Where I Read – Nintendo Power #4

Nintendo Power #4 Cover   

Nintendo Power #4 Cover

This week we move on to the fourth issue of Nintendo Power for January & February of 1989. Our cover story this issue is their coverage of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. According to the cover there’s also an feature about 3 upcoming football games, and the Captain Nintendo fanfic (I’m not going to dignify it as “serialized fiction” continues. This issue clocks in at, about, 110 pages, same as last issue.

Wrestlemania Strategy Guide: We’re starting off the issue with a strategy guide for WWF Wrestlemania, featuring basically most of the really major wrestlers from 1989’s Wrestlemania event (Wrestlemania V), and by really major I mean Bam Bam Bigelow, Andre the Giant, Honky Tonk Man, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase. Okay, not most of the really major wrestlers, but a lot of characters for a game on an 8-bit system. They have different power-ups for different characters, like Ted DiBiase’s money, Hogan’s crucifix (which is referred to as an “Golden X” because we can’t offend people with Christian imagery), and so on. Each characters also have their own different move lists, all of which have their own differences, that generally fit with the real-life wrestlers styles (Andre not having any top rope moves for example), through there are some odd elements like Hulk Hogan being able to do drop kicks but not having any leg-drops, Bam Bam Bigelow not having any front grapple moves, and so forth. Also, there aren’t any signature moves in this game, and no way to win by submission or knock out (which there was a precedent for at this time in the WWF – Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Dream).

Captain Nintendo – Part II: The bad self-insertion fanfic continues and, fortunately, comes to an end, with Captain Nintendo beating Ganon and Mother Brain. Unfortunately, immediately following the conclusion of the Captain Nintendo story we have Nintendo Power’s story submission contest, asking readers to submit short stories (1000 to 2000 words) for publication in Nintendo Power. Stories will be judged based on creativity, originality, and overall composition. Winners will get government savings bonds, with 1st place getting $500 ($859.84 adjusted), 2nd getting $250 ($429.92 adjusted), and 3rd getting $100 ($171.97 adjusted). So, we’ve go the potential for 3 more issues of this… stuff. I have hopes the fiction will turn out a little better, as there’s no age limit, so in theory people who have had time to put a little more polish on their fiction writing might have a chance, but we’ll see.

Sesame Street Game Previews: Being that at this time Nintendo of America’s target market was younger kids, the NES received a moderate number of Edutainment games, significantly more than later consoles would receive. Unfortunately, a lot of the more classic edutainment games from Home Computer systems (like Oregon Trail and Number Munchers) didn’t get translated over. Instead, we’re getting stuff like Ernie’s Magic Shapes which teaches shape and color recognition, and Astro Grover which teaches counting and some single-digit addition and subtraction. I have to say that these games are only particularly useful, education wise, for kids in pre-school and kindergarten, which only gets you a couple of years out of these games, so unless you’ve got 1 kid who is currently in pre-school or kindergarten, and one kid who isn’t old enough yet but will be in the future, you’re not going to get a lot of use out of these games, so I hope the games aren’t too expensive.

Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link Strategy Guide: Great art in this strategy guide by the way. We’ve got a basic bestiary, some maps of the first region of the map (and which towns have what items), descriptions of power-up items, and some in-depth maps of the first few palaces (Parapa Palace, Swamp Palace, Island Palace, Maze Island Palace). I do have a problem with some of the maps of the palaces not showing where the palaces really are. There is a larger, fold-out map with a bit more information, and does give a bit more information about locations of palaces and towns, but the map is slightly more abstract than screen shots.

Zelda II preview artSkate or Die Strategy Guide: This isn’t the first skateboarding game for consoles (California Games beat it a little bit with their half-pipe event) but this is the first console video game that was exclusively focused around skateboarding. That said, the game is basically divided between trick based events in the half-pipe, and downhill racing events on either a street or country course (both are road, but the scenery is different between the two), and just to mix things up, there is the “Joust” event, which basically has two people fighting over one little boffer thing while skateboarding in an empty pool.

Howard & Nester: This issue, Nester is playing Track & Field II. This one is probably one of the funnier of the lot, as we’ve got some humor outside of the interplay between Howard & Nester. I have to say, of all the attempts in other gaming magazines to convey game tips in comic form, Howard & Nester was the best.

Councilor’s Corner: We start off with some questions about Super Mario Bros. II, moving on to Golgo 13, Wizards & Warriors, and there are still some questions for the first quest of Legend of Zelda.

Classified Information: We start out with some strategies for Double Dragon, including being able to skip some of the bosses (Abobo and Williams) – though as the game has a basic leveling system, skipping the bosses rather then fighting them you won’t be able to get the points to “level up” your character and get more moves. There’s the Konami code popping up again in Life Force, and we also have the Nintendo Councilors pointing out a glitch in Track & Field II that can be exploited for a high score.

Marble Madness Strategy Guide: For those who don’t know, Marble Madness is a downhill racing game, with marbles. The game is interesting, in an almost-but-not-quite Chinese Curse sense. I’d played the game when I was in grade school, and it’s kind of hard. Basically, you control a marble, and you try to get to the end of a downhill course as fast as possible while avoiding creatures that want to eat your balls. That sounded better in my head. No it didn’t. It’s Super Monkey Ball, except you have no control of the angle of the track and instead control the movement of the monkey directly. Anyway, the game’s in a semi-isometric perspective, but it does give you a control option that reflects this – the problem is that this control option requires you to hold the controller on the diagonal, so the the D-pad is in an x-shape instead of an plus-shape. It’s awkward to hold, but it works the best for the game. Anyway, we get maps of tracks 3, 4, and 5.



Fairly nice oil painting for the Operation Wolf Preview[/caption]

Operation Wolf Strategy Guide: This is probably one of the first light gun games for the NES where you’re shooting people instead of targets or ducks, basically making it the first light gun game as we think of them today. The art for the start of this feature, if it isn’t provided by Taito USA, looks really good too. Basically, it’s an oil-painting and one that I wouldn’t mind seeing on my wall, and actually, if anyone knows where the painting is, who the artist was, and if the artist has a web page. Anyway, we get some tips on all 6 episodes (though, once you beat the game, you get another play through, so you can rack-up your point total – not that this will help you too much on the NES, which doesn’t remember your high scores.

Nintendo Power Bowl: The Super Bowl is coming up, so it’s time to give a run down of 3 upcoming football games on the market – Tecmo Bowl, John Elway’s Quarterback, and NFL Football. Originally they’d also planned to cover SNK’s Touchdown Fever as well, but SNK basically canceled the game – sorry, “postponed indefinitely”. Anyway, EGM actually covered 2 of these 3 games in their first issue, finding Tecmo Bowl the better single player game, while John Elway’s Quarterback is the superior two-player game. As far as the comparison goes, thanks to the pull offered by being affiliated with Nintendo directly, they were able to talk to Doug Reed, starting defensive end for the Los Angeles Rams (which have now moved to St. Louis – Reed left the Rams, and Pro Football, in 1991 – but not willingly, he wasn’t able to find work for any other teams). Anyway, Reed’s verdict was similar to EGM’s, preferring Tecmo Bowl, followed by John Elway’s Quarterback, with NFL Football taking up the rear, due to it’s steep learning curve. Just going by personal preference, I’ll have to side with Tecmo Bowl as well, particularly due to the play options (with NFL Football you have to refer to the manual to select your plays). Again, we’ve got some great art in this article.



Sample of some of the art for the Nintendo Power Bowl article
Sample of some of the art for the Nintendo Power Bowl article

Metal Gear Preview/Strategy Guide: Metal… Gear? (sorry David Hayter – and Jeff Gerstmann). Anyway, we get some of the external maps of the compound, as well as strategies for beating all 4 bosses (except for Big Boss – whose identity they don’t spoil, of course). As a reminder, this version of the game is changed from Hideo Kojima’s vision of the game, which was the version released in Japan on the MSX.

Video Shorts: Of note in the mini-previews this issue is Rampage and Othello. Other than that we’ve just got a lot of fairly bad horror themed games (Friday The 13th and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde for example).

Pak Watch: Yet more upcoming game titles, specifically some more significant ones. In particular, we’ve got Ninja Gaiden coming out, plus a slew of new basketball games. Data East is also putting out a Robocop game, though they’ve had to delay it to add more polish (not that it helped, the game was crap). The Guardian Legend is coming up as well, along with games based off of Knight Rider and Airwolf. Konami has their first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game as well – though they release it under the Ultra brand to weasel around Nintendo of America’s release restrictions – which doesn’t fool Nintendo Power in the slightest (which makes you wonder who in Nintendo was fooled by this).

Letters: We get a letter complimenting them on Super Mario Bros. 2 (and I suspect the writer would be even more grateful if he knew how cheap the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros 2 was). We get another letter asking when Dragon Warrior is going to come out stateside (later that year, due to having to work on the translation and deal with chip shortages). We also get a letter talking about their Nintendo Club, and the guidelines they use for running the club. Basically, a Nintendo Club is sort of like a lending library for Nintendo Games, run by Nintendo players, for members of the club who pay (in the case of the club writing this issue), an bi-annual membership fee (annual would probably be more reasonable). In turn, members can borrow titles from the club library – if the titles are damaged the person checking them out must replace them, and I’m pretty sure the club members decide on which games to add to the library. Now, that game rentals have become more common though, such clubs have become a thing of the past.

Player’s Poll: Now for the Top 30 rankings. Lots of new titles on the ranking this issue – Milton’s Secret Castle, Hudson’s Adventure Island, Castlevania II, Golgo 13, Life Force, Track & Field II, and others. I’ll be adjusting my list of the rankings for this issue by putting in the number of points each game got on the player’s poll. I don’t know how they determined the number of points – maybe they’ll tell us that later.

  1. Super Mario Bros. 2 (22,790) – up 6
  2. Legend of Zelda (6,941) – down 1
  3. Zelda II: The Adventures of Link (6,604) – up 5
  4. Double Dragon (4,324) – up 5
  5. Metroid (4,220) – down 3
  6. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out (4,020) – down 5
  7. Milton’s Secret Castle (3,114) – new
  8. Metal Gear (3,131) – down 5
  9. Contra (2,973) – up 5
  10. Bases Loaded (2,617) – down 3
  11. Golgo 13 (2,433) – new
  12. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (2,376) – new
  13. Castlevania (2,376) – no change
  14. Gauntlet (1,969) – down 9!
  15. Hudson’s Adventure Island (1,938) – new
  16. Super Mario Bros. (1,935) – down 5
  17. Kid Icarus (1,757) – down 7
  18. R.C. Pro Am (1,418) – down 6
  19. Mega Man (1,359) – down 3
  20. 1943 (1,341) – new
  21. Life Force (1,246) – new
  22. Pac-Man (1,236) – new
  23. Jackal (1,206) – new
  24. Track & Field II (1,174) – new
  25. Double Dribble (1,126) – up 1
  26. Robocop (1,091) – new
  27. Xevious (1,081) – new
  28. Bionic Commando (1,078) – new
  29. Top Gun (1,050) – down 11
  30. T & C Surf Design (988) – down 11

Howard’s Letter: Winter CES is coming up in Las Vegas and the Nintendo Power staff is pumped. Being that E3 has yet to start, I can imagine why – Winter and Summer CES were, at the time, the biggest trade shows for the video game industry in the US. Naturally, Nintendo, with all 34 of it’s licensees, will be there. As yet CES is still closed to the public though, so they won’t be seeing you there yet.

Well, that wraps up this issue of Nintendo Power. For my Quality Control pick of this issue, I’m going with Skate Or Die. I’ve enjoyed modern skateboarding games, and I’d like to try to see how fun this game turns out.

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