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Published August 23, 2012

Gaming magazines have come and gone – mostly gone, actually – but the impending shut down of Nintendo Power hurts more than most. It’s not just that it’s been a gaming journalism pillar for 24 years, or that I’m feeling a rush of nostalgia every time we see those iconic, colorful covers in the many Nintendo Power eulogies posted this week. If all I had from NP was fuzzy memories and ratty players’ guides, I’d simply shrug and move on. But for whatever faults the magazine had throughout the years, it was hugely influential in shaping my gaming taste and my appreciation of the medium.

Before Nintendo Power, my gaming diet consisted as much of licensed crap like Ghostbusters II as it did of Super Mario Bros. Chalk it up to youthful ignorance, but I had no idea how many classics I was passing up. All of that changed when my parents bought me a subscription to Nintendo Power. Suddenly, I was introduced to an entirely new genre, the RPG, right around the golden era of Earthbound and Chrono Trigger. Annual reports from Space World opened my eyes to games from Japan, some of which would never reach our shores. I quickly latched on to favorite developers like Capcom and Konami. Regardless of the magazine’s function as corporate propaganda, I feel as though each issue opened more doors than it closed.

Of course, after the rocky N64 years, I dropped the fanboy routine and adopted the Sega Dreamcast, ditching Nintendo Power in the process. I’d still pick up an issue every now and then, but EGM’s Review Crew became my go-to source. But the sad thing is that much like the late GamePro, Nintendo Power matured long after the hardcore set abandoned print. In recent years, I’ve been really impressed by how many interviews and insightful features were packed into each issue. The goofy character profiles and Nintendo trivia are still there, but Nintendo Power is the only magazine I know that would be willing to run multi-page spreads on Code of Princess and Last Story. It’s also been one of the last bastions from perpetual industry snark and cynicism. Not sure what I’ll do without that.

The silver lining is that we’ll get a few more issues before the end of the year, giving everyone time to introduce the Wii U and give Nintendo Power the proper send-off it deserves. I don’t know what the future holds for staff, but I know I speak for everyone here when I wish them all the best of luck in the future. (This is especially true for Mr. Phil Theobald, maybe my favorite gaming podcaster/Bane imitator ever.)

Why else did we love Nintendo Power? Here are a few more favorite memories…

  • Those classic Player’s Guides! Though it was in tatters by the time I was done with it, I adored the Super Mario Bros. 3 guide. In grade school, I would spend hours “designing my own Mario game” by mixing and matching elements from Nintendo Power’s level maps. And the Earthbound guide is nearly as special as the game itself, creating a masterpiece out of stock tourism photos and fake newspaper clippings.
  • The Star Fox and Metroid comics, canonical or not! Nester was a little before my time, but the stories based on some of Nintendo’s big franchises helped define those characters long before Peppy told me to “do a barrel roll!
  • The Mega Man 6 boss contest! One of the reasons I loved Nintendo Power so much was that it made me feel like part of a bigger community, thanks to the high score “Arena” page, letter art and this particular opportunity to get your robot master into a Mega Man game. Though I’m guessing most were pretty lame, they couldn’t have been any worse than Tomahawk Man.
  • The aforementioned Space World issues. Before gaming web sites took off, these previews were the only glimpses I’d get of games that were sometimes years away. A little thumbnail of “Mario RPG 2” (Paper Mario) or Mother 3 on the 64DD was remarkably enticing, even if it told you almost nothing about how the game would play. Honestly, given how overexposed games get with so many media channels covering them, I sometimes long for those tiny sneak-peaks from the past.
  • Ever wonder where the “Peter” in our theme song came from? This VHS obscurity holds the answer…
  • Be sure to tell us your favorite Nintendo Power memories, too! What was your favorite issue or cover?

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