Alrighty then. Our Nintendo Power recaps take us to November & December of 1989 and issue #9 – the halfway point of Nintendo Power’s 2nd year. Their cover story is one heckuva title, and one which I’ve already talked about previously, at least the history of it – Tetris. Again, Nintendo Power is, at this point in its life (and I think in general), rather small, only about 100 pages long.
Letters: Of note this issue is a letter from a 75-year old retiree, with a poem about playing Legend of Zelda. We also get letters about the NES not recognizing that a cartridge is in it, or not reading the cartridge properly – thus the power light is flickering on and on. Fortunately, Nintendo makes cleaning kits to help you clean out the dust. Well… that’s part of it. There’s one other little thing… because the NES basically decided to design the system so it looks like a VCR (or a Betamax player), instead of using the top loading model of the Famicom, the system has problems with pins getting bent on it. This is something Nintendo doesn’t go into in this letter, and I don’t think it’s anything they ever acknowledge in the pages of Nintendo Power, except maybe when they launch the later top loading NES later.
Willow Strategy Guide: Ron Howard’s fantasy epic is coming out, and it’s getting a licenced game, and it’s an action RPG. I may give this one a try, because I kind of liked Willow, and I like RPGs, if they’re designed well. I’d say it’s sort of like The Legend of Zelda, with Zelda II’s experience building aspects… which, now that I think of it, might make it closer to Ys. Anyway, we get maps of some of the early dungeons. From the sounds of things, it looks like it’s fairly grindy though – to help one NPC character, you have to be at a certain experience level, so you have to grind to that level in order to get that part of the quest done, if you’re not there already.
Tetris Preview/Guide: Well… it’s Tetris. We’ve all played Tetris at least once, and it’s probably one of the most classic games in the history of gaming.
Howard & Nester: This time the game is Duck Tales, which was my last Quality Control. Surprisingly (or maybe not, none of the actual Duck Tales characters appear in the comic, and they change Gizmoduck to Roboduck. I don’t know if this is a lack of knowledge of the licence, or not being able to use licenced characters (which almost makes me wonder why they didn’t pick a different game).
Ivan Stewart’s Ironman Super Off Road Guide: We’ve got a strategy guide for one of the first games to take advantage of the NES Satellite multi-tap. We get general driving strategies, but we don’t have any level maps.
Ironsword: Wizard & Warriors II Guide: Wizards & Warriors II is out, and you must go to each of the elemental realms to seek the aid of the lords of each realm to defeat the evil wizard Malkil. Considering the number of weapons & spells you can collect in this game, it had better have passwords, and we get maps of the Wind elemental level, and strategies to beat the boss fight.
The Endings of 1989: Well, 1989 is coming to end, so thus we have some of the top NES game endings of all time. Alas, Bionic Commando, with Hitler’s exploding head, is absent. However, Metroid’s proper ending (with Samus Aran removing her helmet) is present.
Robocop Strategy Guide: I’ve played this game, and it’s absolute crap, and no one should ever play this game. That said, if you do want to play this game, this guide has maps for levels 2 (the map for Level 2 being particularly useful, as you have to navigate your way through the building through various doors) 3, and 4, as well as notes on levels 5 & 6.
NES Play Action Football Guide: We get a strategy guide for some the teams in the game, as well as covering the basics.
Alternate Controller: We get coverage of some of the alternate controllers coming out for the NES, providing new ways for you to play games, like the Broderbund U-Force, and the Power Glove, and so on and so forth. I’ve already linked to the relevant Angry Video Game Nerd episodes, so I’ll just say that these controllers aren’t all they’re made out to be.
New Games for the Holiday Season: Christmas time is coming, so everyone’s putting out games because everyone’s in the store spending money. This makes Nintendo Power’s job difficult, so they’re doing a bunch of short bits of coverage of some of the game coming out. By short, I mean practically one page. We’ve got of note, Wheel Of Fortune Jr. & Jeopardy Jr., The Three Stooges, Stealth ATF, Godzilla
Game Boy Lineup Preview: Nintendo’s first hand-held system is coming out, and we’re getting a preview of the upcoming lineup for the system. We’ve got (of note) Super Mario Land coming up, as well as the pinball game Revenge of the Gator, Castlevania: The Adventure, Motorcross Maniacs (a motorcycle game along the lines of Excitebike), and the Breakout clone Alleyway. We also get mention of an RPG from Square called Saga, which will later be released as Final Fantasy Legend).
Previews: We get a run-down of some of the upcoming titles for the NES, including Shadowgate (which I’ve played and beaten, and I found very unforgiven), Silent Service (an adaptation of the submarine simulator from Sid Meier, which I played the hell out of when I was a kid on the NES and the Atari), A Boy & His Blob (which is getting re-made for the Wii), 120 (which is a skateboarding racing game), and The Guardian Legend (a Zelda/R-Type combo game)
Councelor’s Corner & Classified Information: We’re getting still more questions for Mega Man 2, Faxanadu, Strider, a general role-playing game question (which basically is “How do I beat the harder enemies?” “You grind like a motherfucker.” but with less profanity). We follow it up with the Classified Information column (which they’ve put back togeather again). Of note in Classified information is a way to level up your character more quickly, to get more money, and basically turn your character into a badass very early on in the game, before you even leave town – which would have been nice to know 2 Quality Controls ago!
Top 30: Alright, we’re back to the rankings again, and we’ve got a lot of new titles on the rankings this time around.
- Mega Man II (8,173 pts.) – Up 11 (5 issues)
- Super Mario Bros. 2 (7,814 pts.) – No Change (8 issues)
- Zelda 2 (7,123 pts.) – Down 3 (8 issues)
- Ninja Gaiden (6,972 pts.) – Down 1 (3 issues)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (5,318 pts.) – Up 12 (4 issues)
- Faxanadu (5,217 pts.) – New!
- Dragon Warrior (4,639 pts.) – New!
- Legend of Zelda (4,553 pts.) – Down 4 (9 issues)
- Strider (4,233) – New!
- Bionic Commando (3,251 pts.) – Down 2 (6 issues)
- Blaster Master (2,748 pts.) – Down 6 (6 issues)
- Tecmo Bowl (2,300 pts.) – Down 1 (4 issus)
- Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (2,164 pts.) – Up 4 (9 issues)
- Mega Man (1,981 pts.) – Down 1 (9 issues)
- Hudson’s Adventure Island (1,972 pts.) – No Change (4 issues)
- Bases Loaded (1,877 pts.) – Up 6 (6 issues)
- Double Dragon (1,804 pts.) – Up 6 (8 issues)
- Baseball Stars (1,802 pts.) – New!
- Contra (1,680 pts.) – Down 1 (9 issues)
- Batman (1,636 pts.) – New!
- Metroid (1,460 pts.) – Down 11 (9 issues)
- Ultima (1,431 pts.) – Up 4 (4 issues)
- The Guardian Legend (1,425 pts.) – Down 14 (2 issues)
- Legacy of the Wizard (1,379 pts.) – Down 17 (2 issues)
- Double Dragon II (1,367 pts.) – New!
- Nobunaga’s Ambition (1,208 pts.) – New!
- Adventures of Bayou Billy (1,193 pts.) – New!
- Robocop (1,161 pts.) – Returning – though they marke it as being new, I don’t know if that’s deliberate or not (3 issues)
- Super Dodge Ball (1,120 pts.) – New!
- Bad Dudes (1,113 pts.) – Down 1 (4 issues)
Absent from the list: Castlevania II (5 issues), Super Mario Bros (8 issues), Track & Field II (4 issues), Metal Gear (5 issues), Adventures of Lolo (2 issues), Milon’s Secret Castle (3 issues), Blades of Steel (4 issues), Double Dribble (8 issues).
Video Shorts & NES Journal: Alrighty then, we’ve got really short (handful of paragraphs) previews of some upcoming NES titles. Of note is POW from SNK, Black Bass, the helicopter shump Twin Eagles and the Back to the Future game. In the NES journal column, we’ve got a preview of the upcoming 1990 NES World Championships, as well as this movie (well, more like a 90 minute advertisement) called The Wizard, which will give the world it’s first chance to see Super Mario Bros. 3 being played. By the way, if the AVGN and the Nostalga Critic want to team up and do a Rifftrax commentary for this, I’d buy it. To further hype the movie, their profile is of the star of The Wizard, Fred Savage.
Pak Watch & Howard Phillips Letter: Yet more previews – this time the notable titles being Super Mario Bros. 3, 8 Eyes from Taxan, Abadox, Rescue: The Embassy Mission (which I played a lot of as a kid). Howard’s letter basically hypes the end of 1989 more than anything else, though from a game standpoint, rather than the things that happened that year. Oh, and go see our advertisement movie!
Well, that wraps up this issue of Nintendo Power. My Quality Control game will be Willow – my second attempt at an RPG. We’ll see how this goes.