Taiwanese Gaming Magazines
I was lucky enough to find an old gaming mag written in Chinese on Yahoo Japan auctions recently. Turns out it was a Taiwanese magazine actually, but it makes little difference, for I knew non-Japanese Asian magazines meant COPIERS! (<---sound of 14-year-old me drooling here)
Having read through the magazine, I now know that mags like this aren't rife with illegal ads, but also have legitimate game previews, reviews, news, etc. (Many of them, however, are lifted straight out of Japanese mags, of course, and given a liberal slathering of Chinese characters to disguise this fact.) Places like Hong Kong and Taiwan must have been really awesome in the early '90s, what with all the strange gadgets for sale and the convergence of all things legal and illegal...
You know it's the '90s when Ranma is on the cover. (Incidentally, I finally learned what the '1/2' of Ranma 1/2 meant when I came to Japan. Japanese people refer to transvestites and transsexuals as "New Halfs". God knows what that means...)
English typo on the front cover... yep, that's Taiwan, all right.
Here the back cover has an ad for a (pretty crusty-looking) Megadrive copier. My friend told me that during the 16-bit copier era, companies in Hong Kong took out ads on billboards and even buses advertising brazenly for things like the Game Doctor and Multi Game Hunter.
An ad for the (seemingly popular) Multi Game Doctor 2. The base unit
sold for 4800 yuan ($287.50 in today's dollars), with about a dozen
attachments and accessories selling from $33 to $140 each. An
8 megabit DRAM cartridge for actually storing games loaded from disk
set the buyer back 6950 yuan ($416.25)!!!
The MGD2 ad continues for the next couple of pages as it extols the features of the unit, including compatibility with the latest RPGs.
Finally, one cool thing you could do with the MGD2 is patch game
ROMs. Here is a list of cheat patches for various systems.
One of the few words I can read on this page gives it away: It's an ad for a BBS! Have you ever seen a full-page ad for computer BBS systems in your video game magazines, folks?
It says you can get game tips, buy and sell used games, and download PD programs from other countries... I'll bet 1M yuan that there's also a backdoor to game ROMs on this BBS. Absolutely.
Remember the "Super Gun" craze during the SFII-hype days? People whispered about the Super Gun as if it was some magical next-generation 32-bit system.
Turns out it was nothing but a JAMMA joystick interface and video encoder. A dumb terminal, if you will. You still needed a real arcade PCB to play any games on it.
Here's an ad for a chain of gaming shops scattered around Taiwan, and it looks from their name that they're the brick-and-mortar branch of that BBS over to the left. How much do ya wanna bet that they ROM copied those SNES games before you bought them "new"?
The shop looks like a lot of fun, but what's with the scanned yuan bill in the background??
Another chain of shops shows its love of all things imported from Japan. (All graphics stolen from a single issue of Famitsu, no doubt.)
Finally, here's a sample of one of the mag's preview pages. This one's for Spartan X2, to state the bleedin' obvious.