First issue of Nintendo Power, 1988
|Former editors||Chris Slate|
|Staff writers||Phil Theobald|
|Categories||Video games and Accessories|
|First issue||July 1988|
|Company||Nintendo of America (1988–2007)
Future US (2007–2012)
|Country||United States, Canada|
|Based in||South San Francisco, CA|
Archive copy at the Wayback Machine
Nintendo Power was a news and strategy magazine which was initially published in-house monthly by Nintendo of America, and later run independently. In December 2007, Nintendo contracted publishing duties to Future US, the U.S. subsidiary of British publisher Future. It had one of the longest lifespans of all video game magazines in the United States and Canada, and was Nintendo's official magazine in North America.
On August 21, 2012, Nintendo announced that they would not be renewing their licensing agreement with Future Publishing, and that Nintendo Power would cease publication in December 2012. The final volume, Volume 285, was released on December 11, 2012.
Predating Nintendo Power is 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 after seven issues in favor of Nintendo Power. The first issue was July/August 1988, spotlighting the NES game Super Mario Bros. 2. 3.6 million copies were published, with every member of the Nintendo Fun Club receiving a free one. Almost one third of the members subscribed.
From the beginning, Nintendo Power focused heavily on providing game strategy, tips and tricks, reviews, and previews of upcoming games. In mid-1998, Nintendo Power began to allow outside advertising within its pages, something formerly 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 are often simply subscription offers.
In July 2005, Nintendo Power created a new design to appeal to a limited gaming audience, including a new logo and article format. Along with the cosmetic overhaul came a greater focus on Nintendo fans, 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 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. Later, the magazine changed its focus from game strategies and cheat codes to mainly news, previews, and articles on upcoming games.
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 Quest to every new subscriber. This promotion was in part a move on Nintendo's part to make money off Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest in Japan) which 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 NES, 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 based on Custom Robo and Metal Gear Solid have been featured, as well as a very short Metroid Prime comic, and one based on the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games translated from the original Japanese version.
In issues 196–200, Nintendo Power features a "Top 200" game list, revealing 40 of them in countdown from every issue. The top 5 are, from fifth to first: 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.
On September 19, 2007, Nintendo officially announced that the large magazine publisher Future US would begin publishing Nintendo Power. The company's 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. Nintendo Power stopped making the Bonus issue in 2011.
Issue #231 (August 2008) celebrates Nintendo Power 's 20th anniversary and includes a list of the top twenty games from each of Nintendo's home and handheld consoles, and the best one for the unsuccessful Virtual Boy.
In February, Nintendo Power released a bonus issue called 20 Years of Nintendo Power. It contains information on classic Nintendo Power articles from the NES to the Wii era. It has stories behind Pokémon's arrival in the United States, 3D gaming, every Legend of Zelda game, and more. Part of the year-long celebration of Nintendo Power 's 20th anniversary, this section ran only for 2008, ending with the Holiday 2008 issue. It was only available in stores; it did not ship to subscribers. The November 2008 issue (Volume #234) is the first volume to ship subscribers a "subscriber edition" of the magazine. Subscriber editions have a cover without text or bar codes in the way of the artwork, while retail editions of the magazine retain the text.
Issue #252 of Nintendo Power includes a top ten list for the best games of the decade. Nintendo Power has additionally released seasonal Buyer's Guides, poster magazines, a 2010 calendar, and two special guides dedicated to the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series of games that were available only at retail.
On August 21, 2012, Nintendo announced that they had opted not to renew their licensing agreement with Future Publishing and that Nintendo Power would cease publication after 24 years. The final issue would be December 2012. Senior Editor, Chris Hoffman stated that his staff would "try to make the last issues memorable". Nintendo reportedly did not actively participate in discussions to continue the magazine online.
Nintendo Power 's final issue is December 2012 (Volume #285). The cover features clay models of Mario and Bowser promoting New Super Mario Bros. U, while paying homage to the Mario and Wart clay models which had promoted Super Mario Bros. 2 on the cover of Volume #1. The issue includes a poster displaying every past Nintendo Power cover, minus the Subscription Edition covers.
As in any magazine, each issue is separated in sections or specials. Sections in Nintendo Power included the Pulse (formerly "Player's Pulse") which features letters to the editor as submitted by readers. At first, it is two different sections titled Mailbox and Video Spotlight, the latter of which features mail from notable gamers. But during 1989, they merged into one section. "Top Sellers" and "Most Wanted" was originally merged in 2005 with "Pulse". It shows the top five games of each console people wanted most, and the top sellers of each system. The former relied upon reader input at the "NSider Forums", which Nintendo closed on September 17, 2007. Future US stated that they "didn't really want to lose" the "Most Wanted" and parts of the "Community" sections (NSider Reviews, Fan Art, etc.), stating that the company has "always depended on input from people at nintendo.com's NSider forums." Power Up (formerly "News") until issue #256, this multi-page segment was devoted to news relating to video games, their publishers and developers, and announcements. At the end of Power Up is the Game Forecast (formerly "Pak Watch" and later "Game Watch Forecast"). This section is a list of upcoming games and their status in relation to release. This section is not in issue #285, since that issue focused on the past, and not the future. As of Issue #223 (Holiday 2007) Future US switched from the previous three dot progress meter to using specific time frames of release. Download, debuting in issue #212 as "Wii Channels" as it was known at the time, provides information on recently released and upcoming Wii Channels and Virtual Console, WiiWare, and DSiWare titles. The Evaluation Station is a collection of mini reviews of the latest Virtual Console, WiiWare, and DSiWare titles. Reviewers rate the games on a scale of "Grumble Grumble," "Hmmm...", and "Recommended." As of volume #245, Wanted! was officially discontinued. Power Profiles contained information and an interview with a person involved in the game industry. It debuted in issue #216, is absent in Volume #280, and features famed video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Reviews is where staff writers review the latest games. A Reviews Archive is placed at the end of the issue's reviews, showing the scores for all previously reviewed games from the last 10 issues. The staff provides extra commentary on them throughout the archive. The only perfect 10's in Nintendo Power history are Metroid Prime, Super Mario Sunshine, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Counselors' Corner is where counselors answer game-related questions, providing hints and strategies. It was removed in 2003 and Nintendo of America eventually closed its game counselor hotline in 2005, with all employees working as counselors at the time were moved to other departments. NES Achievers / Power Player's Challenge / Arena is where players sent in their best game scores to try to win free T-shirts, originally Super Power Stamps. Later it challenged readers to stunts such as a three-heart run without being forced to continue after defeat in Zelda games. Since issue one, Nintendo Power has a "Player's Poll Contest" (later called "Player's Poll Sweepstakes"), where players may have won a game console, games, and t-shirts.
Official Guides from Nintendo Power
Nintendo Power produced a series of strategy magazines called Official Guides from Nintendo Power. The first one is 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. Only four such strategy guides were released. Nintendo then outsourced production of official guides to Prima Games.
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 believed should have won. As of 2006, there have been eighteen annual awards featured in what is usually the March issue of the following year, the first awards having taken place in 1989, honoring games released in 1988. The magazine was known for creative awards such as "best mullet" (won by Aqua Man) but these have largely disappeared and have been replaced by more generic awards. The 2009 awards were determined by separate votes of staff and readers leading to two possible winners for each award.
During 2001, Nintendo Power released a spin-off semi-magazine named Nintendo Power Advance, featuring the Game Boy Advance and its games. A copy of the first issue was given complimentary to subscribers in addition to being sold at newsstands. 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 six mini-issues of Pokémon Power mainly featuring tips and strategies for the game.
Nester was the long-time teenage mascot and comic strip star of Nintendo Power. Nester was created by Howard Phillips, "President" of the Nintendo Fun Club and a former editor of Nintendo Power, to be the supporting character in his comic strip, Howard & Nester. The comic strips generally advertised new games, often by dream sequences where Nester was actually a given video game character. From 1989 to 1993, The Nintendo Power Awards featured Nester-shaped trophies and were referred to in the magazine as the "Nesters" as a reference to the Oscars.
In the June 1991 issue (Volume 25), Phillips was written out of the strip after his real-life counterpart left Nintendo to work for LucasArts. The strip was retitled Nester's Adventures the following issue and continued publication until Volume 55 (December 1993). Nester, now as a college student, appeared in Nintendo Power issue #100. He is seen again in issue #231, the magazine's twentieth anniversary, here a grown man with a son new to Nintendo. Nester's final appearance in Nintendo Power is in the final issue, Volume 285, in a comic titled "Nester & Max", where he is seen reading and lamenting the final issue. He is then reminded by his son that, "None of this is really going away, is it? I mean, Nintendo Power had a great run and you've got it all right here. It's like when you finish a great game - you're kind of sad to see it end, but really proud and happy, too. You know what I see when I look at this final issue? 100% completion."
Nester has also been featured in a few video games that were released while the character was still featured in the magazine. His first appearance was as a commentator in NES Play Action Football. Other appearances include the ending of To the Earth. Nester was the main character in Nester's Funky Bowling for the Virtual Boy, which also introduced his sister Hester. The character of Lark in Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64 was based on Nester. Several games for the NES featured the name "NESTER" as one of the pre-set names on high-score lists, or a default character name such as in To the Earth. The original NES release of Dragon Warrior references both Howard and Nester through character dialog, however this was removed in the later Game Boy Color version. He is mentioned in one line of dialogue in the game StarTropics. A DLC microgame in WarioWare D.I.Y. created by Nintendo Power called Funky Boxing (a loose reference to Nester's Funky Bowling) does not have any apparent references to the character, but if the game is opened in the editor, the player's boxer is named "NESTER."
- Official Nintendo Magazine, the U.K. and Australian equivalent.
- Nintendo Magazine System (Australia), the former Australian equivalent.
- Nintendo Dream, the Japanese equivalent.
- Club Nintendo, the Mexico and Latin America equivalent.
- Nintendo World, the Brazil equivalent.
- Nintendo Force
- Camp Hyrule, Nintendo's Internet-based community from 1995 to 2007, adjunct to Nintendo Power
- History of computer and video games
- Nintendo of America
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- Nintendo Power: "His handle is Lark, but everyone in class knows this guy is Nester." Nintendo Power. Nintendo of America. September 1996, page 25.
- "Mario Maze by WADY".