Ever since one of my favorite game writers was laid off from 1Up, I’ve been hurting for some Ray Barnholt. His knowledge of retro Japanese games and appreciation for video game music made him the perfect softly spoken game journalist package. Luckily the former host of The Sound Test, a podcast about game music, is back! In zine form! Read all about it after the jump.
Scroll is Barnholt’s self published zine branded as “the journal of video game appreciation” and that slogan couldn’t be more apt. Written almost entirely by Ray, with some help from his friend Alex Fraioli, Scroll issue #1 reads exactly like the kind of work we’d all like to be putting out as fans, yet don’t have the tools to do so. It feels that way to me anyway. Barnholt spends an entire magazine featuring things he loves and would like people to see. There is a bit of news coverage, but Scroll knows it’s a print publication and focuses on the more obscure video game news. A new Pac-Man arcade cabinet is featured, as well as some Japanese titles like Galgun and Otomedius Excellent. In a segment about indie titles Ray talks about the freeware indie title Ninja Senki, ‘On the DL’ tells us what downloadable games we should be playing and ‘PulseCode’ is a section about current and upcoming game soundtrack releases.
The publication is obviously influenced by 80’s and 90’s game rags like Nintendo Power and GameFan. Layouts of the articles especially evoke a classic ‘game mag’ feel with some very tasteful photography of a Super Famicom in the wild for issue 1’s cover story about the lasting power of the Super Nintendo. In the feature Ray expounds on his love for the console and what really gives a system “endurance” in the gaming market. He also features some of the best games on the console that hold up today, RPGs you may have missed, and the SNES’ best co-op experiences.
I’ve barely mentioned half of what you’ll find in this wonderful little book. Scroll is also packed with opinion pieces, including one titled ‘In Defense of Hydlide’ (take from that what you will, but he makes a good case for the long hated NES game), a feature by Alex Fraioli about Phantasy Star and a short piece on Star Tropics. A PDF version is available for only $5, but I very, very much recommend the $10 print edition. With a very inexpensive 2 bucks for shipping, Scroll is most certainly worth your money. I can’t wait to fill a whole shelf with these, right next to my comics and Gamespite quarterlies.