Before I start, let me say that I am a devout follower of the Dreamcast and I think that it is one of the all time classic systems... ...which is why it deserves better than this. The Official Dreamcast Magazine started out on the wrong foot when it;s debut issue contained an article entitled "Sega Rally Fashion". You guessed it! 5 or 6 pages of lovely looking models dressed in fashions that only a fool would wear to the Rally track. It didn't get much better as time went on. I believe Sega Swirl appeared four times on the coverdisc as an excellent "freebie", along with countless grainy movies of games that nobody really cared about. "Drinking....and Thinking" is possibly the biggest waste of space in the magazine (with the monthly themed "Hot Sites" section following closely behind), I mean, if the guys in the feature had this to say, why did they not say it in the review. Also, the reviewers often came a cropper and contradicted their original review in this section, making them look a tad unprofessional. This magazine couldn't hold a candle to the excellent EDGE magazine, which contained more relevant information, but with that said, this was still the best of a bad Dreamcast bunch. RIP Dreamcast, you'll be sorely missed but your "Official" magazine won't be.
This is a truly worhty mag of the official Stamp from Sega. Recently it went ou of business but we can remember it as a loyal DC mag, not biased with a great cover disk. The pics and news were great and I read many issues to find out about all the gossip for my DC. After it went out of business I turned to the Dreamcast MAg but I favoured the official one. The writers are witty and the reviews are awfully sophisticated with all the news presented clearly and easily to read. The pages are crammed with information and it was basically the first magazine to give out a page full of useful gadgets which they review. Everything is presented well and looks top notch! I give it 92% Cheers T_W (:)
"The Official Dreamcast Magazine" (henceforth referred to as "ODM"), is a leader in it's field. Unfortunately, it's a field of one... The problem is, the SEGA Dreamcast is a system that's entering it's twilight years. It doesn't matter that it's *the* best gaming platform on the market - a whole generation of brand-loyal sony-zombies wouldn't buy anything without a playstation logo on it, and it was pretty much doomed from the outset. The manufacturers lost vast sums, decided to cut their losses, and announced a slow retreat from the hardware market. New releases for the platform are expected to peter out, and dry up completely by the 2nd quarter of 2002. Which leaves the dreamcast-supporting gaming press in a bit of a dilemma... after all, new releases are pretty much the bread-and-butter of any console-oriented mag... and the upshot is that after a couple of very bloody months, there's only one DC mag still being published in the UK; Total Publishing's "Official Dreamcast Magazine" Unfortunately, despite being the only player left on the field, the strain seems to be starting to show. A few months ago, in the magazine's heyday, the average length of a review was about 2 pages per game. Nowadays, the new releases seem to be starting to dry up, and the reviews are being stretched out to compensate; 5 page spreads aren't unusual, and the "big releases" (such as Phantasy Star Online) have been drawn out to as much as a dozen pages! This wouldn't be so bad if the review was info-packed; I *love* reading detailed reviews of games - the more info, the better - but the extra length is largely down to padding; tricks like full-page promo artwork and oversized screen shots (when the screenshots are so large that the scan-lines and "jaggies" stand out, you can't help thinking that somebody somewhere is desperate to fill space!!). It's a shame,
because on the whole the content of the reviews is quite reasonable... it's just irritating to see a 2-page review spread over five. The highlight of the mag is probably the cover-disk... admittedly it's had a couple of ropey months recently, largely consisting of re-cycled demos of old games, but given the lack of "new product", I think they're not doing too bad a job. This month was a bit of a goodie, headlined by a demo of the forthcoming (and much awaited) "Skies of Arcadia" which takes a good 2-3 hours to play from start to finish, pretty good value for a demo! The rest of the mag content is a bit of a mixed bag. The news section is usually pretty good; by virtue of being the "official" magazine, they manage to get a few scoops from SEGA that the internet newsies don't get first, and the "previews" section is usually a good read. Less impressive are the "game guides" (hopelessly lacking compared to on-line FAQS, usually because they're rushed attempts to cover the very latest games, but don't really tell you anything that you won't figure out within a couple of hours of playing yourself), a token effort at reviewing a few web-sites (as the DC is internet-enabled), and a tedious FAQS and "every score for every game we ever reviewed" section, which pads out the back of the magazine with little effort, and will only really be interesting to new dreamcast owners. Even more irritating, every issue they seem to manage to include at least one article that leaves you thinking: "Why?" For example, this month they have a 2-page "spread" on a bloke called "Marshall Jefferson". (note the use of the word "spread"; it's actually a quarter page of interview, and one-and-three-quarters pages of photos - see earlier comments about "padding"). It turns out that this bloke is some famous house-
music producer. The dreamcast connection (which is only actually introduced about half way through the interview... i.e. 3 paragraphs from the end) is that he played a few games on his mate's dreamcast, likes the look of "phantasy star online" (although he didn't realise it had already been released and hasn't actually played it) ....and would _like_ to make some music for a dreamcast game. AND THAT'S IT!!! What was the *POINT* of this article???? OK... example 2... last month they had one of those awful "advertorial" things... you know those things that *look* like a magazine article, but are actually a thinly veiled advert. Basically, it said "Hey kids... do you like playing basketballs games on the dreamcast?... these guys are from the RAF basketball team. Hey, why not join the RAF; they've got a great basketball team! (no mention of planes, fighting wars, or stuff like that... no, join the RAF to play basketball... it's just like playing on your dreamcast kids, honest.... ) Or the month they had a 2-page interview an obscure US band called "real big fish", over the tenuous connection that they have a track used in the game "Samba De Amigo" ...but none of the band actually seemed to realise that their track had been used in a game.. or understand anything that the journo was talking about... WHY????? Hmmm... other regulars: VOX POPS - a feature in which they take a SEGA "demo pod" playing a forthcoming release to some vaguely theme-related location (e.g. take a racing game to a go-karting venue), set the general public loose on the game, and publish their comments.... which usually comprise: "Yes, it's very nice. I don't usually play video games. Well, I used to have sonic the hedgehog on a megadrive...." WHAT IS THE POINT?? Maybe if they at least took these demos to people who had some vague interest in gaming they mig
ht be able to produce something worth reading... as it is, it's 2 more pages of pointless padding to skip past... Reviews Round Up - one of the better sections; four of the reviewers chat about the major releases from last month, and how they stand up after a month of play. It's written in an informal chatty style, supposedly a transcript of a monthly pub-discussion, and is probably one of the most interesting bits of the magazine; it's interesting to see how opinions change after the reviewers have "lived" with the game for a while. "The Big Debate" - in which some tired old cliches like "Do video games promote violence" are put before a panel of experts. Frankly I usually skip this bit, bo-ring.... ZZZZzzzz.... The "Gadgets" page - in which they review all the latest music, DVD, and boy-toy gadgets. Absolutely nothing to do with the dreamcast, but no doubt a lucrative source of freebies for the magazine staff. The letters page - used to be quite reasonable, but now just full of letters from disappointed kids who feel let down by the fact that SEGA is dropping the dreamcast range. (Sigh... I remember the first time I was dumped by a console manufacturer too... all part of growing up!). There's also an "Ask Sega" column, where carefully vetted questions are given equally carefully-worded replies from "the powers that be" at SEGA. Sometimes interesting, but full of marketing spin.... In summary: ODM used to be a great mag. Unfortunately it's now starting to lose the plot a bit, and it's days are inevitably numbered... I still buy it religiously, and will probably continue to do so until the bitter end - but in spite the lack of new software releases, I can't help thinking that there's SO much they could be doing better!
You know, there are many games magazines that could have come from the same mould. Many magazines, even ones for different formats, tend to get a bit samey after a while and suffer from only talking about the games themselves, without taking any notice of what goes on behind the scenes. Official Dreamcast Magazine (or ODM to it's friends) is different. Like Edge magazine, it recognises that people want to learn about the industry and the games designers as well as the actual games themselves. It contains extensive articles on the teams behind the games and also other people involved in games, such as the PR people, Sega staff and those happy retail folk. The nice thing about ODM is that it also recognises the audience is a bit more grown up than certain other magazines, it doesn't preach or give away packets of sweets and stickers, but involves the readers in it's reviewing and playtesting process. There are often features where shoppers are asked to play a game and then review it, a nice change from just hearing the opinions of 'those in the know'. Other interesting sections include a 'pub' style get together to debate 4 games, giving a more rounded opinion that the one person review process and an 'Ask Sega' column on the letters page, so that readers can put their questions directly to Sega. Of course, there's also the bonus of having a cover mounted disc full of demos and movies to play with. Although the Playstation has a myriad of mags with cover discs, ODM is the only one that carries a Sega GDROM and it's a very welcome sight too, letting you try before you buy. ODM is a fantastically well rounded tome that has often being accused of having more style than substance because it featured different topics than other magazines, but it certainly stands up to other games mags and gives you plenty of insight in to the whole games process and that's the reason why I
am now a subscriber. Great stuff!
If you’re seriously into gaming then no doubt you’ve got a PS2, a Dreamcast an N64 and a Playstation. For the more normal types there is usually just the one console and for me that’s the Dreamcast. I’ve always made a habit of purchasing the odd magazine to get the latest news, reviews and those usually tempting previews. I’ve tried the three main Dreamcast mags namely DC-UK, Dreamcast Magazine and this, the official Dreamcast Magazine. It’s the most expensive of the three at £4.99 a month but it is also the only one with a monthly demo cover disc. This is nothing unusual, the majority of ‘official’ magazines get the perks of exclusives. The price may seem a little steep but let’s be fair. The cover disc is usually of a very good standard with decent menus and occasionally brilliant game demo’s. There are often video demos in addition to any games too. The ability to play a demo of a game is essential in my opinion. Dreamcast games are by no means cheap so if you can play a demo before purchasing a game that can’t be a bad thing. To be fair it works both ways – bad games will play badly and therefore you won’t buy it but on the other hand it also lets you play games that you ordinarily wouldn’t have taken a second look at. The magazine is, in my opinion, very good indeed. There’s nothing groundbreaking in its content or format but the quality of content is high. News. A very handy section of the mag, here all of those little last minute snippets appear to tantalise you. Every month there is something here that may well keep you on the edge of your seat until the next issue is out. Previews. From those various rumours and screenshots the first proper previews start to appear and here you will get a reasonably detailed report of the latest games news. Some of the previews are actually v
ery in depth and usually give a pretty good idea of what you can expect from the finished article. Reviews. This is one thing that really impressed and surprised me. Being an ‘official’ mag you’d probably expect the reviews to be on the rather pleasant side even if the game is rubbish. (Yes I know I’m always suspicious but that’s me for you). This just isn’t the case though. Every review I’ve read in the magazine so far has been completely unbiased. If it’s utter rubbish then they’ll say so, if it’s average they’ll say so, if it’s amazing then there’ll be a four page review telling you exactly why. You really can’t say fairer than that. On top of this there are plenty of screenshots to go with each review so you can get a rough idea of how good the game looks too. The reviews are rated out of 10 and I actually prefer that rather than a score out of 100 (the main reason for this is that I believe there is little difference between a 91% and a 92% score whereas the difference between an 8 out of 10 and a 9 out of 10 is more obvious). I have accepted their ratings and I have bought games on their recommendations. If you don’t agree with one of their ratings though, you can write in and give your own. Yes, that’s right. Each month a small selection of readers reviews are featured so if you don’t quite trust them you can have a second opinion. Cheats/Guides. Another essential part to any gaming magazine is the cheats section. Remember that level you couldn’t unlock? That car which you couldn’t earn? Well the idea in this section is to help you get the most from your game. One line cheats are available and there are also more comprehensive guides – of course this changes every month so don’t throw away those old issues – they’re great for reference. Letters. No m
agazine would be complete without the readers letters. There are genuine questions/complaints and even the odd outspoken letter and this section can actually be quite intellectual at times. Who said all gamers are spotty reclusives? Adverts. Why am I even mentioning this? Well, you’ll need to find out the best places to buy your games and most of the time it’s not on the high street (which shouldn’t be a surprise if you’ve looked at the Dooyoo online shopping section). There are plenty of adverts (not too many though) and you’ll probably discover a few retailers that you’ve never heard of before – I certainly did and saved a few pounds on occasions too. Subscribe. As mentioned before, £4.99 a month may be a little too much for some people but as always there is an option to subscribe. Six months will cost you £19.99 (shop price £29.96) although I found an offer on their website where you can do three months at a time for £9.99. This means every third issue is free (compared to the shop price). Now that can’t be bad. £3.33 per issue is much more reasonable I’m sure you’ll agree. The only downside to subscribing that I can see is that you get every issue when there may be the occasional one that you may not have bought but there’s bound to be something in every issue that is of interest. Overall I’m very impressed with this mag. It’s informative, it’s got a coverdisc each month and the information is not just informative it’s written in an entertaining way. It’s well worth £4.99 a month although after a couple of issues you’ll probably be subscribing and getting it to your door.
I believed that this mag would be good as some of the staff from the official Sega Saturn Mag were on the team and that was the best magazine I had ever read. Unfortunately, this mag is more like a playstation mag where games dont matter and that booze and girls come first. they all seem to be casual gamers and the opinions they represent are targeted at a casual gamer which isnt good for all us hardcore gamers as we all know how casual gamers wrecked the industry buying up the Playstationa and will no doubt buy the PS2 just to `be cool` even though it has no decent games.
Official games magazines have a fairly bad rep. For a start, it doesn’t help that most of them won’t say a bad thing about their beautiful console. Now, ODM isn’t quite that bad- they will occasionally can a really, REALLY bad game. But the huge majority of the time, they just ramble on about how incredible it is, how much you’ll love it, and how insignificant any mistakes are. And if a hyped game comes along, you can guarantee it’ll get full marks. They often print reviews of unfinished games just to be able to slap ‘exclusive’ all over the cover, but from the mindless cliché’s and careful avoidance of the actual subject matter, it’s obvious they know little (if anything) about the actual games. Untrustworthy, unintelligible, and just downright bad, although it is ALMOST saved by the demo GD’s, which are frequently great. But not worth a fiver.
If you want the latest dreamcast news from around the globe.Then this is the magazine to buy.If you want the latest reviews and previews which are totally unbiased,despite the Official licence,this again is the magazine.Also like many other magazines,it features a mail section,but with one difference.A special area in each issue is allocated where readers get to ask questions the Sega themselves.This small touch makes the magazine that extra bit more special because you are getting the information striaght from the horses mouth,so to speak. Really you could sum up what I think of the Official Dreamcast Magazine in one word..Excellent.
I have been a subscriber to the OFFICIAL Dreamcast magazine since the issues started and I have to say that I have been fairly impressed by most of the magazines and the addition of a monthly guaranteed demo disc was obviously a great incentive for me to subscribe. I pay about £40 a year for 12 issues - which saves a good 33% and the magazines 'apparently' get to my house before they reach the shops - I say apparantly as they seem to arrive about the same time - and are occasionly late - but this doesn't matter too much. I think the general content is of a godd standard - reliable reviews - and FAIR unbiased reviews - they do not give everything 10/10 and I actually agree with most of what they say. The layout of the magazine is very good - the pages are very glossy and full of relevant information about Dreamcast issues. In fact they actually have special designers to create some of the front covers - yes this is definitely the best looking magazine of all the Dreamcast magazines. As for the reviews - welll they generally preview a game a couple of months before it is to be released so that in about 2 issues time they can review the game and give it a score out of ten - so far they have only awarded Soul Calibur full marks - I cannot believe that MSR only got 9/10! oh well, they have been known to change their scores at a later date! So, what else is in the magazine? Well there are always competitions and the usual letters and Q&A pages - and also a whole inventory/ directory of all the Dreamcast games they have reviewed. The layout keeps the same from issue to issue - in that certain things are on certain pages - this helps the readers to become acostomed to the magazine - it's familiar to us. As for the demo discs? Are they any good? Of course! In fact I think that in the last 3 months I've played some of the greatest games in my life - and they were on Demo! My favorite and arguably the best of these was the
Metropolis Street Racer time attack demo - brilliant demo - thanks Sega! As for the competition? well i also subscribe to DC-UK which is also a very good magazine - although it is not as glossy - it is perhaps a 'friendlier' magazine as they offer more competitions and stuff. The only bad aspect about ODM is the fact that the people that edit it and work on it ALWAYS put their faces on the pages - and quite frankly I do not want to have to look at them - for obvious reasons - it spoils my reading!