Oh God, more scans? Why? Why would you do this, you maniac?
Speaking of, N64 Magazine was generally published on paper that's, well, slightly bigger than A4 size.
Our scanner can deal only with A4 size paper.
This was difficult. We had to improvise a bit, you know. Forgive us.
What follows is not a comprehensive history of Future Publishing's independent Nintendo magazines, from Super Play to Nintendo Gamer.
It is also not an in-depth analysis of the mighty N64 Magazine and a dissection of why it was so bloody great.
It is not complete, comprehensive or encyclopaedic in any way. Or even unbiased, let's be honest.
It is, instead, a collection of scans from the era I enjoyed of N64 Magazine, and a pseudo personal history of my favourite games magazine.
From about 1998 to 2001, while we'd pick up the likes of Nintendo Official Magazine every now and then, the two magazines we picked up regularly were Official Playstation Magazine and N64 Magazine. However, there was a distinction between the two- I can't remember much about OPM except for those hot, sexy demo discs, but I haven't been able to dismiss N64 Magazine in the same way. Even back then without the benefit of rose-tinted glasses (which, as you will see, aren't necessary anyway) I could tell N64 was doing something better than the other Nintendo mags- having picked up a few scattered issues throughout 1997, I began subscribing (and by that I mean the local newsie would put it aside every month) Why? Aside from Nintendo Official Magazine going through its douchebag GREYSTATION IS FOR FONY LUZERSSSS!11!! GET YER GAMING ON!1!! phase, N64 was just written well, being both accessible, funny and high quality. They weren't perfect, obviously, but their reviews had more meat to them than other mags at the time, and more than that, you had interesting features (like a look who does what while making a video game game, and lost Nintendo characters), humour of different levels abounding (TWANNISAKKI!, the Bonus Letters, Jes' infatuation with horses) and finally, heart. It's telling that you actually knew who the writers were (in particular you always knew that if a terrible game was being reviewed, poor Tim Weaver was the one playing it) and that it felt like these people were passionate about their job- they loved writing about video games, and their character never seems forced or trite. It's honest, in a way. This heart, this character, is why I stuck with it rather than get bored like with all other mags.
I eventually stopped picking it up around Issue #70 (which I kinda regret) for two reasons. For a start, the magazine page size ballooned and underwent some design changes that I didn't really gel with. The second was my waning interest in modern vid-cons in general, as I was starting to get into the retro games. Hence, this website, I guess. I did pick up the odd issue here and there under its various new guises (NGC, NGamer and its final form, Nintendo Gamer) and though the staff roster had changed a lot, it still had that heart, that spirit of N64 Magazine to an extent, with again great features (like The Vault) and excellent reviews. Compare this to some of the more disposable vid-con rags I picked up around the same period, and that difference was still there. Regrettably, I should've supported it more. At the end of August 2012 the magazine was finally killed off in print form (it will continue online, apparently) which got me into action, both on the Twitters and on this website, to make this rather shabby and incomplete tribute.
So, taken from the era I read along with, here is just a handful of N64 and NGC's best 'bits'. Click to embiggen.
N64 Magazine Issue #25, February 1999 - Load of balls! by Max Everingham
In its early days, N64 Magazine had a man in Japan, Max Everingham.
Here he is devoting half a page to pachinko, including a particularly morbid anecdote.
N64 Magazine Issue #26, March 1999 - Get a Love: Panda Love Unit review by Tim Weaver
One of the things N64 Mag did differently, owing to it being unofficial, was review import games. Depending on which part of the N64's life we were in at the time, this was a good thing because oh boy were there some dry spells over in PAL-Land. They didn't review all of them, mind you, but most of the interesting ones like Trump World 64 and 64-O Sumo, were covered. Issue #26 in particular had a lot of import reviews, including oddities like Tetris 64 and Doraemon 2, but this was my favourite because... Well, just look at the score they gave it. This was the only ??% score that N64 gave, but this idea was brought back in NGamer, when they awarded Doki Doki Majo Shinpan a score of just 'NO', for obvious reasons.
N64 Magazine Issue #26, May 1999 - Duke Nukem: Zero Hour cover by Wil Overton
As fans of Super Play will know, Wil Overton was responsible for some fantastic artwork, and this is a tradition carried over into N64. As well as producing several covers (this one of Duke Nukem is my favourite, which is why I chose it) and art plastered inside the mag, he was responsible for drawing the mag's mascot of sorts, Worldy Bloke, who wasn't supposed to be the mascot but he just stuck around. We actually checked this, it's true. He would later create NGC's mascot, the considerably curvier Enjiki, and produced two different covers for the final issue of Nintendo Gamer- one for subscribers, one for the shops. He's a good dude. Here's his blog.
N64 Magazine Issue #28, May 1999 - The Mutants competition
It'd be remiss of me to talk about N64 Magazine without mentioning their readership- they'd send in new game ideas (good ones, like the chap who sent in detailed maps for a Goldeneye expansion pack) and pretty decent letters all the time, and also ensured that the staff would have to keep updating their I'm the Best section constantly. Many of them carried on supporting the magazine beyond the N64 years- many of my Twitter followers, including the rad Sporkhead, were loyal readers until the end. Anyway, to demonstrate, here is what they came up with for a contest. I defy you, reader, to look at the Ultra Bovine 64 Version 0.1 on the left side of this scan and not be amused. Look at all the love (and glue) poured into that thing! Mr. Rob Pierce, whoever you are, I salute you, sir. I also have to give props to Chris May's Masterbrain which looks very nightmarish indeed.
N64 Magazine Issue #21, September 1998 & N64 Magazine Issue #29, June 1999 - The N64 Board
Speaking of readers, as with every video game magazine under the sun at this point in time- the only notable exception springing to mind is Official Playstation Magazine- N64 Magazine had plenty of artwork sent in, which would be posted on The N64 Board amongst the letters. Presented, for your approval, is a sample of what they'd get sent in (oddly, I can't find any pictures of Mario brutally murdering Sonic, a staple of video game art at this point in time) from Issue #29. Also, I'm doing things a little out of order here and including something from Issue #21, but it's one of the greats- TripleSix Snowboarding, a comic by Finnish fan Jukka Piira which has, well, nothing to do with video games and is, sadly, quite hard to read, but it looks nice and has a pretty great ending. This particular scan is far larger than the others in the vain hope that it's readable, so prepare your dial-up modem.
N64 Magazine Issue #31, August 1999 - Superman 64 review by Tim Weaver
One of the most well-know N64 Magazine reviews, alongside Carmageddon 64 (we'll be getting to that) and Mortal Kombat Mythologies, this should probably be required reading for anyone who considers doing a review of Superman 64. It's already been done in less words, and better, by the apparently long-suffering Mr. Tim Weaver. Also note that they cover parts of the game beyond the initial SOLVE MY MAZE tutorial level, and even have a screenshot of the multiplayer mode! SOLVE MY MAZE would incidentally become a catchphrase of sorts for the magazine, cropping up again and again even in the NGC era.
N64 Magazine Issue #31, August 1999 - Game Boy Underworld feature by ???
Planet Game Boy was an odd mini-segment of the magazine that appeared from Issue #26 onwards- written by the same staff (albeit without credits on individual reviews/pieces) but printed on slightly different paper (no, really) it dealt with the Game Boy Color from its launch and later the Game Boy Advance. Reviews were done differently from the main mag, as they were given scores out of 5 probably as a result of each review being only half a page long, give or take. It had all the features of the main mag, though, just super-condensed. To the point where it even had teeny-tiny mini features, like this exposé on pirate Game Boy cartridges. Despite their warnings, though, this article got me fascinated by pirate GB carts... Uh, sorry? Still, the oddest thing is that Planet Game Boy was treated as a separate entity, even getting individual issue numbers...
Planet Game Boy Issue #1, Summer 1999 - The Game Boys feature by Alex Bickham and Adam Waring
... And this is a good point to slip into another mag for just a moment. Planet Game Boy was a short-lived spin-off publication based on the mag-within-a-mag shown above supposedly released every quarter (I only ever saw 4 issues, if there were more then someone slap me). The first issue proudly says 'From the Makers of N64', has a selection of staff members from the mag and even used N64's long-time mascot, Worldy Bloke. The first two issues were a pretty good read with a generous 35 (!!) reviews and features like a brief history of Pokémon (which, admittedly, got some stuff wrong) and the above interview with the completely mental Crawfish Interactive (they ported Street Fighter Alpha to the Game Boy Color). The latter 2 issues, however, seemingly took an editorial cue from Nintendo World. No. No. No.
N64 Magazine Issue #34, November 1999 - Jet Force Gemini review by Martin Kitts
Not particularly funny or slapstick, just a demonstration of a review of a more big-budget game than the likes of Superman 64. While six pages are spent on detailing various bits of the game, it's the final two pages with all the words on 'em that have all the criticisin' and such. While there is a focus on the graphics, it does explore some of the other things Jet Force Gemini gets right- the artificial intelligence, the complex-but-rewarding control system, and that it's essentially a 3D Turrican. This is more than you'd get from other mags at the time. So that's why it's here. While N64 did have a fetish for Rareware, they weren't as enamoured with Starfox Adventures... Which led to a funny incident where they printed an alternate score for people to cut out and stick where appropriate. Ha!
N64 Magazine Issue #36, Christmas 1999 - Carmageddon 64 review by Tim Weaver
Weaver strikes again, aiming for the jugular. Not much to say here, except the game's shoddiness is displayed very well... But could this be an early example of a reviewer suggesting the reader destroy bad game carts, ala the Angry Video Game Nerd? [No - Ed]
N64 Magazine Issue #49, Christmas 2000 - Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue review by Mark Green
In a rare display of mercy, poor Tim Weaver is spared the indignity of reviewing an incredibly crap game. Mark Green is the victim this time. Just like Carmageddon 64, they weren't sent a review copy, which is never a good sign. Although, er, Power Rangers fans might not like the slight bias going on here... On the plus side, 'bitterly tedious' is a good description for a game. I'll have to steal it.
N64 Magazine Issue #52, March 2001 - Mario Party 3 import review by Mark Green
Let's skip past 50 for just a second- we'll get back to it straight away, honest- and look at one final review. At this point in the magazine's life, the N64 was just starting to fade away- the Gamecube and Game Boy Advance had been revealed, and while a few releases were trickling in, like Conker's Bad Fur Day and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (both previewed in this issue- Jones would later only be released in the US), the review sections were getting smaller and smaller, and so was the magazine itself- the issues around this era are very thin things indeed. In any case, I picked this one just to demonstrate that by the time Mario Party 3 rolled around, even the Nintendo mags were sick of it. Well, sort-of. Also, hilarious translation problems abound! Spookily, 74% just so happens to be Mario Party 3's Metacritic score. Just one percent over The Percentage of Death!
N64 Magazine Issue #50, January 2001 - We Are 50! feature by Andrea Ball
with Jonathan Davies, James Ashton, Wil Overton, Tim Weaver, Jes Bickham and Martin Kitts
I may be romanticising the staff element of N64 Magazine a little, but let's put it like this- I was buying two magazines regularly at the time, and while I could easily rattle off at least half the regular contributors to N64 Magazine from memory, I can't remember anyone in particular from Official Playstation Magazine. Not that I'm saying OPM's staff was bad or anything, it's just more character went into N64 (and I don't mean 'character' like GamePro character, you know?). It didn't feel forced, either. These people enjoyed the job and it shows. This retrospective from the 50th issue probably helps reinforce that, a collection of mini-interviews with past staff members, who have almost universally nice things to say about their time at the mag. And the bit about the hoover box covered in Swastikas. Also notable is that former staff members would often reappear, with Tim Weaver taking over the magazine in the NGC days as chief editor.
N64 Magazine Issue #50, January 2001 - Fast Forward feature
From the same issue, one of N64's trademark 'silly' features, looking at Issues 51, 60, 80 and 100 and providing a chilling view of the future. Accurate predictions here include 'GB Advance is here! Over 240 side-scrolling 2D platformers reviewed!', 'Nintendo's desperate hunt for new colours!' (they gave up at Black & White 2) and 'Release Schedule 64 - Delay every game! Crush every hope!', while inaccurate predictions include pretty much anything related to Banjo-Kazooie sequels (although could anyone have predicted Nuts & Bolts? I think not). Also, I would absolutely play The Legend of Beadle. And Super Stamper Bros.
Double Game Guide + books - #6, #12, #13, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21
A long-running tradition of the magazine was providing an A5-sized book on the cover (sellotaped on, which would usually rip the ink off- something the staff themselves would point out and laugh at). While sometimes this would be something like The Nintendo 64 Compendium (which had a useful import guide) or their Challenge books, more often than not it'd be a Double Game Guide +, which would give a walkthrough or extensive tips for two games, then top things off with a smattering of cheats for a random bunch of games. They were especially useful for shmucks like me who didn't really know how to use the internet at that point, but more importantly, until Issue #47 each DGG+ had cover art of Worldy Bloke either mixing the two games together (dressed as a vampire kicking a football around? Must be Castlevania + Premier Manager, then) or just one (the Jet Force Gemini one is a favourite).
Corrections Corner (from Issue #49, Christmas 2000) and Bonus Letters (from Issue #34, November 1999)
Two regular features of the Club 64 Mailbox, Corrections Corner should be pretty self-explanatory (mistakes, pointed out and shamed, with smart replies from the enigmatic Ed) while the Bonus Letters are fragments of real letters, taken out of context and again, dealt with by the editor. I can't remember if this idea was nicked from Amiga Power, but you gotta steal from the best, you know?
N64 Magazine Issue #26, March 1999 - Idiot Clone 64 in Club 64 Directory
Also a frequent feature, the Directory contained every game they'd reviewed up to that issue, and gave a capsule-review and their score. They'd also give a cheat or tip for the game, and depending on the game's quality this could be a snide little remark (such as the tip for Aero Gauge being the number to phone to complain, and the one for Mortal Kombat Mythologies being 'Creep along in that spider-fashion and then SUDDENLY GET CRUSHED BY A PILLAR. Then place your fist into the TV screen'). Anyway, to demonstrate how the system worked, each month would have an example, with a made-up game detailed inside. Such as the one above. Hohoho, more relevant now than ever, eh?
EndN64/EndGC - What If... Blast Corrs (Issue #26, February 1999), Super Smash Bros Uncut (Issue #40, April 2000), Twanisakki! (Issue #66, March 2002)
The back page, then. A tradition kindly nicked from the mighty Amiga Power, throughout N64 and NGC's life the back page's function would change. From 'What if...' (photoshopped screenshots of made-up games such as Bill Oddie Harvest and, as shown above, Blast Corrs) to 'Wish you were here' (retrospectives on slightly more obscure N64 games like Rakuga Kids), it eventually ended up as End 64/End GC, which would be a ridiculous, elaborate whole-page joke. It's mostly the EndGC ones I remember the most, as they were completely nuts. Ranging from horoscopes by Princess Zelda, a snapshot of Hiroshi Yamauchi's desk (complete with a cup of virgin's blood and the phrase 'Eliminate the entire company. Immediately.') and the rather cruel Nintyspong message board image, showing typical internet reactions to Wind Waker, they were very, very silly, most of the time. Due to rampant incompetence, however, the End64/GC scans just weren't coming out right for us. To this end, we have only three available- one 'What if...' (Blast Corrs, because the late 90s) End64 (the absolutely brutal 'cut' content for Super Smash Bros.- how they got away with this, I don't know) and one of the classics, the advert for TWANISAKKI. We apologise for not providing more. We're just that incompetent.
I think that's enough of this love-in for now. To reiterate, I know this isn't a complete look at the magazine- it's primarily the years 1999-2001, after all. I just wanted to write something about N64 Magazine, and maybe try and explain why I stuck with it for so long, rather than toss it aside like most vid-con rags of my youth. I feel like I owe them something anyway- their use of Ed jokes is definitely what inspired me to hire this site's very own Ed the Editor, and the fusion of humour and fact may have had a little influence on my own writing style (much like UK:Resistance did, kinda). Above all though, I just wanted to share some amusing moments from the N64 Mag archive.
I hope I succeeded, dear reader. Grackler cam forever!
That's all there is from us. Perhaps we'll add to this page some day...
[I hope you do, just so I can watch you suplex your scanner. You hate that poor thing.
Actually, that reminds me.
A person called Ed worked at N64 Magazine, usually to answer the letters...
Was that you in happier times, Ed?
[God, I get this all the time. That was actually my cousin, Ed the Older Editor.]
[And before you ask, the Ed from Amiga Power was my other cousin, Ed the Even Older Editor.]
Oh. Thanks for clearing that up.
If this page was a big swearing psychopath, it would be in Ed's smelly old pullover.