Video games, Where I Read

Where I Read – Nintendo Power #3

Cover for Nintendo Power #3

Cover for Nintendo Power #3

We move on to Nintendo Power’s third issue, and it’s first holiday issue, for November and December of 1998. Our cover story for this issue is Track & Field II, and the page count has come back up to about 110 pages. As always, the magazine moves straight to the features and strategies from the page after the table of contents.

Track & Field II Strategy Guide: Well, right off the bat, the game’s got a bunch more events than the original Track & Field. For example, we’ve got fencing, archery, swimming, pole vaulting, high-dive, shooting, horizontal bar, canoing, and taekwondo. The controls of the game look fairly simple, for example, in fencing one button controls attacking, one controls defending, and then the D-Pad handles movement and combining one direction with a button performs a certain attack or defense. It isn’t exactly Street Fighter, but it’s got a bit of complexity to it. Anyway, we get strategies (and the controls) for each event.

Mickey Mousecapade Strategy Guide: We get maps of the first few levels of the game (I assume it’s the first few levels, they don’t give us numbers).

Howard and Nester: This issue it’s coming up fairly early. The game this time is Castlevania II – Nester is unable to find his way to Bodley Mansion, but gets lost. Fortunately, Howard lets him know that if he uses the Red Crystal at Yuba Lake, it will take him where he needs to go – or something like that (Nester cuts him off before he can give the rest of the details).

Blaster Master Strategy Guide: So, you’re off to rescue your frog. We have some maps of the first few stages, though it looks like the game is a Metroid-style adventure-maze game, which means for an really in-depth strategy guide, you’d probably need a map. We’re not getting one.

Gift Guide: Christmas is coming/the goose is getting fat/Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat/If you haven’t got a penny/a ha’ penny will do/if you haven’t got a ha’ penny/than God bless you! Or, if the old man doesn’t have a hat, or you don’t have a local old man, you can spend your penny (or ha’ penny, adjusted for inflation – or jar of pennies, since in 1913 – which is the closest I can get to when the song was written, a penny then was worth about a quarter in 21st century dollars) on one of these handy dandy pieces of clutter for your game machine. There are character sweatshirts, when you feel that you aren’t a big enough geek though they might be worth something now – though I can’t find any of the sweatshirts on eBay, so I can’t give you a price that you might need to pay for one now, and to be frank, Nintendo doesn’t tell you how much one was then – they just give you a number to call (and it isn’t toll free either). We have Acclaim’s IR controllers. There are also a lot of ways to store your games – apparently people never heard of bookshelves. Dear God, they even have Mario Briefs! Some of the T-Shirts look good though.

Special Feature – Role Playing Games: Well, the NES has gotten some RPGs for it her in the US, and with these RPGs come some special coverage in Nintendo Power. We get a brief description of what an RPG is – one that fails to mention of Dungeons & Dragons, which, at the time, would have a significantly more visible influence on the genre, since the rise of Final Fantasy hasn’t started, leading to a beginning trend of RPGs that have more in common with that, than with Dragonlance, Forgotton Realms, or Greyhawk. We start off with Ultima, which is the NES port of Ultima III: Exodus, and we have a bit of an error – the copyright info says the game is copyrighted by Original systems, when it’s really copyrighted by Origin Systems. Richard “Lord British” Garriott does get sufficient credit though. I got in touch with Mr. Garriott, and he did have some input on the game, not in-depth, but he did meet with the teams who designed the game.

The Ultima strategy guide gives us a few battle strategies, as well as giving us some information on the four marks in the game, and what they do. We also get a preview for Legacy of the Wizard (aka Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family). I’ll let the Retronauts explain the bizarreness of the Dragon Slayer series in their Falcom episode (Falcom is the company that developed the game). I’ve played Legacy of the Wizard, it’s insanely hard, and very easy to get lost in that game.

Counselor’s Corner: More Question & Answer with the Counselor’s – and we finally get names and faces to some of the agent numbers! We get questions for Metal Gear, Rambo, as well as questions on Double Dragon, particularly on getting the special moves, not to mention questions about Gauntlet.

Classified Information: More specific advise for various games. In particular, we learn that the Konami Code with Gradius gets you full Options. We also have the debut of the way to get to the Minus World (that’s right, it’s not an Urban Legend, Nintendo Power itself says it exists.

Preview – Anticipation: Hopefully this game will not be keeping me late, keeping me way-ay-aitin’. So, that’s Carly Simon and folk music references on the musical scorecard. This is a good, ol’ fashioned party game.

Preview – Blades of Steel: New Hockey game, though not with licensed NHL teams. The cities are fairly accurate, though both of Pennsylvania’s teams got lost in the lurch. The game looks interesting, though Hockey games have never been my forte. It’s either been football, or if the game’s got good fielding, baseball (bad fielding cannot be forgiven lightly).

Preview – Cobra Command: No relation to G.I. Joe, just your boilerplate Choplifter clone.

Preview – Racket Attack: Tennis simulator. Again, not my general sports forte. Anyway, to the game’s credit, it does account for 3 different court types – hard, clay, and grass.

Video Shorts: We have coverage for Bubble Bobble, Paperboy, Ghostbusters, Tecmo Baseball, Tecmo Bowl, and Platoon.

Pak Watch: A bunch of football games are coming out (aside from Tecmo Bowl), and WWF Wrestlemania, and two Spy vs. Spy games.

Fiction – Captain Nintendo Pt. 1: Well, short fiction in gaming magazines doesn’t turn out very well, and I throughly expect this to be on par with really bad fan-fiction – and I am not disappointed. Nintendo’s also got a series of drawings coming up as well.

NES Journal: We get a new NES Journal entry after an issue (making it about 4 months since the last issue). This one relates to the WOOZ maze in California, which closed in the mid-90s and was then burned to the ground so, tough luck going to the place now (if you’re planning some Nintendo Power Tourism).

Player Profile: Our player profile this issue is probably somebody you’ve already heard of – Jay Leno. At this time Johnny Carson was still on the Tonight Show, but Jay Leno had been one of Carson’s more regular replacements, and had appeared on more than a few occasions on the show of future competitor David Letterman. For the record, I like Leno’s monologues better than Letterman’s monologues, and I like Headlines section more than Letterman’s Top 10.

I’m going to take a moment to say – if you’re featured in a profile in an issue of any gaming magazine I’ve covered thus far, or one that I cover in the future and you’re reading this, let me know, I’d love to talk to you (and wouldn’t mind interviewing you too).

Mailbox: We get letters about linking hand-eye coordination and video gaming, about whether we’ll get another Nintendo’s Players Guide. We also have a question about how they get their tips (Answer: they play the crap out of those games). We move on to the leaderboards after that.

Players’ Poll Rankings: Well, now that we’ve gotten 3 issues under our belt, we’ve got enough data to make some judgments about ranking movements, whether they’re new to the Top 30, slowly rising stars, or long time favorites. I’m going to re-work how I do the rankings now by describing the Top 10 in writing, and giving only the Overall Top 30. If you’d prefer if I do the subsidiary Top 30 rankings, let me know in the comments and I’ll address that in future installments. New to the poll this time is Metal Gear, which starts strong at #3 (Legend of Zelda and Metroid hold the top 2 spots), bumping Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out from #3. Tengen’s Gauntlet also makes its debut at #5. Mario 2 finally makes an appearance in the Top 10 at #6 (up from #28), Bases Loaded debuts on the list at #7, and Zelda II is at #8 (up from #17). Double Dragon makes it’s debut at #9, and Pit, and with it Kid Icarus barely clenches on to the Top 10 at the last spot of the list.

The Rest of the List:

  1. Super Mario Bros.
  2. R.C. Pro Am
  3. Castlevania
  4. Contra
  5. Ice Hockey
  6. Mega Man
  7. Rad Racer
  8. Top Gun
  9. Town & Country Surf Design
  10. Rygar
  11. R.B.I. Baseball
  12. Renegade
  13. Pro Wrestling
  14. Goonies II
  15. Gradius
  16. Double Dribble
  17. Solomon’s Key
  18. Golf
  19. California Games
  20. Kid Niki

Howard’s Letter: Howard is pumped about Nintendo’s contest to invent the ultimate video game. Hopefully this will lead to something decent. Howard also suggests, in this season of family, and of giving, giving of your time to play games with your family, and to include your family members in your hobby is an excellent gift. As one of my best memories of my grandfather (on my Dad’s side) is playing Monopoly with him on the NES (and getting smoked), I cannot agree more.

(Oh, and Howard, if you want to reflect on any of these issues, or are in general reading this, I wouldn’t mind a comment there either).

Anyway, that wraps up this issue of Nintendo Power. For this issue’s Quality Control, I’m going to go with – Blaster Master. I’m probably not going to beat it, but I’ll do my best.