I didn't make the connection until just now, but the cover to NP#11 is obviously an homage to the original clay modeled cover of the premier issue. We're now nearly two years into Nintendo Power's run but their momentum is only building from here on out. If you need to ask why, just take a look at that cover again: they're talking about the biggest, most hotly-anticipated video game release in NES history. Hey, piezanos, it's Super Mario Bros. 3!
But first, more big news rocking the Nintendo World: Nintendo Power's going monthly! The magazine will still come out every other month, but they won't leave you hanging in the off-seasons. Instead, they're going to release six game-specific strategy guides that will walk you from Title Screen to Game Over. And all for the low, low price of $15 a year. And SMB3 will kick it all off. Nintendo cleaned up on this promotion, but there was a bigger one coming in just a few months that would force virtually every kid in the US to beg mom and dad for a subscription. More on the major give-away later on. For now, it's go time!
We kick things off, as always, with Player's Pulse and the mailbox. Letters keep flooding in, so it's only right the first one is about a boy and his apparently-waterproof NES. Store your Nintendo in a nice cardboard box, and it too can be protected from the ravages of basement flooding! An idea so good, the guys in Washington are considering it themselves. Next, a note asking about a double-Mouser encounter in Super Mario Bros. 2 (that's called a bug, and while our programmers try to squash them all, a few still manage to get through. Be happy you saw it, it's a rare glitch!). A letter thanking Nintendo for not telling him how to beat the final boss in Strider because the feeling of accomplishment was so much greater figuring it out for himself (we told you, now keep playing and see what else you can master!). A letter from a concerned sister reminding everyone that setting limits on Nintendo is the key to maintaining good study habits in her house (we agree, make sure you're not neglecting your school work!).
Video Spotlight has three profiles again, two being the rather pedestrian variety (I'm awesome because I've beaten XX games, sometimes play all night, and never use slow motion to cheat) and one who stands out from the pack in a good way: Andy Cunningham of Rocky Mount, NC is a 14-year old computer enthusiast, programmer, and game designer who aspires to work for a large software company one day and has already developed his own complete game called Super Dachshund with "ending screens, full stages, 20 different evil enemies and 8 incredibly challenging bosses." Man, finally, a Power Player who can really look back on his appearance in the magazine and smile for a good reason. Andrew Cunningham, if you're out there and you read this, please let us know what's going on in your life now!
Be honest, this was why you picked up the magazine in the first place: an eight-page blowout on Super Mario Bros. 3. While it's little more than a preview at this point, with some stage maps, an overview of the game's eight worlds, and a look at the various new power-ups and types of blocks you'll encounter, it's more than enough to whet the appetites of Mario maniacs everywhere.
I was never big into simulations, so the four-page Silent Service feature was pretty blah for me. Still, the game looks like it tries very hard to squeeze a whole submarine's worth of playability into the little grey cartridge. Military enthusiasts and sim lovers had been playing this on the PC already since 1985, but give props where they're due: it was developed/ported by Rare (yes, that Rare) and published by Konami's Ultra Games imprint and garnered decent enough reviews.
Another Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and Nintendo was there, as this Nintendo Power Report shows. There's a ton of stuff coming down the pipeline, so prepare yourself for dozens of new releases in every genre imaginable. Trying to cover every game they talk about in these two pages would be futile, but there were some titles mentioned here that failed to materialize, like a port of the PC fighting game Bruce Lee Lives and an American version of the infamous Japanese adventure/RPG Sweet Home. Cosmic Epsilon, a SHMUP from Japan, also never makes it stateside. Another game called Play Isle is mentioned, though research tells me it must have either been canned or released under another name as I can't find anything about it.
Fresh from the arcades, it's Pinbot, the pinball game that plays you. Well, not exactly, but about all you can do with three pages on a pinball game is explain the table and give some pointers of things to watch out for. Nice if you're into pinball, but otherwise...meh.
The next three pages go to the home console version of Midway's extremely popular skateboarding arcade hit, 720 Degrees. Once again, skate-a-holics will be right at home with the maps and tips. Gamers more interested in keeping both feet firmly on the ground will give it a pass, and never the twain shall meet.
I may not have been a fan of the last two features, but A Boy and his Blob more than makes up for that. This four-page spread features a map of the entire freakin' first world along with fifteen tips and pointers for making your way past the puzzles. It also gives a run-down of the various jellybeans in your arsenal, what functions they perform, and how many you start with. This is priceless information for anybody who rented this game without the instructions, and I made good use of it on my way to restoring order to Blobolonia.
Howard and Nester hit the courts for a game of beach volleyball against a couple of muscle-bound thugs. Howard gives some tips, Nester ignores them, and winds up eating about ten pounds of sand in the ensuing carnage. Cute.
The misnamed Wrath of the Black Manta (who should really be the Purple Manta, since that's the colour of his outfit) owns the next two pages. It's a short preview, not much to go on, just a couple of stage maps and a tip for beating the first boss, but it's better than nothing and this is a game well worth checking out. It's no Ninja Gaiden, but we've got a few months to go before Ninja Gaiden II arrives in the USA, so what can you do?
Astyanax gets four pages after its short preview last issue, and it's all maps and tactics for the first five worlds of the game. My brother liked this game a lot more than I did, so for him it was worth it. Also, some slightly risque artwork of the very topless Medusa boss on the last page, with only a couple of strategically placed snakes and a sword covering her bosom. Surprising to see, especially for Nintendo of this era.
Top 30 find the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sitting at the top of the pack again, along with a surprise jump up the polls by Mega Man II, consigning Super Mario Bros. 2 to the bronze position by just over 1,000 total points. Duck Tales debuts in the #9 spot, just under Ninja Gaiden at 8 and Super Mario Bros. 3 at 7. All the other "new" games listed are down towards the bottom of the pile, and they consist of the likes of Wheel of Fortune, California Games, Paperboy, and Jordan vs. Bird. Flash-in-the-pan stuff that won't be around long enough for people to remember its place.
A couple of heavy hitters in Previews this issue, leading off with Square's soon-to-be-inaccurately-named Final Fantasy. There's not much they can show yet, so it's mostly text hyping it ("More absorbing than Legend of Zelda! More challenging than Adventure of Link!") with some screenshots interspersed. They're right about one thing though, it does set a new standard for the console RPG and launches a franchise that's still around over two decades later. Code Name: Viper gets two pages as well, but even back then I remember thinking lead character Kenny Smith looks like he's running around without pants on. Even my mother commented on this. Super C, the sequel to the beast that is Contra, gets the last three pages...
...as well as claiming the artwork side of this issue's Poster. The reverse is a tremendous world map of Dragon Warrior, along with a list detailing what items are sold in each town and where some of the game's special items like the Rainbow Drop and Silver Harp are located. Quite useful for first-time explorers.
If the last few issues have proven nothing else, it's that Nintendo Power loves them some Dragon Warrior and wants you to love some Dragon Warrior as well. To that end, in case you haven't gotten the idea by reading all the pages of coverage they've been feeding you for the last year, they present the Dragon Warrior Text Adventure. It's actually a pretty fun idea, writing up a 64-paragraph Choose Your Own Adventure in the spirit of the game. It's not a patch on the real thing, of course, but I played through it a few times and enjoyed it. Your mileage may vary.
More game on the horizon for your Game Boy. This short feature is really only useful for the Nemesis stage maps, as the remaining quarter-page writeups with screencaps on Malibu Beach Volleyball, World Bowling, Heiankyo Alien, Boomer's Adventure in Asmik World, Flipull, Qbillion, Bases Loaded, and Daedalian Opus are hardly enough to whet one's appetite. Outside of Super Mario Land, there are few truly compelling reasons to own a Game Boy at this point. A small blurb at the end reveals some upcoming titles by LJN, Ultra, Data East, Tradewest, and Mindscape. The proposed portable T&C Surf Designs title never leaves the surf shop, and the Skate or Die-style game Ultra is working on smacks the pavement without its helmet on. No big loss in either case, I suspect.
New Games absolutely explodes this issue, with eight single-page looks at Tecmo World Wrestling (is it just me, or does "Mr. Tattoo" Mark Rose look like a drag queen?), Abadox (a grotesque, inner-space-themed SHMUP that I loved as a kid), Bases Loaded II (I prefered the RBI Baseball series), Baseball Simulator 1.000 (think of it as a cross between Bases Loaded and Super Dodge Ball with the players being able to throw physics-defying pitches, the fielders able to perform truly insane feats of speed and dexterity, and the batters able to impart special aspects to the ball after a successful hit...great, great fun!), Al Unser, Jr. Turbo Racing (a Forumla-1 racing game with 16 tracks and cars fitted with nitrous oxide for the occasional speed boost), Battle of Olympus (Broderbund's video game take on the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and the Underworld), Xexyz (a side-scrolling action game where you rescue bathing women from fates worse than death...not kidding here), and Rescue: The Embassy Mission (think Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six but on the NES).
Quieting the cries of frustrated gamers everywhere is the job of Counselors' Corner, and there's plenty of troubles to be squashed this month. Nintendo's game experts explain how to get into Nockmaar Castle in Willow, locate Erdrick's Armor in Dragon Warrior, find the key to the African mines in DuckTales, gain entrance to River City High in River City Ransom, cross the room of flames and acquire the flute from the acid fountain in Shadowgate, and how to get the mother's crown in Legacy of the Wizard (an answer so complex and convoluted that it requires two full maps with marked travel routes to explain). The profiles this month feature a woman, Denise Borovskis, whose hobbies include Aerosmith (what??) and beach bumming, but her favorite game is The Guardian Legend, so I'll let it slide for now.
Who doesn't love a good cheat code? Classified Information dumps the skinny on some serious tricks and glitches this issue, including the infamous code to head straight to Tyson in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (007-373-5963, a string of numbers I've had memorized longer than most of the telephone numbers I've ever known), the trick to playing the other World Circuit hidden in the game, and a similar trick to go straight to the ending credits without throwing a single punch. There's also a 64-life code for Bad Dudes, the "use the Time Stopper on Quick Man" hint for Mega Man II, a simple way to score bonus points in Cobra Triangle, a temporary infinite magic trick in Hydlide, a couple of continue codes for Double Dragon II as well as a hint for getting some extra lives in reserve, a continue code for Dino-Riki, some in-game help for a couple of levels in Cybernoid, and a password to make you an instant millionaire in Vegas Dream. Solid goodies all around.
Video Shorts unveils the Castlevania-esque 8 Eyes, The Magic of Scheherazade, Heavy Barrel, King of the Beach, Magic Johnson's Fast Break, poor man's Double Dragon clone Target: Renegade, the virtually unplayable Marvel's X-Men from noted kuso game publisher LJN (which somehow manages to score straight 3/5s in every category), Destination Earthstar, Top Player's Tennis, Vegas Dream, popular TV gameshow port Win, Lose or Draw, unpopular TV gameshow port Remote Control, Top Gun II, Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum, pinball sim Rock 'n Ball, and three titles for younger gamers: Puss 'N Boots, Fisher Price: Perfect Fit and Fisher Price: I Can Remember. A couple gems buried in a mountain of Meh.
Back to the scoreboards for some NES Achievers. We have our first titled gamer on the charts, as Dr. Richard L. Carman finished Dragon Warrior. We also have our first four-person tag-team entry with Joshua & Susan Lara and Tony & David Czerniecki posting a score of over nine million in The Guardian Legend. Also two people from the same place (Rancho Cordova, California) sent in scores for Sqoon. A friendly challenge, perhaps?
NES Journal starts off with the World's Second NES Power Trivia Quiz, a multiple-choice questionnaire testing your knowledge of all things Nintendo, including why Howard Phillips wears bow ties, how much damage your system would suffer if you dumped a chocolate milkshake inside, what to do if you catch a mistake in Nintendo Power, and what Mario and Luigi's last names are. Mostly obvious answers here, but a few amusing wrong ones too make it good for a chuckle. Jack Ra of Clifton, NJ wins the "design a jersey" contest. More tour dates for the 1990 Nintendo World Championships. And...hey, here's some Nintendo merchandise (like the Super Mario Bros. Super Show on VHS, or the Bike Cop bicycle alarm) you might want to consider picking up, hint, hint...
Before she was Leonard's ex- on "The Big Bang Theory", she was Leonard's girlfriend on "Roseanne". Sara Gilbert gets the spotlight in Celebrity Profile this issue, where she waxes ecstatic about her experiences with Mario, Link, and A Boy and His Blob. She seems like she'd be fun to hang out with.
Hello Pak Watch! Ninja Gaiden II, Crystalis, Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers, Golgo 13: The Mafat Conspiracy, Solstice, Castlevania III...are you TRYING to kill us with anticipation, Nintendo? All four games in the "Gossip" sidebars actually get released, as do the other five games on the "Gossip Galore" page...that's better odds than you'll get from any psychic in this day and age.
Next Issue hints at some great coverage, with full features on Final Fantasy, Dinowarz, Super C and Burai Fighter. Now's not a good time to let your subscription expire, aspiring video warriors. Howard Phillips recaps the number of games covered in this issue, and thanks everyone for writing even though he can't personally read/respond to every letter. And finally, it's time for the 1989 Nintendo Power Awards! Fill out the ballot and you too could win a handful of fantastic NES games just for voting! Too many nominees to go into, but we'll cover the winners once they print the results in a future issue.