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.
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.
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.
But it triggered a memory for me of an old Atari “magazine” I have. As it turned out, it wasn’t actually a magazine, but rather a newsletter. Back in 1981, Activision founder Jim Levy wrote a “welcome” letter introducing the original Activisions newsletter to Activision’s loyal fans. The Activisions newsletter was created to inform gamers of new titles in development and give the reader a small peek into Activision, its designers, their games, and the people who played them. The first Activisions newsletter arrived in the fall of 1981 and the last issue was sent out in the fall of 1983. Seven issues of the Activisions newsletters were created in all. In this Time Capsule, I’m presenting that seventh and final edition. It features some of those patches that Jason yearns for. Enjoy.
The flip book below is super easy to use. The controls are in the control panel below the book, and you can use them to go forward or backward. I suggest using the expand button to blow it up to full screen for maximum enjoyment.
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.