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This article is about the American publication. For the Japanese-only flash ROM cartridge for the Super Famicom and Game Boy, please see Nintendo Power (cartridge).

Nintendo Power

Current Nintendo Power logo, used since July 2005.

Editor

Chris Slate

Categories

Video games

Frequency

Monthly

Circulation

435,000

Publisher

Future US

First issue

July/August 1988

Company

Nintendo

Country

United States

Language

English

Website

Nintendo Power

ISSN

1041-9551

Nintendo Power magazine is a monthly news and strategy magazine formerly published in-house by Nintendo. As of issue #222 (December 2007), Nintendo contracted publishing duties to Future US. The first issue published was July/August of 1988 spotlighting the NES game Super Mario Bros. 2. It remains one of the longest-running and most successful video game magazines in the United States.

 

 Overview and Design

From the beginning, Nintendo Power has focused heavily on providing game strategy, tips and tricks, reviews, and previews of upcoming games. Seeing as the magazine enjoyed nearly 20 years of Nintendo-directed publication, NP was the ultimate source for detailed mapping and insider knowledge delivered directly from the programming teams. As a result, the magazine has enjoyed the reputation of being the definitive source for all things Nintendo, separating itself from a more traditionally speculative approach as used by its contemporaries. The magazine has remained financially successful and is one of the longest-running game oriented magazines still in circulation.

Today, though still "officially" affiliated with Nintendo, the magazine has become more similar to its contemporaries (i.e. Electronic Gaming Monthly), with a greater focus on staff reviews, gossip, and fan letters than in previous years. However, it still includes game strategies from time to time.

In mid-1998, Nintendo Power allowed outside advertising within its pages, something former reserved for Nintendo-based products only. In its early years, ads only appeared in the first and last few pages of the magazine, leaving no ads to break up the magazine's editorial content. These front cover advertisements were often simply subscription offers.

In July 2005, Nintendo Power created a new design to appeal to a wider gaming audience, including a new logo and article format. Along with the cosmetic overhaul came a greater focus on staff reviews, rumor-milling and fan service including an expanded and enhanced reader mail segment (known as "Pulse") and an equally revamped "Community" section. Nintendo also introduced a new incentive promotional offer that involves the registration of three Nintendo (or Nintendo affiliated) products through Nintendo.com to receive a free three issue trial subscription to Nintendo Power.

In addition to the aforementioned redesign, the magazine implemented a feature called "Corrector's Corner" which is usually found in the "Pulse" section. NP has gained an unfortunate reputation for persistent typos, faux factoids, and the occasional printing error.[citation needed] Eagle-eyed readers send in their evidence, and the staff reluctantly - and duteously - admit their mistakes.

 History

 Issues #001 - #221

Pre-Nintendo Power: Nintendo Fun Club News issue #3
Pre-Nintendo Power: Nintendo Fun Club News issue #3

Nintendo Power began as the several page long Nintendo Fun Club News, but after a few years changed to Nintendo Power.[1] 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. In mid-1988 Nintendo Fun Club News came to an end. Nintendo Power was born and could be found on newsstands in true magazine fashion.

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.

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.

In issues 196-200, Nintendo Power featured a "Top 200" game list, revealing 40 of them in countdown form every issue. The top 5 were Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Resident Evil 4, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in that respective order.[2]

In issue 211, Nintendo Power began listing upcoming Wii games and Virtual Console titles, and has since done away with both Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance lists.

 Issues #222 and Beyond

On September 19, 2007, Nintendo officially announced that the large magazine publisher Future US would begin publishing Nintendo Power. Their first official issue was released in October, as issue #222 (December 2007). It was also revealed that circulation would be increased to 13 issues a year, with the extra magazine being a holiday season bonus issue.[3]

At this time it is uncertain how these announcements will affect future issues in terms of staff and articles. Currently, much of the staff from before Future US started publishing the magazine still remain on staff, assisting Future in creating the magazine.[4]

 Sections

 Currently running

Note: Not all of these sections are in every issue

  • Pulse - Formerly "Player's Pulse", this is a traditional mailbag section that features letters to the editor as submitted by readers. At first it was two different sections titled Mailbox and Video Spotlight, the latter of which featured mail from notable gamers. But during 1989, they merged into one section. As of issue #222, the Contact Us section has been integrated with this one.
  • Game Watch Forecast - Formerly "Pak Watch" and then "Game Watch", this section takes a look at upcoming games and their status in relation to release. As of Issue #223 (Holiday 2007) Future US switched from the previous three dot progress meter to using specific time frames of release but warns readers that the release time frames are subject to change.
  • Game Index - A table of contents of sorts that lists on which pages all covered video games can be found in the issue.
  • News - A lengthy, multi-page segment devoted to news relating to video games, their publishers/developers, and announcements. Prior to the June 2005 redesign, the News section was a part of "Game Watch".
  • Previews - The latest video game previews.
  • Wii Channels - Debuting in issue #212, "Wii Channels" provides information on recently released Virtual Console titles, new Wii Channels and updates from WiiConnect24.
  • Most Wanted - An evolution from different versions of this section including "Top 30", "Top 20" and "Power Charts". Originally, it featured the top 30 NES games, then changed to feature the top 20 games for all the systems in 1992. In 1995, the name was changed to "Power Charts", and featured varying numbers per list, as handheld console lists received only half as much space as consoles. It was removed in 2001, but brought back in 2002, then revamped in 2005 as "Most Wanted", this time being listed in order of top sales and the NP staff's choices for best games.
  • Classified Information - For codes and strategies and gaming secrets. Despite being the magazine's most popular department, it is no longer monthly as of Volume 193, but instead will appear when there are enough new codes and secrets in a given month to justify its inclusion.
  • Player's Poll Contest / Player's Poll Sweepstakes - Monthly contest where readers send in included cards to enter and provide feedback to the magazine. As of issue #222, readers must now send in a postcard to enter the contest as entry forms are no longer included.
  • Reviews - Formerly titled "Now Playing". This old model featured a 5 star rating system and minimal reviewer comment. During 1992, the games were reviewed by two employees named George and Rob, but this change was not popular with the readers, and the duo were removed the following year. More recently, though, the section has featured much improved and expansive reviews by one editor per game, with the occasional "counter-point" by a dissenting editor who feels that a game warrants a different score, or subsequently, additional praise.
  • Playback- A section reminiscing about games of old. This department made its debut in the March 2006, volume 201 edition of Nintendo Power with Earthworm Jim.
  • Power Profiles - A column containing information and an interview with various video game designers. It debuted in issue 216 and featured Shigeru Miyamoto.
  • Community- Covers events, music, collections, Pokémon, cosplaying, Animal Crossing, Nintendo food, websites and other Nintendo-related things, though not all sections show at the same time.
  • 20 Years of Nintendo Power- This section takes "a look back at classic gaming moments through the eyes of Nintendo Power." Part of the year-long celebration of Nintendo Power's 20th anniversary, this section will only run for 2008, after which it will be discontinued.

 Discontinued

  • Counselors' Corner - Nintendo's game counselors would answer game-related questions, providing hints and strategies. It was removed in 2002. Nintendo of America eventually closed its game counselor hotline in 2005, and all employees working as counselors at the time were moved to other departments.
  • Epic Center - Role-playing game information and coverage. Originally written by Alan Averill, who has since left Nintendo Power.
  • NES Achievers / Power Player's Challenge / Arena - Players send in their best game scores to try to win free T-shirts, originally Super Power Stamps. Later it challenged readers to do insanely hard stunts such as a 3 heart run without being forced to continue after defeat in Zelda games.
  • NES Journal - A newsletter within the magazine, often featuring media news relating to Nintendo (such as the premieres of the cartoon shows and the release of The Wizard) and celebrity interviews. The column disappeared after Volume 16, but the celebrity interviews remained until late 1992.
  • The Nindex - A list of released Nintendo GameCube games. It appeared with the release of the system, and came to a close in mid-2004.
  • Nintendo Online - Showed information and news from video game websites.
  • Game Boy - Early in the Game Boy's lifespan, the magazine ran a special column focusing on the handheld. However, it ended shortly after the Super NES was released.
  • Game Boy A-Go-Go / Title Wave - This section featured short strategy reviews for various video games. Originally, it focused on Game Boy Color games, but then changed its name in 2002 to accommodate Nintendo GameCube games as well. However, it vanished from the magazine during 2003.
  • Power On - Entertainment section featuring caption contests and celebrity interviews. Began in 2002, but ended in mid-2005. As of volume 215, the caption contests have returned in standalone form.
  • Pokécenter - For latest Pokémon news and updates, TCG strategies, and team analysis. It became part of the magazine in April 1999, and ended in the July 2005 issue when it merged with several other sections.
  • Game Over- A one-page strategy divulging details on how to conquer a final boss of a selected game. This feature also made its debut in the March 2006, volume 201 edition of Nintendo Power as a replacement for the previously discontinued "Beat the Boss" articles. Game Over sometimes takes the place of Power Quiz.
  • Power Quiz- A quiz about a selected game, series, or area of Nintendo. Alternates issues with Game Over. Answers are posted in the next issue, as well as on Nintendo.com.
  • NP 411/Contact Us - Information on how to reach the magazine's departments and where to find information on a specific game in that magazine. As of issue #222, this has been integrated into Pulse.

 Official Guides from Nintendo Power

Main article: Nintendo Player's Guide

Nintendo Power also produces a series of strategy magazines called Official Guides from Nintendo Power. The first OGNP was simply called The Official Nintendo Player's Guide. When Nintendo Power switched from a bi-monthly magazine to a monthly magazine in May 1990, every other issue was a Strategy Guide focused on a single game. This didn't last long however, and only four such Strategy Guides were released. The magazine claimed this was because the strategy guides were intended to review the games that they considered the best, but they eventually abandoned the concept upon realizing that the best games usually come out shortly before Christmas. Starting in January of 1991, Nintendo Power became a full fledged monthly magazine with issue #20. Issues prior to that have become highly collectible.

The first four Player's Guides in book format were the NES Game Atlas (featuring maps of popular NES franchises), Game Boy (featuring select Game Boy games), Mario Mania (featuring information about Nintendo's mascot, Mario, but was mostly a full strategy guide of the then-new Super Mario World), and Super NES (featuring select Super NES games). All four were mailed free to subscribers of Nintendo Power in 1992. Later, a fifth free Player's Guide, Top Secret Passwords, featured passwords (and a few cheats) for selected NES, Super NES and Game Boy games. This guide was sent to subscribers who were now in the Super Power Club. Though originally billed as a subscriber exclusive, it was eventually sold at retailers.

Beginning with The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Player's Guides adopted a "one specific game" format, much like the earlier Nintendo Power Strategy Guides. They are separate entities from the magazine itself. The concept is now emulated by other publishing companies such as Brady Games or Prima for Nintendo and other video game consoles. Almost all major Nintendo video games released today will have an OGNP associated with it.

OGNPs are often sold at video game retailers, magazine stands and can also be ordered directly from Nintendo Power. Most Nintendo Power subscription packages include a free OGNP as an incentive.

With all of the FAQs for video games on the internet in modern times, OGNPs have suffered lower sales, and have long been a major incentive used for renewing subscription through the mail. T-shirts and the like are offered on occasion through the mail-in offers, however, by subscribing through the internet, many more premiums are available (more T-shirts, for example).

As of mid-2007, Nintendo seems to have quietly discontinued the series after the publication of the guide for Pokémon Battle Revolution. Guides for popular games, including recent releases, are going out of stock at the Nintendo Online Store. No guide was published for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and none have been announced for soon-to-be-released major Nintendo projects. However, Chris Slate stated in Issue #223 that the project is on hiatus.

While Nintendo no longer produces guides in house, they have licensed several of their most popular properties to Prima Games, in order to produce the "official" guide. This can be seen with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, and Super Mario Galaxy, among others.

 Nintendo Power Awards

The Nintendo Power Awards, once called the Nester Awards (after the cartoon character featured in early issues of Nintendo Power), are the magazine's annual ceremony of recognition for the previous calendar year's games. The awards are nominated by the staff members, and the awards are voted on by the readers via Nintendo.com. The results, which appear in a following issue, reflect both the winners based on readers' votes and which candidates the writers felt should have won. As of 2006, there have been eighteen annual awards featured in what is usually the May issue of the following year, the first awards having taken place in 1989, honoring games released in 1988

Controversy

A controversy ensued upon publication of the second issue of the magazine. Parents called in to complain to the magazine's office that the cover, featuring Castlevania II: Simon's Quest with an image of Simon holding the severed head of Dracula, frightened their children and had resulted in many of them having nightmares.[5] For a long time following, Nintendo Power steered clear of cover artwork that featured such graphic imagery. Also, in the January 2007 issue's "PlayBack" column, which spotlighted Simon's Quest, Chris Shepperd mentioned the second issue's cover as being "one of our favorite cover images of all time."

Nintendo Power has received controversy concerning Conker's Bad Fur Day,[citation needed] a Nintendo 64 video game developed by then-second party developer Rare. The game was very controversial, containing sex, alcohol, obscene language, and drugs. Nintendo Power did not even mention the game upon its release, causing mild controversy about the family image that Nintendo was trying to preserve.[citation needed]

 Comic series

  • Howard and Nester / Nester's Adventures (Volume 1-55)
  • Battletoads (Volume 24-25)
  • Super Mario Adventures (Volume 32-43)
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Volume 32-43)
  • Mario VS Wario (Volumes 44 & 56)
  • Star Fox (Volume 45-55)
  • Super Metroid (Volume 57-61)
  • Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire (Volume 89-93; excerpts from the graphic novel)
  • Blast Corps (Volume 97-99)
  • Pokémon (based on the long-running animated series)
  • Kirby: Right Back At Ya! (based on the animated series)
  • Metroid Prime (based on the video game)
  • Custom Robo (short excerpt from the comic book)
  • Metal Gear Solid - The Twin Snakes (short excerpt from the comic book)
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Ginji's Rescue Team (Manga). Based on a 6-part serial in Japan, the English translation reads right-to-left as in its original format. It tells the story of what happens in the game in a nutshell. (Volume 207-212)

Spine pictures

Starting with issue #92, pieces of Nintendo characters were printed on the spine of the magazine. When placed upright in order, the magazines form complete characters when viewed from the side. When Nintendo Power was redesigned, the spine picture idea was abandoned. The printed characters include:

  • Mario (though some sections were either misprinted/printed twice, resulting in a disfigured Mario)-1997
  • Link-1998
  • Donkey Kong-1999
  • Lugia-2000; incomplete
  • Fox McCloud, Mario, and Samus Aran (side-by side)-2002
  • Link (Wind Waker)-2003
  • Link, Mario, Samus (Square Pictures From Up to Down)-January 2004 through May 2004
  • Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Fox McCloud (Square Pictures From Up to Down)-July 2004 through December 2004
  • Nintendo DS-January 2005-June 2005; incomplete

 Promotional VHS tapes

On occasion, many subscribers received promotional VHS tapes, although they were also sent to owners that registered their game consoles. The practice has ceased with the availability of DVD and online video. Among these were tapes promoting Donkey Kong Country ([1]), Nintendo 64, Star Fox 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, Pokémon and one that covered both Donkey Kong 64 and Jet Force Gemini. Some of the tapes featured "hidden" previews at the end after the credits.

 Spin-offs

During 2001, Nintendo Power released a spin-off semi-magazine named Nintendo Power Advance, featuring the Game Boy Advance and its games. Four issues of Nintendo Power Advance were printed, the last of which served as a strategy guide for Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2.

With the release of Pokémon for the Game Boy; Nintendo Power included 6 mini-issues of 'Pokemon Power' mainly featuring tips and strategies for the game.

Player's Poll

Since issue one, Nintendo Power has had a "Player's Poll Contest" (later called "Player's Poll Sweepstakes") where there would be a grand prize, a 2nd place prize, and 3rd place prize once a multiple-choice survey about the magazine's content and demographic was submitted. Ever since the Future US takeover, effective Issue #222, the survey has been omitted, and one only needs to send in basic information (name, address, e-mail address, etc.) The Grand Prize often holds a game, the system to play it on, and other miscellaneous prizes. The Second Place Prize yields only the game itself. The Third Place Prize was a T-shirt, but has since been dropped since the Future US takeover. In Issue #223 (Holiday 2007), a Nintendo Power reader sent in a question regarding the "Player's Poll" and Future US stated that they "didn't really want to lose" the Player's Poll but, according to Future US, "[Future US] have always depended on input from people at nintendo.com's NSider forums." Future US continues with that due to Nintendo's decision to indefinitely close the NSider forums, "Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do right at this moment." However, Future US hinted that they could possibly create a new forum to replace the NSider forums and that they will be currently "looking at ways to bring those cut sections [Player's Poll and Most Wanted] as soon as possible."

 See also

  • Official Nintendo Magazine, the U.K. equivalent.
  • Nintendo Magazine System (Australia), the Australian equivalent publication.
  • The Howard & Nester Comics Archive
  • History of computer and video games
  • Nintendo of America
  • Nintendo Player's Guide