THE ON-LINE FANZINE ARCHIVE AND
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
fan-ed: The editor of a fanzine or
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."
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.
game.com: 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). game.com'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, game.com's software
was poor, generally consisting of awful arcade ports and uninspired
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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..."
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.
abbreviation of opinion/editorial. This word is typically used to
define stream-of-consciousness opinion pieces, not true editorials
with a central topic.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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