Friday, September 11, 2009

Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks (now Tips & Tricks Codebook) is an American video game magazine published by Larry Flynt Publications (LFP). For most of its existence, the publication was devoted almost exclusively to strategies and codes for popular video games. However, in late 2006 veteran game journalist/designer Bill "The Game Doctor" Kunkel was hired as a consultant meant to help revitalize the magazine, and served as Editor in Chief for the last nine issues. Kunkel introduced feature articles, got the magazine an e-mail address, MySpace page and an official Web site while continuing to expand the monthly "lifestyle" features on video game-related anime, comics, toys, music and movies in an effort to shake the stigma of being a magazine only known for cheats and strategy guides.

Following the publication of the August 2007 issue, the magazine was canceled in the wake of discouraging sales and ad support, despite the attempts to revive the franchise. The Codebooks, however, are presently scheduled to continue on a bi-monthly schedule.

A code archive for each current system was featured in the back of each issue. There were also strategy guides/walkthroughs for recent popular games at the beginning of the issue. Tips & Tricks never reviewed games, but did feature a preview section. They were also one of the only video game magazines to publish full release schedules for each current system, in addition to their per-game preview articles. These release lists usually displayed the next year's upcoming games, sorted by month.

Tips and Tricks began as a spin off from VideoGames magazine, which in itself morphed out of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment, a popular multi-platform magazine of the late 1980s/early '90s. VG&CE and VideoGames like Tips & Tricks, were published by LFP following the purchase of A.N.A.L.O.G., ST-LOG and other computer magazines from Lee Pappas in the late '80s.

In June 2007, the entire editorial staff of Tips & Tricks was laid off. All further publications under the Tips & Tricks name will be Codebooks containing strategy guides, features, previews, codes and Pencil Puzzles.

As of August 2009, Tips & Tricks is on newsstands 8 times a year as a Codebook containing strategy guides, features, previews, codes and pencil puzzles.


Strategy Guides

Features several different strategy guides each month for current games on all console and portable systems; PC games, historically have not been covered, however, it was announced in the January 2007 issue that new Editor in Chief Bill Kunkel will oversee the addition of PC coverage from now on.


  • Reader Mail – Mail from readers (delivered by their faithful mailman Earl), and responses.
  • Action Packed – Features the latest in video game-related action figures and toys.
  • Animation Station – Features video game-related anime and cartoons, as well as video games based on anime.
  • Mega Mania – A monthly feature on the Mega Man series of games. *This feature now appears to be on hiatus.
  • Games on Film – Features video game-related movie news and reviews of video game-based films.
  • Video-Game Comics – Features comic books based on video-game characters, and vice versa.
  • Gaming Gear – Features the latest video-game hardware, accessories and peripherals.
  • Online Gamer – Features online guides, tips and news.
  • Gaming 2 GO – Features mobile gaming news, previews and tips.
  • Sports Desk – News on sports games.
  • Japan Report – The latest on Japan related games and toys.
  • Final Fantasy World – Information on the Final Fantasy series.
  • Halo Insider – Information on the Halo series.
  • Collectors Closet – Features news on classic games and classic video game-related items. Usually also features the Room of Doom.
  • Sound Test; Features news about video game music.
  • The Twisting Nether – News about WoW (World of Warcraft) and tips and tricks relating to the game.


Among the notables who've worked for T&T were its last Editor in Chief Bill Kunkel, who was the Executive Editor of the classic Electronic Games magazine in the early 1980s and was Associate Editor of "VG&CE", and Editor Chris Bieniek, who worked on every issue and continues to serve as Editor in Chief for the bi-monthly Tips & Tricks Codebook. Bieniek was formerly with T&T's now-defunct sister publication VideoGames Magazine (and its previous incarnation VG&CE).

Contributor Andy Eddy (who wrote the Gaming 2 Go column), was formerly the Executive Editor at VG&CE magazine.

Others who worked for the magazine include Art Directors Lisa Beattie and Ione Jefferies; Executive Editors Charlotte Chen (who wrote the "Pokémon Report" and "Final Fantasy World" columns), Anatole Brown (who wrote the "Japan Report" section and later became a Contributing Editor), Jim Loftus and Wataru Maruyama; Senior Editors Tyrone Rodriguez, Geoff Arnold (who wrote the "Twisting Nether" column), Ara Shirinian (who went on to work at Rainbow Studios), Jason Wilson (who wrote the "Tournament Report" column); and Entertainment Editor Abigail "Abbie" Heppe (who usually wrote the "Games on Film" section) and who is now Games Editorial Manager for X-Play on G4.

Contributing Editors Anatole Brown and Patrick Reynolds each wrote one strategy guide each month, in addition to their work on the "Japan Report" and "Download Den" columns, respectively. Patrick also wrote columns about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Mega Man and Armored Core.

Former T&T Associate Editor Betty Hallock currently writes for the Los Angeles Times. Before her departure in mid 1998, Hallock was somewhat of a "sex symbol" to male readers due to her elusive status as a female gamer and she was somewhat of a precursor to modern "gamer chicks" such as Morgan Webb, who is now cohost of the show X-Play. Betty was often the subject of fan letters sent to the magazine; during her tenures at Tips & Tricks (and its former sister magazine VideoGames) there was usually at least one fan letter about her featured each month in the Reader Mail section, often the readers would request photos of Betty to be printed in the magazine, and at one point she even had her own monthly column. Former Editor in Chief Chris Bieniek has gone on the record as saying that Betty "wasn't really a video-game player".

After Tips & Tricks' demise, former Editor in Chief Bill Kunkel, and former Entertainment Editor Abbie Heppe, went on to write for; Heppe writes for Hardcore Gamer as well.


Tips & Tricks also features a preview section entitled "Select Game Previews." Unlike a traditional magazine, however, this section encourages readers to vote on which games they'd like to see covered in future issues. Also included is an upcoming games release calendar. The pages between the Previews section and the Codes section contained a month-by-month schedule of releases for the current systems for the next year or so (varied).

Token of the Month

Usually at the end of the Reader Mail section, the Token of the Month section features a photo of a different arcade token sent in by readers from their favorite arcades every month.

Pencil Puzzle

Formerly featured in each issue, there would be 2 or 3 puzzles a month that featured grids of blocks with a key on the side telling you which blocks to shade in. After completion the puzzle would reveal a popular video-game character. This feature was taken out when the magazine changed to a more glossy paper, making it impossible to write on the pages in pencil. However after many letters from readers requesting their return, the puzzles re-appeared after a two year hiatus, in the Tips & Tricks 2006 Codebook; which unlike monthly issues, is still printed on non-glossy paper.