GamePro Memories

On November 30, I looked at my Twitter feed and saw that GamePro was soon to print its final issue, and that its website will no longer exist. While I haven’t been following GamePro lately, it was my main source for video game news, reviews, and overall coverage in my early teenage years. This announcement made me dig through my garage and see what I could find, and I was glad to see that most of my magazines were still around.

Starting around summer of the year 2000, my brother got a subscription to GamePro. This wasn’t my first exposure to the magazine, and I recall my brother saying that he had subscribed years ago, but this is the time period I remember reading the publication regularly. What I liked the most about GamePro was that it had a very colorful look to it, complete with cartoon personas that represented their reviews editors, a look that isn’t all that foreign to all of us users here on GiantBomb. I remember reading GamePro’s extraordinarily positive review of Golden Sun (issue 161, which I still have access to), and on one weekend, I went out to a BestBuy with my mom and picked it up. I also remember cutting out a $5 coupon on that same magazine, which was likely my first step into eventually becoming interested in searching for video game deals, wherever they may be. Whenever there was a game I was interested in, I would look at the GamePro review. That same year, we bought a PlayStation 2 at launch, and because we never owned a PlayStation, GamePro’s “PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Encyclopedia” was very helpful at introducing us to some earlier games we missed out on.

GamePro had a number of recurring articles I found both entertaining and informative. Every April issue there was a “LamePro” segment, which included reviews of fake video game titles, and if you’re a sucker for puns, you’d get a good laugh out of game titles like Lap Dance Dance Revolution and Super Mario Moonshine.

If you’re curious on what issues I could find, the majority of my GamePro collection ranges from issue 144 to the early 200s. Some issues are missing, but I’d say it would be about 60 in total.

Anyway, I’m gonna open a couple magazines and talk about what I find, starting with issue 144:

Just like you’d expect, there are a lot of advertisements in every issue. After getting through the table of contents, you’ll find Head2Head, which showcased some mail, and the editors would respond. The magazine had a sarcastic sense of humor, which was often conveyed in their responses. A reader calls Major Mike a “giant ninja turtle in a military outfit”. From what I remember, their snarky answers dwindled as time went on, though. Their Buyers Beware feature was very informative, which would address new customer concerns every month on whatever software or hardware problems they may be having. It was particularly helpful whenever there was a new hardware being released. For example, a customer writes in issue 144 asking if the PS2 is compatible with PS1 accessories.

Every month had a three panel webcomic called “Hidden Characters”, usually showcasing the GamePro characters goofing off. I occasionally got a laugh out of them, but it’s unfortunate that these comics aren’t compiled anywhere.

This particular issue has an exclusive of Neversoft’s Spider-Man, which received a very positive review from Dan Elektro (a.k.a Dan Amrich), who now works as a Social Media Manager for Activision. Other reviews included in this issue are Deus Ex (which received a perfect score), Diablo II, and Chrono Cross. The formatting for the coverage was divided by certain genres and platforms. PC games were in one section of the magazine, and then you had a Sports section for sports previews and reviews, which made it easier for me to skip over sports games since I had no interest in them! Last come the strategy guide and cheats section. Combos for certain Marvel vs. Capcom 2 characters are included in this issue, which I would put into practice whenever I would play the game.

Their rating system was streamlined later, but for those who don’t know, for many years GamePro reviewed games in 0.5 increments, 5.0 being their maximum score. Games were scored in four categories: Graphics, Sound, Control, and Fun Factor. By today’s standards, this all seems superfluous, because Fun Factor was the only score to really care about. Accompanied with the scores is a cartoon character expressing enjoyment or disgust depending on the score, just like Giantbomb! Also included in reviews were ProTips, which were just brief advice on how to accomplish something within the game.

When Dan Amrich left GamePro, he made a farewell post on the website stating that he posted under both the moniker “Dan Elektro” and “Bad Hare” which was a shock to me and many other readers. I do remember learning enough about some of these writers because of their persona and the articles associated with them. “Bad Hare” was supposed to be a pun on Dan Amrich’s bad hair, D-Pad Destroyer was left-handed, and Fennec Fox was fluent in Japanese, so he did a lot of the JRPG coverage.

For some bizarre reason, years after I stopped reading GamePro I decided to purchase a couple of the Joyride figures, specifically Major Mike and Dan Elektro. Dan Amrich held a contest on OneOfSwords.com to give away some extra Miss Spell figures (the character was based on his wife, Katrin Auch, who also worked at GamePro), and I was fortunate enough to win one of the figures. The only figure I’m missing is Dr. Zombie, who would do Gamepro’s artwork, if I recall correctly.

Anyway, this concludes my ramble about GamePro, from the brief revisit I did on a couple issues. Did any of you read the magazine?

ProTip: You'll see a lot of these in old GamePro issues.
Yes, this was an actual advertisement in the magazine.
Major Mike's figure appeared in the film Runaway Jury.
Not the portable PlayStation you may be thinking of!
18 Comments
19 Comments
Edited by Apathylad

On November 30, I looked at my Twitter feed and saw that GamePro was soon to print its final issue, and that its website will no longer exist. While I haven’t been following GamePro lately, it was my main source for video game news, reviews, and overall coverage in my early teenage years. This announcement made me dig through my garage and see what I could find, and I was glad to see that most of my magazines were still around.

Starting around summer of the year 2000, my brother got a subscription to GamePro. This wasn’t my first exposure to the magazine, and I recall my brother saying that he had subscribed years ago, but this is the time period I remember reading the publication regularly. What I liked the most about GamePro was that it had a very colorful look to it, complete with cartoon personas that represented their reviews editors, a look that isn’t all that foreign to all of us users here on GiantBomb. I remember reading GamePro’s extraordinarily positive review of Golden Sun (issue 161, which I still have access to), and on one weekend, I went out to a BestBuy with my mom and picked it up. I also remember cutting out a $5 coupon on that same magazine, which was likely my first step into eventually becoming interested in searching for video game deals, wherever they may be. Whenever there was a game I was interested in, I would look at the GamePro review. That same year, we bought a PlayStation 2 at launch, and because we never owned a PlayStation, GamePro’s “PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Encyclopedia” was very helpful at introducing us to some earlier games we missed out on.

GamePro had a number of recurring articles I found both entertaining and informative. Every April issue there was a “LamePro” segment, which included reviews of fake video game titles, and if you’re a sucker for puns, you’d get a good laugh out of game titles like Lap Dance Dance Revolution and Super Mario Moonshine.

If you’re curious on what issues I could find, the majority of my GamePro collection ranges from issue 144 to the early 200s. Some issues are missing, but I’d say it would be about 60 in total.

Anyway, I’m gonna open a couple magazines and talk about what I find, starting with issue 144:

Just like you’d expect, there are a lot of advertisements in every issue. After getting through the table of contents, you’ll find Head2Head, which showcased some mail, and the editors would respond. The magazine had a sarcastic sense of humor, which was often conveyed in their responses. A reader calls Major Mike a “giant ninja turtle in a military outfit”. From what I remember, their snarky answers dwindled as time went on, though. Their Buyers Beware feature was very informative, which would address new customer concerns every month on whatever software or hardware problems they may be having. It was particularly helpful whenever there was a new hardware being released. For example, a customer writes in issue 144 asking if the PS2 is compatible with PS1 accessories.

Every month had a three panel webcomic called “Hidden Characters”, usually showcasing the GamePro characters goofing off. I occasionally got a laugh out of them, but it’s unfortunate that these comics aren’t compiled anywhere.

This particular issue has an exclusive of Neversoft’s Spider-Man, which received a very positive review from Dan Elektro (a.k.a Dan Amrich), who now works as a Social Media Manager for Activision. Other reviews included in this issue are Deus Ex (which received a perfect score), Diablo II, and Chrono Cross. The formatting for the coverage was divided by certain genres and platforms. PC games were in one section of the magazine, and then you had a Sports section for sports previews and reviews, which made it easier for me to skip over sports games since I had no interest in them! Last come the strategy guide and cheats section. Combos for certain Marvel vs. Capcom 2 characters are included in this issue, which I would put into practice whenever I would play the game.

Their rating system was streamlined later, but for those who don’t know, for many years GamePro reviewed games in 0.5 increments, 5.0 being their maximum score. Games were scored in four categories: Graphics, Sound, Control, and Fun Factor. By today’s standards, this all seems superfluous, because Fun Factor was the only score to really care about. Accompanied with the scores is a cartoon character expressing enjoyment or disgust depending on the score, just like Giantbomb! Also included in reviews were ProTips, which were just brief advice on how to accomplish something within the game.

When Dan Amrich left GamePro, he made a farewell post on the website stating that he posted under both the moniker “Dan Elektro” and “Bad Hare” which was a shock to me and many other readers. I do remember learning enough about some of these writers because of their persona and the articles associated with them. “Bad Hare” was supposed to be a pun on Dan Amrich’s bad hair, D-Pad Destroyer was left-handed, and Fennec Fox was fluent in Japanese, so he did a lot of the JRPG coverage.

For some bizarre reason, years after I stopped reading GamePro I decided to purchase a couple of the Joyride figures, specifically Major Mike and Dan Elektro. Dan Amrich held a contest on OneOfSwords.com to give away some extra Miss Spell figures (the character was based on his wife, Katrin Auch, who also worked at GamePro), and I was fortunate enough to win one of the figures. The only figure I’m missing is Dr. Zombie, who would do Gamepro’s artwork, if I recall correctly.

Anyway, this concludes my ramble about GamePro, from the brief revisit I did on a couple issues. Did any of you read the magazine?

ProTip: You'll see a lot of these in old GamePro issues.
Yes, this was an actual advertisement in the magazine.
Major Mike's figure appeared in the film Runaway Jury.
Not the portable PlayStation you may be thinking of!
Edited by jakob187

I remember having a subscription...and I remember that War Gods was on the cover at one point. Beyond that, I couldn't name anything specific inside the magazine. I've still got a lot of those '90s issues sitting in storage.

I also remember that Major Mike was the shit.

Sad to hear about them going out of business.

Posted by PillClinton

Oh man, I recognize a lot more of those covers than I thought I would. Sad, but inevitable.

Posted by Claude

I never subscribed to GamePro, but my nephew did and I read most of them. He still has all his old rags from the early nineties. I should go to his place and reminisce. Very nice blog. As long as I have my memories, there will always be a GamePro out there.

Posted by Catolf

wow i think i actually owned one of these before.. at least i think so, it was YEARS ago though...

Posted by KoolAid

Today I'll always reminder GamePro for a key part of my preteen game playing experience. I'll remember it for something I almost scrubbed from my memory until recently: the game guide. GamePro always had super comprehensive games of the biggest games. I'm talking full guides. Like how to get every summon in Final Fantasy comprehensive. For a long time I wondered how I ever beat these hard games as a kid, and the answer is GamePro.

Take this for example: my roommate and I, now in our mid twenties, got the chance to replay Ocarina of Time on our 3DS's. Well, it was replaying for me. He was actually playing it for the first time. As game designers, we were looking forward to his experiences with this piece of gaming history. It wasn't long though, before disaster struck! We just started and he was already stuck.

"Yeah man… I don't know what to do. I made it to the castle, but there's this sleeping guy in the way and I don't know how to move him. I was there for like 45 mins!"

"Oh yeah, I know what to do. You have to leave the castle and come back. Then this girl appears and gives you an egg, and then you wait a few in game days and the egg hatches and the chicken can wake him up!"

"What."

How did I ever figure this out in the 4th grade? GamePro. I always had the guide by my side while i played any of these games. Yet somehow, I didn't remember this fact until I was playing Zelda again. I didn't consider it cheating, because the challenge was intact and because I was a kid. It just told me what I should do next.

Today, players my age look at games like Call of Duty and how they hold the player's hand the entire way, so the player has no question who to 'follow'. We say these corridor shooters are too simple. Glorified hallways! We point to games like Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy 8 and Legend of Zelda and say "See! We managed just fine back then!"

How did we do it? For me, the answer was GamePro.

Posted by Hot_Karl

I read this yesterday, but I kinda didn't have a lot to say. I wasn't a big Gamepro fan- it was something my mom bought me at the airport before we flew out to Disneyland or whatever because I had already read EGM that month. But I remember Lamepro being exactly that- lame (in an amusing way).

I never had any ties to the magazine, but it's a shame since it was somewhat prevalent in my childhood. This is well done, however. Here's to you, GamePro.

Posted by 71Ranchero

I remember buying an issue every month like clockwork for years. I didnt actually spend much time reading them mind you, I was just after the Import adds from the last 2 pages of the mag. Chips N Bits 4 Life!

Posted by CL60

I've lost what little respect I've had for GamePro after watching their SWTOR review. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it's impossible for somebody to have a negative opinion of the game, but watching that was just embarrassing for them.

Posted by Brackynews

I can't remember if I have the premiere issue of GP or not, but definitely all of the early years. They did some fine work in their prime. Though I remember rather a lot of typos in the cheat code section. I actually stopped buying it even before Dan Amrich was hired on. He's a helluva sweet guy. Got him and Andy Eddy to autograph stuff at CAX this year.

@CL60: Uhhh... don't you mean "preview", because you can't review games that aren't released yet. Right? RIGHT??? O_o

Posted by DeF

I subscribed to GamePro via international subscription from august 2010 till august 2011 and really liked what they did during that time, I'm sad to see them go.

Edited by CL60

@Brackynews said:

I can't remember if I have the premiere issue of GP or not, but definitely all of the early years. They did some fine work in their prime. Though I remember rather a lot of typos in the cheat code section. I actually stopped buying it even before Dan Amrich was hired on. He's a helluva sweet guy. Got him and Andy Eddy to autograph stuff at CAX this year.

@CL60: Uhhh... don't you mean "preview", because you can't review games that aren't released yet. Right? RIGHT??? O_o

No, they did a video review type thing and it was the most pathetic thing I've ever watched. One of the people in it honestly said "I've been playing since the friends and family beta started and I've yet to experience companions, I was playing the blue side, which I guess is the alliance, but I didn't try the red guys." None of them actually got past level 12-13. It was full of misinformation, contradictions, and out right lies.

Posted by Hailinel

@CL60 said:

I've lost what little respect I've had for GamePro after watching their SWTOR review. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it's impossible for somebody to have a negative opinion of the game, but watching that was just embarrassing for them.

It's hard for me to believe this on hearsay given that you're hyperdefensive when it comes to criticism of the game.

Posted by Slag

Aww man really? even the website?

can't say I ever was a big fan, but when I was a kid it felt like the big boy magazine compared to Nintendo Power and such. So weird I haven't read one in years, but it will be strange when it's gone.

cool blog btw

Posted by EightBitShik

I hated gamepro with a passion I thought it was a piss poor magazine when compared to Gamefan which if you liked colorful pictures and art then that was the magazine the only problem was how short of a run it had due to Dave Halverson being a tard and going months without getting your magazine.

EGM was also great but honestly gamespot and then Giantbomb filled up my need for gaming info that I lost all interest in mags.

Edited by CL60

@Hailinel said:

@CL60 said:

I've lost what little respect I've had for GamePro after watching their SWTOR review. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying it's impossible for somebody to have a negative opinion of the game, but watching that was just embarrassing for them.

It's hard for me to believe this on hearsay given that you're hyperdefensive when it comes to criticism of the game.

Go watch it? None of them got passed level 13. One person called the factions. "The blue guys, which are the alliance, and the red guys." One person said "The story is great, and it's a good thing to have in MMOs and it's hooking me" then 5 minutes later says "The story sucks, and I skip it." then later says the game sucks, then later says the game is keeping her away from Skyrim because she loves playing it. Then one guy says it looks and palys worse then 2004 WoW(Which is just a blatant exaggeration/lie that I would expect from a troll. As I said, it's full of lies, contradictions and misinformation, and general stupidity.

Edited by Hailinel

@CL60: I'm watching the video right now, and you're the one that's full of misinformation. When she talks about the "blue guys" and "red guys," she says it with the full knowledge that they aren't actually the Alliance and Horde. It's just very easy to call them that because hey, guess what. This game is a lot like WoW with good guys and bad guys. My only conclusion is that you're being hilariously oversensitive about this.

EDIT: Yeah, after watching the full video, I don't see what's to get upset about. Different people have different takes on the game and not all of them are positive.

Back on topic:

I never read much of Gamepro growing up, so I can't say I have much of a strong connection to the magazine, but it sucks that people are losing their jobs and I hope that everyone involved is able to land back on their feet fairly quickly.

Posted by CL60

@Hailinel said:

@CL60: I'm watching the video right now, and you're the one that's full of misinformation. When she talks about the "blue guys" and "red guys," she says it with the full knowledge that they aren't actually the Alliance and Horde. It's just very easy to call them that because hey, guess what. This game is a lot like WoW with good guys and bad guys. My only conclusion is that you're being hilariously oversensitive about this.

EDIT: Yeah, after watching the full video, I don't see what's to get upset about. Different people have different takes on the game and not all of them are positive.

Back on topic:

I never read much of Gamepro growing up, so I can't say I have much of a strong connection to the magazine, but it sucks that people are losing their jobs and I hope that everyone involved is able to land back on their feet fairly quickly.

Yeah, it's totally alright to review a MMO and get to level 8 and not even know what the factions are called... this is exactly why I can't stand MMO reviews.

Posted by Hailinel

@CL60 said:

@Hailinel said:

@CL60: I'm watching the video right now, and you're the one that's full of misinformation. When she talks about the "blue guys" and "red guys," she says it with the full knowledge that they aren't actually the Alliance and Horde. It's just very easy to call them that because hey, guess what. This game is a lot like WoW with good guys and bad guys. My only conclusion is that you're being hilariously oversensitive about this.

EDIT: Yeah, after watching the full video, I don't see what's to get upset about. Different people have different takes on the game and not all of them are positive.

Back on topic:

I never read much of Gamepro growing up, so I can't say I have much of a strong connection to the magazine, but it sucks that people are losing their jobs and I hope that everyone involved is able to land back on their feet fairly quickly.

Yeah, it's totally alright to review a MMO and get to level 8 and not even know what the factions are called... this is exactly why I can't stand MMO reviews.

At no point did they call that video feature a review. You're being crazy.