A spin-off from Computer & Video Games, the magazine's design was as bold and bright as the games industry was becoming. Its excessive use of exclamation marks, and review scores that rarely dropped below 80%, seemed to be a reflection of how exciting the times were.
It's fair to say I bought a Mega Drive off the back of Mean Machines - ordered from one of the Special Reserve mail order ads that were a feature of every games mag of the day.
I was still a teenager, though I was already a dad. We were still living with my parents, and I hadn't told anyone I was buying it.
My parents were keen that I be saving money towards a place of our own, so I was working long anti-social hours to accrue enough overtime. Spending nearly £200 on some toy wasn't going to go down well. And, indeed, it didn't go down well; I'd taken money out of the savings account my parents had opened for me as a kid.
Alas, such was the power of the enthusiasm that bled from the pages of Mean Machines that buying the Mega Drive was a no-brainer.
I bought into the hype, even at the expense of my infant daughter's future, and at the risk of the ear-bending that invariably bore down upon me.
There wasn't much choice in the way of games mags in the early-90s. At least, not for me.
Those that did exist were either achingly dry, shackled to a dead format that I didn't own, or sort of seemed to be excited about everything, like they were being written by a bunch of kids who couldn't believe they were getting paid to play games.
Which is pretty much the case, I should think.
I'd picked up Sega Power, while it was still known as S: The Sega Magazine, but pretty much anybody who played games in the early 90s read C&VG and its sister publication.
There was a distinctive house style to the magazines published by EMAP. Computer & Video Games, Mean Machines, and the later Nintendo Official Magazine, had a boldness about them that was different to the magazines that Future Publishing would go on to put out. I hesitate to say that EMAP's mags were less sophisticated than those published by Future - as they were, undeniably, phenomenally popular - but they certainly seemed to skew a bit younger.
And, certainly, they were the first games magazines to put their writers front-and-centre.
I'd been aware of some of the Your Sinclair team, but EMAP would print caricatures of their writers next to their reviews; everything was attributed to an individual. Julian "Jaz" Rignall, Gary Harrod, Richard Leadbetter, Oz Clarke, "Radion Automatic"... They were, to a whole generation of young gamer, bona-fide celebrities.
I read those magazines because they were bold and colourful, and reviewed console games, but as I got older I sort of started to grow past that style. However, I never consciously thought "I could do that too" until I accidentally got stuck writing Digitiser.
My first few reviews for Digi were written in a sort of sub-C&VG style - because those were the games magazines I was reading. I thought that was how it was done. I thought that was how you wrote about games.
I wasn't long into the job before I realised it could be done however I wanted to do it. Back then I doubt I could've adequately explained why, but I knew I wanted Digitiser to be the antithesis of all that Mean Machines and C&VG did.
We weren't going to write as individuals; Digi would have a single voice. Later, we jokingly gave ourselves stupid names - Biffo, Hairs et al - not realising that they'd be taken as gospel. It stoked the fires of curiosity among our readers.
Clearly, games mags knew something we didn't; that their readers wanted to know who was writing them. Games magazine journalists being celebrities always seemed wrong to us. Growing up, I knew the names of the people making the games - Matthew Smith, Dino Dini, Bell and Braben et al. That seemed fair: they were the ones at the coalface.
Maybe we were underselling ourselves with Digi, but it felt like any old scrote could get a job writing about games.
It's different now, of course. Once Edge came on the scene, people realised that it was possible to write about gaming in a way that took it seriously. Sometimes too seriously, but still...
Back in the 90s, there was always something slightly embarrassing about admitting I was a games journalist.
Being a critic comes easily; you just have to convey your opinions about a thing, in a way that doesn't bore whomever's reading. There's no real artistic merit to it.
Consequently, I would edit my job description depending on who I was talking to.
Fortunately, I still had dual roles at Teletext, and was able to fall back on saying I was a "graphic designer". Unfortunately, any impressed noises they made only lasted as long as it took for them to ask who I designed graphics for.
Even in the 1990s, being a teletext artist was a bit like saying you were a sculptor who made things out of baby vomit. Adding that you reviewed games for Teletext was like admitting you spent your spare time artificially-inseminating cows.
At Teletext, we developed a good relationship with Future Publishing. At some point in our first year or so, they approached us with the offer of giving away magazine subscriptions with our winning Hot Topic letter, and it was a relationship that was to outlast my time writing Digitiser.
If any fellow journos came up to us at events to say they liked Digi, nine times out of ten they worked for Future. Indeed, Future's Andy Lowe gave me my first ever freelance writing gig (oddly, years later he moved from Bath and now lives just up the road from me; you can thank him for providing the initial spark of inspiration which kickstarted the Games of my Years series). I even got given a copy of Edge's dummy issue, which I still have somewhere.
Maverick Magazines' Super Control also got in touch early on, and we had some mutual backslapping going on for a few months, running a Man With a Long Chin cartoon in their pages. And Charlie Brooker at PC Zone outed himself as a fan at one point.
Whatever happened to him?
Over time, we started to resent the relationship between the industry's PR people and the big celebrity journos.
We had a readership far in excess of every games mag of the day, but without screenshots, we were just considered a bit of a joke by most PRs. We'd get wind of events, and trips, that we never got to invited to. Promo items that we'd never receive. Exclusives that we never, ever, got.
And it was hard not to get irritated. Sometimes it felt like the PRs and some magazine staff were a cliquey old boys club, and we were never allowed access (perversely, had we ever been invited into the industry's inner circle, we'd have probably run a mile).
Admittedly, we weren't entitled to be allowed access to all of the above, of course. The PRs could ignore who they wanted to ignore, but it did mean that we could - through Fat Sow or Gossi the Dog - occasionally cause a bit of trouble, and raise questions about (shudder) ethics in games journalism.
I'm sorry to say, but that whole suspicion probably started with Digi.
Plus, we certainly heard whispers about high review scores that were promised over boozy lunches, or the threat of pulled advertising being used as PR leverage. Not often, admittedly, but often enough that our paranoia would question whether every high-scoring review was the result of something dubious.
Truth is, while we may have felt apart from most of the industry, most of the games journalists we met were never less than pleasant.
Things got strangely ugly and personal between us and some of the EMAP boys, who didn't seem to realise that our well-intentioned jibes were done in the spirit of healthy competition.
Not all of them had it in for us, though. I briefly spoke to Radion Automatic once, during the height of the Digi/Mean Machines wars, and he clearly got where we were coming from. Plus I always found Paul Davies to be a very likeable chap.
Julian "Jaz" Rignall I met only once, in Los Angeles of all places. Tim and I we were on one of our few all-expenses trips as part of Digi, and had flown out there with Violet Berlin, courtesy of Virgin Interactive. Julian was working for Virgin at the time, and knew Violet. He'd lost the iconic mullet by that point.
He stopped her in the corridor of Virgin's LA HQ for a chat, while we shuffled around a bit, wondering whether he hated us. He probably did. We wouldn't have blamed him.
It's only now, looking back with some perspective, that I can see how strange it was that I became a games journalist. Piecing this story together, it makes sense, but none of it was planned. In the 80s, I loved reading about games almost as much as I loved playing them. It was sheer fate that gave me the opportunity to make a living out of doing it for a decade.
And to think... they had a go at me for buying a Mega Drive. Ha-hah!
THE COMPLETE GAMES OF MY YEARS