Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The magazine has traditionally been heavily focused on providing video game strategy, as opposed to other video game magazines which often focus a lot on game reviews, previews, and gossip. As the magazine is published by Nintendo itself, Nintendo Power often featured detail in-game maps which came directly from programmers and companies. As a result, the magazine earned a reputation as being an "insider" source on game info with "official" content that differientiated itself from the more speculative, "amateurish" approach of its contemporaries. At the same time, the magazine's insider status has also made it the source of some criticism, with critics alleging the magazine does not offer truthful reviews and exists mostly to promote the sale of games (resulting in the rather tongue-in-cheek nickname Nintendo Pravda.) For many years this argument was helped by the fact that the magazine did not run print advertisements, a fact which critics alleged was because the magazine was already "one giant ad."
Regardless, the magazine has remained financially successful, and is one of the longest-running video game oriented magazines still in circulation. Today, though still "officially" affiliated with Nintendo, the magazine has become more similar to its contemporaries, with a greater focus on staff reviews, gossip, and fan letters than in previous years.
Nintendo Power began as the several page long Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter, but quickly changed to its current magazine format. 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, an avid game player himself. Nintendo Power's mascot in the late 1980s and early 1990s was Nester, a comic character created by Philips. After Philips left the company, a more "teenage" 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 a two-page Nester's Adventure, which was then reduced to one page, and then dropped altogether. Subsequently, Mario replaced Nester as the mascot of the magazine.
Following the release of the Super Nintendo, the magazine featured lengthy, continuous comic stories based on Super Mario World and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. After these stories ended they were replaced by similar multi-issue stories based on Star Fox and Super Metroid.
Sections in Nintendo Power
- Player's Pulse - "Mailbag" section that features letters to the editor and, until recently, art subited by readers. At first, it was two different sections titled Mailbox and Video Spotlight, the latter of which featured mail from really good players. But during 1989, they merged into one section.
- Pak Watch / Game Watch - A look at upcoming games and gaming news.
- Power On - Entertaiment section featuring caption contests and celebrity interviews.
- Nintendo Online - Shows information and news on video game websites.
- Top 30 / Top 20 / Power Charts - The top-rated games as voted by the readers. 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, with varying numbers depending on which system (the handheld systems would have half the list length of the consoles). It was removed in 2001, but brought back in 2002, this time being listed in order of top sales and the readers' votes.
- Classified Information - For codes and strategies and gaming secrets.
- Player's Poll Contest / Player's Poll Sweepstakes - Monthly contest where readers send in included cards to enter and provide feedback to the magazine.
- Pokécenter - For latest Pokémon news and updates, TCG strategies, and team analysis.
- Epic Center - Role-playing game information and coverage.
- Now Playing - Editor reviews for the latest game releases. During 1992, the games were reviewed by two employees named George and Rob, but this change did not satisfy the readers, and George and Rob were removed the following year.
- NP 411/The Nindex - Information on how to reach the magazine's departments and where to find information on a specific game in that magazine.
- Counselors' Corner - The staff answers game-related questions on how to get from point A to point B or things like that. It was removed in 2002.
- NES Achievers / Power Player's Challenge / Arena - Players send in their best game scores to try to win free T-shirts.
- NES Journal - A newsletter within the magazine, often featuring media news relating to Nintendo and celebrity interviews. The column disappeared after Volume 16, but the celebrity interviews remained until late 1992.
- Game Boy - Early on in Game Boy's career, the magazine ran a special column focusing on the handheld, even giving it its own section within. However, it ended shortly after the Super NES came out.
- Game Boy A-Go-Go / Title Wave - This section featured short strategy reviews for games that weren't big enough to recieve full ones. Originally, it focused on Game Boy Color games, but then changed its name in 2002 to accomodate GameCube games as well. However, it vanished from the magazine during 2003, causing all the games that would've been appropriate for this section to recieve two-page strategy reviews.
Nintendo Power has also produced another series of strategy magazines called Player's Guides. The first Player's Guide was simply called the Nintendo Player's Guide, featuring dozens of different NES games. It was quickly followed by a code/password book and the NES Game Atlas, a more comprehensive version of the original Player's Guide. During the late 80s and early 90s a number of these guides were produced, and either sent instead of the magazine to subscribers or mailed alongside it. Some of the most well-known were:
- NES Game Atlas
- Game Boy
- Mario Mania (focusing on Super Mario World plus background history on Mario.)
- Super NES
- Top Secret: Passwords
After Top Secret: Passwords, Nintendo Power stopped distributing these Player's Guides and any subsequent guides with the Nintendo Power magazine, and began to sell them separately, both through mail-order and at book and video game shops. It was also possible to get a free Player's Guide when renewing a subscription to Nintendo Power, as a free gift.
Today each Player's Guide published features one specific game. The concept is now emulated by other publishing companies such as Bradygames or Prima for Nintendo and other video game consoles. Almost all major video games released today will have an official Player's Guide associated with it.
In order to be released at the same time as the game, commercial Player's Guides are often based on a pre-release version of the game, rather than the final retail version. They also cannot be updated after they are published. Because of this, they often are not as accurate or detailed as free, fan-made FAQs or walkthroughs which can easily be found on-line (such as at GameFAQs).
The rise of the world wide web and the increasing availability of free on-line FAQs and walkthroughs has taken away some of the need for commercial Player's Guides. However, there is still a large market for them. Player's Guides often feature extensive picture-by-picture walkthroughs, maps, game art, and other visual features that cannot be provided by a bare text on-line walkthrough.
Among the games that have been given Player's Guides:
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
- Mario Paint
- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
- Street Fighter II Turbo
- Super Mario All-Stars
- Super Metroid
- Donkey Kong Country
- Killer Instinct
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
- Chrono Trigger
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
- Super Mario 64
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble
- Mario Kart 64
- Star Fox 64
- GoldenEye 007
- Diddy Kong Racing
- Yoshi's Story
- Pokémon Red / Blue
- The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- Pokémon Snap
- Jet Force Gemini
- Pokémon Special Edition
- Donkey Kong 64
- Pokémon Stadium
- Pokémon Trading Card Game GB
- Pokémon Gold / Silver
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
- Paper Mario
- Conker's Bad Fur Day
- Pokémon Crystal
- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
- Luigi's Mansion
- Wave Race: Blue Storm
- Super Smash Bros. Melee
- Super Mario Sunshine
- Star Fox Adventures
- Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3
- Metroid Fusion
- Metroid Prime
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past / Four Swords
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- Pokémon Ruby / Sapphire
- Golden Sun: The Lost Ages
- Wario World
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Here is a list of milestones Nintendo Power has had over the years:
- First issue: Volume 1 - July/August 1988
- Game Boy introduced: Volume 8 - September/October 1989
- First of four strategy guides: Volume 13 - June 1990
- "Now Playing" column debuts: Volume 18 - November 1990
- Super NES introduced: Volume 25 - June 1991
- First Super NES game cover, Super Mario World: Volume 28 - September 1991
- Super Power Club launched: Volume 41 - October 1992
- First Bonus Issue: Volume 44 - January 1993
- Final NES game cover, Battletoads & Double Dragon: Volume 49 - June 1993
- 50th issue published: Volume 50 - July 1993
- Nintendo Power celebrates 10 years of the NES: Volume 78 - November 1995
- Nintendo 64 introduced: Volume 85 - June 1996
- First Nintendo 64 game cover, Super Mario 64: Volume 88 - September 1996
- Final Super NES game cover, Donkey Kong Country 3: Volume 90 - November 1996
- Pokémon debuts: Volume 98 - July 1997
- 100th issue published: Volume 100 - September 1997
- Nintendo Power celebrates its 10th anniversary: Volume 110 - July 1998
- Game Boy Color introduced: Volume 114 - November 1998
- Game Boy Advance introduced: Volume 132 - May 2000
- "Nintendo Online" column debuts: Volume 135 - August 2000
- GameCube introduced: Volume 145 - June 2001
- Final Nintendo 64 game cover, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2: Volume 146 - July 2001
- 150th issue published: Volume 150 - November 2001
- First GameCube game cover, Super Smash Bros. Melee: Volume 151 - December 2001
- Nintendo Power celebrates its 15th anniversary: Volume 170 - July/August 2003
- Nintendo DS introduced: Volume 181 - July 2004
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