Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Farewell Nintendo Power (Another Sign that Childhood Is a Memory)

A few days, I saw a link to a cartoon that was coming from the last issue of Nintendo Power. Besides being stunned, I clicked the link. I saw Nester (the magazine's unofficial mascot) talking to his son about NP and passing out gaming tips. Can't lie, I almost wanted to shed a tear, especially at the final panel. The final cover is a great homage to the classic first cover.

Nintendo Power was the very first magazine I had a subscription to. Back when I was a huge gamer and my life revolved around reading and playing the NES. It was my guide on knowing the video game world and back then, you didn't have much to read on it. I remember one of the first issues I got in 1st grade with Super Mario Bros. 3 on the cover.

I'd read them cover to cover, over and over until the next month came. I'd take it to school and I'd read it in my spare time. Reading up the codes to help me get through Super Mario Land 2 or Tiny Toons 2 on Game Boy. Learning every little thing about every new game so I could talk about it. Finding out how to beat those extra-hard bosses. Seeing the level layouts.

I even had dreams of being a video game designer and I created a series of games called "Superevan" back in 2nd grade borrowing heroes and enemies from my favorite games. The Main Boss was named Katz and I created a few extra characters like Crabman and his little brother Cramban, a spelling mistake that just stuck.

I still think this is one of the coolest NP covers of all time.
I loved when I was mind blown by seeing Super Mario World for the first time in Nintendo Power. Bright colors and Yoshi got me hooked. Or when I first heard Donkey Kong was making a comeback in Donkey Kong Country. Reading the Game Boy Color for the first time made me happy because I had been waiting for Nintendo to combat the Game Gear.  Or hearing about the last Nintendo system that had me hyped - the N64, which I saved my allowance for months for.

It introduced me to games like Mega Man X, Earthworm Jim, Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing, Star Fox and more. There were great comics like the Fox McCloud series, Mario vs. Wario, Adventures of Zelda.

For my money, the 90's were a great time to be a gamer. The video game wars with Nintendo vs. Sega. The variety of magazines (Electric Gaming Monthly and GamePro - which I read on occasion but not as much as NP). The creativity of games and characters. The cheesy commercials, like the one below which I remember fondly.

Nintendo Power was to me the gold standard of magazines. EGM had a lot more to offer and looked cooler as I aged but I had a soft spot for NP because I grew up with it. It had its share of misses (Virtual Boy? Turning Conker's debut into an adult-rated mess? Super Mario RPG?) but most of the time, they made you excited for the games. And of course, I dreamed of one day winning that Player's Poll contest in the back but sadly, I never did.

I told my mom for years that I'd never give up reading it. It stayed with me through high school but I started giving up video games in 2002 hardcore, NP became a distant memory and it did fade as much as Playstation/XBox seemed to overtake any Nintendo system. The Wii kept the company name alive as did the DS but a new generation of gamers loved it more than me.

It's the eventual end of an era.  I bought the last issue this week and I'll remember those days when I wasn't a sportswriter, sports junkie, music fanatic but a video game fanatic. Thanks for the memories and thank you Nintendo for a magazine that inspired me to read and love video games.

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