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June 17, 2004

{     1-Up MegaZine     }    

1-Up is a "MegaZine," not exactly a magazine, but certainly much more substantial and meaningful than the xeroxed little bundles of hate you find cluttering the counter of your local record store. The focus of 1-Up is video games, but you won't find any mention of polygons or processors here. You won't necessarily find any reviews or gaming news here either. 1-Up recognizes that video games are so much more than mere diversion or highly profitable industry. They are a cultural phenomenon, and appeal to a much more diverse group of people than the white teenaged males most game journalism aims squarely to reach. 1-Up is now perfect bound (as of issue 3) and weighs in at a hefty 100 pages. Filling those 100 pages are intelligent, "smacktalk" free writing and gorgeous original artwork, occasionally in comic form. Artistic contributors include kozyndan, Martin Cendreda, Souther Salazar, John Pham, and Saelee Oh. Issue 3 also comes packaged with a trading card featuring an original street fighting character designed by one of these artists. I got the two-headed beast Kozunden drawn by husband-and-wife team kozyndan. His blood type is O and his fighting style is cat fighting. A 19-page special section on Street Fighter 2 dominates this issue. The game that completely redefined the idea of video game competition is examined from a number of perspectives. While arcade machines had been built to encourage competition, sometimes directly, most games prior to Street Fighter 2 were high-score based. Trumping another player meant outscoring him (or her) and leaving your initials like monuments in the sand for future visitors to see. Street Fighter 2 was a game that rewarded skill and practice immediately against a human foe standing mere inches to your side. In arcades, convenience stores, and restaurants hierarchies of dominance and rules for challenges were formed ad hoc out of mutual respect (and disrespect). 1-Up addresses this phenomenon with an overview of the game's significance, two memoirs of addiction, and a catalog of obscure Street Fighter memorabilia. Also featured in this issue are three interviews: Sci-Fi Steven of Bis, the long-standing high-scorer Billy Mitchell, and the author of the novel Lucky Wander Boy D.B. Weiss. A pop musician, an arcade champion, and a novelist respectively the three are quizzed as to how video games have impacted their life and their work. Obsession is a common theme throughout the issue, as it is throughout the video game community. There's something about the hobby that tends to preclude a certain sense of myopic insistence on complete mastery oftentimes at the expense of more productive activities. 1-Up #3 showcases a handful of entertaining vignettes of video game obsession. In "River Raid Institute" Todd Urick makes a detailed plan for beating his roommate's score at the Commodore 64 game. "This Animal Life" by Gus Mastrapa touches on the inexplicably addictive nature of Animal Crossing. The aforementioned "Street Fighter 2 Super Section" is replete with tales of addiction. None of the authors attach any particular stigma to this devotion. It's simply a matter of course when dealing with video gaming as a cultural force. There's more, but I encourage you to read it for yourself instead of listening to me prattle on about it. If you've a love for video games but find the tone of most game journalism insulting to your intelligence or interest I suggest you order a copy of 1-Up right away. If you act fast you might even be able to snag a copy of the two back issues which have been recently reprinted for the last time.

     » Visit the 1-Up MegaZine homepage for more information and to order back issues.

Comments

Nice review! I heart 1-Up!!!!

Posted by: Shane Bryant at June 18, 2004 12:58 AM

As do I. My apologies to Raina and everyone out there reading in Internet-land for the extraordinary delay in getting this posted.

Posted by: benjamin at June 22, 2004 12:40 AM

Great piece, BW White! The idea of a River Raid Institute reminds me of my friend making a map of Pitfall! to top someone else's high score.

Posted by: Greg at June 22, 2004 1:41 PM

Oh wow. I'd read issue two, benefactor of my favorite pair of 3D glasses. But now I think I'd better paypal up for issue three.

Posted by: Jenn at February 4, 2005 8:53 AM
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