Nintendo Power Magazine Issue #1

Nintendo Power magazine debuted in 1988. From the beginning, Nintendo Power focused heavily on providing game strategy, reviews, and previews of upcoming games. It was an oasis for young Nintendo games, and here in this Time Capsule, I’m presenting the very first issue in full for your enjoyment.

I never got to get my hands on issues of this magazine except for when someone would bring a copy to school. Even then I would only get to browse through it for a very short time before they took it back. So being able to take my time and immerse myself in every page of this first issue has been a real treat. I hope you enjoy revisiting it as much as I have.

The flipbook below is very easy to use, and I suggest enlarging it to full size for maximum enjoyment.

Nintendo Cereal

In 1988, I was all about Nintendo. It had probably taken over as my favorite toy by that point if you want to consider it a toy. And I was already self-aware of my finer tastes in junk food. So Nintendo cereal coming along was right up my alley. It was made by Ralston, who was the king of producing commercially-licensed cereals in the ’80s and ’90s.

This short-lived cereal featured a split package designed and contained both Super Mario Bros. cereal and Zelda Adventure cereal. The Mario cereal was “fruity” flavored and was made up of super mushrooms, Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Bowser-shaped pieces. The Zelda side consisted of berry-flavored Links, hearts, keys, boomerangs, and shields.

Given how I love gimmicky junk food, the fact that this mimicked Nerds cereal by featuring two different flavors packaged separately in the same box made it a sure bet that a box of this would end up coming home from the grocery store with us. And since she knew how big of a Nintendo fan I was, my mom didn’t put up a fight when I asked to try it.

I can’t recall the taste or if I was a fan or not, but the fact that it had no marshmallows was not a good start for a kid’s cereal if you want to make it long-term. It hit the market in 1988 and was gone in 1989. While it may not have stuck around long, it made a lasting impression on a lot of people, myself included.

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

When Konami unleashed the first Castlevania cartridge on the Nintendo world in 1987, I was still too wrapped up in Super Mario Bros., ExciteBike, and Pro Wrestling to pay much attention.  Even though the original game was much loved and had a lot of hype around it, I was still impervious to the franchise’s existence when Castlevania 2:  Simon’s Quest rolled out in 1988. 

I’ve never hidden the fact that this game is my favorite all-time for Nintendo. Most players hold Castlevania III in much higher regard than this, and I can see where they are coming from. Dracula’s Curse was an amazing game with an amazing feature that lets you keep changing which character you were using. But for me, it all goes back to this being my first role-playing game, and I had bought it myself with weeks and weeks worth of saved-up allowance money. Thus, I prefer this over the more popular Castlevania III.

Now I don’t know how much advertising was put into this game, but this comic book ad…boy is it a beaut! It’s got screenshots, box art, details on the game via intricate storytelling, and great art that is relative to what the game is. Take out the fact that this is my favorite game, the ad itself is just really good. It sends a pretty good message as to what you would be getting in the game and creates a sense of need to own it. Even Don Draper and the boys at Sterling Cooper would be proud to have made this ad.

But not seeing this ad until much later in life, I’m not quite sure what attracted me to it in the first place.  All I know is, that one Saturday afternoon I took all the money I had saved up to the local K-Mart when my Mom went to do her usual shopping.  I went straight to the electronics section and started scanning the available Nintendo games, as I was intent on picking one up that day.  Maybe it was the only game they had, or maybe the box art just got to me.  But little did I know, that I was purchasing one of my all-time favorite games for the Nintendo system.  Matter of fact, when I bought a Wii for the kids when they came out, I immediately downloaded Simon’s Quest for it and played it right up until the system got outdated and the kids moved on to something else.

In Castlevania 2:  Simon’s Quest, you take the role of Simon Belmont on a journey to undo the curse placed on him and his family by Dracula at the end of the original Castlevania game.

The quest of Simon to destroy Dracula was the simple premise, but the much more complicated facet of the game was just where in the heck did you find Dracula, and what weapon do you use on him when you find him? You spent your time traveling through towns, forests, and mansions killing skeletons, wolfmen, sea creatures, and everything else that got in your way, including spiders and floating eyeballs. 

You earned “hearts” that were like money and you used that money to upgrade your whip and buy additional weapons like Holy Water, Laurel Bushes, Diamonds, and numerous other curiosities. You also had to talk to the townspeople to get clues on which direction to go to find Dracula and how to beat him. All this wrapped into the game made it one heck of a time-waster, and I can’t forget the Saturday afternoon that I finally beat the damn thing.

 Castlevania II was the first role-playing game that I can ever remember playing, and even to this day, role-playing games are not my cup of tea.  But Simon’s Quest has stood the test of time and holds a special place in my heart as one of the best, and most fun video games I ever put my hands on.

Castlevania 2:  Simon’s Quest is readily available on the numerous Nintendo emulator and ROM sites you find on the web.  If you never played it back in the day, I highly suggest you give it a shot on some rainy Saturday afternoon and see what you think. 

Ring King for Nintendo

Ring King

What red-blooded American boy didn’t want to put on the gloves and go to battle with one another inside the squared circle? With this game, you and your best friend could live that out without anyone getting a bloody nose.  My cousin David introduced me to the game at his house, and we spent hours that first night battling for ring supremacy. 

The action was slow and plodding, but man was it fun. You really had to battle for the full 3 minutes to stay alive, and then you had to work your thumbs to the limit in the rest period to regain needed energy.  I loved the fact that this game had a tournament mode. That meant a lot of “Championship Tournament” afternoons for me. 

I would have friends come over, and we would each pick four combatants, and then have them square off in tournament mode. A tournament like this could last 2-3 hours before a champion was finally declared. Once done, it was time to ice down our swollen thumbs and enjoy some tasty snacks like Jiffy Pop or Jello Pudding Pops. This game contributed to many fun Saturday afternoons. 

Once Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out hit the scene, it became the favorite boxing game of many, myself included.  But the big difference between the titles was the fact that only one player could play Punch-Out, whereas you and a buddy could both play Ring King.  That kept Ring King relevant through the years and was what helped keep my interest in it so long.

Defender of the Crown for Nintendo

The early days of my Nintendo play were dominated by action and sports games. I’ve detailed how Pro Wrestling was my first true Nintendo love, and the other games I owned at the beginning of my fandom were Alpha Mission and Top Gun. Those were followed by Double Dribble and Rad Racer. All of these games were ones that featured constant action and re-action but offered little in the way of role-play.

My game tastes would switch to role-playing when I first got to play The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventures of Link that I borrowed from my friend Geoffrey. After that, I bought my first role-playing game, Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest, and it would quickly shoot up to the top of my favorite games of all-time list and stay there. It wasn’t just the role-playing aspect that hooked me, it was also the strategy element involved in the game that really set the hook. I didn’t realize at that time just how much I was going to enjoy a pure strategy game until I borrowed another game from Geoffrey called Defender of the Crown.

Defender of the Crown was a strategy game set in England in 1149 during the middle ages. You had a spot of land to begin the game, and you attempted to conquer neighboring lands. Pretty simple concept don’t you think? You had several ways to go about that though. You could siege their land, or covertly go in and try to take over. And if you needed help, you had the ability to call on Robin Hood. Throw in the fact that you had sporting events as well like the joust and sword fight for the action quota, you were left with a pretty fun way to kill time on a Saturday afternoon. 

Besides the strategy part of the game, what I liked best about Defender of the Crown was laying siege to an opponent’s castle. You had catapults with which you could launch boulders to knock holes in the walls. After holes had been created, you used the catapult to launch fire or plagues into the castle to weaken their defenses. Before you knew it, your opponent surrendered and you had acquired a new land to rule. But you had to watch because while you were out conquering new lands with your army, your enemies were plotting to invade your home territory. If you didn’t leave enough troops at home, you’d find yourself without a place to return to.

Growing up a fan of Robin Hood and medieval stories in general, this game was a big hit with me. And the strategy aspect had me engaged to the point I was playing it every afternoon after school.  I never actually owned Defender of the Crown but would borrow it from Geoffrey and keep it for months on end.

Defender of the Crown really set me on a path of loving strategy games that continues to this day. I moved on to games like Genghis Khan and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego for Nintendo, and on to Act Raiser and others like it for Super Nintendo. Most people may have never even heard of the game, but Defender of the Crown was a transformative title in my gaming life.

Five of My Favorite Christmas Gifts

With Christmas getting ever so closer, let’s take a break from everyday life to remember some of our favorite old Christmas gifts. I’m listing five of mine here for you to check out, but please, drop some of your favorites in the comments at the bottom!

Castle Grayskull

I’ve got a feeling I got this in 1984 since it probably wouldn’t have been like my old man to buy it in 1983 when my fandom was just blossoming for all things He-Man.  He generally liked to wait until he was sure I was really into something before dropping a lot of dough on it.  But what kid out there who was lucky enough to get this for Christmas wouldn’t enjoy it?  I know I flipped for it.  I’ve got an old polaroid of me just after opening it, and I’m crying.  They had to be tears of joy.  But this was the highlight of my Christmas that year, and countless battles were fought around, in, and for Castle Grayskull in the following months and years. 

Cobra Terrordrome

You’ll remember that I rambled on in-depth on the Terror Drome back when I described my mega haul of Christmas toys from 1986, so I won’t add much here, except to say that this was the largest piece I had in my assortment of G.I. Joe toys.  With G.I. Joe being both my favorite toy and cartoon at the time, it was a huge deal for me to get such an important piece of the toy puzzle with this thing.  I absolutely loved this thing and used it for so much of my G.I. Joe play.  It was also very handy when it came to having wrestling matches with my figures too.  Forget War Games, I was having Terror Drome matches.  The REAL most dangerous match in the world. 

G.I. Joe Tomahawk

Also from Christmas morning of 1986, the Tomahawk would also go on to see a ton of playtime in all of my G.I. Joe battles.  The Joe side of the battle had plenty of vehicles, and with the exception of the Whale Hovercraft, this was my favorite one.  I never owned the hovercraft myself, so this was the best thing I owned on that side of the fence. 

Super NES Super Set

I was a Nintendo guy.  I had friends who were Sega guys, but this old boy was firmly in the Nintendo camp.  I played Nintendo daily, so when this thing came out, it was all I could think about asking for in the 1991 Christmas season.  It was touch and go on whether I would actually get one or not.  My brother kept telling me that I wasn’t getting one because my Dad’s line of thinking was that I already had a Nintendo, so why would I need a new one?  But it turned out that was just a ruse, because on Christmas morning, there it was under the tree.  Of course, it went on to see hundreds or thousands of hours of playtime, and it still ranks as my favorite video game system of all time. 

DC Comics Silver Age Classics Box Set

I got this set in 1992…right at the beginning of my comic fandom zenith.  I was soaking up whatever comics I could find like a sponge, so my Mom thought I would like this set.  It featured old stories, so it would have to be worth something she thought.  Well, in monetary value, she was wrong.  But in pure enjoyment, she couldn’t have been more right.  I was over the top with excitement at the fact that I could now read some of the most important stories in the history of the DC Universe.  It was a twelve-issue set and featured reprints of the issues that featured the first appearances of the JLA, Flash, Green Lantern, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Swamp Thing.  It also featured the first team-up of Green Lantern and Green Arrow, as well as the first appearance of the “new look” Batman.  Who knew you could put such a price on happiness? 

Well, there’s some of my favorites Christmas presents from through the years.  Be sure to share some of yours in the comments. 

The Goonies II Nintendo Game

I guess after the success the movie had, a video game was inevitable. But playing this game didn’t feel very much like watching the movie. You had Mikey, the hero, of course, traveling through caves and various other locations slinging his yo-yo at the bad guys to dispose of them. But the focus of the game was on collecting different objects to help you get farther along. It was a constant maze of entering different rooms and trying to find secret doorways to get someplace else. It was quite the brain bender, and I spent many hours on this puppy on Saturday afternoons.

This was another game that I never actually owned.  But my best friend Geoffrey had it, and quickly tired of it.  Geoffrey was one of those kids that got whatever he wanted, and what he always wanted was a new video game.  He would get one, play it for a few weeks, and then tire of it.  Once he was done with one, it was offered to me to take home for a few weeks and play.  That was a pretty good setup on my end.  He sent me home one day with this game and being a fan of the movie, I was excited to pop it in and give it a whirl.  But like I already said, it differed from the movie quite a bit.  Not to say that as a bad thing though.  I feel like they had a game developed, and then just added the tie into the Goonies after the fact to sell more copies.

Alpha Mission for Nintendo

The great space saga known as Alpha Mission…..or kind of a Galaga knockoff. This was a cool game where you had a space fighter and the ability to upgrade its weapons and defense systems in the course of the gameplay. Once you earned more weapons, you could switch back and forth between them. At the end of each level was a boss, and that boss was only beatable by one of those special weapons….and you had to figure out which one and select it before you got to him. It was hard in the beginning, but soon it became one of those games that I would sit down for an hour and a half and run through the whole thing for fun.

I got Alpha Mission on the same night I got my Nintendo. When we went to pick it up, all my local Hills department store had were the Nintendo systems without any games. So my dad let me pick a game, and I picked Pro Wrestling. While there in the store, he decided he wanted to pick a game and he chose Alpha Mission. I was astounded that my old man was picking out a game to play.  He was genuinely excited about getting a Nintendo, but I had my doubts about just how much he would actually sit down and play.  Turned out I was right, as he only played Alpha Mission once.  I’m glad he picked it up though because as noted earlier, it became one of my favorite games to kill time with.

How I Remember Christmas

Like I’m sure it was for most kids, December 25th has always been one of those benchmark dates on the calendar. Alongside my birthday, and the last day of school, it has always been a measuring point for the year. And for good reason, as I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying the gift-giving, gift-getting, food, and fellowship that the magical holiday brings. So in this special edition of Retro Ramblings, I want to share some of the things I think of when I think about Christmas.


For me, the highlight has always been about the time I get to spend with family. Especially my Dad. All through my years of growing up, my Dad traveled. He would be gone for roughly 300 out of the 365 days of a year. But his work always slowed down in December and he had a lot of time at home that lined up so well with our Christmas break from school. And while he himself never got overly excited about Christmas, he did so many little things to make it special for me. Things that most would not think are overly special but so special to me, that I’ve tried to do the exact same things for my daughters every year now.

There is so much nostalgia built into the holiday season for me. So many different things about the holiday that trigger vibrant memories of some of the happiest times of my life. So here in this article, I want to share with you a lot of the little things that I enjoy during the Christmas season, their origins in the past, and some of the strong memories associated with them.

(In no particular order)

MY COUSIN TIM COMING OVER ON CHRISTMAS MORNING TO SEE WHAT I HAD GOTTEN

Every year around mid-morning, my cousin and his parents would stop by to see what Santa had brought, and to show off some new toy he had gotten as well. He and I would play with whatever new things we had while the parents sat and talked, drank coffee, and just enjoyed each other’s company. The fireplace would have a nice crackling fire in it while some low Christmas music played in the background. It was just a wonderful setting for enjoying the mid part of the day.

In recent years, my daughters had the pleasure of being visited every Christmas morning by their great grandparents, who would come see what they had gotten for Christmas and join us for a simple breakfast of orange cinnamon rolls and ham…..just like we always enjoyed on those Christmas mornings so long ago.

THE TOWN CHRISTMAS PARADE

One of my favorite days of the year…seeing the vehicles decorated for Christmas, seeing Santa Claus riding into town high atop a town fire truck, and then following him to the local grocery store to get a treat bag. That bag usually consisted of an apple, an orange, a few pieces of strawberry candy, and a full-size candy bar. The whole town would usually show up for the parade and treats, even though that number was roughly only about 600 people. It was a day that I can think back on and not really remember anyone being anything but happy.

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1990 Gamepro Holiday Catalog

Back in 1990, handheld gaming systems were the new hotness, and Gamepro provided a handy guide to all of the games that were currently available for both Gameboy and Lynx for the holidays. This way, kids knew exactly what games to bug their parents for, and now you can go back in time and enjoy this awesome look back at the state of handheld gaming in December 1990. Enjoy!

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Excitebike for Nintendo

ExciteBike was one of the Nintendo console’s most beloved games, and a favorite of mine too. I killed many hours with this bad boy, and for good reason….it was full of great features!  Racing on a motorcycle! Design your own tracks! Put 100 jumps in a row! This was one awesome game for those three reasons, and why it’s so fondly remembered. That and the fact that you could wreck others by coming down the track with your rear wheel in their front wheel and watch them tumble over and over down the track. With the possibility of using any combination of 19 different obstacles to design your track with, it had great replay value just in designing new courses to race. 

I was introduced to this game at my cousin’s house shortly after I got my Nintendo. I was instantly hooked and we spent several hours that night playing it.  I never actually owned the game, but several of my friends did, and a copy of it was at my house more often than not through the magic of swapping games with a friend for a period of time. This game still holds its own in the “fun factor” today against such newer and more complicated games. 

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Highlights From a 1989 KayBee Toys Ad

I love sifting through old catalogs and sale papers from the ’80s and early ’90s. They’re filled with so much nostalgia with so many toys I had, and those I didn’t have but wanted gracing every page. For this Retro Ramblings entry, I’m going to highlight a few cool things I found in a KayBee Toys sale paper from 1989.


Nintendo Games!

I’ve already documented my love for all things Nintendo here on the blog, and this ad for games is certainly in line with my love for all things Nintendo. Featured in the top left is my favorite game for the system, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. I also see some of my other favorites including Bionic Commando and WWF Wrestlemania. I could sit and look through old game ads all day and continue to drool over just how awesome we had it with our game systems back in the day.

Play-Doh Make-a-Meal Spaghetti Factory!

Play-Doh was never really a top toy in my book unless I had a cool playset like this for it. There was just so much you could do with sets like these with all the various presses and cutting tools. Besides making plates of spaghetti and meatballs like the set intended, you could do other things with them. Like make your own cool monsters with long stringy hair. The various playsets offered almost limited play that other toys couldn’t.

Micro Machines Super City Tool Box Playset!

In the past, I chronicled my fascination with the Super City Tool Box in a Classic Commercials post. While I never actually had the toy, I always wanted it. I had more than my fair share of Micro Machines, and several playsets, but this one always eluded me. I’m going to have to track one down on eBay now I think.

1989 Baseball Cards!

1988 was the zenith of baseball card collecting, well, until Covid-19 hit in 2020 and the hobby exploded all over again. But with 1988 being such a banner year for the business, it was no surprise that a ton of cards were also produced in 1989. Not all of them were good. Like these Bowman cards featured here in the paper. I had some Bowman ’89 cards in my collection back in the early ’90s, and they just weren’t good. They were slightly larger than other cards and were troublesome to get to fit into card pages. Plus they just seemed to be of cheaper quality. But all of that said, that would have been a good price to pick up a complete set of anything back then since finding all 492 cards in single packs would have cost a fortune.

Domino Rally Basic Set!

So in the early ’90s, I thought Domino Rally was just so cool. Forget the fact that I could have just taken all the sets of old school dominos that were scattered around our house and accomplished the same thing, I had to have the brightly colored, thin plastic dominos that came in these sets to set up and then knock over. Plus, Domino Rally sets came with cool pieces like bridges and loops that had dominos attached that you could add to your falling masterpiece. These things really upped the falling dominos game to new heights.

Sega Genesis!

Being 1989, I’m thinking this is in the early days of the release of the system. That and I don’t see Sonic the Hedgehog’s mug plastered all over the ad. I do see Altered Beast though, and I know that was an early hit for the system. I was always a Super Nintendo guy, and I always will be. But even in saying that, I would be a fool to not want to highlight this from the ad. Any old game system is worth a mention in posts like these.

Well, there’s six highlights from an old KayBee Toys sale paper from 1989. I encourage you to check out our full scan of the entire thing in the Time Capsules section of the site and pick out your own highlights. If you do, drop them in the comments below so I can check out what you thought the top picks were. I always get excited about stuff like that.