Looking Back – Nintendo Power

Goodbye, old pal.

I never thought this day would come. I never figured I’d have to write this. Nintendo Power’s goin’ the way of the dodo. What you see above are the first and final issues of this great, 24-year-old magazine. This is going to be a hard one to write, because Nintendo Power is what got me into reading, writing, and later journalism in the first place. Anyway, uh… I’m gonna take this time to give an old friend a well-deserved tribute.

I don’t remember what drew me to the magazine. Up until that point, I kind of hated reading and loathed the idea of any sort of job that would have me writing all day. All I remember about my first copy of Nintendo Power (Issue 90) – a copy sadly lost to time and my own negligence and stupidity – was that it had a feature on Maui Malard In Cold Shadow, a pretty but buggy as hell Donald Duck-centric SNES title that had him turning into a ninja and fighting tribal duck… things. After that issue, seeing that reading could be damn enjoyable, I was hooked.

It wasn’t too long after that I subscribed to Nintendo Power. Unfortunately, due to a combination of bad timing and financial issues, I never managed to get the 100th issue. I’m sure I could find it on ebay or somewhere, but I’m not sure if the magic would still be there. Seeing my name on the address label was part of what made Nintendo Power special. Before that, mail was something for my parents that didn’t concern me. But after I subscribed… Man, the end of the month couldn’t come soon enough.

Fast-foward to high school. I knew I wanted to do something with games when I graduated… but I was shit at math (still am, really), so programming was probably out of the question. I wasn’t technically minded enough for anything on the actual design side. Sure, I can throw concept after concept at you, but ideas are cheap. Ideas aren’t going to get you a job, or at least not somethin’ stable and rewarding. I had to produce something that people would want. Since programming, developing, whatever else falls under that ‘technical stuff’ umbrella was out of my league, I looked to Nintendo Power for inspiration. Around that time, I started to get into (really bad) fiction writing. So I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I’ve got an opinion, why not try journalism?’ We can all see where that lead.

… Y’know, I’ll admit. I never read Nintendo Power overly much after high-speed internet became a fairly common thing. I mean, by the time they put out information, it was likely outdated. Hell, weekly publications can’t keep up with digital media, so how did monthly stand a chance? But I couldn’t just let Nintendo Power go. I stayed subscribed, read a bit of the opinion or community pieces when it came, then sat it down and rarely opened it.

I suppose that’s the reason I’m here, overly-emotional and crying about a magazine while smashing the keyboard in a way that makes things reasonably coherent. As much as I love Nintendo Power, I knew it had to end sometime. I thought I would be ready, but… Well, see the ‘crying about a magazine’ point above. Anyway, I know this isn’t much of a retrospective about the magazine, but I feel like it helps show folks how I got to this point. If not for Nintendo Power, I wouldn’t have developed an interest in reading, which wouldn’t have carried over into really bad fiction, then slightly better fiction, the editorial stuff. Without Nintendo Power, Grass Pants would only be a vaguely-amusing, dead meme, and I wouldn’t have met all the excellent people I’ve met through this place. I think, though, the biggest thing is that without Nintendo Power, I’d still be wondering what the hell to do with my life.

So, thank you, Nintendo of America, for starting the thing. Future Publishing, I owe you one for picking it up back in issue 222. The writers, the cover artists, the readers who wrote in and got their questions answered, that guy whose name escapes me who responded to my letter (mind-blowing as a kid), thank you all. Jesus, I’m gettin’ teary again. Anyway, just… thank you all so much. That includes you guys, my readers, too.

Anyway, for those of you who worked at Nintendo Power, I wish you the best. It’s a damn shame I missed the chance to be there with you, but you guys have done so much for so many people. Take care and so long.

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5 Responses to Looking Back – Nintendo Power

  1. John Sato says:

    (Hmm. My comment didn’t seem to post. Let’s try that again.)

    I was never cool enough to get gaming things as a kid (though I imagine you knew enough about my gaming history to assume that), so I never got Nintendo Power. Now I never will, and that’s a little sad. . .

    This reminds me of the Lego magazine back in the day, before the company went down the drain (but that’s another story for another time). They use to have a full two pages fully devoted to fan creations, which I always thought was really cool. I almost submitted my own creation once, even though I was already jaded enough at that point to know I would probably never make it in when I compared the level of quality to what was there. . .still, it was such a neat thing. It was especially cool because my parents dropped our subscription after only a year or so, but Lego still sent the catalogs intermittently by mistake or in preparation for the holiday season. At that point I was the only one still doing things with toys, really, so much like your experience they felt exclusively for *me*. Even more so than they were before, getting them felt really special. Don’t know how that compares to getting something monthly, but I think I can at least somewhat understand the feeling. . .

    Anyway, even as someone who wasn’t really a “gamer” in this period (and also as someone who doesn’t even read magazines!), I too feel kind of melancholy about NP ending. The most exposure to it I ever had were those few times my cousin from out of state pulled one out, but. . .I don’t know, it’s a hard feeling to explain. It feels like there are so many new, strange, and even frightening things happening in the game world every day. Machines that read your movements, games that let you reverse time, digital distributors that allow you to play a game less than 3 minutes after you buy it. And right alongside these innovations, we’ve had this friend from a simpler era, something to let us knows even with things this crazy, the old days haven’t completely ended. I guess that’s the sort of feeling I always got from Nintendo Power. And now, that friend is gone. Like I said, it’s hard to express. Just feels like we’ve lost something special, you know?

    (P.S. I love this post! Thank you for making it, and for sharing your story!)

  2. >This reminds me of the Lego magazine back in the day, before the company went down the drain (but that’s another story for another time).

    Oh my god, I know /exactly/ the magazine you’re talking about. The one whose ‘mascot’ was this EXTREMELY 90s blonde dude in a near-neon-green shirt and a dumb-lookin’ mohawk? Screw that guy (but not that magazine; loved that shit.)

    >It feels like there are so many new, strange, and even frightening things happening in the game world every day.

    I think about this on a near-daily basis. Like I told a friend a few months back: “If you told me, ten years ago, that I’d be buying games without going to the store or even receiving any kind of physical good, or that I’d be playing games by waving a simplified remote control at the TV, I would have called you a liar and stole your time machine.”

    I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. I mean… Nintendo’s kinda leaning back toward ‘normal’ (for lack of a better term) controls with the Wii U, but… I mean, you can play some of the games /on the controller/. Like, New Super Mario Bros U, for instance. If my buddy needs the TV or computer or whatever I hook it up to when I get one, I can /keep playing/.

    It’s so weird and confusing and – like you said – kinda scary. The generation after us isn’t going to know what the hell a SNES controller is because it doesn’t have a touch screen or gyroscopic tech’ in it. (Which is why, as honorary ‘not-related uncle-thing’ to my buddy’s son, I’m going to introduce him to the classics the moment I get the chance)

    … I’m not sure where I was going with all that, honestly.

    And you may or may not be able to pick up a copy of NP here or there. Curiosity got the better of me (never owned issue 1), so I hunted about on ebay. Issue one, used, is like… 10 bucks. I’m going to buy that nonsense, along with the final one, and frame them together.

    Unfortunately, though, there’s… honestly not a huge lot of reason to get NP, outside of ‘right in the feels’ nostalgia. Digital media’s all but killed print, so the information’s already outdated when you buy the damn thing.

    Still not sure where I’m going. I guess I’m trying to put off this next round of Magic: The Gathering on Steam… Freakin’ Exalted deck!

    Anyway, thanks for the comment and have a good’un. Feel free to hit me up on Steam if you’d like t’talk more about this.

  3. thehippiefreak says:

    I was pretty sad to see it go (i had my moments with N-Power) but wasn’t too concerned because of the lack of big Nintendo titles for the past few instances.
    But man, seeing that first and last issue
    just right in the feels

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