32X: A stopgap measure, intended to keep the Sega Genesis competitive with newer game systems like the 3DO and Atari's Jaguar. All it did, however, was frustrate players who couldn't install the cumbersome unit to save their lives. Mediocre titles like Kolibri, Metal Head, and Knuckles Chaotix only added salt to the wound, making the add-on a miserable failure and damaging Sega's reputation beyond repair.

3DO: An extremely powerful- but extremely expensive!- 32-bit game system, released in late 1993. This console had two strikes against it the moment it debuted... its prohibitive price made it all but impossible for the average gamer to afford, and the 3DO had stiff competition in the form of the Genesis and Super NES, which were still very popular at the time. Despite impressive third-party support and a large library of games, the 3DO had a difficult time finding an audience, and disappeared shortly after the Saturn and Playstation were released.


action-adventure: A term used to describe adventure games with real-time battles that give the player full control over his character. For instance, any of the Zelda releases could be considered an action-adventure game. See also adventure.

adventure: A term used to describe any video game which requires the player to search a vast playfield for treasure, weapons, and other well-hidden secrets. The term RPG is mistakenly given to many of these games, which have RPG elements but lack the scope and freedom of choice of a true role-playing game.

anality: An anal-retentive or nit-picky correction of a statement made in a fanzine. The term was created by Jess Ragan and is a play on the word "fatality". See also fatality.

anime': The Japanese style of animation best known for its curvaceous women with bright neon hair, huge expressive eyes, and equally large breasts. Many video games are heavily influenced by this style of artwork, especially Capcom releases like Darkstalkers and Street Fighter Alpha 2.

arcade: An establishment where one goes to play coin operated video games. See also coin-op.

Atari 2600: Also called the Atari Video Computer System or VCS, this game system was a huge hit in the early 1980's and even made an impressive comeback in 1987, competing with far superior consoles like the NES and Sega Master System. The 2600 is still popular among a small circle of fans, inspiring the occasional game review and even a fanzine, fittingly titled The 2600 Connection.


Bloody Malth: A phrase coined by Pat Reynolds, describing a technique used to deal with video game bosses with weak artificial intelligence. This term was derived from Bloody Malth, the boss in the NES release Ninja Gaiden. This brute looks intimidating, but he can easily be defeated simply by running up to him and frantically pounding on the slash button.


Capcom: The game company responsible for Mega Man, Strider, and the Street Fighter phenomenon. Several programmers left Capcom to create their own programming firm, Natsume.

CES: The Consumer Electronics Show, a showcase of new technology held twice a year. This used to be the place for fanzine editors to preview upcoming games, but the video game industry now uses the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) to display their wares. See also Electronics Entertainment Expo.

clone: Generally used to describe an shameless imitation of a popular game. For instance, Fighter's History is considered a clone of Street Fighter II, as are World Heroes, Martial Champions, and the Genesis dud Deadly Moves.

coin-op: A coin operated video game, generally found in malls, movie theatres, convenience stores, and the homes of overly enthusiastic video game fans. See also arcade.

colophon: A small column usually located on the second page of a fanzine. The colophon is used to list general information such as the names of contributors or a mailing address.

Communique Group, The: A small publishing firm headed by Arnie Katz, Bill Kunkel, and Joyce Worley.

corpozine: A term coined by Russ Perry, Jr., used to describe professional, nationally distributed magazines. See also prozine.

corpzine: Created by Todd Lintner, this word refers to propaganda leaflets, written by video game companies and cheaply disguised as hip, underground newsletters. Excellent examples of corpzines include Bandai Gaming News and The Pit, Acclaim's thinly veiled Mortal Kombat press release.

cover: The first page of a fanzine, usually decorated with attractive artwork.


dadaism: A style of expression created by German artists in the early twentieth century to protest the first World War. Dadaism experienced a revival of sorts in Josh Lesnick's Video Apocalypse, which was filled to overflowing with hilarious nonsense phrases and surreal images.

demons to diamonds: A declaration used to emphasize a point, ie "I'd bet demons to diamonds that the game won't be released in America." The phrase was coined by Jess Ragan and is a reference to the obscure Atari 2600 release Demons to Diamonds.

Die Hard Game Fan: A poorly written professional game magazine, perhaps the most hated of its kind in fandom. Game Fan has attempted multiple comebacks over the past two years, proving that its editors just don't know when to pack up their bags and go home.

D'oh: An exclamation from the television series The Simpsons. This merging of the words "Damn" and "Oh" is a popular expression in fandom and is generally used as a humorous way to convey frustration or respond to an inconvenient irony, ie "I can afford to go to E3 this year but I forgot to send for a press pass! D'oh!".

Dreamcast: Sega's latest system, this 128-bit monster has already caught the attention of Americans who've become disenchanted with the weakly supported N64 and incessantly hyped Playstation. It remains to be seen whether or not the Dreamcast will be a success in the United States, but judging from the early buzz the system has been getting, it almost has to do better here than the previously released Saturn.


EGM: An abbreviation of Electronic Gaming Monthly, the professional video game magazine which was regularly criticized by fanzine editors in the early 90's. It should be noted that EGM has improved greatly since Steve Harris sold the magazine to publishers Ziff-Davis in 1996.

Electronics Entertainment Expo: Also known as E3, this industry trade show became an astonishing success in just a few short years, forever replacing the Consumer Electronics Show as the place to go for sneak peeks at the latest game releases. See also CES.

Electronic Games: First introduced in 1982, Electronic Games was resurrected in 1992 by Arnie Katz as an intelligent alternative to less mature professional game magazines like GamePro and EGM. Unfortunately, Arnie was ousted as the editor of Electronic Games soon after its transformation into the tragically hip pop culture journal Fusion.

emulator: A piece of software written to force a computer or game system into thinking just like an unrelated machine, thereby allowing it to play its games. Examples of this include the Midway and Namco game collections for the Playstation, and MAME, the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator designed for personal computers.


FACE: A satirical organization, created by Pat Reynolds as a response to legitimate groups like FANN and the Gaming Enthusiasts of America. Many fanzine editors joined this non-association to protest the existance of GEA, but few realized that the acronym FACE had no actual meaning, another stab at the organizations it satirized. See also Gaming Enthusiasts of America and FANN.

fandom: A network of fanzine editors who share a common interest.

fandom rip-off: A derogatory term used to describe people who ask for a fanzine, then disappear without a trace once they've received it. This phrase, coined by Chris Dyer, is perhaps the most polite way to describe these parasites.

fan-ed: The editor of a fanzine or newsletter.

FANN: An organization created by Nathan Hauke, designed to strengthen communication between other fanzines. The Fanzine and News Network allowed fanzine editors to borrow articles from other newsletters in the network. Although criticized by many fan-eds (most of these organizations were...), FANN was reasonably successful, gathering nearly two dozen members. Later, Josh Lesnick assumed control of FANN, renaming it the Fanzine Network and further increasing its membership.

fanzine: An amateur newsletter, written by a fan of a particular hobby. Fanzines can cover any topic, but On-File specifically deals with video game fanzines.

fatality: An act of gratuitous violence, used to finish off a weakened opponent in fighting games like Mortal Kombat. This attack has been applauded by some fanzine editors and sharply parodied by others... in fact, even some video game designers have poked fun at the concept, allowing the player to turn their opponents into babies or steaming piles of dung.

fighter: Any game in which you must fight one or more enemies to survive. See also tourney fighter.

fugghead: A euphamism created by Arnie Katz to describe meanspirited or otherwise unsavory fanzine editors. This term was derived from the more vulgar "fuckhead" and can be used in a similar manner, ie "It takes a real fugghead to write an article like that."


GameBoy: Easily the cheapest, most convenient, and most popular portable game system of all time. Nintendo has released literally dozens of variations of the GameBoy, including a rainbow of tiny GameBoy Pockets and a color system that's backwards compatible with all previous GameBoy releases. However, the system's limitations have made it an easy target for more cynical fan-eds. A pathetic handheld game system by Tiger, the folks who brought us such gimmicky gadgets as the R-Zone (a poor man's Virtual Boy) and Henry (a memory game with digitized sound effects).'s claim to fame was its Internet compatibility, but anyone who wished to use the system to surf the Web had to chain it to a bulky modem, effectively reducing its portability to nill. As if that weren't enough,'s software was poor, generally consisting of awful arcade ports and uninspired film adaptations.

GamePro: A professional video game magazine with immature writing, geared toward younger readers. This shameless pandering had earned the magazine constant criticism from fan-eds, one going so far as to call it "GamePwo".

Game Gear: Sega's portable game system, a color unit with hardware suspiciously similar to the Master System's. This handheld enjoyed moderate success with a variety of Genesis and arcade translations, but its awkward position in the portable market- less powerful than the Lynx but much more expensive than the GameBoy- ultimately made it a losing proposition for Sega.

Gaming Enthusiasts of America: An organization created by Chris Johnston, Andy Saito, and Nathan Hauke in 1993. The group was intended to give gamers a voice in the electronic entertainment industry, but it quickly dissolved due to a lack of interest and constant scrutiny by other fanzine editors.

GEA pet: A pun referring to a corporate sycophant in league with the Gaming Enthusiasts of America. See also Gaming Enthusiasts of America and sell-out.

Genesis: The Genesis was Sega's most popular game system, turning the former industry underdog into a Rottweiler which eventually forced Nintendo to abandon the popular NES and release its own 16-bit console. Most fan-eds regularly criticized the Genesis, calling it inferior to Nintendo's Super NES, but a few fiercely defended the system, including Jess Ragan, Brian Pacula, and Jeremy Statz.

Greg Meyers Syndrome: A fictional disease associated with low-quality fanzines. The term was coined by Chris Kohler as an unflattering reference to Greg Meyers, the editor of Game Masters.



import: A video game released in another country, usually Japan. Import video games are tempting purchases but are notoriously difficult to use on American game systems due to encryption technology and differences in cartridge sizes.

Insect Politics: A nonsense phrase created- then driven into the ground- by EGM's controversial gossip guru Quartermann. The overuse of this term was one of the many things that turned fan-eds against both Quartermann and Electronic Gaming Monthly. See also EGM.

ish: An abbreviation of issue; an edition of one's fanzine.


Jaguar: This underwhelming 64-bit game system was Atari CEO Sam Tramiel's last desperate grasp at fame and fortune. The Jaguar was strongly supported by fanzine editors with a loyalty to the Atari brand name, but others found the system lacking and expressed their contempt with an unending barrage of hostile game reviews. Apparently, the entire gaming public felt the same way, and forced Tramiel to pull the plug on the Jaguar and sell Atari to a computer hardware manufacturer in 1996.

Johnny Arcade: The smarmy star of a short-lived cartoon series, Video Power. In it, he bossed around a bunch of low-rent Acclaim characters, then showed .005 seconds of video game footage in a live-action segment that was more annoying than helpful. The series later (d)evolved into a game show, discarding the awful cartoons and turning Johnny Arcade (one Stivi Paskoski) into a demented cross between Wink Martindale and Marky Mark Wahlberg. Embarassing doesn't even begin to describe it.

Johnny Turbo: The propaganda-packing, Sega CD-attacking, full side of beef-snacking TurboDuo mascot. This rather unimpressive superhero fought the evil forces of Feka (my, how clever) and kept kids from spending their hard-earned money on a CD system that wouldn't work without a base unit (really, was that such a big deal when Sega- er, Feka- had a user base ten times the size of NEC's?). It became rather apparent that Johnny did more to damage his cause than aid it, and the zero of a hero vanished, resurfacing years later only to get the much-deserved beating of his life in Tips & Tricks.


Konami Industry, Ltd.: The Japanese game company responsible for many popular titles, including Castlevania, Gradius, and Contra. Several Konami programmers left the company due to creative differences, forming the game design firms Natsume and Treasure.

Kon-head: A devoted fan of Konami and its games. The phrase was coined by Jess Ragan and is an obvious reference to the Saturday Night Live skit The Coneheads.


Lynx: Atari's greatest triumph of the late 1980's was this amazing handheld, a portable game system so powerful it made Nintendo's GameBoy look like a dreidel. With terrific games, amazing 3D capabilities, a full color screen, and a reasonable price, the Lynx should have been the handheld game system of the century, but miraculously, the GameBoy crushed it in only a few short years, going on to become the last word in on-the-go gaming. Life can be SO unfair...


manga: Japanese comics, generally quite popular among video game fan-eds.

mascot: A character used to represent and promote a product; in this case, a fanzine. Fanzine mascots include MASTERminds' Dimples the Dingo, Fantazine's GameMan, and The Gameroom Blitz' Byron J. Lisamen.

Master System: Sega's 8-bit game system, designed to directly compete with the NES. Some have argued that the console is in fact superior to Nintendo's, but its limited selection of games doomed the Master System to a 10% market share until Sega obsoleted it with the Genesis in 1989.

Mmm...: Another expression from The Simpsons, this time conveying satisfaction with or longing for a particular game or other object of one's desire. Here's an example: "Mmm... Final Fantasy VIII..."


National Association of Electronic Gaming Enthusiasts: An early fanzine organization created by Mike Ciletti, Aaron Buckner, and others from fandom's first generation (1990-1991). Its focus was different from GEA's in that it was designed to encourage communication between fan-eds, not make fandom more visable to the video game industry.

Neo-Geo: An ultra-powerful 16-bit console, designed as both a low-cost arcade jukebox and a high-end home game system. The Neo-Geo drew fire for its narrowly focused software library and a smarmy spokesperson who rather arrogantly referred to himself as the Game Lord.

NES: The Nintendo Entertainment System, the preferred game console in the mid and late 1980's. The NES singlehandedly revived the video game industry and remained incredibly popular until the release of the Super NES... yet, the NES inspired very few fanzines at the height of its popularity.

nequel: A game that is almost eerily similar to another despite the creator's insistance that the two are unrelated; an unsequel, if you will. An excellent example of this phenomenon are all of Compile's NES, Master System, and Genesis games: The Guardian Legend, Gun*Nac, Power Strike, MUSHA, and Robo-Aleste could all easily be sequels to Zanac, although their official relationship to one another remains a mystery.

newsletter: A amatuer publication, designed to inform and entertain its readers about a given topic. This word is used in place of "fanzine" so fan-eds can describe their hobby to friends who would otherwise have no idea what they're talking about. See also fanzine.

Nintendo 64: Nintendo's newest game system is arguably its least popular thanks to the breakout success of the Playstation. Nevertheless, titles like Super Mario 64 and Zelda: The Ocarina of Time have given this powerful 64-bit console quite a cult following.

Nomad: Sega last portable game system was essentially a handheld Genesis, complete with an RF jack and a second controller port for two player games. Sadly, no one seemed to realize that the Nomad was compatible with the Genesis (a system which had already lost much of its appeal in the dawn of the 32-bit revolution), and left it to rot on store shelves.


op-ed: An abbreviation of opinion/editorial. This word is typically used to define stream-of-consciousness opinion pieces, not true editorials with a central topic.


Pac-Rat: A fervant collector of classic video games. This term was coined by Jess Ragan and is a reference to the Namco classic Pac-Man.

platformer: Any game which requires you to travel through areas, leaping on platforms to access secret locations or avoid dropping into bottomless pits. These games can be presented in a number of perspectives, including first-person (ie Super Mario 64), side-view (ie Super Mario Bros. 3), or, on rare occasions, overhead (The Adventures of Dino-Riki).

Playstation: Sometimes referred to as the PS-X, Sony's 32-bit console remains the system of choice among an overwhelming majority of players. Its 2D capabilities are questionable at best, and the first run of consoles were designed with cheap CD drives which malfunctioned within a few short months, but a successful advertising blitz and games like Tomb Raider have left the system on top despite its shortcomings.

Pony Canyon: Arguably the game design firm in Japanese history, Pony Canyon (an apparent subsidiary of Asian media giant Fujisankei Communications) is so inept, it's released NES games that were far worse than their 2600 counterparts. The company has even spelled its own name incorrectly on two occasions (in the Super NES adaptation of Ultima VII and a weak NES conversion of the Nihon Bussan coin-op Seicross).

prequel: The previous release in a series of games, or a sequel to a game which takes place before the original. An example of this is Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse... although the game was released after the first two Castlevanias, it stars Trevor Belmont, the ancestor of Castlevania's Simon Belmont.

prozine: A professional, nationally distributed magazine. However, it would be awkward to use this term as a reference to anything but a video game magazine... to paraphrase Billy Masters, "You don't ever go up a person and ask, 'Did you see that article in Time prozine?'".

puzzler: Any game which requires fast thinking and logic to succeed. This term is generally associated with Tetris and its many clones, although it can also describe a game like Solomon's Key, which appears to be an action title but forces the player to use strategy to reach the door in every room.



reader base: The number of persons, or a list of those persons, reading a particular fanzine. A reader base generally consists of paying readers, friends, and other fanzine editors.

RPG: An abbreviation of the phrase role-playing game. Most video game RPGs are not true role-playing games, but are instead adventures borrowing elements from traditional paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. Very few video games have the scope or freedom of choice that is expected from a true RPG... the only ones that come close are titles such as Diablo, King's Bounty, and Saga Frontier. See also adventure.


Saturn: A powerful 32-bit console, designed as Sega's answer to the Sony Playstation. Due to a lousy ad campaign and Sega's past failures, it didn't take long for the Playstation to soundly thrash this would-be contender, knocking it out of the system wars in two short years. The Saturn's impressive 2D capabilities have given the console an underground following, but even that is subsiding thanks to the recent Japanese release of the Dreamcast.

Sega CD: An unpopular add-on for the Sega Genesis which gave the system CD-quality sound, advanced graphics capabilities, and the unfortunate side effects of access time and annoying system freezes. Nevertheless, the system does have some very good exclusives, including enhanced versions of Final Fight and Eternal Champions.

sell-out: A fan-ed who gives positive reviews to weak games in an attempt to appease the companies that made them. Accusations of selling out were commonplace in the second era of fandom (from 1992-1994), even though many of these allegations were unfounded and at times, pretty ridiculous.

shooter: Used to describe any game in which you must shoot at enemies to survive. Contra, Gunstar Heroes, Gradius, and 1943 are all shooters.

simulation: Any video game intended as a rough approximation of an actual experience, such as driving a tank, flying a plane, or manning a submarine. These games are generally much more complex than action titles, requiring the player to adjust a wide variety of parameters to keep themselves alive. B-17 Bomber, Silent Service, and Pilotwings are all simulations.

spin-off: A sequel to a game which may not be directly associated with its predecessor. For instance, the NES game River City Ransom could be considered a spin-off of Super Dodge Ball because they share art styles, gameplay elements, and the character Kunio (whose name was changed in the American release). See also nequel.

strategy: A term that can be used to describe a wide variety of games, from the boring Koei military simulations which force the player to move from square to square, to Shining Force, which plays like a cross between a role-playing adventure and a game of chess.

Super NES: Nintendo's powerful 16-bit game system. At first, the Super NES lagged behind Sega's own Genesis in sales, but a strong translation of Street Fighter II quickly closed the gap, returning Nintendo to its former position as an industry leader. The Super NES was strongly supported by fanzine editors... some, like Eric Longdin and Rich Wigstone, were so impressed by the system that they were inspired to write fanzines specifically devoted to it.


T*HQ: An inept game company that's been the object of ridicule by fan-eds since its release of the Super NES turkeys Home Alone and Pit-Fighter. Amazingly, Toy Headquarters is still in business, perhaps due to the clever strategy of selling games under a variety of aliases.

Tips and Tricks: A popular magazine specifically designed to help players master their favorite games. Tips and Tricks is especially noteworthy for its contributors, which include such past and present fanzine editors as Ara Shirinian, Pat Reynolds, and Tyrone Rodriguez.

TurboDuo: The TurboDuo- a TurboGrafx-16 with increased memory and a built-in CD-ROM unit- was intended to compete with the Sega CD, but a desperate slash-and-burn ad campaign starring a fat, bearded superhero backfired, dooming both systems to an early demise. Still, the TurboDuo did enjoy a brief period of popularity among those brave enough to import games for it. See also Johnny Turbo.

TurboExpress: Yet another attempt to revive the failed TurboGrafx-16 platform in the United States, this was a handheld unit with full TurboChip compatibility and a color screen, specially designed for crisp, clean graphics. The technology required to manufacture this screen wasn't cheap, and drove the price of the system up to a dumbfounding $300. Needless to say, the TurboExpress didn't stand a chance against more affordable handheld systems like the GameBoy and Lynx.

TurboGrafx-16: An 8-bit system outfitted with an advanced 16-bit graphics chip. The system's nice visuals didn't hide the NES-quality feel of its games, so it stood little chance against true 16-bit powerhouses like the Genesis and Super NES. See also TurboDuo.

THWART: A satirical organization devoted to keeping the controversial Aaron Buckner from returning to fandom. THWART (an acronym for Totally Humiliate and Wreck Aaron's Reestablishment Tactics... now there's a mouthful for you) quickly faded into obscurity once it became clear that Aaron wasn't coming back.

tourney fighter: An abbreviation of the term "tournament fighting game". In these games, you are pitted against various opponents in a series of martial arts matches. You must win two of three rounds against each opponent to proceed. The tourney fighter became an extremely popular genre of games after Capcom released Street Fighter II, inspiring all kinds of clones, spin-offs, and derivatives.



vaporware: A promised and often incessantly hyped product that never makes it to store shelves. Examples of this include the Sonic arcade game and Sega's virtual reality headset.

VideoGames: This attempt to revive the faltering Video Games and Computer Entertainment was an even more dismal failure, with an ugly layout and loud, pretentious writing which made its readers drop their subscriptions in droves. There was one bright spot in VideoGames' dark history... it did spawn the innovative game guide Tips and Tricks. See Tips and Tricks.

Video Games and Computer Entertainment: This intelligently written magazine was a welcome change of pace from the vast majority of professional video game publications in the late 80's, which pandered to both advertisers and the preteen male demographic. After years of declining sales, VG+CE was forced to change formats and pursue a young audience as well, but VideoGames (as it was redubbed) was an even greater failure than its predecessor. See VideoGames.

Virtual Boy: A Nintendo disaster which left its customers seeing red in more ways than one. This not-so-portable portable game system consisted of a bulky visor and a small controller with two joypads and more buttons than you could shake a thumb at. The Virtual Boy was such a failure that it resulted in the dismissal of Nintendo hardware designer Gumpei Yokoi.




'zine: See fanzine.





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