I Have the Power! …for one last time

December 6th, 2012 by | Tags: ,

When they announced that Twinkies were going away, I didn’t really care that much because I tended to stay away from Twinkies when I grew up. The end of Bazooka Joe comic strips stung slightly, but I only really remembered paying attention to them in the days of pee-wee baseball. I stopped reading Nintendo Power shortly after the 100th issue in 1997, but when I heard that the publication was being canceled, I felt it. Sure, I haven’t read any of it in 15 years and I was more surprised that it lasted this long, but it still represents a chunk of my childhood and seeing it snuffed out takes a lot out of me.

Today at work, we got in the new issue. The final issue, featuring a cover made to look much like the one that came out in 1988.

Which reminds me, why hasn’t Nintendo ever brought back Wart? They use Shy-Guys and Birdo, but they never reintroduced King Wart. What’s with that? And where’s that purple alien guy from Super Mario Land?

Anyway, I had to pick up the final issue for old time’s sake. While they’re long gone, I did have those initial issues, like the creepy one with Simon Belmont on the cover holding Dracula’s decapitated head, garnering the complaints of many parents. I think I stopped when I came to terms with the fact that Nintendo Power is a propaganda piece from Nintendo. It was a stage of growing up. There were better magazines out there (though certainly not that waste of paper Gamepro) and other game systems worth reading about and the chance that somebody might completely lay into a terrible game.

And you know what? Back in the days of the NES, that stuff wasn’t necessary. Nintendo Power obviously had the better finger on the pulse of Nintendo news than the other magazines. Nintendo practically had a monopoly on video games worth playing until the Genesis arrived. Most importantly, it didn’t matter that it was propaganda and that they were talking up how great nearly every single game was. Back in those times, being a kid in the NES era, nearly every single game WAS worth playing. It was a simpler time where you were either stuck owning a game or you were renting for the weekend. Unless the game was confusing or flat out terrible, you’d play the everloving hell out of it. Years later, I found out that Ikari Warriors 2: Victory Road was a bad game. My seven-year-old self played that thing for weeks!

I haven’t had much time to really sit down and read the final issue, but the last few pages caught my eye. Early on, Nintendo Power had a regular comic interlude called Howard and Nester, based on Nintendo employee Howard Phillips. The series went on for a while, eventually Howard left and it became teenage know-it-all Nester’s show. After the failure of his Virtual Boy game, Nester fell into obscurity, making a special appearance every now and then.

Not counting the “GAME OVER” final-final page, this is how Nintendo Power volume 285 ends. Not with Howard and Nester, but Nester and Maxwell, showing off how many years have passed since that clay Super Mario Brothers 2 cover from back in the day.

The last thing I noticed in that final panel was Howard’s bowtie in the center. Damn. :frown:

To cheer myself up, here’s a completely metal cover of the Ikaris Warriors 2: Victory Road main theme by Ryan8bit that I discovered many years ago.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to surf on a tank while on my way to fight the devil.

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10 comments to “I Have the Power! …for one last time”

  1. Hm. It might be time to break out the emulator.

  2. I cannot come up with the words do adequately describe what Nintendo Power means to me.
    It was Nintendo Power that first fostered my love of not just video games, but the written word.
    It was on the Nintendo Power forums on nintendo.com that I first chose my screen name. A name that I have used for almost half of my life. A name that is almost as much of my identity as my legal name.
    I cannot think of a single thing that has had as much of an impact on my life as Nintendo Power.

  3. The first few paragraphs (except for the one about getting the last issue at work) could have been written by me. I was a huge, huge Nintendo Power fan for first ten or so years of its existence. I didn’t start getting every issue until 89 or so, but I did go back and try to get as many issues as I could from before then. And you know what? I still have them. I’m pretty sure I have most of the issues from 1-100 and on. I’m not exactly sure when I stopped getting them, but I know why. In addition to the propaganda reason you stated, it also started to piss me off when they had Pokemon on the cover what seemed like every single month. As well as the really, really shitty binding they started to use when they switch to just staples and they just started falling apart as soon as you tried to read them.

    But man oh man I loved getting the new issues every month. Always my favorite thing to read before I stopped. I can’t count to amount of times I went over the Final Fantasy strategy guide issue. It still took me years before I actually played a Final Fantasy though. Then I think I started reading Ultra Gamer, then whatever that turned into, then like Next Gen and I read Game Informer for awhile before I stopped that because, well…you know. I read the occasional EGM, as well as Gamepro, but I agree that Gamepro has always been terrible. I also got some Sega Visions when they first came out which had previews of the very first Archie Sonic comic.

    But oh man, the Nester comic. My room used to look like that, with NP posters all over the place. But eventually they went. I did try to save them but I ended up just throwing them out. Oh well. I think I’m going to have to pick up the last issue, at the very least for the cover homage to the first issue and that comic. Oh man. Now I want to dig out all my old issues and look through them, heh.

  4. For me, my subscription to Nintendo Power lost its usefulness right as the Nintendo 64 came out and started getting most of the coverage, since it was a system I didn’t own at the time. (In retrospect, my never really having played Mario 64, Pokemon, or Super Smash Brothers represents a break between myself and a significant section of “what the kids are into.”) I read EGM for a year or two after that since it covered what was out in the arcades, but eventually seeing people at that Mortal Kombat II machine with fatality lists printed off the Internet made me realize the direction I needed to take.

    The beauty of this comic that may be lost on those who weren’t receiving those issues in the mail as they arrived is that pretty much everything in that room is real. Those are really the posters from the magazine. That is indeed the overworld map to The Legend of Zelda (A Link to the Past, I think), as printed in the issue, hanging on the wall. Reproduced in detail. The framed certificates and such? Actual limited edition things, the existence of which I only know about thanks to, well…their being highlighted in Nintendo Power. That is totally the cover to The Official Nintendo Player’s Guide that I read cover to cover repeatedly, not realizing for a second that it was rife with the kind of comically broken English that Japanese games are lambasted for today. Those accessories are legit, aside from Howard’s framed bowtie and perhaps the reveal in the final panel showing that he’s got the claymation diorama photographed for issue 1.

    But that’s not what threw me off guard the most reading this. That’s just a “hey, cool” kind of thing. What got me is the realization that Nester, who was a little kid just like me throughout all the comics included in the issues I read growing up, is now a fully-grown adult. In my mind, I just never expected friggin’ Nester of all characters would ever really change from how he was at the start. And that got me to thinking “damn…technically, I grew up too.” So did all of us who would have received that first issue as kids roughly a quarter-century ago.

    So even though that magazine was effectively a way to advertise the existence of games to people in an era before the Internet and Gamestop and saturation ad campaigns, there was plenty of worthwhile unique content in them that made people want to hold onto all the guides and back issues rather than throw them out. Why, I never would have known about the greatest comicbook character in history, Golgo 13, were it not for Nintendo Power.

    When I left for college I still had all the magazines kept in my room, sort of like how you see here. When I came back home after the first semester, I found out my parents had thrown most of it away. Even at age 18, it stung losing those mementos of being 8 years old. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? In the end, Nintendo Power is one of those physical artifacts representing childhoods of the late 80s/early 90s that has not one iota of value to anybody from before or since. It’s a vessel for containing the kind of nostalgic sentiment that Nintendo’s modern business model still carries a lot of reliance upon. The true “Nintendo Power” is their ability to package that sentiment in a way that makes people want to preserve it and ensure it passes down to the next generation such that father and son can now play New Super Mario Brothers U together.

    My remaining issues of Nintendo Power are undoubtedly in a cardboard box somewhere in a closet. But it’s okay because I now have scanned digital copies of all the issues I had once owned. The Internet is mother, the Internet is father.

  5. I’m with Daryl. I’m stunned they gave Nester a kid. That’s such a great touch.

    Me and my mom played through that first Zelda together using the Nintendo Power map as a reference when we got stuck. She did all the puzzles, though we had to figure out north-west-south-west together, and I only really got to fight the last boss. I think they had a Startropics thing, too?

    I think I read it for a shorter period of time than you guys, but NP still looms large.

  6. It Nintendo Power was responsible for the Kid Icarus map, I owed them quite a boon.

  7. Oh man. Those posters.

    NP did such a great job of infusing such low-res games with such rich, evocative culture. I still remember the art from the preview article for Faxanadu. Faxanadu was a forgettable fantasy-themed platformer with mild RPG elements. But the article hyping it in NP was full of these colorful comic-book drawings of swords, spells, and the protagonist standing at the base of the giant tree that occupies most of the game.

    I had a fairly small NES games library growing up, so it wasn’t until college and the NESticle Emulator that I got a chance to play all the games that NP had been touting. Unsurprisingly, very few of them lived up to the image I had in my head – an image I owed entirely to the text and illustrations that NP created.

  8. You know, even though he’s a fictional character, there’s something really heartening about finding out Nester didn’t stay a douchebag.

  9. There is something fairly unique to the times and technology that allows people to celebrate the act of overselling the value of a game.

  10. I never really noticed it until now, but Nester is basically a prototype of Eddy from Ed, Ed n’ Eddy.