Have You Got The Power? Get The Power! Nintendo Power! I LRM’s Retro-Specs

Welcome to the February edition of LRM’s Retro-Specs! As we discussed last month, the 80s and 90s are dominated by everything Nintendo. Sure, Sega and a few others nuzzle their way in. However, Nintendo has always been the top dog for me. Even though the internet is amazing, it also kills some of our most precious gems of yesterday. We are the tougher generations because of Nintendo and Nintendo Power.

The games are difficult as hell. No respawns and unlimited continues. Listen, you get three lives, one to two hits then you’re dead. Ghosts n’ Goblins anyone? You needed to be a part of the in crowd though. Yes, you also needed to know how to beat NES games. There is a main way to do that. Get the power. Nintendo Power!

Nintendo Fan Club

Like most other smart businesses, Nintendo has a loyalty type program. In 1987 Nintendo introduces it’s fan club. For one, it’s free! The fan club includes discounts on Nintendo merch. and a quarterly newsletter. It’s definitely the club kids want to be a part of. 

THE Source 

With the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the fan club, they also release a magazine. Nintendo Power is a magazine with everything you need to navigate the NES world (and sometimes the only way, like with Castlevania 2). The magazine runs from 1988 all the way through 2012. It still has some lasting power even when the internet arrives. 

With the fan club and newsletter attracting strong interest, Nintendo sees this as an opportunity to capitalize on. By mid 1988 they cancel the fan club but extend the newsletter. By the Mike Tyson’s Punchout issue they have over 600,000 readers!

The newsletter transforms into Nintendo Power! The magazine can be purchased through a monthly subscription. There are an initial 15 issues with a bi-montly schedule. However, in 1990, the full-length Nintendo Power magazine becomes a monthly release. After the first issue, Nintendo Power has a subscription service with over a million and a half readers! This is enormous for the time. 

Now while some suggest it is nothing more than subscribers paying for Nintendo advertisement, Nintendo Power actually has so much to offer for its paying customers. 

Game Coverage

Sure, they are plugging their own material. However, Nintendo Power provides in depth coverage of numerous games as well as reviews. Why would Nintendo rate their own games? Isn’t this bias? Well, it’s not that type of review. It is more of a showcase. The “reviews” consist of walkthroughs, maps, commentaries, etc. This not only helps readers decide if they want to purchase a game or not, but also provides vital helpful information in navigating the complicated, difficult games Nintendo has in their library. 

Walkthroughs and Maps

Nintendo not only provides walkthroughs and maps, but form experts! People known as Nintendo Game Counselors. Now that screams credibility! Now not only do these pros offer expert strategies they also are in charge of the Power Line. Are you in a bind? No continues left and only one life? Can’t figure out where to go next? You can call the Power Line and an expert walks you through in real time! Of course, it is a paid service…This concept ends in 2005 thought with the influx of free internet walkthroughs. 

Members Only

If you are stuck on a game now, a quick Google search should suffice. However, if you are a subscriber of Nintendo Power, you could be in-the-know. Nintendo Power comes with a “Classified” section. This, my friends, gives power to the reader. You can choose whether to share the classified game material with friends, or to keep it for your own glory and feel superior to other gamers like Lucas Barton from The Wizard.

This is an area where members can share any insight they have which could feature in an upcoming issue. Glitches, secrets, and tips can all be found here. 

Everyone’s Doing It

Nintendo Power has a good deal to offer. Other game snapshots, videos, and monthly columns make up the gaming index. One such section that works to reinforce the dominance of Nintendo is the interviews from current pop musicians, artists, athletes, actors/actresses. Nothing helps promote peer pressure than the stars we idolize letting us know they play NES

The Letters sections helps the entire gamut of the Nintendo community interact with personal stories. And the icing on the cake are always the contests connected to movie and other entertainment tie-ins. 

All About The Customer

Gail Tiden is one of the Editors-in-Chief for Nintendo Power. There is a demand for the type of information and services Nintendo Power provides. Tiden is extremely intentional about making the magazine all about those who matter: the customers. In order to extend the credibility piece, she insists that those in connection with the magazine not include images of themselves. Why? Well, Tiden express that:

“No reader wants their mom to be the person running their video game magazine. It was very conscious that the editors did not have pictures of themselves in the magazine. It took away from the idea that the magazine was about ‘you,’ the consumer. Nintendo Power never referred to parents or school – anything that had to do with adults speaking to kids. This was a peer-to-peer product.”

Really smart. And she’s not wrong. 

Now I do understand the argument that Nintendo Power has a strong hold on customers. It may even force some individuals’ hands into getting the magazine. How so? Okay, let’s use Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest for instance. How would you know what directions to go? What order? When to purchase certain items/weapons? There is no way in hell you would know do squat down with the blue crystal to find the hidden area under the lake. Or to squat in the corner of a seemingly dead end with the red crystal in order to summon the tornado to take you to a castle…Cheeky, Nintendo. Very cheeky indeed. 

Other games that you maybe did not have to have Nintendo Power for, but are otherwise lost (or dominated) for hours include: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, TMNT, Ninja Guidan, and Battletoads just to name a few (I’ve only hit the warp on the first racing stage once in my life…).

The Unfortunate End

By 2002 business begins to really slow down. The fast pace of the internet and free forms of walkthroughs, advice, suggestions, and secrets takes the place of most print material. In 2007 Magazine Publisher Future US takes over from Nintendo Publishing. In late 2012 Nintendo ends its contrat with Future US. The December 2012 issue is sadly the last for Nintendo Power. 24 years and 285 issues later, it is the end of a legacy.

ALSO SEE: Join The NES Crazy With Captain N: The Game Master I LRM’s Retro-Specs

Like I said, I love the internet. However, the good old days have some wonderful concepts that have to be left in the past. Good thing we have nostalgic memories and areas to share our wonderful memories! Do you remember Nintendo Power? Were you a subscriber? What are your fondest memories? Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!

Sources: IGN, Complex

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