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Nintendo Power magazine is a monthly news and strategy magazine formerly published in-house by Nintendo of America, but now run independently. As of issue #240 (April 2009), Nintendo contracted publishing duties to Future US.

The first issue published was July/August 1988 spotlighting the NES game Super Mario Bros. 2. It remains one of the longest-running video game magazines in the United States and Canada, and is Nintendo's official magazine in North America.

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 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.

In mid-1998, Nintendo Power allowed 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 were 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 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.

Today, the magazine has shifted its focus from game strategies to mainly news, previews, and articles on upcoming games.

History

Issues #001 - #221

Pre-Nintendo Power: Nintendo Fun Club News issue #3
Nintendo Power began as 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 and revamped as Nintendo Power. 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.

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, 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.

Starting in issue #206, they began a page called Super Smash Bros. Brawl Wii Smash Files, which put the spotlight on announced characters in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The section ended abruptly long before the game's release.

Issues #222 and beyond

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.

Before the magazine's 20th anniversary, they began a temporary section called 20 Years of Nintendo Power. This section took "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 ran only for 2008, ending with the Holiday 2008 issue.

Issue #231 (August 2008) celebrated Nintendo Power's 20th anniversary and made a list of the top 20 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 contained information on classic Nintendo Power articles from the NES to the Wii era. It also had stories behind Pokémon's arrival in the United States, 3-D gaming, every Zelda game, and more. It was only available in stores; it did not ship to subscribers.

Nintendo Power has also released several seasonal Buyer's Guides, Nintendo Power Poster magazines, and a recent Nintendo Power calendar, available only at retail.

Recently, removable jacket advertisements have been added to the magazine. To accompany this, the magazines with them attached have a different material for the covers.

Nintendo Power's most recent issue was #249 (Holiday 2009) with The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks being the cover story. Throughout the issue many games were covered, such as Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth and Monster Hunter Tri. There was also a section celebrating five years of the Nintendo DS handheld.

The next issue, #250 (January 2010), will celebrate the magazine's 250th issue milestone. It will include big year-end reviews and "even a surprise or two."

Main sections

Currently running

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. Now, the first two pages are dedicated to basic letters while the third page is for responses to a requested topic. Starting in #239, a new column on the second page titled Don't Hassle the Hoff began, spotlighting staffer Chris Hoffman's response to a letter. For example, a fan tried to explain that Tails was a fox, not a mutant squirrel (as Nintendo Power called him). Hoffman, however refused to believe him.

News

A lengthy, multi-page segment devoted to news relating to video games, their publishers/developers, and announcements.

At the end of News is the Game Watch Forecast (formerly "Pak Watch"). This section is a list of 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. There is sometimes a little column in between the page called Bits of Tid, in which little pieces of information in the world of gaming are shown.

Download

Debuting in issue #212, "Wii Channels", as it was known at the time, provided information on recently released Virtual Console and WiiWare titles, new Wii Channels and updates from WiiConnect24. The Evaluation Station is a collection of miniature reviews of the latest Virtual Console, WiiWare, and DSiWare titles. Reviewists rate the games on a scale of "Grumble Grumble," "Hmmm...," and "Recommended." It also featured a column called Wanted! devoted to the most wanted Virtual Console titles, the results showing most wanted games from both readers and staffers. EarthBound is currently #1 on the list the subscribers sent in, and Mega Man: The Wily Wars is currently the #1 title the employees want to see on the Virtual Console. As of volume #245, Wanted! has been officially discontinued, but "may return in the future."

Previews

Information on upcoming games are put into a column accompanied with lots of screenshots.

Power Profiles

A column containing information and an interview with a person involved in the game industry. It debuted in issue #216 and featured famed video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto.

Playback

A section reminiscing about games of old. This department made its debut in the #201 (March 2006) with Earthworm Jim.

Reviews

A section where staff writers review the latest games. Most reviews are quite small, ranging from a single column to a quarter of a page. They rate the games on a scale of 1-10 with increments of .5. Currently the only perfect 10s in Nintendo Power history are Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4 (for Nintendo GameCube), Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The second-highest reviewed game is New Super Mario Bros., which scored a 9.5 from all four of its reviewers. However, there are several games that also scored 9.5, such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (both Wii and GCN versions), Super Mario Galaxy, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Elite Beat Agents, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and Gunstar Super Heroes. The among worst reviewed games have been Ant Nation and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer for DS, which have both received scores of 2.0.

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. In previous volumes, a blue dot next to the game title represented a Wi-Fi compatible title, but has been removed from issues #244 on.

Community

The community section is dedicated to Nintendo-related things, such as events, music, collections, fan art, mods, food, websites, and in the past, art of the month, reader reviews, Miis, and Animal Crossing. A number of features such as Reader Reviews and NSider Fan Art were removed due to their dependence on input at the NSider Forums, which was shut down indefinitely on September 17, 2007.

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. Discontinued in the mid 90s, due to a lack of role-playing games on the Nintendo 64.

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 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.

Classified Information

List of cheats on new games. Slowly died off when increasingly fewer cheats were added into games.

Most Wanted/Top Sellers

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 "Top Sellers", this time being listed in order of top sales and for "Most Wanted, the NP staff and reader's choices for best games. This section was merged with Pulse. It was removed after Nintendo's decision to indefinitely close down the NSider Forums on their website for a big site overhaul.

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.), 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 they will be currently "looking at ways to bring those cut sections as soon as possible."

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. Pulse is from issue #222 and up.

Nintendo Power Official Miniguide

A small, basic guide to newly-released games. It usually did not provide information for the whole game, but provided helpful tips, strategies, and selective walkthroughs. Some of the miniguides they have implemented into the magazine were Magical Starsign and Custom Robo Arena. Since its omission, the 'miniguides' have begun bearing a normal article format, such as the "Galactic Tour" article for Super Mario Galaxy in issue #222.

Player's Poll Sweepstakes

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. It was discontinued altogether in issue #243. However, in the future there may be occasional sweepstakes with even bigger and better prizes.

Official Guides from Nintendo Power

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 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.

Nintendo now outsources production of official guides to Prima Games. 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. The magazine was known for creative awards such as "best mullet" but these have largely disappeared and have been replaced by more generic awards.

These are the Game of the Year winners from 1988-2008:



Comic series



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
  • Mario, Link, 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, along with game console owners who registered their consoles, received VHS tapes promoting the Nintendo 64 and games such as Donkey Kong Country, Star Fox 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, and Pokémon. One of the tapes covered both Donkey Kong 64 and Jet Force Gemini. Some of the tapes featured "hidden" previews at the end after the credits.

The practice has ceased with the availability of DVDs and online video. Nintendo Power included one bonus DVD in the August 2005 (v. 194) issue, featuring videos for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Nintendogs, and other games.

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 'Pokémon Power' mainly featuring tips and strategies for the game.

In 1989, a smaller version of the magazine called Pocket Power was distributed at movie theaters showing The Wizard.

Nester

Nester
Nester was the long-time teenage mascot and comic strip star of Nintendo Power. Nester was created by Howard Philips, "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), Philips was written out of the strip after his real-life counterpart left Nintendo to work for JVC. 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 would be seen again in issue #231, the magazine's twentieth anniversary, here a grown man with a son new to Nintendo.

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. 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 likewise featured the name "NESTER" as one of the pre-set names on high-score lists, or a default character name.

An NES emulator has been named after him.

See also



References

  1. .
  2. http://nintendopower.com/
  3. DK! Donkey Kong is here!
  4. Nintendo Power: "His handle is Lark, but everyone in class knows this guy is Nester." Nintendo Power. Nintendo of America. September 1996, page 25.


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