Get the clues
That you can use!
Higher and higher,
Fighting your way
Through enemy fire!"
Starting in August of 1988, Nintendo Power was a news and strategy magazine focusing solely on games for Nintendo consoles. Starting as a replacement for the bi-monthly Nintendo Fun Club Newsletter, the monthly magazine initially contained game strategies for most of its run, until its overhaul during the late Nintendo GameCube era. It also contained news, previews, reviews, fan letters, and "community" sections related to Nintendo games. Originally published by Nintendo of America themselves, it was later outsourced to Future US and edited by Chris Slate starting in December 2007, a position he would hold until the magazine's cease of publication precisely five years later.
After almost 25 years in publication, the magazine was canceled when Nintendo lost interest in publishing it and the contract with Future US was not renewed. The final issue was Volume 285, December 2012.
The magazine was also known for its semi-regular comics and manga advertising new games. These included:
- Howard & Nester (Volume 1-25)
- Nester's Adventures (Volume 26-55, a retool of the strip following Howard's departure, with a brief return on Volume 100)
- Nester & Max (Volumes 232 and 285)
- Battletoads (Volume 24-25)
- Super Mario Adventures (Volume 32-43)
- Mario VS Wario (Volumes 44 and 56)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992) (Volume 32-43)
- Star Fox (Volume 45-55)
- Super Metroid (Volume 57-61)
- Blast Corps (Volume 97-99)
The magazine also featured a series of promo videos sent to many of its subscribers. For details, see this article.
During the mid-1990s, Nintendo of America also hosted an AOL-based website called Nintendo Power Source. Its message boards hosted at least three role-playing "interactive stories" in its Epic Center, including the Metroid-themed Blood of the Chozo and The Legend of Zelda-themed A Hyrulean Adventure, both of which were subsequently featured in Nintendo Power magazine articles. The original website's message boards are unfortunately no longer available, while Nintendo Power Source has since evolved into today's Nintendo.com.
Shortly after it ended, a spiritual followup of sorts was printed in the form of Nintendo Force Magazine, made from Ascended Fanboys of Nintendo Power, featuring talent coming everywhere from 1UP to Brawl in the Family. Former NP editor and senior writers Chris Slate and Chris Hoffman have also kept the magazine's spirit alive through their own podcast, Power Pros. Slate was "launched into space" in early 2016, leaving Hoffman to host with a rotating group of guest co-hosts.
In December 2017, Nintendo revived Nintendo Power as a monthly podcast: former editor Chris Slate serves as the host, with various Nintendo staff members, game developers, and Fandom VIPs making regular guest appearances to discuss upcoming games. The podcast is available on Soundcloud, YouTube, and the Nintendo Switch news feed.
This magazine contained examples of...
- Alien Autopsy: The walkthrough guide for Body Harvest for the Nintendo 64 includes one level where the Player Character has to rescue a captured Grey from Roswell. One picture caption for the level humorously tries to guilt trip readers into sympathizing with the alien and make them feel bad "for having laughed at that alien autopsy video."
- American Kirby Is Hardcore: Their coverage of Secret of Mana. More giant dragons, less of the cutesy sprites in the actual game.
- Long before that, the illustrations for Dragon Quest I — then known as Dragon Warrior — were darker than Akira Toriyama's designs.
- April Fools' Day: On April issues, they have printed articles on Warp Pipe technology, Pikachu as an unintelligible Y2K expert, the Headless Snowman from Super Mario 64 getting his own game over Luigi, an interview with Donkey Kong that a sensationalist tabloid puts out of context, a series of letters complaining about their contest prizes, etc...
- In regards to the Warp Pipe technology one, at least two readers actually thought it was for real, and when their letters were printed asking how it turned out, the magazine made no mention of the fact that it was just a joke.
- Arc Number: The 100th volume featured articles revolving around the number "100". In order: "GoldenEye: 100 Best Ambushes", "100 Things That Equal 100", "100 Best Codes Ever", "100 Best Games of All Time", and "First 100 Games for the Nintendo 64".
- The Artifact: For a long time, the mail section listed what state a reader sent his letter from, or read "via The Internet" if they sent it through email. Eventually the letters all redundantly read "via the Internet", but this tidbit was never taken out until the Future US takeover.
- Artifact Title: Based on the NES tagline "Now you're playing with power!"
- According to a retrospective in the 50th issue, they were originally going to name the magazine Power Play, but it was already taken.
- Author Avatar: Writer Alan Averill has been represented in photos as a Slime from Dragon Quest. The magazine has jokingly stated that he is, in fact, a Slime; the joke was even taken to the point where pictures were published of a Slime plushie wearing a knit cap in front of a GBA SP claiming that the slime was in fact writer Alan Averill. Near the end of its run, writers were represented by Miis, and Chris Hoffman's part of the letters section was headed by an 8-bit sprite of himself.
- The final issue featured goodbyes from current and former staff, represented by their Miis - except for Alan, who was once again a Slime. In that same article:Jenni Villarreal: I was the person who suggested to Alan Averill that he use the blue slime from Dragon Warrior as his avatar in the magazine, then later did a little feature about him in Player's Pulse. Frankly, I created a monster.
- The final issue featured goodbyes from current and former staff, represented by their Miis - except for Alan, who was once again a Slime. In that same article:
- Back for the Finale: In Issue 285, a lot of former writers from the 1990s and 2000s contributed to a farewell column, reminiscing about the magazine.
- Backhanded Apology: After a self-described "die-hard Dragon Ball Z fan" wrote to the magazine demanding an apology for their constant mocking of the series, they responded with this:"We're truly sorry that you're a die-hard Dragon Ball Z fan."
- Blatant Lies: The Super NES Player's Guide has a pretty blatant one, claiming that the SNES version of Final Fight "includes everything that made the arcade version a winner"- yeah, except for a full stage, Guy, and the 2-player option.
- Book Ends: The first issue's cover, shown above, features Super Mario Bros. 2. The final issue's cover◊ is an updated version of that same image, now featuring New Super Mario Bros. U.
- Brick Joke: In an early nineties issue, Nintendo Power held a contest to allow the winner to appear as an extra in the eventually aborted sequel to The Mask (unrelated to Son of the Mask). The final issue inexplicably brings up the matter, openly apologizing to whoever won the contest!note
- Broke the Rating Scale: Defied. Editor Chris Slate responded once that he had been tempted to give some games a 10.5 out 10, but wouldn't because it would permanently taint the scale by making 10.5 the new standard. (At the time, only Resident Evil 4, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption had received a 10.)
- Butt-Monkey: Chris Shepperd. To a lesser extent, Steve Thomason, and to an even lesser extent, Justin Cheng. Shepperd's role was lampshaded during the final issue's staff goodbyes:Chris Shepperd: I'm supposed to write a mea culpa here, but given that for about two years I was blamed for virtually everything that went wrong with the magazine, that would take a while. And of course it was really all Chris Hoffman's fault.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Some writers, and even entire sections, can disappear without explanation.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Readers who send letters without their names get the name "Slippy Toad" or "Big the Cat" affixed to it, both of them Scrappies in the eyes of NP.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: During the '90s, NES items were marked with red, Game Boy was purple, and SNES had teal green.
- Disproportionate Retribution: After one reader writes in noting a minor error (NP printed that holding B in Super Mario Bros. 3 let you float, while it's instead tapping B) the response was this:"We apologize for the error and will be launching the article's author into space at the nearest opportunity."
- The Fellowship Has Ended: After the magazine's cancellation, its staff was distributed to other Future US publications.
- Flipping the Bird: A noticeable example given the publication, their Clash at Demonhead article featured a drawing of Gazh doing this.
- From a Certain Point of View: Might not be intentional, but in his Nintendo Power review AVGN pointed out some interesting wording in reviews of bad games.Nerd: This one says, "In-depth playing tips on the horrifying sequel to Castlevania." This one says, "Back to the Future has that distinctive LJN style and an interesting timer." Wow, they knew it was bad.
- Four-Point Scale: In the early days, the magazine was more blatantly a sales pamphlet, often giving good "reviews" to games that were being trashed in other video game magazines. They gradually got away from this in later years, although no "official" magazine for a company can ever escape it completely.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: The Sony and Sega execs in their Star Fox 64 promotional video have fairly lax security on their kidnapees. When they finish interrogating the pilot for his information on Star Fox, he gets to chill out in their hideout with pizza. After they kidnap his boss, all of them settle down for a go at Star Fox's multiplayer mode together.
- Grand Finale: Unlike a majority of magazines, this one made sure to ensure that the last issue actually felt like one. From a list of 285 of their favorite games, to a look back on their (more than 24 year) history, interviews with then-current and former NP writers, and even a final Nester comic, this showed that, yes, it is the end.
- Insistent Terminology: In its early days, gamers were called Power Players and game cartridges were known as Game Paks.
- Insult to Rocks: When a comparison chart was made about the attributes of Wario, NP compared his nasty smell to, among other things, that of a compost heap, then decided that was too harsh... to the compost heap.
- Loony Fan: Somebody once sent in a collage consisting entirely of Chris Shepperd pictures. After that, he swore he'd try and cut down on the number of times his face appears in the magazine.
- Another claimed to be attracted to writer Andy Myers after seeing a photo of him the previous issue. The photo was of him holding a (fake) severed ear.
- Long Runner: Ran for more than 24 years, 12note issues a year, with bonus holiday issues starting in 2007. This even extends to former writer Scott Pelland, who was a writer starting in 1988, and stayed on the writing staff until 2008.
- Mascot: Nester. Issues released after the Nintendo 3DS even contain a giant QR code for a Nester Mii at the end of the Pulse section, and this was pointed out in a fan letter in the August 2011 issue.
- Moral Guardians: Despite being developed by Rare (at the time a Nintendo second party and industry darling), the magazine did not cover the M-rated Black Comedy platformer Conker's Bad Fur Day at all (though they did give it a Player's Guide). They did an article on it in their Playback section later, though.
- Infamously, their second issue had the Moral Guardians crying foul over the cover: a Nightmare Fuel laden representation of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, featuring Simon Belmont holding Dracula's severed head, his cut out heart in the background.
- "Not So Different" Remark: Initially they had a rivalry with the now-canceled magazine Sega Visions thanks to the Console Wars. But then the Wii era came and Sega began partnering with Nintendo and rereleasing their old games on its Virtual Console, with many lampshades from the staff about how the magazine was now covering more Sega games than Nintendo games!
- One-Steve Limit: Subverted. They have had plenty of Chrises (Slate, Shepperd, Hoffman...), but only one Steve.
- Perverse Sexual Lust: Some of the writers seem to have crushes on Ada from Resident Evil.
- Phony Article: The SNES vs. Sega Genesis comparison articles filled with fake stats and testimonials, which started running towards the endpoint in the SNES's life.
- Here it is. "Blast (processing) from the past", indeed.
- Pigeon-Holed Writer: For example, Chris Slate tends to review major releases, Steve Thomason reviews Sega games, Chris Hoffman reviews Capcom games, and Casey Loe reviews RPGs. There are several exceptions, however.
- Planet of Steves: While there is indeed only one "Steve" (presently), there are lots of Chrises. There's even a Christine in there.
- Product Placement
- Quality over Quantity: Nintendo Power once had a debate on which was the better series, Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. Zelda essentially won with the rebuttal of quality over quantity, arguing one Link to the Past was worth far more than multiple Mario Partys, despite the long time between Zelda games.
- Scenery Censor: The Code of Princess article in the August 2012 issue has a large banner covering pretty much all of Solange's torso.
- Self-Deprecation: In Volume 100, one page is a list of things that equal 100. Among them is the running time of the live-action Super Mario Bros. (1993) film, followed immediately by the approximate number of people who went out to watch it. In a follow-up issue, one editor responded to a reader's letter about the movie jokingly stating that 100 was also the number of speed bumps they installed in order to keep people from leaving the movie early.
- Shout-Out: In the article where Chris Hoffman uses his Cooking Mama skills to create delicious meals for the staff, he mentions accidentally cutting his finger off. His reaction? "Just call me Mister Butterfingers. Wow, is my face red." This is almost the exact same as a line from UHF, in a scene where another character accidentally cuts his finger off.
- Spin-Off: The short-lived Nintendo Power Advance, concentrating on strategies for Game Boy Advance games. Also, one might consider Pokémon Power (a series of mini-magazines detailing Pokémon Red and Blue and including a comic version of the first few episodes of the anime series) to be one.
- Spiritual Successor: After the end of Nintendo Power, IGN editor Lucas M. Thomas announced Nintendo Force Magazine, staffed by Nintendo fans from the journalism scene. Lucas explained the reason he started his own magazine was that he was upset that Nintendo Power was being canceled — not only was it part of his childhood, but he couldn't be able to share it with his son.
- Strategy Guide: A few of the NES-era issues were actually written to promote and detail single games — namely volumes 13 (Super Mario Bros. 3), 15 (Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos), and 17 (Final Fantasy).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The magazine is actually a replacement for the Nintendo Fun Club News, a newsletter which focused mainly on first party NES releases (with some rare exceptions, like the Goonies II article in issue 5).
- Take That!: To other gaming magazines.
- Also to fans of Dragon Ball Z. As an example, one reader wrote in believing that some rumors of the cancellation of Super Smash Bros. Brawl were true. The reader also said something along the lines of "I'm also a DragonBall Z fan, but that's not important right now!" to which Scott (the editor-in-chief at the time) replied, "I was going to ask you where you heard something so ridiculous, but then I realized it: you're one of... them!"
- One issue had a preview of Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party, and featured suggestions of TV shows the NP crew would love to see "Rabbid-ised". One was the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer. NP's justification? "Because even rabid bunnies know better than to trust Fox News."
- Tempting Fate: In their 100th issue, when listing the 10 Worst Games of All Time, Shaq Fu was listed at #3.Shaq, transported into another dimension, must battle weird fighters. It is not humanly possible to come up with a worse idea than this.
(Barbie Super Model comes in at second place)
Actually, this is a worse idea than Shaq Fu.
- The Three Certainties in Life: An entry about evading an all-encompassing attack in Snowboard Kids started by claiming there were three certainties in life; death, taxes, and pie plates.
- Variant Cover: Vol. 92, which was an issue that highlighted Shadows of the Empire, had four different covers made for it. 40% of them had a Stormtrooper, 25% of them had Dash Rendar and another 25% had Boba Fett, with the rarest of them being the cover with IG-88, making up a mere 10% of the shipped covers.
- You Just Told Me: The Star Fox 64 promotional video has this.Bob: You didn't tell them about the Rumble Pak, did you!?Sony Exec: No, Bob. You did.
The comics that ran in the magazine contained examples of:
Howard & Nester / Nester's Adventures
- Bratty Half-Pint: Nester was based on kids Howard met that insisted they knew how to play, and didn't want any help.
- The Bus Came Back: Nester returned for Milestone Celebrations: Issue #100, the 20th anniversary (#231)...
- Back for the Finale: ...and the final issue (#285).
- Bumbling Dad: Nester when he grew up twenty years later. He's terrible at modern games, makes up obviously false boasts about his NES days, and for Christmas gives his kid copies of Nester's Funky Bowling for the Virtual Boy... every Christmas.
- But Now I Must Go: Howard's departure from the comic has him making such a speech to Nester, leaving him with his bowtie as a memento. In the first Nester's Adventures comic, Nester reveals that the bowtie was a clip-on.
- Butt-Monkey: Bad things tend to happen to Nester due to his ego and inexperience.
- Captain Ersatz: One installment has Howard accompanying a duck to the moon. The duck's name is never given, but from the fact that the episode in question was based on the DuckTales NES game, it can be assumed that he is supposed to be Scrooge McDuck.
- Generation Xerox: Nester's son, Maxwell (or "Max" as he prefers to call himself), looks and acts like he did.
- He's All Grown Up: Never thought you'd see Nester as an adult, and with his own son to boot.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Tasmanian Devil's guest appearances.
- Lost Episode: There's an alternate version of the final Howard & Nester strip that was never published in Nintendo Power, but was instead given personally to Howard Phillips as a going away present. It was posted on Howard Phillips' actual Facebook page years after the fact.
- Precocious Crush: Nester seems secretly interested in impressing Razor in the Maniac Mansion story.
- Put on a Bus: Howard after his real-life counterpart (Howard Phillips) left the magazine.
- Retool: Into Nester's Adventures following Howard's departure.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Nester thinks he's the ultimate gaming badass. Unfortunately, he's anything but.
- Stock Sitcom Grand Finale: The final Nester comic (and the last Nintendo Power comic overall) ends with Nester and Max leaving Nester's memorabilia room to play games, with the former turning off the lights and shutting the door before leaving.