Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nintendo Power and Me

So, earlier today, I asked Jack what his first issue of Nintendo Power was. In response, he sent me this picture. Using the picture, he was able to determine which issue was his first, and I think I got a bead on my first one, which was Maniac Mansion. Looking at the picture of all of those Nintendo Power covers next to each other really go me going, and I started typing an extended email, which I decided I should just turn into a post. The results are shown below:

Metal Storm, a gravity shifting shooter.  Different from VVVVVV

Totally Rad. I remember a lot of these. Actually, what's really got me thrown is that the Super Nintendo was released so early on in the progression of Nintendo Power. I had this idea in my head that it took a while longer. But another thing I notice is that you can see both Castlevania II and Castlevania IV in this set of pictures.

I wish I had them too. The nostalgia is pretty strong here, I remember these issues, and I can almost remember what's inside them. I definitely used the game reviews very heavily. Metal Storm, I remember that one, there was lot of that 'model' art in the issue. I remember the power blade cover for some reason even though I never gave a crap about that game. Battletoads, definitely. And so on, and so forth. 

...omg, I just googled Nintendo Power and the first link that came up said "for 24 years our magazine has..." and I was like, holy shit. 24 years. I remember almost all of that. First issue was July/August 1988. So, if I started with Maniac Mansion, I think that puts me at about January 1990. Must have been my birthday. My 9th birthday. 

So, this will definitely become a post. This picture basically says it all. I don't really care to see any of the issues past 50 to tell you the truth. 1-50 pretty much covers it. 51-100 is probably pretty good too, but 1-50 gets the job done. Anyhow, I think it's interesting. When I got older, people gave me shit for Nintendo Power being "pretty much an advertisement for Nintendo." And yeah, sure, fine, whatever. The thing is: Nintendo had awesome products. They were a rad company. Nintendo Power was a great magazine. 

And I think it got me thinking critically about games for the first time. Maybe not so much about the Gaming Industry, which was a veritable Utopia for Nintendo fans from 1988-199X. But games themselves. Seeing level maps, and reading guides gave me a critical eye. It helped to teach me what to watch for. Also, it was like a form of readers digest, after a fashion. I had the source on games that were coming out, if they looked interesting, I could rent them. 


The email ends here. Well, just after I talk about how this email would be a good post, but how I have to do laundry, so I'll post it later. But, then I decided "Some things are more important than laundry!" Well, that's not true. Nothing is more important that laundry. That's not true either, I just decided that I really don't want to go to the laundromat today, and I can still hold out and do it tomorrow or the next day. So, without further ado, back to the topic at hand:


I love Nintendo Power. It was the first magazine I ever got. Well, we also had a subscription to MAD magazine that I used read, but it was for everyone. Nintendo Power was for *me*. I would get the mail every fucking day, for a least a week before the arrival date, just in case it had come early. I'd read it cover to cover, and then be insatiable for a weekend game rental or for the next issue to come out in 28 days. I hung up the posters, lined up the mags on a bookshelf.

I also wrote to the editors at Nintendo Power. I wrote dozens of letters. Most often telling them about my ideas for video games. It got to a point when they started sending me applications to Digi Pen Applied Computer Graphics School, which opened up when I was a teenager. Expensive Private School. In fact, I remember, at one point, they didn't even bother writing a letter, but would just send me the application packet. Like "shut up, you annoying kid, go design video games!"

And that is something that I'm going to ressurect here, my different, cocamamie ideas for video games. By studying video game design at home, by reading Nintendo Power and playing video games, I came up with bunches of ideas about how games could be. And I used to just send these, willy-nilly to the Nintendo Power Counselors (I think they called them counselors, go fig). Anyhow, I think I will post some of these ideas to the blog, A sort of "Message in a Bottle" to the internet, so that maybe someone out there with the resources and time will make a game similar to my little brainchildren. Sort of like a dandylion I am blowing out into cyberspace. 

I really liked that part in the article Jack links to about "being too old for games" -where the writer says: "They're just making the games I asked them to make ten years ago!" Or something like that. That really resonated with me, because I was asking the industry to make games. I had many ideas, general and specific that I wanted to see. And, in truth, a lot of it has come true, which is a truly wonderful thing! 

I am seeing much more customization and much more non-linearity. True, there's also plenty of junk still, but I'll trade it out for VVVVVV, Braid, Minecraft, Portal and all the others. And there's still so much I don't know, because I have given up competing for the latest, greatest games. If the game is that good, I'll find out about it eventually, and maybe even have a chance to play it. 


  1. I'd like to (sadly) add that in June, 2011, I did not renew my subscription to Nintendo Power. I was very low on money at the time and couldn't justify renewing, despite the fact that it was only $18.95 for a year subscription. I had just moved to Portland, OR (from Woodland, CA), was unemployed and didn't have money to spend on anything that wasn't rent/utilities or food.

    Thus ended a 22 year relationship with that wonderful magazine. I do still have a handful of issues that I deemed worthy to keep such as the Gold 50th issue with Link's Awakening and the issue with the release of the "Nintendo Ultra 64."

    I don't think I'll subscribe to any other magazine for that long again, and that's probably the way it should be.

  2. Another thing I just remembered, was that when Nintendo Power first came out, there were only 6 issues per year until the Strategy Guides that came out every other month starting in June 1991. Then in 1992 Nintendo Power became a monthly magazine. That could be why the Super Mario Bros. 2 cover and the Super Mario World cover seem so close together.