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Sega Saturn Magazine's Top 50 Sega Saturn Games list was the MOST fun I ever had posting. (See Sega Saturn Magazine Top 50 Part 1 and so forth)

I began this epic topic October 2003. Posting two entries each day, it ran for a month, but even long after #1 was disclosed, people replied and expressed their gratitude for such an awesome display of love on my part. Hey, give all the credit to Sega Saturn Magazine -- the best gaming mag EVER

Exactly one year later, October 2004, former SSM editor Rich Leadbetter and former SSM writer Gary Cutlack personally sent me an email!  Below you will find their two emails, followed by a brief interview I was able to conduct with them about their SSM days and much more....

From : Gary Cutlack
Sent : Sunday, October 10, 2004 3:28 AM
To : Steve
Subject : Sega Saturn Magazine


Just had to say how much I enjoyed reading your incredible series of posts on the Neo-Geo forums about SSM's top 50 Saturn games

Playing and writing about Radiant Silvergun was by far the happiest period of my entire writing career, and although I'm still writing about games for UK mags, nothing will ever come close to those Saturn glory days again -- and we were doing it for fans like you!

The scans of those RS pages bring a tear to my eye, they really do


Gary (Cutlack, formerly of SSM)


Then, shortly following, Rich Leadbetter sent me an email!

Hey Steve,
Just like Gary, I've just checked out your brilliant SSM Top 50 thread on the Neo Geo forums. I remember the feature very well. In the run-up to Christmas we had to get issues out of the door in an insanely short amount of time, so we'd "bank" pages in the preceding months by coming up with the likes of Tips A-Zs and retrospective pieces

Your presentation of the Top 50 in that thread was superb, and I also greatly enjoyed the excerpts of other parts of the magazine. Brought back many memories long since buried and could well inspire me to venture into my attic and dig out a few issues

I must salute you for truly capturing the spirit of what the magazine was all about. To be honest, I think we were fortunate in that we were writing when Sega's AM and CS teams were at their very best, when quality gaming had a certain purity to it untouched by the seismic changes to the market (and the accepted idea of what makes a "good game") that Sony brought about. It was a golden period and I think that the magazine worked because we knew it, and the readers knew it

Anyway, thanks for a very welcome trip back in time...



Imagine my shock and glee when two of SSM's most important persona's emailed me out of nowhere to congratulate me on my work. I *HAD* to reply and ask several questions, hoping Gary and Rich would be kind enough to reply

And reply they did....



  • Where the hell are Sam Hickman, Lee Nutter (Chewbacca!), and last but not least Richard Leadbetter today?  (Note RVG readers: This was before Rich sent me his email). Do you keep in touch with any of them?

Well Lee's editor of PSW which is on the other side of the office from me, so I have no choice but to engage in occasional polite conversation with him in the kitchen on the odd days when we both make cups of tea at the same time. Rich still does freelance for several mags, plus I believe he's now more of a DVD author making cover discs for US games mags. Sam was before my time, so I have no idea of her whereabouts

  • What are your top ten favorite Saturn games? Any region

These are. I've even put them in reverse order to enhance the thrill. How anyone can prefer V Cop 2 over Cop 1's perfect score multiplier system I'll never know

10. Last Bronx
8. Dead or Alive
7. VF2
6. Shining Force III
5. Exhumed/Powerslave
4. Radiant Silvergun
3. Daytona USA
2. Virtua Cop
1. Sega Rally

  • What was it like working on SSM, and how were the last couple months like before issue 37 was cranked out and SSM officially laid to rest?

It was all right. I just sort of sat there very quietly writing enthusiastic things, getting angry at Matt for removing my jokes and adding spelling mistakes, and hoping that Ed Lomas wouldn't come round from the CVG office and make me pull his finger. Doing the last issue was pretty miserable, especially as we were all so excited about the prospect of gradually morphing it into a Dreamcast mag and, obviously, ruling the world with it for a thousand years. But the Saturn was SO dead by that point (months after Sega had stopped releasing games for it in the UK) there was no hope of it carrying on

  • How real was the rivalry with Saturn Power? (Note: RVG readers, a piece on SSM vs. Saturn Power coming in the future). Any particular memories in regards to this rivalry?

It was more institutional than personal -- we were Emap they were Future, and nobody liked Future. They were moderately capable people making an acceptable magazine in typical Future style, whereas we were SUPERHARDCOREWARRIORS crafting the very best thing we could do each month. They might think otherwise, but put some of the screenshots from both mags side-by-side and you'll be able to tell who cared most and put the effort in (it was us)

  • Final question: what Saturn games do you think SSM might have overrated? Or, which Saturn games were very good back in the day, but haven't aged very well?

None were overrated. The Saturn REALLY WAS THAT GOOD!

Oh, and if you're this interested in the minutae of Gary Cutlack's life, why not check out the archives of UK Resistance (www.ukresistance.co.uk) to see the pre-SSM Saturn reviews that helped get me the job on the mag in the first place. They're a bit shit in hindsight, though



From : Richard Leadbetter
Sent : Tuesday, October 12, 2004 2:17 AM
To : Steve
Subject : RE: Message from Rich Leadbetter

  • Where the hell are Sam Hickman, Lee Nutter (Chewbacca!), and the rest of the SSM gang (the ones who matter, anyway) today? Do you keep in touch with any of them?

    (speaking of Chewbacca, that Star Wars feature you had in issue 17 or 18 was really ace-tacular! A bold move, as it had nothing to do with video games, instead focusing on SW's proud lineage!)

Sam Hickman is editor of several kids' magazines produced by the BBC. Lee Nutter is the editor of the PS2 mag, PSW. Gary Cutlack is the deputy editor of the UK mag, Xbox Gamer. Matt Yeo has also moved on to editing kids magazines. I run my own multimedia company, Digital Foundry. Those DVDs that have been bundled with the last few issues of EGM? That's our work

  • What are your top ten favorite Saturn games today? Any region

To be honest, none of us are massive Saturn fans any more to the extent that we regularly play Saturn games. I haven't touched my Sega stuff in years. But there's no denying the POWER of the Saturn. A top ten, in no particular order would be... Virtua Fighter 2, Sega Rally, Street Fighter Collection (specifically Alpha 2, the other games are a cool bonus), Radiant Silvergun, Exhumed/Powerslave, DeathTank Zwei, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Duke Nukem 3D, Virtua Cop 1, NiGHTs. There are probably others but those are the ones that I still recall most fondly

  • How real was the rivalry with Saturn Power? Any particular memories in regards to this rivalry?

There was never a rivalry in any real sense from our perspective. We got all the good games first, always sold far more copies and were totally focused on what we produced as opposed to looking over our shoulders at what other people were doing. We would spend hours getting the right screenshots, making the text entertaining and really working on championing some fantastic games. I simply didn't see that in Saturn Power. In truth, the readers read Saturn Power more than we did and generally tended to email or write in to tell us about it. Since it struck a chord with the readers and it gave them a chuckle, we'd throw in the odd sly comment but in truth we didn't really give a toss. Our focus was elsewhere. The only rival from a quality perspective we had at the time was from CVG magazine, produced in the office right next to ours. OK so it was a multiformat mag, but in terms of sitting down, poring over an issue, reading every word and admiring their work, they were our closest rivals. CVG was the only other games mag we wanted to read. The fact that we were friends and could go to lunch with them and talk games and have a great time was a bonus. We used to play Quake on PC a lot

  • Final question: what Saturn games do you think SSM might have overrated? Or, which Saturn games were very good back in the day, but haven't aged very well?

You probably have a far more encyclopaedic memory of our review scores than I have. But you're right in that Saturn Bomberman was under-rated. In terms of stuff over-rated, some of the PlayStation ports have aged badly, and some decent games at the time (eg Soviet Strike) are now forgotten and almost totally irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. Some reviews may seem contentious now, but our primary focus in the mag was always the showcases. Our emphasis on dedicating more pages to the big games, championing them and making them feel more special was what we liked doing the most

Lobotomy - the team disbanded a few years back, but the nucleus of the programming talent is still together. I think they produced the two Baldur's Gate games on console, which are rather good




I whole-heartedly agree with Rich when he said "games had a certain purity" back then, compared to games of today. There was a certain feeling about the market back in the 90's...
an era that's forever gone and IMHO will never be duplicated, nor can it be -- for better or worse

Sega Saturn Magazine was the best mag ever created. Nobody could touch their passion, or the amount of care they lavished into each issue, each page, each paragraph, each caption, each pic. Not even Super Play (Hmmm, maybe I'll do a SSM vs. SP piece in the future...)

I'll have more SSM material published as time goes on...

Thank you for the email and interview, Rich and Gary. It was my great honor and pleasure.
Thank you for creating the best damn mag ever. And thank you for all the memories

Long Live Sega Saturn and SSM!