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Nintendo Power
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 27, 2003   |   Episode 1 (Show Archive)  

   
Nintendo Power
Instead of using artwork, Nintendo Power would often hire models to "look" like video game characters.
Brief Synopsis: It's a magazine for people who buy Nintendo products. For people that ONLY buy Nintendo products. For people that will never buy anything but a Nintendo made product.

How We Got Here: For a lot of people, Nintendo Power is where it all began. By 1988 Nintendo found itself unsatisfied with reviving the video game industry after the near fatal crash of 1983; they were interested in something bigger, a loyal fan base that would rival even the most established Saturday morning cartoon. Even in the mid '80s Nintendo had enough good sense to convince young gamers that what they wanted was a 120-page advertisement every other month.

The critics can blast the magazine for being a propaganda tool pointed directly at our innocent
Alien 1979 Poster
Without Nintendo Power, chances are we would not have strategy guides for the most challenging games, like Devil May Cry 2!
youth, but Nintendo Power was the very first video game magazine to be promoted and supported with the big money of other mainstream publications. It was one of the first magazines to look at video games as more than just a fad, but a true hobby.

It's also one of the few magazines that also works as a strategy guide. Before Prima and other big companies got involved with mapping out games and making them easy enough for even the worst gamer, Nintendo was there showing them how it was done. With more than half of their magazine space devoted to huge, sprawling maps, blow-by-blow hints for boss battles, and hidden codes, Nintendo Power was in the business of making strategy guides before it was a multi-million dollar industry.

It didn't take long for Nintendo to realize that these strategy guides may actually be counter-productive. For one thing, they really only affected a small part of their fan base, and they took a lot of time to assemble. There were also only a handful of games that could really be dug into with the depth these issues wanted. And Nintendo was able to do much more advertising by doing mini-strategy guides in twelve regular issues a year. It has been monthly ever since.

Weird Tales in Marketing: Not only did Nintendo Power bring their readers monthly strategy guides, but they also attempted to give out free games. Long before magazines considered giving their readers free demos, Nintendo Power actually gave their subscribers a free copy of Dragon Warrior.

Fearing all the money and time spent translating Japanese role-playing games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest (which would become Dragon Warrior)
Alien 1979 Poster
Even though there are close to ten Dragon Quest games, the original is the only one people seem to remember!
would go up in smoke, Nintendo decided to "trick" gamers into getting addicted to this new genre of games.

As a gimmick to help subscription sales, Nintendo dangled Dragon Warrior in front of them. They picked the Nintendo Power people, perhaps thinking they were the ones that would be able to read the game, and promised them a game that sounded a lot more exciting than it was. They hoped and prayed that it would pay off for future games in the genre. But it didn't, and most role-playing games ended up having a very quiet life in the States. It wasn't until Final Fantasy VII introduced the genre to hot graphics and amazing cinemas that people took notice.

Where The Readers Are King: Most magazines have a letters to the editor section, but Nintendo Power went one step further. From the very beginning back in the late 1980s, Nintendo Power has been set up more like a fan club than a traditional magazine. There was a sense of community, a way for gamers to get a hold of each other and explain why they are the better gamer. Heck, they even had a section for hi scores and accomplishments. That's right, Nintendo actually printed the names of people that beat Shadowgate or the Legend of Zelda!

What's more, Nintendo actually gave players a stage to brag. Every month countless Nintendo fans, usually in their early teens, yammered on about how they thought they were the ultimate gamer because they have "defeated" 12 whole games! It would be the same story every month, regardless of age or sex, the
The Mafat Conspiracy
The Mafat Conspiracy is just one of the many third party games that found Nintendo Power a cold place to stay!
letters were always formed in a strange cookie cutter fashion. If you truly had something different, Nintendo would pick you as the Power Player, and boy, if that didn't make you the coolest kid on your block.

Waiting For That Other Shoe to Fall: write and publish your own magazine about your own games, it's hard to stay objective. While a proper review section wasn't added until well into the magazines life, its absence didn't hurt the magazine much. Hoping that the public would see past the conflict of interest, Nintendo started reviewing their games with disastrous results.

Nintendo's conflict of interest was apparent in other facets of the magazine, including how much space third party games received versus Nintendo's own titles. And their continuing ability to completely ignore their competition (never actually saying their names, even when appropriate) made more than a few question just how accurate the information was.

As other magazines started to sprout up, Nintendo Power's lack of subjective journalism started to seep through. Magazines like Game Players and Electronic Gaming Monthly gave consumers a taste of everything that was out there, while also keeping the Nintendo coverage front and center.

Memorable Quote: "I think I'm a Power Player because I've beaten just about every game that I've played. I've defeated 19 Nintendo games so far. My Game Pack library is small so half the games I defeated were borrowed from friends. Since I'm often busy with schoolwork, I cannot beat games quickly. Nevertheless, if I'm persistent enough I can beat even the most time-consuming games such as the Legend of Zelda, the Adventure of Link, and Metal Gear. The game that puzzled me the most of all the games I've defeated was Rambo. I finally solved it without any help and destroyed the flying fortress using only five life bottles." -Will Cwiertniak

FINAL GRADE: B-
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