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25 Things We Learned in the First Issue of Nintendo Power

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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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Brain Training Could Help Combat Hearing Loss, Study Suggests
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Contrary to what you might think, the hearing loss that accompanies getting older isn't entirely about your ears. Studies have found that as people get older, the parts of their brain that process speech slow down, and it becomes especially difficult to isolate one voice in a noisy environment. New research suggests there may be a way to help older people hear better: brain training.

The Verge reports that a new double-blind study published in Current Biology suggests that a video game could help older people improve their hearing ability. Though the study was too small to be conclusive, the results are notable in the wake of several large studies in the past few years that found that the brain-training games on apps like Luminosity don't improve cognitive skills in the real world. Most research on brain training games has found that while you might get better at the game, you probably won't be able to translate that skill to your real life.

In the current study, the researchers recruited 24 older adults, all of whom were long-term hearing-aid users, for eight weeks of video game training. The average age was 70. Musical training has been associated with stronger audio perception, so half of the participants were asked to play a game that asked them to identify subtle changes in tones—like you would hear in a piece of music—in order to piece together a puzzle, and the other half played a placebo game designed to test their memory. In the former, as the levels got more difficult, the background noise got louder. The researchers compare the task to a violinist tuning out the rest of the orchestra in order to listen to just their own instrument.

After eight weeks of playing their respective games around three-and-a-half hours a week, the group that played the placebo memory game didn't perform any better on a speech perception test that asked participants to identify sentences or words amid competing voices. But those who played the tone-changing puzzle game saw significant improvement in their ability to process speech in noise conditions close to what you'd hear in an average restaurant. The tone puzzle group were able to accurately identify 25 percent more words against loud background noise than before their training.

The training was more successful for some participants than others, and since this is only one small study, it's possible that as this kind of research progresses, researchers might find a more effective game design for this purpose. But the study shows that in specific instances, brain training games can benefit users. This kind of game can't eliminate the need for hearing aids, but it can help improve speech recognition in situations where hearing aids often fail (e.g., when there is more than one voice speaking). However, once the participants stopped playing the game for a few months, their gains disappeared, indicating that it would have to be a regular practice.

[h/t The Verge]

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Something Something Soup Something
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This Game About Soup Highlights How Tricky Language Is
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Something Something Soup Something

Soup, defined by Merriam-Webster as "a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food," is the ultimate simple comfort food. But if you look closer at the definition, you'll notice it's surprisingly vague. Is ramen soup? What about gumbo? Is a soy vanilla latte actually a type of three-bean soup? The subjectivity of language makes this simple food category a lot more complicated than it seems.

That’s the inspiration behind Something Something Soup Something, a new video game that has players label dishes as either soup or not soup. According to Waypoint, Italian philosopher, architect, and game designer Stefano Gualeni created the game after traveling the world asking people what constitutes soup. After interviewing candidates of 23 different nationalities, he concluded that the definition of soup "depends on the region, historical period, and the person with whom you're speaking."

Gualeni took this real-life confusion and applied it to a sci-fi setting. In Something Something Soup Something, you play as a low-wage extra-terrestrial worker in the year 2078 preparing meals for human clientele. Your job is to determine which dishes pass as "soup" and can be served to the hungry guests while avoiding any items that may end up poisoning them. Options might include "rocks with celery and batteries in a cup served with chopsticks" or a "foamy liquid with a candy cane and a cooked egg served in a bowl with a fork."

The five-minute game is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but Gualeni also hopes to get people thinking about real philosophical questions. According to its description page, the game is meant to reveal "that even a familiar, ordinary concept like 'soup' is vague, shifting, and impossible to define exhaustively."

You can try out Something Something Soup Something for free on your browser.

[h/t Waypoint]

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