The news earlier this week that Nintendo Power would cease publication hit me pretty hard. For many gamers who grew up in the days of the NES and the SNES, Nintendo Power holds a special place in their hearts. While it was blatant Nintendo propaganda and the strategies found within were frequently not ideal, the amount of love lavished on the games found inside was made the magazine eminently enjoyable. NP made each and every game seem like a classic. Yes, it existed to sell more games, but in those pre-internet days information was not that easy to come by. The loss of Nintendo Power feels like a big step away from gaming as I grew up with.
I wasn’t always subscribed to NP. I was for about two years around 89-91. I bought the magazine occasionally for the next decade before resubscribing a little before publishing switched over to Future. The magazines fortunes mostly followed its namesakes. In the 8 and 16-bit days Nintendo Power was amazing. There was always tons of excitement and plenty of games to cover. In the N64 and Gamecube days the excitement didn’t flag, though there was a lot less to be excited for. It sometimes made the magazine a depressing read. When it switched over to Future, it immediately got better. I’m not trying to bad mouth it from just before, but Nintendo Power over the last 5 years has been the best video game magazine on the shelf. I am disappointed that I let my subscription lapse in the last year. I have saved most of the issues I ever received and have spent plenty of time over the last week looking over them. It is truly sad to see it go.
In many ways Nintendo Power helped shape my gaming tastes, even when I wasn’t able to find or play the games it covered. I had no idea what an RPG was before I read the NP that covered Final Fantasy II. I didn’t play that game, at least not for more than an hour, until it was ported to the GBA but still I know that game front to back just from pouring over Nintendo Power. It made the game seem like such an amazing adventure that I had to play, but I was never able to find it. Then there was River City Ransom. Another game that just captured my imagination but this time I was able track it down. For once, at least, a game was everything Nintendo Power promised it would be. It was the usual beat-em-up with some RPG mechanics. Seeing those two games helped me realize just how many different kinds of games were out there, and seeing all the maps and screenshots in NP helped me visualize exactly how those games worked.
The loss of Nintendo Power is kind of forcing me to realize just how far from the mainstream I’ve become when it comes to gaming. I don’t think my tastes have really changed, but gaming has. I still like the same kinds of games I always have, but they are apparently not popular anymore. In the last year or so I’ve got so many new games that cater almost perfectly to me, games like Xenoblade, the Last Story, Solatorobo and Rayman Origins, but still this seems like an aberration rather than a trend. Most of the games I’ve really enjoyed have not enjoyed much in the way of sales success. The few interesting games that Japan is able to produce often have a hard time making it to America. I’m never going to be a fan of shooters and I’m never going to want more than one sports game for any system. It’s not that I think they aren’t good games, they just aren’t games that interest me. I’m not saying I am going to quit playing video games, but things like the shuttering of Nintendo Power show me that the current gaming industry doesn’t support the kind of things I like. Still, I have nearly 25 years of great gaming memories to look over and there are still plenty of great games I haven’t played.