I have been playing video games for a long time. A loooong time, it seems. Still, when I got my first NES, it was as though a whole new world of video gaming adventures was being put in front of me. The kinds of games that came out had a depth to them that was missing in my games played before that. With my NES I got a subscription to Nintendo Power, which I kept active for a few years. The earliest issues were certainly my most memorable though.
With reviews, previews, maps, trick codes and more - this was the first magazine publication I had ever gotten and I simply could not get enough of it. I wound up getting other gaming magazine subscriptions over the year, like GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly and Game Informer, because I wound up owning more than just Nintendo systems, and they presented me with better rounded coverage.
Let's not forget the posters. I took great care in painstakingly extracting those posters and putting them up in the small room of my house I played video games in. Yes, they were cheesy a lot of the time, but I still hung them up.
Reading about how Nintendo Power has become the latest print casualty for gaming fans, I thought I would take a look back at a handful of my favorite Nintendo Power Magazines from years past.
Number 5 - The Batman issue
I went and saw Batman in the theater when it came out, and it was one of the more memorable movies from when I was younger. I absolutely loved it. Established properties like movies and television shows being turned into video games was not nearly the black eye it is nowadays. There was a lot of genuine excitement about the Batman game back then - and it turned out to be a fun game (though I recall it got very difficult near the end). That there was conversation about some of my other favorite games back then, like Double Dragon II and Tetris certainly helped as well.
Number 4 - The Super Mario Bros. 3 issue
I really do not recall any games prior to Mario 3 that got so much attention - both pre and post release. It was amazing stuff, and this issue only helped reinforce that marketing campaign for me. At the time I only had my Nintendo Entertainment System and TI 99/4a. Getting previews of games that were coming out was a lot of fun for me. I still recall a few of the commercials, including the McDonald's one.
Number 3 - The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue
I adored the Ninja Turtles when I was younger, and was one of the few people who actually seemed to like the original, super tough TMNT game for the NES. One of my favorite things about Nintendo Power were the detailed maps. I cannot recall every game I used them with - Metroid I believe had one, and I know I got some great mileage out of the TMNT one.
Number 2 - They called it the Zelda II issue
Later it was just called the Adventure's of Link, and very few people I knew referred to it as Zelda II. Nintendo did some pretty brave things with The Adventures of Link, taking the gameplay in some very different directions from the original. The video game reviews were hugely helpful, at least to a kid in the pre-internet age. Of course, one could argue that the reviews coming from Nintendo staff about Nintendo games was anything but impartial, but I still poured over every last one in detail, trying to figure out where my lawn mowing money was going.
Number 1 - Castlevania II: Simon's Quest issue
This one stood out for several reasons. While it was the second issue of Nintendo Power ever, it was actually the first one I had gotten with my subscription. The cover was amazingly creepy, and I had purchased Simon's Quest right about this time and found it both amazing - and frustratingly difficult where some of the puzzles were concerned. Nintendo Power walked me through those challenges, while introducing me to a new world of video gaming where I could keep track of games I did not even own.
Oh, and the discovery of 'game codes'. I had never heard of such a thing before. I rented (well, my dad rented) a lot of games for me as a kid, and one of the first things I did when getting a new game was to sift through my old issues to see if maybe there was a code, or walkthrough or review about the game that I might find interesting.
I admit - I spend a lot more time now reading up on gaming online. I still get Game Informer and still enjoy reading through it - but frankly magazines are just unable to keep up with the pace of online games. Why wait until the September issue of a magazine to read about Madden 13 when IGN will have it posted this Friday? That being said - I think Nintendo Power and similar magazines definitely helped to inform both gamers and casual observers alike over the years.