Das Magazin
for C64

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Mr Creosote:
Company: Honey Design / Ariolasoft
Year: 1988
Genre: Strategy
Theme: Business / Multiplayer
Language: Deutsch
Licence: Commercial
Views: 1108
Review by Mr Creosote (2023-06-10)
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Game review magazines played a significant role in the home computer world of the 1980s and 90s. Waiting for the monthly issues turned into an endless period occasionally. Until news about the latest releases finally arrived. And those crazy cheats, of course, the solutions which finally would let us progress in those games we already had, but were stuck in.

The editors turned into the readers' virtual best buddies, always welcome in their homes. Or weren't they rather untouchable heroes? In this way, Das Magazine (The Magazine) chose its theme smartly. Which gamer wouldn't have sold their mother to work in that field?

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It's just that the realization hits immediately, and hard. The player is not put in the shoes of a game reviewer. The game covers tasks which would be rather at publisher level, with some decisionmaking of the chief editor thrown in here and there. What does this mean practically?

It is the player's task to beat the other magazines on the market. To achieve this, able staff has to be hired. The rough direction of the magazine needs to be defined. Its selling price as well. Advertisement space can be sold for additional income. Plus, advertisement for one's own publication could help as well.

Whether this leads to any profit or rather how much turns out to be secondary. The overall market for computer magazines seems to be large enough for even the least popular magazine to still be profitable. Ah, the golden age of print journalism!

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Over time, the changing market situation needs to be monitored. The initially dominant C64 slowly fades away in favour of other systems. Or so one could think. Other kinds of fundamental developments, such as increasing or decreasing relevance of different sections (e.g. news versus cheats) aren't documented and also cannot be observed in-game.

It should be clear by now that all of it is a very dry affair. The text lists, only rarely accompanied by coarsely pixelled icons, aren't even the main issue. The joystick controls are also sort of acceptable, with the exception of entering numbers. An action which unfortunately occurs with high frequency.

Rather, it is simply that the game misses the interesting core of its own material by miles. The games, as well as the hardware, the news etc... the whole contents of the publication which the player is responsible for remains concealed. Not even the slightest schematic hint is ever dropped.

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Until the early 1990s, meaning long after this game's horizon, computer magazines were not planned in management meetings based on data as simulated and presented here. Rather, they came to be out of initiative of idealist freaks. What motivated those who made the real magazines does not even appear in this game.

On top, the applied model of cause and effect is simply off. In some ways, it is highly transparent. So far that there is simply no challenge. In other places, it remains completely nebulous. There is nothing in between.

Which leads to the overall conclusion: it doesn't miss the point completely, but sets bad priorities. This was not the dream of those acne-ridden gamer teenagers in the late 1980s. What is simulated here is exactly what the target audience would have gladly left to others. Even that not being all that well simulated. Fun? Negative.

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