In comparison to NP's "Gonzo" feature, OPM reviews upcoming PlayStation 2 and PSP titles whose genres should be easily recognizable to anyone who has held a game controller in the last decade. Aside from the Black review, the magazine also breaks down five 3-D action/adventure titles, four RPGs, three sports cartridges, a racing game, a WWE title and a couple of other retreads and ports - all in all, nothing that steps outside the standard fare.
What was perhaps most interesting, however, was a one-paragraph note in OPM's front of magazine section called Hype. In the short take running under the headline "Game Envy," the staff picks the game that it would most like to see on the PlayStation. Their pick, Animal Crossing: Wild World, wasn't nearly as interesting as their rationalization. They write:
No, we haven't suddenly regressed into a staff of babies, but there are quite a few aspects of Animal Crossing for the DS that we're jealous of... We'd rather have a new and interesting game that emphasizes socializing, debt repayment, tree planting, letter writing, and T-shirt designing as opposed to yet another game that has a gun, or a sword duct-taped to a gun.
In terms of editorial content, OXM offers even less than its PlayStation counterpart. The only features to speak of in their March issue are the extended preview of VU Games' Scarface and a very similar write up on the much-delayed 3-D Realms/Humanhead FPS Prey. Their eight game reviews feature a handful of sports franchises, racing extravaganzas, a fighting game and other equally pedestrian game concepts.
Where both OPM and OXM do succeed in out dueling NP is in their coverage of the technological advancements of their next-gen consoles (read: flashy graphics). But in doing so, both publications, and the companies providing them material, are playing right into Nintendo's hands.
Instead of trying to wow gamers with stunning visuals, Nintendo has set a course to engage the hearts and minds of game fans. That is not to say they have pushed visuals aside; quite to the contrary. Recent titles like Windwaker and Resident Evil 4 have proven that the company is quite capable of producing a visual experience on par with any competitor. The Revolution will continue to push the boundaries of graphic representation in games, but as Iwata made clear and NP shows month in and month out, innovation will be the new bar by which Nintendo products will be measured.
Just as they did in their March issue, the staff at Nintendo Power magazine will continue to engage their readers with the story of Nintendo. It is a story that stretches back to the coin operated Donkey Kong that put the company on the map. Along the way, new characters have been introduced and others have been phased out. Through four household consoles and six instantiations of their handheld unit, Nintendo has occupied and fascinated generations of gamers. Nintendo Power has played a unique part in Nintendo's history and will continue to shape the company's future.
As Scott Pelland points out, it's all about the story. "When [editorial consultant] Reggie [Fils-Aime] talks about business strategy or [staff writer] Chris Shepperd gives insights into beating Castlevania DS, it expands reader's perception of the gaming world. We believe that we have the most compelling story in the game business to share with our readers, and our insider status at NOA, while it may be questioned by some, gives us the best position to deliver those stories with accuracy and passion."
Jon Schnaars is a freelance writer with interests in genre and representation in gaming. He blogs full-time about issues in psychology and mental health for Treatment Online.