The Ill Communication

A 32-bit periodical
March 19, 2017 | 11:15 | Written by: snake911

About a year and a half ago after I knew my roommate (my brother) and I were splitting up to do our own things and living separately, I went on a bit of a spending spree.  You see, I was planning to continue living in our 2 bed, 2 bath apartment unit solo because I was lazy and didn't want to move.  So knowing in about two months I was going to be broke as heck by forking out the cash for rent without any other income to split it with, I knew my budget was going to be tighter than ever, so like the irresponsible adult that I am, I decided to blow the loose money I had on impractical things like video games.  Hooray!

Although to be specific, I didn't actually buy any games.  Rather, I bought volumes of CD magazines.

Back during the PS1 era I was subscribed to the PlayStation Underground CD Magazine.  I wanna say I learned about it from one of the many documents inside the PlayStation's box that the console came in.  It was a flyer advertising the annual subscription for the CD mag.  Back then magazines were a primary source for getting news about the gaming industry along with reviews for new games, so it was common to regularly buy magazines from a grocery store or get a subscription.  Most of my friends had magazines for me to borrow and read, but with the ushering in of the 32-bit consoles and PlayStation leading the pack in terms of mainstream popularity, it was a big leap forward for games, and Sony made a similar big change in how you stay up to date on their console.  Rather than a passive form by reading words on pages, their own self-published magazine was in a multimedia format, allowing for an interactive experience for consuming information, something definitely new and refreshing at the time.

The CD mag itself was really cool because every 3 months I would get a package in the mail with two CDs inside: one for the magazine with videos on upcoming games, interviews, and other related content, while the second CD was packet with game demos.  And if you were a fan of PlayStation, this was the inside scoop for all things Sony.  Something on par with Nintendo's magazine, Nintendo Power.

I loved it and was a subscriber for two years starting with Volume 1 Issue 4 all the way through Vol. 3 Issue 3 (Dec ‘97 – Sept ‘99).  The only reason why I stopped my subscription was because I was trying to save up all of my money to get a PS2 at launch, so one of the sacrifices I made for getting that next gen console on launch was to unsubscribe to the Underground CD mag.

A while ago around 2010/2011 I attempted to get the issues missing from my own personal Underground collection so I can have the full set from eBay, but at that time people thought those CDs were gold and sold them for high prices.  So high that I didn't even bother to buy or bid on any of the listed magazine issues and decided to just pass on the idea of collecting them.  But would ya believe that a few years later the sellers would have some sense knocked into them that these were fool's gold and dropped the price for these CDs considerably?  So for a solid month before my roommate left, I was searching and snatching up all of the issues I could find.  I believe I got the majority of these from three sellers across the US.

My timing couldn't have been any more perfect as when I was finishing collecting all the issues I could get, Giant Bomb's Demo Derby started showcasing the Underground CD mag.  Shortly after is when I saw the eBay market for the CD mag shrink a bit with other curious viewers of the Demo Derby snatching up copies for themselves.  At least that's my best guess.

I missed out on some good volumes, so I'm glad I got the ones I missed.  For example, Vol. 1 Issue 2 (June ‘97) includes the Square exclusive demo disc that packs in it nothing but Squaresoft games, and a unique JRPG styled interface to boot.  The list includes Final Fantasy VII, Bushido Blade, SaGa Frontier, Bushido Blade, and Final Fantasy Tactics.  I'm also digging all of the Tech Q&A and R&D interviews.  The most interesting issue I took a glance at is Vol. 4 Issue 4 (Dec. 2000) where disc 1 is a disc for PS1 while disc 2 is for the PS2.  This one was, obviously, to celebrate the US launch of the PS2, so this issue needed to deal with the now split user base.

I still have to go through all of the issues in detail in Vol. 4 (year 2000), and yes, I still need to get a copy of the elusive Volume 5 Issue 1 (March '01) PS2 exclusive version to have all the issues in my collection for it to be complete.  If I can get that last one, then I'll die a happy man as I'm a stickler for complete sets.

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