monitor / modem  /  joystick  /
        top  game  etc.  It  was  the  same  all  over,  with  non-computing
        magazines  like  Zoo,  FHM  and  GQ,  almost telling all  guys  that
        they   should   treat  women  badly  and  look   up   to   so-called
        'celebrities'  like  those  who  happened to  feature  in  the  'Big
        Brother' house or something like that.

        So,  it  was  with  a breath of fresh air that  this  new  magazine,
        Retro  Gamer,  appeared  on  the  market.  While I  didn't  buy  the
        first  2  or 3 issues,  I certainly made a point of  nosing  through
        them  in  the store and started to purchase issues from no 4  or  no
        5 onwards.

        Retro  Gamer  was the UK's first monthly magazine dedicated  to  the
        pure  retro  freak.  Over  the months that it was published,  a  lot
        of  articles  were interestingly perused.  Articles that  were  very
        well  written  and researched,  that actually had  intelligence  for
        a change and didn't expect their readers to be a total chav.

        Although  I  wasn't  familiar with some of the  hardware  and  games
        that  were  described  in  articles in  the  magazine,  I  certainly
        followed  the  extensive interview and other  articles  relating  to
        Matthew  Smith,  the  guy  who wrote the classic  Sinclair  Spectrum
        games,  Manic  Miner  and Jet Set Willy.  JSW being the first game I
        ever  bought  commercially for my Spectrum all those years  ago,  it
        was  great  to  hear  what Matthew had been up  to  over  the  years
        since both games were released.

        Our  very  own RiCH Davey,  yes,  he of 'Falcon Owners Group'  fame,
        also   wrote  an  excellent  article  that  appeared  in  issue   8,
        relating to our favourite computer system, the Atari series.

        In  later  issues,  articles appeared from fans of the  Sega  Master
        System  and  Megadrive,  also one or two relating to  the  Dreamcast
        console,  also  by  Sega.  These  and others were interesting,  even
        though  I  hadn't  personally owned the  hardware  they  were,  once
        again, well written.

        One  particular  issue  grabbed me and  that  contained  an  article
        relating  to  another classic Spectrum game called  Skool  Daze.  RG
        themselves  had  managed  to  get  hold  of  one  of  the   original
        authors  of  the game,  to ask what they were doing now.  What  came
        out  was  very  interesting and very in-depth,  more  like  what  we
        might  see  on  non-UK  press produced magazines  on  the  'net.  We
        also  had  an  excellent  article from  an  issue  beforehand  about
        just  what  happened  to the fabled  Konix  Multisystem,  a  console
        based  system  that  was  supposed to make it  to  the  shops,  with
        hardware   ready  etc.   Due  to  financial  failures  within  Konix
        themselves,  they  went  under.  Remember that this was also back in
        1989,  the  start  of the UK recession (that still hasn't lifted  in
        some   parts  of  this  country),   when  things  were  rather  more
        precarious economically.

        Live   Publishing,   the   owners  of  Retro  Gamer  magazine,   had
        announced  that  they were in trouble about four weeks or  so  after
        issue  19  of RG was produced.  They'd had a small stable  of  other
        magazines  alongside  RG,  some of which were not making any  profit
        at  all  and  others  that were just so-so.  Then  we  heard  a  bit
        later  on  that  the magazine was going back  to  its  original  bi-
        monthly  status,  which  it  had been when it first  started,  until
        sales made them realise a monthly issue release schedule.

        Finally,  all  hope  was  lost at the beginning  of  September  when
        Live  Publishing  closed  their  doors for  the  final  time.  Retro
        Gamer,   along   with   other   magazines   that   Live   published,
        disappeared from the shelves - and this was a disappointment.

        Hopefully,  there  is  a light cloud on the horizon.  A new magazine
        called   'Retro:   Bytes'  may  be  starting  publication  from  the
        beginning  of  November  and  will be  worth  checking  out  as  the
        writing  will  mostly be from the same team behind Retro  Gamer.  RG
        itself  turned  out to be a very profitable title  over  the  months
        that it was published.

                                                 Felice for Alive,2005-11-09
Alive 11