I kicked off my new Magazine Nostalgia section a few weeks back with my own appearance in Nintendo Power #85, but I have a ton more to discuss. I recently semi-organized all my video game magazines of which I have hundreds, spanning from Nintendo Power, EGM, Game Players, and more. I know I won't ever be able to discuss them all, but I'd like to pretend to try, so why not cover the first one I ever owned?
Do you have any interesting magazine stories? Let us know in the comments section!
I don't really have any idea how I'm going to approach this in any sane and consistent manner, so I'll just take each magazine on a case-by-case basis.
Lemmings for the NES graces my first cover of Nintendo Power. It's a very colorful cover and rather attractive, but it does nothing to give you any idea what Lemmings might be about. Of course, Lemmings had been available for DOS for over a year already, so maybe it was common knowledge? I had no idea what a lemming was, let alone what Lemmings the game was about, but I'm sure I read over the cover article a hundred times in 1992.
Kind of a lackluster first cover, especially since Metroid II is also featured in the magazine (though it turns out they featured Samus on the cover of issue 31)! Metroid II was actually one of my first Game Boy games and was one I always sucked at.
The table of contents in early Nintendo Power issues were extremely simple but well organized. It listed the games it was going to cover ordered by what system they were on: NES, Game Boy, and Super NES. For the NES we have Lemmings, DragonStrike, and Stanley: The Search for Dr. Livingston; for Game Boy there's Metroid II: Return of Samus, Star Wars, and NBA All-Star Challenge 2; finally for the SNES it's Arcana, Top Gear, F1 ROC, and Krusty's Super Fun House.
Not a very recognizable lineup outside of Lemmings, Metroid II, Star Wars, and Krusty the clown. And no, the Top Gear game does not star Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, or James May. That would have been awesome though.
The big deal in this issue was that Nintendo Power had recently changed their magazine format, and the letters consisted of either readers hating on the new layout or praising the new Mario and Zelda comics (which are indeed awesome). There's also one rather threateningly letter and a very early reference to Sega: "If you cut out the comics and put in reviews on games for the Super NES, I might decide to buy a Super NES and not a Genesis." Harsh!
The most recent contest winner was Jeremy Welch of Ohio, he got to attend the NBA All-Star game and visit Disney World. Honestly not a bad reward, and all this courtesy of Electronic Arts.
The cover article begins on page eight. 8! Can you believe that? Most magazines now don't even have their table of contents before page eight. Of course, at this time Nintendo Power did not feature ads except for a Super Nintendo frozen in a block of ice. Nintendo Power first tries to explain Lemmings, which isn't that complicated, and then covers eight different types of Lemmings you can use. Pretty decent explanations accompany some informative pictures, and I'm already imagining myself owning this game.
Then the article goes on to explain and diagram strategies for 12 random levels. Not sure what the reasoning behind each level selection was, but some of them actually look pretty tough from the pictures. Doesn't look like the NES port lost much of anything in terms of difficulty.
It's a bit frustrating reading this article now with maps of the entire game because I had a TON of trouble with Metroid II when I was a kid. Stupid me, why didn't I just read my first issue of Nintendo Power to figure out what to do? This is like a mini strategy guide printed across eight pages, would have been super helpful.
Nintendo also pulls some great teasing with this line: "The original NES Metroid has been such a hit with fans that the programmers wanted to make an even more spectacular version for Game Boy. Could a Super NES Metroid be in the works? Maybe!"
What is DragonStrike? From looking at the article I honestly can not tell. I guess it's some kind of top-down shooter but you're controlling a dragon? Each page is just vertical map after vertical map. Nintendo Power manages to cover the first 11 levels of this rather bland looking game.
Next up, NP tries to provide strategies for a platformer in Stanley: The Search for Dr. Livingston. Though the game looks like crap, I like how the editors organize each article similar to the theme of the game. For Stanley, the pages are bordered with Aztec art with shrunken head masks everywhere.
The Star Wars article for Game Boy shows off just how lazy some developers were, especially when compared to Metroid II which was featured just one page earlier. The screenshots look black and bland, and the levels are really uninspired. I think I actually played this game once at a friend's house... hmm, interesting memories. The article is topped off with an in-game screenshot of Princess Leia sprawled out in her detention cell. Hot.
NBA All-Star Challenge 2's article made the decision on whether to buy this game or not super easy. This doesn't even seem like a game! You just pick an all-star and shoot free throws or participate in the slam dunk contest. Actual basketball contests are limited to one-on-one only, wow, you've sold me.
Arcana appears to be some first-person dungeon crawler with cards. Nothing about the article made me want to even think twice about this game. Two pages were absolutely filled from side to side with yellow-orange maps, with almost no art and just two small screenshots to fill the gaps.
Like I said earlier, Top Gear the video game has nothing to do with the awesome British TV show of the same name, but is just a generic racer for the Super Nintendo. The cars are called Type A, B, C, and D, and have a 16 MPH range, talk about variety. It highlights some of the tour stops, but from the screenshots they all look pretty much the same.
Immediately after the Top Gear article is another racing game, F1 ROC (Race of Champions). Instead of Type A-D cars, we have F1's, which sounds much more exciting. The game also looks pretty cool, with the camera pulled back and up a bit more than what I would have expected, almost like Super Mario Kart.
Another platformer covered with Krusty's Super Fun House, and another set of repetitive looking maps that do nothing for a simple game like this. There's some Simpsons art scattered about which is the only redeeming part of this article.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past comic was already on its sixth chapter by the time I received my subscription, but I was still sucked in. At this point, Link was already battling Agahnim, which is a pivotal point in the game right before the Dark World opens up and the game gets turned upside down. The art was drawn by Shotaro Ishinomori who was a popular anime and manga artist, so there's a definitive Japanese flair to it. It looks wonderful, in my opinion. There's a great full page art where Link is on the Dark World pyramid and the moon looks like a face with dripping smoke coming out of its eyes and mouth. So awesome!
The Super Mario Adventures comic was also in the middle of its run, and it was at a really weird spot. Mario and the Princess were about to be married, but then Bowser stepped in for Mario and Peach found herself wearing Luigi's overalls. I still have no idea what was going on. It ends with Peach holding a bob-omb and about to suicide bomb a bunch of Koopa Kids.
In Nester's Adventures, it appears Nester (Nintendo Power's weird mascot kid) is dressed up like Robocop running around town doing tame Robocop stuff. This is really lame.
Back in 1992, you actually got your name in the magazine for finishing such games as Super Mario World and Final Fantasy II. Umm... didn't everyone beat these? there are even seven names listed for "finishing" Monopoly. I will admit, that is something I've never managed to do as that is worst board game ever.
Nintendo Power always had a three page poster inset, and June of 1992 featured UltraBots: Sanction Earth. This decision might have been a little premature as the game was never even released for the Super Nintendo. The art is also really bad and is just some shiny, ugly looking robot standing in a desert. Probably a good thing it never saw the light of day on a console.
Okay, this is kind of cool: Volume 37's contest is for a Street Fighter II: Champion Edition arcade game machine. I would actually want this, and would probably be one of the few contest prizes that would still be useful today.
Nintendo Power collected optional game rankings from its readers and printed them every issue. In June of 1992, Super Mario Bros. 3 was the number one NES game, Super Mario World on the SNES, and Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy. Not a bad trio. Some other notables are Tecmo Super Bowl at #2 (NES), Link to the Past at #3 (SNES), and John Madden's Football at #11 (SNES).
For some reason, Nintendo Power suddenly turned into Tiger Beat and did a "Celebrity Player Profile" on David Faustino. I guess he was the son on Married... With Children. He talks about his upcoming rap album and his Hollywood nightclub, BALYSTX. They printed some lyrics from his song "I Told Ya" which I will also sadly reprint: "Lil'D standing tall at five-foot three / Yeah, but I'm as tough as can be / I'm the host hot D - A - V - E / No matter what I be-E."
I have no idea what just happened on that page.
The final section is Pak Watch, which looks at future games and discusses some rumors. One of the games featured is Out of this World (aka Another World) which I first hour'd a while back. They also introduce Mario Paint and mention that the game gap between Japan and the United States is closing. Uh huh, that wouldn't happen until at least the Nintendo 64 and probably the GameCube.