With the internet slowly killing off the print media, its nice to see that Nintendo Power is holding strong long enough to see its 20th Anniversary edition.
Nintendo Power began as the several page long Nintendo Fun Club News (which was sent to subscribers for free). However, in mid-1988 Nintendo Fun Club News was discontinued and revamped as Nintendo Power. The first issue published 3.6 million copies, with every member of the Nintendo Fun Club receiving a free one. Almost one third of the members subscribed.
The magazine was edited at first by Fun Club "President" Howard Philips, himself an avid game player. While the Fun Club News focused solely on games made in-house by Nintendo, Nintendo Power was created to allow for reviews of games produced by those licensed by Nintendo, such as Konami, Capcom, and the like. Nintendo Power's mascot in the late 1980s and early 1990s was Nester, a comic character created by Philips.
After Philips left the company, Nester became the magazine's sole mascot. Early issues of the magazine featured a two-page Howard and Nester comic, which was later replaced with the two-page Nester's Adventures, later reduced to one page, and eventually dropped altogether. Subsequently, Mario replaced Nester as the mascot of the magazine.
Later, during the early 2000s, the magazine made another mascot out of its Senior Writer, Alan Averill. Apparently very camera-shy, Averill himself never appeared in any photos; rather, he was represented by a plush toy of a Blue Slime from Dragon Quest. Fans often clamored to see what Averill actually looked like, but the magazine continued to substitute with photos of the toy, and even claimed that Alan was, in fact, a Blue Slime. Eventually, Averill retired from Nintendo Power, joining Nintendo of America's localization department.
To this day, most fans have never seen a real image of Averill. The inclusion of a photo of Mr. T in the Player's Pulse section became a running gag in the early half of 2005. More recently, running gags have centered around Chuck Norris references and jokes at the expense of writer Chris Shepperd.
During the early 1990s the magazine used what was a unique and very expensive promotion; giving away a free copy of the new NES game Dragon Warrior to every new subscriber. However, this promotion was in part a sly move on Nintendo's part to make money off a failure: Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest in Japan) games had not sold nearly as well as Nintendo had anticipated, and it was left with a large number of unsold cartridges on its hands. The promotion both helped the company get rid of the unsold merchandise, and won the magazine thousands of new subscribers, including me.
During the Dragon Quest promotion, my Mother decided to subscribe to Nintendo Power for me and continued to keep my subscription going for another 5 years. I probably would have continued to keep my subscription longer but when Nintendo started previewing more Nintendo 64 games, I found myself left out in the cold with my old Super Nintendo system. So my Mom canceled my subscription.
Following the release of the Super Nintendo, the magazine featured lengthy, continuous comic stories based on Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. After these stories ended, they were replaced by similar multi-issue stories based on Star Fox, Super Metroid, and later on, N64 games such as Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and Blast Corps. Comics based on the animated series of Pokémon and Kirby: Right Back At Ya! also made several appearances. More recently, short excerpts of comic books based on Custom Robo and Metal Gear Solid have been featured (as well as a very short Metroid Prime comic). Nintendo Power has concluded a comic based on the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games, which is translated from the original Japanese version and reads in traditional manga format.
I still continue to pick up a copy of Nintendo Power here and there, when I feel nostalgic and perhaps an little fanboyish. I especially love to pick up a copy when I feel sick or depressed, because somehow the magazine always brings me to a better place. I actually sold my 5 year collection of Nintendo Power about 9 years ago and today this day I'm kicking myself for doing it.
I still have my collection of Nintendo Power cards though.
The 20th Anniversary edition contains mostly the usually articles, reviews and previews, but for fans of the magazine, the Nester comic in the front is reason alone to pick up a copy of the magazine.
They only other special 20th anniversary features are a unique two sided Mario poster with NES version Super Mario Bros. on one side and the 3D Mario gang on the other, and a top 20 games list for all the Nintendo System created through the years. From NES to Gameboy to Nintendo Wii. Funny how the Virtual Boy is missing though ... did they even make 20 games for that system?
Finally the back page has a riddle hinting at a big announcement for the next issue of Nintendo Power.
"We're kicking off the next 20 years of Nintendo Power with more big reveals, including a top-secret cover story fit for a king. Its got a lot of heart. Just kidding. Its Mother 3. Just kidding. Please look forward to it."
I'm think Kingdom Hearts 3. What do you think?
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