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25 Things We Learned in the First Issue of Nintendo Power

Starting in July/August 1988, a generation of kids eagerly anticipated every issue of Nintendo Power. It was probably the first regular mail many of us received. Here are 25 highlights, tips, tricks, and celebrity cameos that greeted video game fanatics of the late-'80s.

1. Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

Contra made The Konami Code famous, but it originated with a programmer on Gradius, Kazuhisa Hashimoto. "There was no way I could finish the game," said Hashimoto, "so I inserted the so-called Konami Code. There isn't [a story behind it], really. I mean, I was the one using it, so I just put in something I could remember easily."

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2. How to Get Mario 100 Extra Lives

One of Mario's most famous tricks. Here's a non-Nintendo Power tip for jumping over the flagpole.

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3. How to Beat Mike Tyson

If you want to give this a shot but don't have the patience to beat the King Hippos and Soda Popinskis of the world, remember these magic numbers: 007-373-5963.

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4. What Games Kirk and Candace Cameron Are Struggling With

"I am having problems getting past the Amoeboids in Gradius," explained the Growing Pains star. "I think that I'll have to place a call to the game counselors soon!" His sister Candace, who played D.J. Tanner on Full House, "has yet to rescue Zelda."

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5. Before Nintendo Power, There Was Fun Club News

A free publication called Nintendo Fun Club News preceded Nintendo Power.

Image credit: IGN

In an interview with Complex, founding editor Gail Tilden said, “The Fun Club newsletter started as a six page, simple thing in 1987. It was a direct response program to get a database of all our users. By the time we got to the Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! issue, however, we were at 600,000 readers, and it was a bigger bite out the market budget than we had anticipated." So they expanded it to a paid-subscription magazine.

There were seven issues of Fun Club, which you can find on eBay.

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6. The First Editor-in-Chief Was a 31-Year-Old Woman Who Kept a Low Profile

“No reader wants their mom to be the person running their video game magazine,” Gail Tilden explained to Complex. "It was very conscious that the editors did not have pictures of themselves in the magazine. It took away from the idea that the magazine was about ‘you,’ the consumer." Tilden served as editor for the first ten years.

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7. The Inaugural Power Rankings

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8. The Rest of the Top 10

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9. The Dealers LOVED R.C. Pro-Am

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10. You Could Call for Help

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11. The Existence of This Awesome Shirt

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12. The Cast of Characters for SMB2

"Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool and the Mushroom Retainer are getting involved in a strange dream world where they must hop, jump, run and find vegetables." To find out why kids in the U.S. didn't get the same sequel as kids did in Japan, read this Chris Higgins story.

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13. Where Everything is on Zelda's Second Quest

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14. How to Pull the Goalie

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15. The Umps in Bases Loaded Were Yuk, Dum, Boo, and Bum

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16. How to Beat Castlevania

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17. How to Beat Hewdraw

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18. What to Do With Pegasus' Flute

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19. There Were Books and Booklets

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20. The Exact Name of the Theme Song From Spy Hunter

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21. Someone Thought Double Dribble Was Amazing 

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22. Where to Get Screw Attack

Nothing in this issue about Justin Bailey, however.

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23. A Few Moves in Double Dragon

Including the devastating "Hair-Pull Kick."

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24. Big Things Were Coming

A few months later, Zelda II made the cover:

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25. We Were Playing With Power

The final issue of Nintendo Power was published in 2012, and the cover looked very much like the first one. Thanks to Kotaku for linking to the first issue and inspiring this trip down memory lane. Now go read Kevin Wong's history of Nintendo Power over at Complex Magazine.

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Unraveling the Legend of Polybius, the Most Dangerous Video Game of the 1980s
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For several decades, a creepy urban legend has circulated in the darker corners of online forums devoted to vintage video games. The tale goes that in 1981, a game with some unfortunate side effects appeared in a few suburban arcades in Portland, Oregon. The game was said to have been housed in an all-black cabinet, and while playing it was fun, gamers soon noticed they were feeling terrible after their sessions—suffering from extreme anxiety, seizures, night terrors, and an obsessive desire to continue playing. Some were even said to have attempted suicide.

To make matters even weirder, men in black supposedly visited the cabinet every few weeks to collect some kind of data—not money—from the back of the machine. And just a few months after it appeared, the game was gone. Its name: Polybius.

Some said the game was connected to MKUltra, a (real) CIA program experimenting with behavior modification techniques and LSD from the 1950s through the '70s, although no evidence of that was ever found. Recently, Great Big Story's series "8 Bit Legacy: The Curious History of Video Games" set out to investigate Polybius, and found some surprising truths behind the mystery. They also found some fans attempting to recreate the game—hopefully minus the ill effects. You can learn more below:

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8 Clever Ways to Recycle Your Old Nintendo Equipment
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For retro game players looking for a simple fix, the recent arrivals of Nintendo’s official NES Classic and Super NES Classic game systems have been an exciting purchase. The systems—when you can find them in stock—boot up dozens of classic games via an HDMI port. That’s left a pretty big inventory of original consoles and cartridges collecting dust in attics.

If you’re crafty and you dig the Nintendo aesthetic, check out these ideas for how to repurpose your old game gear into something new. (A word of caution: Modifying electronic components carries risk of electric shock, so we recommend being careful and using good judgment.)

1. AN NES ALARM CLOCK

A Nintendo console is shown after being modified into an alarm clock

Instructables user arrmayr0227 uploaded this tutorial on a better way to wake up. You’ll be splicing together a gutted NES console with a digital alarm clock, then rewiring the controller to set the time. The reset button acts as a snooze bar and the power button sets the alarm.

2. AN NES LUNCHBOX

Video game artisan Fluctifragus offered a step-by-step breakdown of hollowing out an old NES console to make room for your tuna sandwiches. The interior components can be removed with a screwdriver; the remaining screw posts can be clipped and filed down with a rotary tool. Two small hinges will keep the top and bottom tethered together.

3. A CONTROLLER WALLET

(Or coin purse, if you prefer.) Instructables user Zenilorac detailed a controller hack that involves separating the part by removing the back screws and then gluing a fabric-based zipper around the edges.

4. A ZAPPER LASER CAT TOY

Lehmeier at Instructables perfected a new way of antagonizing your cat by rigging a laser diode and 9-volt battery into the NES’s light gun accessory. Pulling the trigger will allow power to pass from the battery to the diode.

5. A CARTRIDGE WALL CLOCK

For Mario, it’s always time to eat mushrooms. Your schedule is probably a little less predictable. He can still help you tell time with this tweak from Instructables user BeanGolem. The clock hands are spray-painted, while the cartridge is split in half to allow for a clock mechanism (available at most craft stores) to be installed.

6. ADVANTAGE CONTROLLER GUITAR PEDAL

A Nintendo Advantage controller is used as a guitar pedal
wenzsells, Instructables // CC BY 2.0

The joystick-equipped Advantage controller was one of the earliest peripherals available for the NES. Using this guide from Wenzsells, it’s the perfect size to double as a chassis for a pedal kit. The “turbo” knobs control volume, while the A button acts as power switch.

7. A SUPER NINTENDO CARTRIDGE WALLET

A Super Nintendo cartridge is used as a wallet
stalledaction, Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

Who doesn’t want to show a bartender their ID by flashing a Super NES game cartridge? Instructables user Stalledaction crafted this conversation piece by fitting a transparent plate to the front and adding space for keys and a USB drive.

8. A GAME PAD MOUSE

A Nintendo controller is operated as a computer mouse
Courtesy of Ryan McFarland

Ryan McFarland came up with a novel use for an old controller: turn it into a PC interface. An optical mouse is inserted into the chassis, while the A and B buttons serve as the left and right selectors. You’ll need, among other things, a Dremel tool, a hot glue gun, and about four or five hours’ worth of patience.

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