With the recent announcement on the demise of Nintendo Power, Reeves Wiedeman of The New Yorker reminishes about the many childhood hours spent playing on the gaming magazine was the closest thing to pornography for a preteen.
Last week, it was announced that, after twenty-four years, Nintendo Power would halt publication. The final issue is expected to arrive in early December. Nintendo Power was not an especially sophisticated magazine. On the shelves of youth literature, it existed somewhere above picture books and below Sports Illustrated for Kids. Its role in the video-game cosmosphere, despite some degree of independence, was primarily to promote upcoming Nintendo products. Most of the articles read like lightly repurposed promotional material from the company's marketing department, which might have bothered me if, at age ten, I had known what marketing was. This made reading Nintendo Power the rough equivalent of reading a magazine about cars that only featured Hondas. Nintendo Power readers were devotees to a brand much like Kleenex or Coke: even those kids in my neighborhood who had a Sega Genesis, instead of a Super Nintendo, would offer invitations by asking, "Want to come over after school and play Nintendo?"
Although the magazine had reviews, and occasionally negative ones, this was a publication for fanboys, not critics. There were pull-out posters of Nintendo figures as action stars and covers featuring characters artfully posed, as if they were celebrities worthy of a magazine's top photographer. This was, yes, a time before the Internet, and video games were not reviewed in Entertainment Weekly or the New York Times. Nintendo Power was one of the few reliable ways to keep up with new releases, serving the same function that trailers and radio stations did for movies and music. By the time the game came out, the magazine had perfectly whetted your appetite.