The first issue of the Nintendo Power was released in August of 1988. But it actually just replaced the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter, which first came out in 1987. Unlike the Nintendo Power, the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter was delievered quarterly first, until the final three (of the overall seven) issues which came bimonthly. After that the newsletter was discontinued in favour of the Nintendo Power.
The Nintendo Power was a video game magazine published by Nintendo Of America, providing reviews on newly released games, previews on upcoming games, game strategy articles and top lists, as well as readers highscore lists. There were 285 issues released in a 24 year long run (1988 – 2007), which was one of the longest runs of all video game magazines in the United States.
An integral part of millions of childhoods
To many gamers out there, and probably you as well, the Nintendo Power was an important part of their childhood. If not the most important one. Back then there was no internet, so magazines were the only source of information. If you had a subscription, you were the man. While your friends were breaking their controllers trying to beat a game, you had some game codes or insider knowledge of how to get through it. And that’s beceause, you had the power. Nintendo Power!
The Game Strategy section
I remember feeling like a rat in a maze playing Metroid when i was a kid. But opening the Nintendo Power magazine for the first time, it blew my mind. Seeing all those pages full of in-game screen shots and maps of games like Metroid was so helpful. Not to forget the Super Mario Bros unlimited 1-Up trick, the famous Contra code that gave you 30 extra lifes, or how to skip to Zelda’s second quest. The first issue was really a groundbreaking thing from front cover to back.
Did you know? Before Mario, Nintendo Power’s mascot in the late 80’s and early 90’s was Nester. Nester was a comic character created by Fun Club president Howard Phillips. There was even a comic that was called “Howard and Nester” which was featured in the early issues of the magazine.
The NES Achievers section
The NES achievers section really was just a bunch of nerds showing off their high scores. But back then we had no digital camers, so no one could really take a good picture of their screen to prove their highscore. Sure you could try to make a picture with your old school camera and send your mum or dad to the store to get it developed, but when it came back it often looked like this:
So looking at the highscores of other people was more like a “try not to get pissed of” challenge.
Did you know? The game Dragon Quest for the brand new NES at that time (Dragon Warrior in Japan) was given away for free for every new subscriber of the magazin to get rid of thousands of unsold copies due to poor sale figures.
The New Shows section
There was also a section where you could read about all the new shows coming up. Like the Super Mario Bros Super Show, Captain N, or the Super Mario Bros Movie. I can’t even explain how excited i was reading about all those shows and movies. I just literally couldn’t wait to see those. We would spend days talking about it in school, and it was powerful to know about it first, cause other kids in school were hanging on every word you would say.
The Top 30 section
In the Top 30 section they listed the 30 most popular NES games. Later, when the Super NES and Game Boy games were added, they reduced it to a top 20 list. The NES charts continued until the end of 1994, which was when the last NES game was released. Do you know what the last north american NES game was? Write it in the comment section if yes!
They even added a Top 5 games list for the Virtual Boy wich was funny because it contained almost the whole library of games for it.
The process of how the top 20 games were found was explained in the issue 50. They used player poll cards that the players could send in every month (Player’s Picks), retail sales numbers (Dealer’s Picks) and game evaluators opinions at Nintendo (Pro’s Picks). All sets of votes were set at equal weight, and then averaged.
Unfortunately Dealers chart were no longer published after ’92 so we were unable to see SNES (and GB) monthly sales.
Did you know? There was a internet based Nintendo community that came to life in the summer of 1995 called “Camp Hyrule”, that was adjunct with the Nintendo Power Magazine. It was a virtual summer camp with Java-based campfires, water sports and archery events, and participants could win prices by playing those.
And of course there were other sections like the Coming Up Next section, were you could read about the upcoming games for the next month so you could start fantasizing about playing them, and terrorizing your parents to go buy it as soon as it comes out.
The comics were always really cool, and they made comics about all kinds of games. Like Castlevania, Tetris, Battletoads, Mario, Zelda or Killer Instinct.
The Readers Letter Section
I was fancinated with reading the letters of other readers and looking at their drawings. It was just so cool to have a peek into other players minds and see what they are saying. I drew pictures of Mario and Zelda just to send them to Nintendo hoping that they would print my letter and drawing as well.
Posters and other fun gimmicks
In every issue there were posters and sometimes Iron On’s from the most popular or newly released games. One of the coolest posters i can remember was the original Final Fantasy poster. It had the four Light Warriors eyeballing a castle in the sky viewed from within a crystal ball.
On Etsy you can get reprints of some of the coolest Nintendo Power Posters.
There were a ton of cool things about the Nintendo Power. Most of them we didn’t even mention. Like paper cut out models from the game Star Fox, scratch and sniff’s, collectible cards that you could cut out, contests with grand prizes and many many more.
So much more
But we also heard about things like the Ultra 64, the NES Satellite or the SNES catapult for the first time through the Nintendo Power Magazine. Things we will probably never forget and left us excited for weeks.
Tell us about your fondest Nintendo Power memory in the comment section below! We can’t wait to hear what you loved, or hated about the Nintendo Power.