Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nintendo Power, Volume 5 (March/April 1989)

For a long time this was the earliest issue of Nintendo Power that I owned. I had to take a look at this one too just to show how different the magazine was in the first year. What a cover, huh? The early covers can be really colorful.

Right inside the cover we've got a surfer kid with totally radical sunglasses! This was like a proto version of the "Play it Loud" campaign.

My God! Over 100 video games available? We take for granted the tens of thousands of games we have now, but in 1989 a hundred games had to be a big milestone.


The table of contents is robust, and they've even got captions under the various subjects.

Zelda II is the hot new thing. A few months before this they got Super Mario Bros 2. It was a pretty intense time to be a Nintendo fan.

I like how Zelda 2's overworld map resembles the RPGs of the era. Looks more like a real world than Zelda 1's big rectangular block of rectangles.

Played this game once in 2004 on the Gamecube Zelda Master Collection. It's a good game but it got pretty tedious. Replayed it recently for this site and found it tolerable this time too. It isn't what I'd call a great game, but for the era it was good. Had so much room for improvement though. Shovel Knight is basically the ultimate evolution of the Zelda 2 formula. I'll be covering that very very soon.

We get a bizarre article where Nester reports on a consumer electronics show. It doesn't work as an article, partly because Nester is narrating it and partly because it doesn't really have any substantial information. Also the weird board game format.

The Power Glove is here! Move over Michael Jackson?

Nester apparently becomes a supervillain when he puts the glove on. This isn't the Infinity Gauntlet, guys.

Ninja Gaiden coverage is usually fun in Nintendo Power, since they emphasize the globetrotting story elements. I've always wondered what that word is next to "Ninja" and above "Gaiden" in the title. It looks like "The".

Ninja The Gaiden?

 The artwork for these games tends to be pretty awesome. This drawing of Ryu overlooking the castle is copied straight from the ingame cutscenes.

Wait a minute, what's that on the right? Could it be?

 Indeed, it's the original Adventure Island. It's so weird to think of these games as "new".

Ya know, Higgins' well-spoken dialogue here does not at all match his expression. He looks like he's about to go on a drunken anti-Mexican rant.


I've heard of this game but I've never seen it. The protagonist looks like Finn Balor unlocked Super Saiyan form.

A snippet of the TMNT coverage, which LIES. They tout it as a positive that the game is hard as balls, saying that the game counselors were only able to get to area 3. Are YOU up to the challenge? What is this, Dark Souls?

Also, way to explain the poor play control by repeatedly saying that the Turtles have "become lousy swimmers". How did they "lose" their ability to swim well? When did this happen? Was that in an episode? DID BAXTER STOCKMAN DO THIS??

So yeah. This game has terrible stage design and poor play control, yet they managed to spin those things into positives. Look forward to me beating TMNT on here in the very near future too.

Counselor's Corner is brimming with Zelda II. I've been kinda hard on this issue which isn't really my intention because it's pretty damn cool to be reading it like this and seeing how NP started out. I've gotta say though, the writing is NOT up to the level that it'd be even a year or two later. There's a significant lack of proofreading/editing, too.

The Nester comics pale in comparison to later Nintendo Power comics. It doesn't help that Nester is basically a dick. Here he loudly fantasizes about Zelda (the games, not the princess) in a library, then this cute red-haired librarian drags him out for being disruptive.

 "EY! Sugar-tits! You can drag me outta the library ANYTIME!"

Classified Information isn't the standard four pages long at this point...or five pages, or six pages. It's EIGHT PAGES OF PROTIPS.

This magazine is full of information, I'll give it that. It's also very focused on the top few games, which makes sense given that's what Nintendo fans were mainly playing at the time.

 I get to the Top 30 (NES only at this point) and sense a disturbance in the force.

...where is Super Mario Bros? Seriously, there's no way things like Paperboy and Double Dribble got more votes than Super Mario Bros. Also surprised at how low on the list Mega Man 2 is, but it makes some sense because it had just come out. This was probably the first time it was on the list.

WHERE'S SUPER MARIO BROS? What are you playing at, Nintendo?

The next six pages are a comprehensive list of every available NES game. Yes, this was a time when EVERY video game on a Nintendo system could fit on six pages.

Here's a particularly weirdass article. They've got a bunch of kids in yellow shirts taking on a bunch of kids in red shirts. They're competing in sports games, or...something.

I bet the red-shirted kids all die.

 The heck? Every "event" is ending in a tie! How are they so evenly matched?

Alright, finally the yellow-shirts are taking the lead. Who will emerge victorious? ...wait, why do I care about this? It's the weirdest thing I've ever seen in this magazine.

Oh, I think it's basically a big push for the "Power Pad", that weird Twister-esque floor mat accessory for the NES.

 Ultimately, red team wins. Or is it yellow team? They're all celebrating! This PC "everyone gets to win" bullshit DOES NOT FLY. Yellow team was better and you know it, Nintendo Power!

Moving on, we have Nobunaga's Ambition from Koei.

Here's a game I'd like to cover, since I'm a huge fan of the movie. The game isn't good, though, and the screenshot actually illustrates the biggest negative about it: Having to break through walls (and make stairs) by throwing grenades. It's a tedious process.

Here we have a Revolution in Home Video Fun. This actually got me for a minute and I was glad these games didn't make it to market after this. Real-world settings can be awesome, but not like this. NOT LIKE THIS.

Check out these "Game of the Year" contenders for the previous year. This lineup is STACKED, with at least five of the ten contenders being potential GOTYs. I didn't know that the first two Zelda games dropped within the same calendar year.

These back issues look awesome. The cover artwork is outstanding. I'd love to have these, especially when they're...

$4.50 each, per this order form in the issue. What a deal. Well, they can't be much more than that now...

::high-pitched screaming is heard::

Next up is a...second letters section. This one is basically a bragging space where people can talk about what their high scores were in Duck Hunt. We even get a Power Player Profile of what I think is a random subscriber.

"I like to read a lot of books. Stephen King is my favorite author."

Here are...more bragging pages. Good work guys, you beat Zelda 2. You know who the real hero of these pages is?

This one guy who beat Ghosts n' Goblins.

Previews section. There's Bad Dudes. "We're not sure what the fascination is for urban brawls in video games these days" they say. This NP seems a lot snootier than later editions. Get used to those "urban brawls in video games", guys. They ain't going NOWHERE.

We get a glimpse inside the control center of the pros at Nintendo HQ. In here, everyone wears shiny silver clothes: The wave of Tomorrow!

Becoming a Pro is easier than I thought: All you need is a subscription to Nintendo Power.
 Do I get the cool jacket too?

The back cover closes this out. I don't know if I trust that Seal of Quality considering Bebe's Kids managed to get it.

Well, that was a pretty cool issue. I loved the cover and felt like it had a lot more information than later issues. It's really focused on giving you an advantage with the games that it covers, rather than just pushing them the way a lot of later issues do. Classified Information being eight pages is outstanding, given that it's the rawest source of passwords/codes in the magazine. The writing/editing could have definitely been a lot better for this issue though, and it's clear they had a lot of improving to do.

 "I said HEY DEMOCRATS why don't ya suck on THESE HUNTIN' RIFLES?"


  1. I really want to know who is wearing those ninja pajamas on the cover.

    Ninja Gaiden really cooks, huh?

    Nester, you don't have to check out the LJN booth again. You know it's going to suck.

    I always assumed the word was "Gaiden."

    Even the Hudson Bee looks like he wants off of that hat.

    By this point Mario 1 is pretty taken for granted, especially with it being the pack-in game for the system. That's probably why it's not there.

    "We're not sure why this game (or style of games) is a hit." Ouch. That's just mean. Imagine a magazine saying that about, say, WCW/nWo World Tour later in the decade?

    1. I always assumed the word was "Gaiden."

      Yep, that's it (外伝). Weirdly enough "Ninja Gaiden" started as the English title of the game, because I guess they wanted to keep the Japanese-ness but decided the original title (Ninja Ryūkenden) was too much for foreigners to handle. When the series moved to Xbox they changed the Japanese title to "NINJA GAIDEN" (in Latin script) to match the English version.

  2. "I bet the red-shirted kids all die." LOL

  3. How few NPs have had real people on the cover? That makes this instantly memorable.

    It's exciting to see all these familiar games in these pages, but also interesting to see the magazine still in a "prototype" form. Makes me really curious about what's in issue #1.

    "Title Wave" is a good pun.

    "People who plugged in a copy of Home Ninja Workshop learned how to scale walls without the assistance of ladders or rope, how to conceal themselves behind curtains and beneath chairs, and how to transform into an ancient warrior by using marshmallow cream." <---I honestly believed this was real advice until that last one. You got me!

    From the player profile: "my advice is to be patient, because anger and frustration lead to mistakes." This is essential advice for an early NES player.
    I LOL'd at "shiny silver clothes: The Wave of Tomorrow!"

    The Castlevania cover was by far the most controversial the magazine ever had, I remember reading, because the Dracula head scared people.
    Nester is a dick but this was the Bart Simpson era, so "the kids will LOVE it!"
    Not even the pros at Nintendo could get past level 3 of TMNT eh? too real.
    This was awesome.