1990/1992 - 10/24
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Editor Julian Rignall
Categories Video game magazines
First issue October 1990
Final issue number 24 — September 1992
Country United Kingdom
Mean Machines was a multi-format gaming magazine released between 1990 and 1992 in the United Kingdom.
In the late 1980s Computer and Video Games (CVG) was largely covering the outgoing generation of 8-bit computers like the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and newly emerging 16-bit computers (the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga). Julian Rignall built and launched a consoles-oriented section of the magazine called Mean Machines. The inaugural section was featured in the October 1987 issue of the magazine and largely covered games on 8-bit games systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega's Master System. It included features on newly emerging Japanese-only videogame systems such as NEC's PC Engine.
Over the ensuing months, CVG increased its coverage of consoles and started off a 'Mean Machines Megaclub'. At the same time, a new import gaming marketplace started to emerge fuelled by gamers' demand for these new consoles. Small retailers in Britain began importing consoles and games directly from Japan, modified them for the UK market and sold them on.
Rignall and newly hired designer Gary Harrod spent two weeks planning the design, editorial tone and style, and published Mean Machines Issue Zero - a 16-page test version of the magazine that was used to elicit feedback from potential advertisers and readers. Only ten of these magazines were published, although a mini version was reprinted and given away free with Issue 15 of the magazine.
The first issue covered the Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy and Amstrad GX4000 consoles. Within a few months the Amstrad was taken off the market due to poor sales, and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System replaced it in the magazine's focus, making MM a mainly Sega and Nintendo only magazine. Coverage was also given to other machines like the NeoGeo and PC Engine.
Following the lead of parent magazine CVG, Mean Machines covered both domestic and imported releases, meaning that the magazine could review titles that were months away from UK release. At the time, import gaming was more popular than it is now, as increased territory lockouts and swifter UK release dates have made import gaming a relatively niche market.