the good old days, where you'd walk into a newsagent and got
a selection of ten different SEGA mags? Unfortunately, those
days are over, but I managed (With the help of himself,
I must add) to track down one of the best known editors of
Sega magazines 'Sega Power' and 'Saturn
power' ; Dean Mortlock and asked him some
questions about the work at those very same mags.
the readers a bit about what you've done for Sega/Saturn Power
in the past?
D.M: I started
on Sega Power in July 1992, after beginning my gaming
career at Paragon Publishing.
Starting off as a staff writer, I stayed for over six years,
worked my way through four extremely different
editors (all wonderful, naturally) and eventually became editor
myself… just as the magazine was about
to close, naturally. In a desperate bid to revive the flagging Sega
magazine market, we attempted to
rebrand as a Saturn-only mag, Saturn Power. It was
a genuinely good idea (as was the disc), but bad luck
meant that the Saturn’s development dried up as
soon as the mag was launched and so, therefore, did we…
S.F: What are you doing these days?
D.M: Lots of
stuff, really. I went freelance about six years ago and have
worked for a staggering array of
magazines and publications. Currently I’m still writing
some reviews, the odd walkthrough and some Internet
features. I keep busy and still love my job.
S.F: Which of the Sega power/Saturn people
that you worked with are you still in contact with?
D.M: Not many,
sadly. Nick Merritt (old Sega Power editor)
is, currently, about 20 feet away from me.
He’s a managing editor in one of Future Publishing’s
divisions and doing rather well for himself. I went out
for lunch with Mark Ramshaw (another SP editor) a
few weeks back and that’s about it. If you’ve
Danny Wallace before (an old SP work experience writer
and eventual long-term freelancer for us), he’s now
a very well-known comedy writer in the UK!
Power ran for over seven years and spawned 91 issues.
Pretty impressive eh?
S.F: Can you
tell us what the work at those magazines was like? What were
the best/worst parts?
D.M: The work
was exactly as you’d expect. We all really loved what
we were doing and I always like to
think that showed in the mag. Obviously, it was easier when
the mag was one of the biggest-selling titles
at Future, but even towards the end we had lots of fun.
S.F: Judging from some bits
of issue 10, the work on issue 11 started and it was a
'last minute' decision?
Very much so. We were told with a week to go on the deadline
for issue 11. To be honest, I think it
was only a matter of time - the official mag for a few more
issues - but it still was a great shame... I'd been
on Sega power for six or so years.
S.F: Is the rest of the Saturn
power team still working in the same office?
No. Lisa Kellett works in a different division (still
at Future, though). James Price is another freelancer.
He does some stuff for EDGE but our paths don't cross
much. I'm not sure what happened to Iain White, but
James Ashton is a publisher in London for Future's
S.F: I know you were cought
by the 'Game collecting disease' as well, you must have
the odd prototype
God, I wish. Sega were always extremely secretive about what
they were working on,
so we often didn’t know what they were doing until the
last moment. When Sega/Saturn Power closed,
I did manage to pick up the odd memento, though, including
a switchable Saturn. I’ve also got a Dreamcast
with a software key disc and a ‘Test’ PS2. All
quite rare, I guess, but only really useful if you’re
in the industry.
total amount of issues (10) that Saturn Power
S.F: There was always the
rivalry between the different SEGA mags, someone asked
me to ask you about
what you think of Richard Leadbetter and SSM
D.M: I think
SSM was a really good mag – no, really! I think occasionally
they were a little self-important,
but, at the same time, I think we were self-indulgent on more
than a few occasions, so I guess that
balances it out! The rivalry was mostly harmless fun…
or was it?
S.F: What unreleased games have you seen/played?
Anything that really should've been released but
D.M: Not much,
to be honest. If it was any good, then the chances are that
it made it out to the shelves.
Reloaded was one that sprung to mind, but that was
awful. You may also remember Zeewolf, which was
a Mega Drive game we did a cover feature on. This was a conversion
from an Amiga game, but the
developers couldn’t get the MD version signed. It was
a shame, as the game was actually quite good.
Interesting fact, though: the developer’s PR person
was Andy Smith, another old Sega Power editor.
About Reloaded; When the demo was released on SP2
Gremlin ran a compo to send in high scores
for free games, also, S.P was 'giving away' Reloaded games
with subscriptions. As this game was
unreleased, can you tell us how those situations ended?
If you’d seen the final game, then you’d have
understood why it was never released. Basically, anyone
who’d taken out a subscription to the magazine wanting
that game was offered an alternative – and trust
it was much better than Reloaded.
S.F: Any interesting tidbits/insider info/useful
knowledge you'd like to share?
D.M: God, nothing
really. Well… there was the time Mark Ramshaw,
Jason McEvoy and myself went on
holiday to Greece… but that’s another story. One
other thing you might not know over there is that Danny
Wallace, a long time Sega Power contributor,
is now a hugely successful comedy writer in the UK –
he’s worked a lot with Dave Gorman.
S.F: What are your top 5 SEGA and your Top
5 Non SEGA games these days?
TOP 5 SEGA GAMES (in no particular order)
*Sega Rally (Saturn)
*Virtua Racing (Mega Drive)
*Virtua Tennis (Dreamcast)
*Sonic 1 (Mega Drive)
*Fighters Megamix (Saturn)
TOP 5 GAMES ANY FORMAT (in no particular order)
*Pro Evolution Soccer 3 (PS2)
*Commander & Conquer (PC)
*Sensible Soccer (Amiga)
*Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
S.F: If anybody
would like to send you questions/fanmail/whatever , what's
to them? Are some old issues of those mags still available
from F.P or ... yourself (?)
D.M: I can’t
imagine that many are still interested in Sega Power, but
if anyone wants to write
to me, then I’d be happy to receive mail at [email no
longer works]. Unfortunately there aren’t
any copies of Sega Power at Future any more and I’ve
got surprisingly few copies myself.