By now, nearly every video game player/blog/website/Twitter feed has heard, shared, and lamented the closing of Nintendo Power. The final issue of the classic gaming magazine will hit newstands and bookstores at the end of the year. While this disheartening news has opened wide my floodgates of nostalgia, the sad truth is that I have not purchased an issue of Nintendo Power in the last seven years. Upon realizing this, I have wondered why the loss of a publication that I have not directly supported in so long breaks my heart so very much.
When I first started reading Nintendo Power, there was no internet to speak of, so nearly all of my gaming news came directly to my parents’ mailbox each month (or from the grocery store magazine rack). New games, industry rumors, secret codes, convention news from the West Coast and Japan; all of these nuggets of joy only arrived once a month, so I had to wait patiently for any hot gaming news (or gossip with my friends and invent fresh information).
At the time, there were several video game magazines in print, and each one offered a different take on the market. But at our house, Nintendo Power (NP, if you’re nasty) was the magazine of choice; bursting at the seams with raw gaming goodness. Every issue featured heartfelt fan letters and drawings, insider gaming news and previews, tips and tricks from Nintendo’s pro staff, and reviews of all the newest titles on the market. In addition to standard magazine features, NP also had a fold-out poster every month, coupons for new Nintendo poducts, trading cards, delightful comics, and free strategy guides for new and renewing subscribers! Each volume also featured exhaustive coverage of two or three dedicated titles, packed with full game maps, fresh in-house artwork, and classified info, straight from Epona’s mouth.
As an adult, I can now see that this sort of coverage often served as perfect marketing fodder for Nintendo. Many of the games that received this in-depth treatment were commercial and critical flops. But all pandering aside, it felt like the writers at Nintendo Power were truly enthusiastic about every game they featured. It reminds me of that acquaintance every person seems to have who adores a movie/book/game, and lovingly raves about every single detail. Your friend wants you to take part in their happiness; to revel in their experience. Every time I read an issue of Nintendo Power, I felt their joy and enthusiasm with each title, and even shared in their love of some truly awful games. It felt like I was getting a chance to spend time with the game company that I loved so much.
These days, such information is at the click of a mouse. Just log on to GameFaqs, find the data you need from a text-only walkthrough, and chug right through the difficult part of a game. Even though this information is free and can be accessed from any mobile device, somehow other gaming magazines are not only treading water, but receiving the bronze medal in the world of print media. Game Informer is now the ‘World’s #1 Gaming Magazine,’ but this publication seems to lack the magic and wonder found in Nintendo Power’s glory days. It feels less like a love letter to gaming, and more like a video game preview catalog trying to keep up with their older brother, captain of the soccer team and lead editor of the school newspaper, the Internet.
I guess that is why my heart is breaking so much at the loss of Nintendo Power. The gaming magazines of my youth, whose colorful pages were littered with so much detail and love for each game covered, have been replaced with cold, unfeeling bullet-lists of need to know information. At least I can take comfort in knowing that with every visit to my parents’ house, I can pull an issue out of the ole’ collection of NPs, and have some quality reading for the bathroom.