Let's Read - Nintendo Power #6
Welcome back folks to another exciting episode of Let's Read magazines with Areala! Today, we're tackling the sixth issue of Nintendo Power. Why are we tackling the sixth issue of Nintendo Power, you ask? Because we've already taken care of issues 1-5 in previous blog entries, and it's always best to avoid redundancies.
A quick look at the cover will tell you that this is, in fact, the May/June issue from 1989, and the feature everybody will be talking about is none other than those lovable misunderstood heroes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But to get you even more excited, we have "Plus! Plus!" about Bayou Billy and Cobra Triangle. Lazy editors or Engrish run amok? I don't know. Let's open 'er up and find out.
Mail Box once again kick-starts the issue, and you can tell it's going to be a doozy. We get a recipe for a non-alcoholic beverage (Mike Tyson's Punch!!), a poem that claims to be a rap (not even Vanilla Ice would touch it), and an excruciating pun that manages to involve both golf and Double Dragon. Thankfully, some normal letters get printed to balance out the madness, including one that is highly complimentary of the Game Counselors hotline staff.
As promised on the cover, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gets a full ten-page review to compliment the preview it received last issue. The feature is a bit disappointing though, because it duplicates the maps printed last issue while only adding the strategy and overland map for Area 3. Add to this that the artwork for the Turtles and their various enemies isn't very well drawn this time, and Nintendo's annoying misspelling of Bebop's name as "Bibbop" and reference to the Turtle Van as the "Party Wagon"...well, let's just say this feature is a little less than bowl-me-over-awesome.
The votes are in, and we have our winners! The first annual Nester awards have been, uh, awarded, after some intense voting action last issue in the world of Nintendo Power Awards '88! Drum roll, please? Winning for Best Graphics & Sound is Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. The original Legend of Zelda takes home a pretty little statue for Best Challenge. Super Mario Bros. 2 scores a hat trick, winning Best Theme & Fun, Best Play Control, and Best Ending (which is an enormous crock no matter how you look at it). Link from the Zelda series walks off with the Best Character award, while Blades of Steel fights off all comers to claim the accolade for Best Player Vs. Player. Finally, Zelda II walks up the aisle to claim a win for the Best Overall. Cue light applause, and tune in next year to see how things turn out again. Drop the curtain.
When we raise it back up again, it's to put The Adventures of Bayou Billy back in the spotlight. Billy got a short preview last time around, but apparently that wasn't enough and NP went with another six pages of maps and strategies. Very useful, and they'll get you through 2/3rds of the game. Somebody at Nintendo Power is big on the spoilers, though, as you'll find two screen shots from the ending of the game itself. Boo!
Rare's "Gradius-in-a-boat" game Cobra Triangle gets four more pages of content in this issue, with a map of Stage 2, and some tips for what is yet to come. Hot on its heels is three pages of previews for Konami's own pseudo-sequel to Gradius, Life Force. Life Force also gets the honour of being the fold-out poster of the issue, showcasing full maps for all six stages and images of each of their respective bosses. The poster is backed with artwork depicting Dr. Wily, eight of his nefarious robot henchmen, and a plethora of other evil mechanical creations from Mega Man II (my personal favorite from the NES series).
This segues nicely into the next section, which happens to be a four-page preview of Mega Man II itself. While the screenshot previews of the different stages are nice, the artwork and accompanying dialogue is completely amateurish and laughable. The best line? Wily, ranting at a video image of Mega Man: "Your defeat will be frosting on the cake of victory, my victory!" The sad thing is, as a child I ate this up with a fork and spoon. I've no excuse.
Following Mega Man II, action RPG Faxanadu gets three pages of its very own. It spends one of them showing all the character portraits for the various NPCs in the game, one of them explaining the storyline, and one showcasing hand-drawn artwork for various weapons, armour, and spells you can find/buy.
Uncle Fester's Quest is next, receiving two pages of coverage that can just barely be called a preview. When half your preview is devoted to the tabs for the first verse of the Addams' Family theme, you probably should have just scrapped it in favour of something else. Like Clash At Demonhead. Two decades later, of course, it'll be known as a band from the universe of Scott Pilgrim. In 1988 though, it was a horizontal and vertical-scrolling action/adventure game. The preview doesn't do it much justice, but I'm sure it'll turn up again later on in the magazine. Taking the cake for previews which don't really do anything though is the two-page spread on the forthcoming Dragon Warrior. Devoid of even a single screenshot, the entire article is nothing but hand-drawn artwork (which is pretty good, truth be told) and a summary of the events that lead up to the start of the game. I suppose (SPOILER ALERT!) that this could really be considered a preview for Dragon Warrior III (END SPOILERS!), but perhaps that's just being snarky.
This month, Howard & Nester find themselves on the set of the forthcoming Ninja Gaiden film. Nester is being brought in to serve as a consultant to the director, who is trying to ensure the film is as accurate as the video game. Naturally, Nester's pride screws everything up and a certain bow-tie-clad stunt ninja manages to save the day. Chuckle-worthy...but only just.
Counselor's Corner answers questions this month about equipment locations and monster slaying in both Zelda titles, divulges the location of the Saw in Milon's Secret Castle, admits to the presence of a Stage Select code in Ikari Warriors, and shows where some critical equipment is kept in a later stage of Cobra Command. Plus, we get a profile of Shannon Taylor, one of the hard-to-find female game counselors employed by Nintendo, as well as three of her male co-workers.
Following up on the previous issue's feature, we then get another eight pages devoted to Ninja Gaiden. This picks up right where last issue's left off, and guides us through Acts 4 and 5, right up into the cinematic prologue of Act 6. Sadly, there aren't any more "true facts" about ninjas this time, but I guess it's hard to top that whole "setting mountains on fire" one from last issue.
Fiction Writer's Showcase publishes the winning entry from the short story contest conducted a few issues back. "Friends" by Robbie H. Lawton of South Carolina got first place, and I have to admit, it's a rather charming little story about one young gamer's relationship with Link from The Legend of Zelda. It's short, and it's easy to read, making it better than 99% of the fanfic you'll find on the internet these days. The too-cute artwork doesn't hurt either.
Several surprises abound in the Top 30 poll this month. The big surprise? The brand new Track & Field II debuts in the number 5 spot, Metal Gear slogs its way up the charts from number 23 to number 7, only to be outscored by one freaking point by Blaster Master which now sits at number 6. Naturally, Mario and Zelda still dominate the top spots: there's a 1,000-point gulf between Zelda II at #1 and Super Mario Bros. 2 at #2, and a 6,500-point chasm between Mario 2 and the original Zelda at #3.
Professor Nester's Father's Day Lecture is, honestly, one of the most amusing articles ever printed in a Nintendo Power magazine. I read this years ago and it made me smile, reading it now does the exact same thing. Whoever wrote this is a frigging genius; the six "Facts About Dads" guidelines are priceless and even if they are thinly-veiled ads for Nintendo products, they're still true if only in a stereotypical fashion. The best line comes right at the beginning, as Nester is pointing out the statistics for fathers who want to receive ties as Father's Day presents. After showing that a mere .0023% of fathers actually want ties, he goes on to say, "And only one dad in the entire country wants a bow tie." Who else could he be talking about but Howard Phillips himself?
Classified Information this month drops six pages of secrets, including the grenade-pause trick on Blaster Master, the ability to swap life points for bullets in Golgo 13, the powered-up shot in 1943, keeping the pitfall traps from expanding in Metal Gear, a bizarre pseudo-warping trick in Zelda II, a sound test and some wall-climbing antics in Ninja Gaiden, continue codes for Mickey Mousecapade and Seicross, gameplay tips for Ultima: Exodus, the trick to getting the happy ending in Bubble Bobble, a way to double the POW block in Super Mario Bros. 2, and a minor graphical exploit in Adventure Island.
Video Shorts has their work cut out of them in this issue, showcasing previews for Super Dodge Ball, Bugs Bunny's Crazy Castle, Baseball Stars, Fist of the North Star, Kung Fu Heroes, Street Cop, Athletic World, Amagon, Monster Party, Adventures of Lolo, and Hydlide. Even Nintendo Power knew Hydlide wouldn't amount to much apparently, considering this quote from the preview: "The story line is so bizarre, it's beyond even what we are used to." How true, NP. How true.
This month's Player's Poll Contest has a grand prize of a mountain bike + helmet (modeled by none other than Howard Phillips), and fifteen second-place winners get an autographed WWF Wrestlemania gamepak signed by Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, or Randy Savage.
Ever wanted to walk into a store that was all Nintendo all the time? Well, now you can. NES Journal starts off by mentioning that World of Nintendo boutiques will soon be popping up all over the country in different department stores. I remember these as a kid, especially the demo kiosks that were set up to let you try games before you bought them. We also get a preview of the first Batman movie with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and the upcoming appearance of the Golgo-13 comic book that Vic Tokai is shopping around the US market (LEED Media starts the trend by publishing some trade paperbacks, and Viz Comics snaps up the license a couple years later). The Celebrity Profile for this issue is Holly Robinson, who at the time was playing the female undercover police officer on 21 Jump Street.
A few issues back, NP ran a contest where players wrote in to design the ultimate video game. This issue presents the winner of that contest, who turns out to be no less than Jeff Scott Campbell himself. This is the same J. Scott Campbell who would go on to fame for illustrating several major Marvel and DC titles as well as co-creating Gen 13 with Jim Lee. Reading what little of the proposal is provided by Nintendo here makes me wish that somebody would have said, "We have to make this," because dammit, I'd have played the HELL out of this RPG if it was even half as good as what he proposed.
Video Spotlight kind of creeped me out this time around, because one of the profiled power players gets calls from several different people about game tips but one of them really stands out: "Among them is an anesthesiologist who tracked Brian down through the school district." Let me get this straight...a doctor who specializes in knocking people unconscious tracked your child down through his school district, and you're letting him talk to your son about video games? Can you say "weird"? Oh well, not my child, not my problem...
Reading NES Achievers this time around just made me laugh my head off. Not because the scores are laughable (they aren't), but there are some great names associated with them. For instance, "Jack Wang" sent in a high score for Arkanoid, and "W.W. Snuffer" contributed one for Castlevania. Also "Douglas Adams" got one for R.C. Pro-Am, but I'm guessing that wasn't the author himself. Some girl power in this issue as well: female readers sent in high scores for 1943, Arkanoid, Kid Icarus, Mag Max, Solomon's Key, Stinger, and Super Mario Bros.
Pak Watch is stuffed to the gills. Four basketball titles (Hoops, Jordan vs. Bird, All Pro Basketball and Magic Johnson's Fast Break), The Three Stooges, Godzilla, Silent Service, Stealth ATF, Back to the Future, Double Dare, Infiltrator, 720-degrees, Short Order/Eggsplode, Trick Shooting, Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, and a look at upcoming hardware: The Power Glove, U-Force, and Game Boy. Nintendo wasn't wasting any time churning out titles, that's for sure.
Next Issue, we'll have in-depth features about Mega Man II, Dragon Warrior, Strider and Faxanadu as well as a honkin' huge 36-page tip book for Super Mario Bros. 2. Howard Phillips' letter reminds us all that the only true limitation in our lives is our imagination, and that Nintendo Power's one-year anniversary is coming up already (next issue) which means it's time to renew your subscription.