Nintendo Power’s Awesome Mario & Zelda Comics
This week, we learned that the December issue of Nintendo Power would be the publication’s last. I’m in my early 30′s, meaning I grew up in a pre-Internet world. Al Gore hadn’t invented it, yet.
Gaming news and reviews came in magazine form, and I subscribed to several mags that came and went over the years. Nintendo Power, however, was a mainstay for a very long time.
I still have a bunch of old issues in a box of magazines and comic books that lives in my parents’ basement. I really have to get to Delaware and go through that.
Many have commented on Nintendo Power‘s departure. Some waxed poetic, flush with nostalgia. Others lamented a perceived lack of attention being drawn to Nintendo Power just being a glorified propaganda piece for The Big N.
Why would a magazine by that name not be?
And we were Nintendo fans, so we didn’t care! It wasn’t cool to hate on them yet; again, pre-Internet. Nintendo Power printed our letters and envelope art. I sent at least 3 letters to them (mostly because I hoped to get my envelope doodles published – didn’t happen). They always sent back a reply letter that mixed in specific refs to your letter and answers to any questions. I loved that it felt like Nintendo was listening to me.
Just last week – and I’m not kidding about this – I had lunch with an old friend. He and I were both subscribers as kids/teens, and we were gabbing about The Good Ol’ Days. Nintendo Power somehow came up, and he was surprised when I informed him that it’s still around. I leaf through it from time to time when I take my kids to the library. It’s right there, on the shelf, still fun to look through. Still around.
Well, this week that story was updated in a big way.
I wanted to celebrate something about Nintendo Power that I hadn’t seen elsewhere in the gaming community, so far. Something that actually had an impact on me, that I connected with and could write about with some degree of passion.
My story about talking to that same recent lunch buddy friend every month about how we suspected the Top 10 was rigged, wondering whether A Link to the Past would ever be knocked from the top spot and suspecting that, whenever it (briefly) was dethroned, Nintendo was doing so to hype something up so we’d buy it? Cute, but who cares? We all figured out it was a spin magazine at some point, and that didn’t matter because it was still fun to read and news wasn’t broken constantly by 100,000 gaming websites in those days.
How I waited so impatiently for that magazine to hit my mailbox every month for years of my life? I’m not alone there. Again, cute…but what’s unique about it?
Then, it hit me: those Super Mario Adventures and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past comics. I still have the collector’s edition compilation books.
I loved these series. I went from detesting that Nintendo Power wasted page space with crappy comics (you go to hell and you die, Nester) to wishing they devoted more pages to these amazing ones!
Look at this stuff! To this day, it transports me right back to that Golden Age, when I was deeply in love with my Super Nintendo, and I’d run my hand through the mailbox on a daily basis near the end of the month in anticipation of a new issue. For a time, it wasn’t just game content I was waiting for…it was very much this comic stuff, too.
I was entertained and inspired. I draw, and as a kid, the art style in these comics spoke to me. The expressions on the characters’ faces were so vivid and strange. The panel layout was a revelation. I hadn’t discovered manga yet, but these made my eventual, inevitable transition from Archie to Ranma 1/2 preeeeeetty damn smooth!
In fact, check this out. This Super Mario Adventures panel, in particular, really grabbed me:
I must have emulated it (i.e. ripped it off completely) a thousand times.
That kind of action and time passage and humor packed into one vertical skyscraper of a panel? That “YAAAAAAAAAAAA” was seared into my mind, branding iron-style.
Fast-forward to the present day.
My son is way into Mario. I recently read the Super Mario Adventures book to him, stupid Floyd and all. He ate it up. I had a blast sharing it with him…and reliving it myself, of course.
When he’s a little bit older, I know he’ll adore the Zelda book, too. A Link to the Past lives in my Wii Virtual Console, so…when he’s ready, he can dive into what remains my favorite Legend of Zelda game.
Though that’ll probably be on Wii U, or Wii Z or whatever we’re doing by then.
Bonding with my kid over video games and comic books that I grew up with? That’s playing with power. And I owe it to Nintendo, both for their classic games and that fading magazine.
Farewell, Nintendo Power.
Internet killed a magazine star.
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It’s a different world, man.
Sayonara, Nintendo Power. Don’t worry…I’ll be holding on to these books. If they don’t crumble into dust before then, I’m sure my kid will love them long after the magazine from which they originally sprung became a memory.
Most likely, I’ll eventually travel to Delaware and ditch every last one of those old magazines after a quick flip through the pages. But these Super Mario Adventures and A Link to the Past books?
I could never let them go…