Highlights from the final issue of Nintendo Power

by John "ANC" Barnes on

The final issue of Nintendo Power, Volume 285, hit newsstands on Tuesday, and my subscriber copy has still not shown up. I reported the issue missing, and as consolation Future extended my subscription an extra month, to August 2013.

I decided to go out and buy a copy on Wednesday. [EDIT: And my subscriber edition came the next day, naturally.]

Starting with the Pulse letters pages the entire issue is devoted to a look back at Nintendo and the history of Nintendo Power, except for the Reviews section where a good chunk of the launch titles for the Wii U are the sole focus- which seems as nice a place to end as any. Three large features in the middle make up the bulk of the issue: a list of the 285 best games to come out for Nintendo hardware in the US, a year-by-year look at Nintendo Power through the years, and a section of reminiscences from some of the past and present editors and writers. I’ve picked out some things of interest from my read through the issue and they are just beyond that blue link that keeps them from cluttering up the front page, or are just below if you clicked on this article directly.


  • Some creepy guy writes a letter about how he was so eager to receive Nintendo Power in the mail that he inadvertently creeped-out the mailman by following him for a few blocks when he was still down the street from the dude’s house. The mailman freaked the fuck out and threw the mail on the kid’s lawn.
  • A few game developers have their letters of Nintendo Power memories published. WayForward’s Matt Bozon’s is accompanied by an image of a letter he sent in back in the day as it appeared in the magazine, complete with the Zelda fan art he sent in.
  • For some reason one of the polls featured in the monthly The Score section is readers’ favorite weapons in Mega Man 10. The rest are various questions about Nintendo Power.


NP’s All-Time Favorite Games

  • The top spot should not really be a surprise to anyone. Hint: It isn’t a Mario or Metroid game.
  • 2/5 of the games on the list come from the years 2003 and 2010, as detailed in a handy chart in the article.
  • Killer 7, Harvest Moon 64, Donkey Kong Country, Beetle Adventure Racing, F-Zero, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Kirby: Canvas Curse, Burnout 2, No More Heroes, and G.I. Joe are all ranked below (higher numbered than) Mario Kart Wii, Super Paper Mario, Madworld, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia, and Epic Mickey.
  • There isn’t a single Virtual Boy game on the list.
  • Mole Mania, Tetrisphere, The New Tetris, the Adventures of Lolo series, and Color-A-Dinosaur all missed the cut.
  • The top 50 all have little write-ups, as do a handful of games further back on the list.


Great Moments in Power

  • Every year of the magazine’s publication gets a page to itself with a summary of the coverage for that year, highlighting big news and the changes the magazine went through. The top and bottom of each page feature a handful of magazine page images from that year. There are a few sidebars focusing on particular trends.

  • Lots of mentions of games and hardware given extensive coverage that were then cancelled or changed considerably.

  • Apologies are offered:

  • for enthusiastic coverage of the Power Glove and U-Force

  • to the winner of the contest in volume 77 who never got to be an extra in The Mask II since the film never went anywhere.

  • for the “clue-in-the-moon” teaser in volume 229. They were just fucking with everyone.

  • for some crappy covers.

  • Songbird Ocarinas, advertiser in pretty much every damn issue since Ocarina of Time came out, is given a shoutout (and get one final ad on the inside back cover.)

  • Looks like they goofed on page 36 and printed the same image from the Super Castlevania IV article in two places. I guess we’ll never know what the other image was supposed to be.


Power Players

  • Steve Thomason regrets giving Shadow the Hedgehog an 8.0 score and apologizes to anyone who bought it due to that review.
  • Justin Cheng apologizes for pushing for Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings to get a cover.
  • The word “brony” is used. So is the phrase “kicked in the junk.”
  • Covering the obscure Car Battler Joe for the GBA and the Killer 7 cover story were highlights for Alan Averill.
  • Nate Bihldorff relates the funny story about the snowboarding trip that was the 1080 Snowboarding Player’s Poll contest prize: someone got injured.
  • Jessica Joffe Stein started speaking French to Michel Ancel during an interview to make it easier on him like a pro.
  • Jason Leung and Jenni Villareal like to fuck with their coworkers.
  • Scott Pelland mentions that several staff were excused from covering the Virtual Boy because it gave them headaches. Now THAT’S condemnation!
  • Chris Slate admits the 2009 Summer Game Guide newsstand special is kinda bad.
  • Jenni Villareal describes the insane process of doing the Zelda Oracle games strategy guide: they only had the English versions of the games during the revision and checking process.
  • Drew Williams elaborates a bit on the making of the Conker’s Bad Fur Day guide and why it was among several of the writers’ favorite projects. I wish I owned that guide.


  • 18 Wii U launch games are reviewed.
  • In classic Nintendo Power fashion, Tank! Tank! Tank! gets a 3.5, and the back cover is an ad for Tank! Tank! Tank! A fitting ending.

Nester & Max

  • Nester gets dragged out for one last special comic to finish things off
  • Among the paraphernalia in Nester’s Nintendo room is a signed photo of his sister, Hester, in perhaps her only appearance outside of Nester’s Funky Bowling. The message reads: “Love ya, Bro!”


  • The claim on the cover is not a lie!The magazine is bagged and comes with a poster featuring every cover in the magazine’s run- including alternate covers, with a handful of exceptions. The subscriber edition covers from the Future-published run are not included, and the same goes for a handful of subscriber bonus covers, such as the reversible back cover of the Yoshi’s Story issue.

So that’s that, then. Given the amount of space they had to work with, the Nintendo Power staff did a great job turning the final issue into a love letter to the magazine’s entire run. All of the little peeks behind-the-scenes and call-outs to some of their stranger decisions, scattered mentions of obscure games, and imagery add up to a wonderful and warm celebration of the Nintendo Power era. It’s almost enough to make me misty-eyed. If you’ve ever been a fan of the magazine at one point or another and don’t subscribe, then by all means be sure to go out and pick up the final issue. In the meantime, check out this fantastic new Gamasutra interview with Howard Phillips and Gail Tilden about the inception of Nintendo Power and the early years.