Playing With Power

Playing With Power – Nintendo Power #7

Happy Anniversary!  Since the Nintendo Fun Club News, Nintendo publications were on a bi-monthly release schedule so issue 7 marks the 1 year anniversary of Nintendo Power.  There wasn’t to many changes to the layout of the magazine but they included a fun addition that would give gamers a reason to pull out their copy of Super Mario Brothers 2 and play it again.

The first change for the magazine can’t actually be seen in the images.  For the first year of the magazine, the binding was in the style called ‘Perfect Binding’ which is where the spine is glued together to hold all the pages together.  With this issue, Nintendo changed to ‘Saddle Stitch’ which is where the magazine is basically folded in half and 3 staples are used to hold the magazine.  While probably cheaper for Nintendo to produce, it cheapened the feel of the magazine slightly.  Also, I have found that the second year of Nintendo Power is one of the hardest years to find old issues of the magazine and I think that the type of binding made the magazine harder to hold up over the course of time.  Another change with this issue is the inclusion of posters as a separate item from the pages of the magazine.  In the first year, the poster that was included in the magazine was on the back of one of the pages of a feature from the magazine so if you wanted to take the poster out of the magazine and you were interested in the game feature that was on the other side of the poster you had to choose which was more important, the poster or the game info.  With this issue, the poster was folded up and placed in the middle of the magazine so all you had to do was bend a couple staples back, pull out the poster then bend the staples back to get the poster and retain the integrity of the magazine.

As I mentioned last time, the Mega Man franchise exploded with the release of Mega Man 2 and I think this cover story had to have some kind of influence on that success.  After this issue, Mega Man 2 would rocket up the Top 30 chart and continue to have a strong showing for many months.  One area that Mega Man 2 doesn’t get enough credit for is introducing the password system that would become the standard for the series through the entire NES run.  Instead of using a standard password system of the day where a random collection of letters and numbers must be entered, you are provided with a simple to use grid system where you enter dots in the right sequence of fields to continue where you left off.  Much easier than most NES games with passwords at the time where writing down one wrong letter or number meant replaying all the stages you spent many hours working through just to get you back where you last left off the game.

A big feature of this magazine is a focus on Dragon Warrior and introducing readers of the magazine to RPGs in general.  up to this point, only a few traditional JRPGs had been release but none of them had been pushed like Dragon Warrior would be.  In Japan, Dragon Warrior had already seen 3 games released and had become a cultural phenomenon in the East so Nintendo hoped to strike gold twice by pushing it here in America.  Of course that didn’t happen thanks to a small game called Final Fantasy that would release about a year later but by promoting Dragon Warrior so strongly in the pages of the magazine, Nintendo laid the groundwork for bringing RPGs to America.

The rest of the features and previews were pretty normal for the magazine but the Pak Watch section gave us the first real look at the Game Boy.  Though only a couple screenshots and an introduction to a game called ‘Tetris’ that no one had yet heard of, the announcement of a September release and a picture of a new Mario game for the system would get any kid reading the magazine immediately asking their parents for a Game Boy for Christmas that year.

I really enjoyed the NES Journal section of the magazine for this issue.  The brief history of the company would have been the first time most readers would have realized that Nintendo had been around for so long or that they had been involved in the toys/games market for many years prior to the release of the NES.  While the history of Nintendo is well documented now, I think giving a brief history here made the company more relatable to the general population.

Included in the magazine (but I added it to the end of the magazine for the post) was the other addition to this issue, a Super Mario Brothers 2 tip book.  This tip book gave every tip and strategy for the first 4 worlds of SMB2 and was 32 pages long so if you add those pages to the pages of the magazine this issue was 136 pages long!  That is  a LOT of Nintendo goodness!  The strategy guide was included next to the poster with it’s own staple binding so you could remove it from the magazine and have it next to you while you replayed SMB2 without needing the whole issue there.  I would guess many people found out about the warp pipes for the first time as well as where all the 1-ups are in this part of the game.  Nintendo would follow up with the second half of the strategy guide in the next issue but there was plenty here to hold gamers over until then.

That’s it for this issue.  Back then when Nintendo had an anniversary, everybody was a winner!  Enjoy the issue and see you next time.

Play with Power!