It is with a lump in my throat and a sad heart that I have to create this article. Nintendo Power, the gaming magazine beloved by generations of Nintendo fans and video game lovers alike, has come to an end. After 22 years, 285 issues, every Nintendo console to date, and thousands upon thousands of games, the magazine has bowed out of the printed market and the online market entirely, and will be fondly remembered in countless gamers’ hearts for many reasons. I only felt it necessary that I pay my respects to the periodical that I took so much from. Let’s go on a journey through time and enjoy the spectacle, wonder, excitement, and love of all things Nintendo that was Nintendo Power.
My Earliest Memories with NP
We were not one of the lucky few families to receive the first issue of Nintendo Power in the mail. Instead, I actually started my collection of Nintendo Power magazines at a special milestone for the mag: issue 100!
Not only that, but by a random circumstance I received Issue 99 in the mail the day after! What luck! At the time I was about 11 years old, and having a gaming magazine to call my own meant a heck of a lot to me. My older brother had Game Pro (which is also defunct now too, sadly), and I remember taking his magazines when he was done with them and just loving the ability to read about learn about new games. But I didn’t have a PlayStation at the time: I only had a Game Boy and Nintendo 64. So getting Nintendo Power was a big deal.
While there were lots of games in each issue to peruse through, I usually started reading the articles and tips for games that I owned or liked. Super Mario 64 was one of the first I remember reading a lot about, and later games like the excellent Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and not as great Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles whetted my gaming appetite each month. How could I not enjoy the “Classified Information” section, which housed all types of hints and cheats, or the “Poke Center” feature which gave all the newest information on all things Pokemon? One feature that I actually looked forward to each week was the top games charts, which would list the best selling, I believe, Nintendo games for the month. I remember Zelda: A Link to the Past being number one for a heck of a long time (I think until they removed the SNES from the rankings!). I even liked how the spines of the magazines for a calendar year formed a picture, even though they never lined up properly. There was also a Nintendo Store you could order cool Nintendo themed gear from, and included in the early issues of the magazine were coupons of sorts you could collect to get free swag. This idea went away in later issues but has returned in the form of Club Nintendo. No matter how you slice it there was plenty of content to keep a young Nintendo fan entertained each month.
All About the Games
If it weren’t for Nintendo Power, I wouldn’t have come to like so many of the games and genres I like today. In one of my earliest issues I remember reading about the then code-named Zelda Gaiden for the Nintendo 64 (it would later become Ocarina of Time). I was super excited for this game. The way the author played up each element about the game made it sound like the greatest game ever. Little did I know that it would become one of the greatest games ever. And I wouldn’t have received the special gold cartridge of the game for Christmas if it wasn’t for NP informing me about it.
Easily the greatest example of Nintendo Power selling me on a game is the Nintendo 64 RPG Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber. There was a write-up about the strategy game in one issue, and I remember reading and re-reading that article because it looked so cool. Not only that, but the accompanying screen shots made the game look charming as well. At the time I had no idea that purchasing that one game would turn me on to my favorite genre, the RPG, and much further down the road give me one of the gems in my video game collection.
There were countless other games that I attribute my purchase or liking (for better or worse) to Nintendo Power. These include, but are not limited to: Harvest Moon 64, Buck Bumble, Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure, Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, Meteos, Gauntlet: Dark Legacy, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Super Smash Bros., Perfect Dark, the Game Boy Advance system, Metroid: Prime, Luigi’s Mansion, and so many more.
My Overall Run with the Magazine
I can claim a lot about my interactions with Nintendo Power, but I cannot say that I kept my subscription until the end. I only had the magazine for seven years. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the magazine anymore, far from it. The real reason I ended my subscription was because I had moved on to more than just Nintendo: When I ended my NP subscription I owned not only a Gamecube and DS, but a PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and a capable PC. My tastes evolved into more than just Nintendo games, so my magazine subscription moved on to publications that included more than just the Big N. I recall subscribing to Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Informer (which I’m still subscribed to thanks to GameStop), and even Tips ‘n’ Tricks magazine. I remember making the hard decision to end my Nintendo Power subscription: there were plenty of articles and features I’d miss, but I couldn’t justify having three magazines coming each month to my house about video games, so one had to go.
I still have all of my issues of Nintendo Power. They are packed away neatly in a clean, labeled box in our storage space. I can’t believe that some people actually threw away their issues when a new one came out! There was so much great content in each issue, and what if I wanted to go back and read up on a game I never got around to until later? Those crazy people, thankfully, were few and far between. Will I ever try to collect each issue of Nintendo Power now that the magazine’s run has ended? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to snag a few issues if the price is right. And, for that matter, I am interested in owning the first, iconic issue some day.
The Final Issue
So what do you get from the final issue of Nintendo Power? Well, aside from the nostalgic cover that pays homage to the very first issue, you get one of the best, most alluring features any gaming magazine or website can give: A top games list. The NP staff list their top 285 games, spanning the company’s entire history and library of titles. The list includes games made outside of Nintendo, and just games that are on one of Nintendo’s consoles. The list itself is obviously extensive with nearly 300 titles, but it is also a decent list. Expected games like Ocarina of Time and Super Mario Bros. 3 are on the list of course, but there are some surprising entries as well (like Elite Beat Agents and Virtue’s Last Reward). For reference, here are the top ten games…
10. Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
9. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)
8. Super Metroid (SNES)
7. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
6. Mega Man II (NES)
5. Super Mario World (SNES)
4. Final Fantasy III/VI (SNES)
3. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
1. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
The other excellent feature acts as a retrospective for the magazine: Great Moments in Power. A look back at each year the magazine was published, the feature highlights some of the more iconic games and moments from that year in the magazine’s life. For a fan of the mag, this is a fantastic feature to reminiscence with. It’s also interesting to see some of the included images from the pages of NP from those years, including the monthly contests you could enter, the better (or horrible) covers throughout the years, and even some of the strategy sections so many gamers had by their sides when completing a challenging game. Again, for fans of the magazine, this is a very fond look back on the magazine.
The final special feature for the issue is a final editorial from each of the current staff members. It’s bittersweet for everyone involved, but reading about the best moments for each editor goes to show you just how different each gamer can be. Also, the letters from fans at the beginning of the mag are also dedicated to fan’s final goodbyes. Aside from that, the rest of the magazine is your standard Nintendo Power affair: Reviews. The final issue’s review section is dedicated entirely to the Wii U and most of it’s launch games.
The Power Comes to an End
It’s fitting that the magazine bows out when a new console is released: it’s the end of yet another generation and the start of another. Sadly this generation won’t have the comfort and handiness of a dedicated magazine by it’s side. Like thousands of other gamers, the ending of Nintendo Power’s historic run leaves a lump in my throat. In many ways it’s the end of my childhood: the magazine that I would look in my mailbox for each week, the magazine that inspired me to love and appreciate video games, the magazine that guided me in many ways to this very blog is no more. The very last image we are left with is none other than Nintendo Power mascot of sorts, Nester. The iconic gamer appears in one final comic strip in which he and his son Max talk about the end of the magazine that Nester grew to love. It is perhaps the most heartfelt and warming comic about video games I have ever read, and brings literal tears to my eyes when I read it. It simply should not be missed.
Thank you Nintendo Power.
Thank you for all the years of service, all the great games, all the fantastic articles and previews, and the information I didn’t know I wanted or needed, and for all the fun you’ve given me. You will truly be missed.
A Nintendo fan,