Super Mario Bros. 2! Zelda’s Second Quest! Double Dragon! Gauntlet! Contra!
I’m lumping all these big game features together under the category of “gaming porn”. I can’t remember my exact reactions, but I know me, and I’m sure when I saw these features—even the ones for games I already had—that I was overwhelmed to the point of hysterics. Look at all the bright colors! Look at all the maps! Look at all the things you can do! Look at all the hints, tips, and tricks! Look look LOOOOK!!!
For me, these big feature feasts-for-the-eyes were like the fashion editorials in Vogue (not that I bought Vogue back then, but bear with me). They’re what I flipped through first before getting to the meat of the issue’s content, i.e. Classified Information.
Yeah, they gave you some rudimentary tips, advice, and “insider info”, but that was a secondary function. I mean it wouldn’t be too hard to figure out that if you press the B button, Billy will kick. (Okay okay, maybe the Zelda guide could be useful, if and when I decide to play through it a second time.) It’s not hard to see how strategy guides and walkthroughs in gaming mags as a whole took a hit once ad revenues began to slip and gaming journalism’s focus began to shift around 2003 or so. The main function of these big eye-catching features, of course, was to get you amped to buy those games (thanks Mom and Dad! ^_^). They were the “close” in the sales brochure that was the entire issue.
But you know what? At nine years old none of that mattered. In the case of Super Mario Bros. 2, NP was sharing everything from where the secret rooms were down to the smallest of details, e.g. Luigi’s high-jumping talents, before anyone else would know about it. That was huge!
Advertorials or no, I still love these features. I get a kick flipping through them to this day (just like old fashion editorials!). And as busy as these layouts might be, I’m certain they—the entirety of all the gaming mags I read, really—planted the seeds for my future love of graphic design.
As an adult looking back on how obsessed we kid gamers were back then with our games, Video Spotlight is now one of my favorite sections in this magazine. It highlighted the best, most dedicated gamers around, as suggested by others, or even themselves.
And hey, I’m not judging. If I were able to beat Super Mario with “160 extra men with over 1,100,000 points without time warp,” and do it in “10 minutes and 23 seconds” like Trey did, I’d want people to know about it too.
Here we see what true dedication is…
“['Ace Ebb']‘s hobbies are playing Nintendo games, period. He has no pets, instead he plays Nintendo all day!”
…the meaning of loyalty…
“[Kevin] says he’s played Sega, one of your rivals around here, but said, ‘Sega doesn’t come close to Nintendo.’ One reason for this is because Nintendo gets all the arcade hits. The phrase, ‘Now You Are Playing With Power,’ is very true to him.”
…and advice that’s just as relevant for gaming as it is for life:
“…You’ve got to know how to land.
“…Have a lot of health.”
“…Get plenty of men.”
(That last bit of advice may only be relevant for some of us, but at least it’s still there if we need it.)
We also learn the difference between cockiness and confidence can be as simple as a set of parentheses:
“I don’t think (I’m not sure) that there is a better player at Super Mario Bros. than I am.”
Besides just being a sounding box for how good these guys were, Video Spotlight also gave us just the tiniest of glimpses into their lives:
“Mike lives in a family of four. He has a cat named Kitty.”
“HOBBIES: Trampoline jumping, and solving his and his friends’ Nintendo games.”
“PETS: One and a half cats, Suki and Muffin. (Muffin is half mad)”
“OTHER INTERESTS: To become a dentist and to become a Nintendo Game Counselor.”
“GOAL: To solve every existing Nintendo game.”
At 36, that’s still my goal today.
We may have gone on to be dentists, but we we’ll always be gamers.
In its entirety, Howard Phillips’ editor’s letter:
We hope you enjoyed reading the first issue of Nintendo Power as much as we enjoyed making it. We spent many hours doing research (playing games) in order to bring you the most complete reviews, the best tricks, and the raddest reading ever! I even jetted to Japan for a week to work with our Nintendo Power staff over there. You try to explain Wheel of Fortune to someone who doesn’t speak English! It was great to make new friends and to meet some pretty hot game players too! Maybe we’ll even profile a few of them in a future issue.
Nintendo Power will come out every other month, and we want to provide you the very best in video journalism (We’ve discontinued the Fun Club News, so that we can devote all our energy to making Nintendo Power the best magazine you could ever subscribe to). What could be more fun? So, if you have an opinion about something, or a hot tip you want to share, we’d like to hear about it.
See you in September,
[signed] Howard Phillips
P.S. I’m working real hard on Zelda II. Look for it. It’s going to be great!”
Howard, Gail Tilden, Pam Sather, Minoru Arakawa, and all those who made Nintendo Power possible, thank you. You helped make my childhood awesome.