Playing with Power, Nintendo Power Magazine

Since 1985 I have been obsessed with video games. I grew up in a “Nintendo” family. I did not know anyone who owned a Sega Master System until junior high when I met this kid named Jaimie. I went over to his house and played a couple of his “Sega” games, I was not impressed, yes the graphics were better than the NES but the games were not even comparable to NES classics like Kid Icarus and Super Mario Brothers.

My parents got my brother and I a NES in 1985 with a couple of games, I spend most of my time after school playing it or at my best friend Nick’s house playing his NES. He always had more games than I did. One day I went over to his house and my little mind was blown, he introduced me to the greatest magazine ever, Nintendo Power. From then on I borrowed every issue from him, I was like a drug addict. I could not get enough of the magazine, it had everything; information about new games, strategies for defeating the difficult games (curse you Metroid, without the magazine’s large fold out map seen in one issue, I would never have found the Varia Suit), and great features about the games I had to have: Mega Man 2, Double Dragon).

I was so obsessed with the magazine because this was long before the World Wide Web, and FAQs about the latest games, let alone Youtube with full video walkthroughs. I was a kid and did not care that the magazine never seemed to give any of the games reviewed within it low scores. All the games seemed to be equally great. This was all Nick and I talked about at school, during lunch and after school at his or my house. We once were up until 5am at his house trying to collect 250 Rupees to buy the Blue Ring in the Legend of Zelda. His mom yelled at us, to go to bed which we did begrudgingly. His friend Jerry even took advantage of their great offer a few years prior, where he got the free game Dragon Warrior with his subscription to the magazine.

My parents knew I was obsessed with the magazine, and I kept pestering them to buy me a subscription. They knew my video game obsession was becoming a problem, because I’m sure back then if the house was burning down, I would’ve stayed there, still be playing the NES. So my mom made a deal with me. She told me that if I got straight As on my next report card she would get me a subscription. I was an average student in junior high, I was too busy with video games, and daydreaming about them in class, so completing this seemly impossible task would be the equivalent of me walking to the moon.

I accepted her challenge and hit the books, and then a miracle happened, I got STRAIGHT As on the following report card (even in math, which I hated then and I still hate now). She came through with her end of the bargain. Then all I had to do was wait for the mail to arrive…..

When my first issue came I was ecstatic, I must have read that issue about 5 times cover to cover. It was the issue about Sunsoft’s Batman. That game is still a great one. Nick and I rented it at Blockbuster and we played it non stop for 2 days straight over the weekend. We never did beat it, it was too difficult.

The issue that started it all
The issue that started it all

I lucked out too, because with my subscription, back then Nintendo Power included full color strategy guides for some of the best games for the system. Ninja Gaiden II was amazing, but it was the special issue after that, which I got the most usage out of. That guide was for my favorite NES RPG of all time, Final Fantasy. I never would have beaten the game without the full color maps of the Four Fiend’s Dungeons. And because this was the day before easier “modern” games, I had to use the guide just to figure out where to go next after collecting each of the crystals. It also helped me figure out the spells to avoid buying for my black and white mages.

Best Game Ever
Best Game Ever

Eventually, my subscription to Nintendo Power ended, after 1991, which corresponded with a move to another state. In my new junior high, I could not find as many people interested in playing video games, the kids there were more into sports. I still played the NES and later the SNES but not as much as before, because I did not have people to talk to about it at school. And I discovered girls, I know, I know, they should have revoked my “Nerd Card” right then and there.

Occasionally, in this age of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, I’ll pull out an old issue of Nintendo Power and be taken back to a simpler time in my life when all I had to worry about was how I was going to beat the Joker after dinner.

Thanks Mom, you’re still the best….


I love retro video games and soccer.

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