When I was young (and really, even as an adult in my early 20s) I wanted to write about games. Growing up in the mid-to-late 2000s, I was always reading gaming magazines that my parents would subscribe me to — specifically Game Informer. My love for the written word grew as I did and I always dreamt of having my byline on some big publications.
Fast forward and here I am (sort of) fulfilling that dream though I still wish I had a physical magazine with my name on it. In a way, it’s refreshing to see something like [lock-on] by the team at Lost in Cult. This gaming journal collects pieces from different writers and pairs them with some of the most gorgeous art around. Funded via Kickstarter, this journal is one that encourages inclusivity and speaks volumes on our collective love for the industry.
What stuck with me the most while initially reading was the artwork. Most pieces in this issue were nostalgic and sentimental retrospectives of games and consoles of yesteryear, but reading John Linneman’s (Digtial Foundry) foreword about the Sony PlayStation while being treated to Sam McKenzie’s beautiful art showcasing PS1 mascots perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the read, and there’s just so much personality on display throughout the 153 pages — stories ranging from a passionate retrospective about Capcom’s Dino Crisis series, GameStop’s stock market craze from the past summer, and even a cool analysis of the game Maneater (which I reviewed).
As someone who’s already nostalgic about games released 20 years ago (or more!) while also being in love with platformers, I enjoyed Ryan Biniecki’s piece on PlayStation platformers. Here, they broke down the history and development of various titles in the genre on the console — stuff like Crash Bandicoot, Ape Escape, and even Jumping Flash! get namedropped in this essay. My favorite quote in the entire book comes from this piece, reading, “Would you believe it was Crash Bandicoot that charmingly had this moment in early development where someone stopped and called it the “Sonic’s Ass” game?” This is obviously a reference to Naughty Dog’s time developing a mascot platformer with an over-the-shoulder camera. (Look it up, it’s true!)
I struggle to review something like this because it’s a totally different playing field than critiquing a game. Also, it’s depressing in a way, but I genuinely love talking about the things that others create. In a way, my reviews are an art form that I think I finally cracked the code for myself, but to be in a position where I’m now reviewing the words other people write — well, it’s a bit daunting.
With that said, however, nothing can compare to the passion and love we all have for games. In that regard, the first volume of [lock-on] succeeds in offering the best of the creators and writers featured here who came together to make something beautiful about this wonderful industry. I genuinely can’t wait to see what else Lost in Cult has in store.
[lock-on] Volume 1 is written by various collaborators and can be found here. The editor, Andrew J. Dickinson, can be found on Twitter @oddment84. It was published in August 2021 by Lost in Cult. A copy of the book was provided for review by the publisher.