Daily Lists, Miscellaneous

The 10 Coolest (and 10 Lamest) Nintendo Power Covers

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Earlier this week, the sad news came down that Nintendo Power was ending its run with its upcoming December issue. Since 1988 the publication has been the best source for new release news, hints, cheats and pretty much any and all information about the world of Nintendo. While this news is being taken especially hard by gamers who came of age with the magazine (most of whom still know that pressing up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start was a free pass to 30 extra lives in Contra), for everyone else it serves as the latest reminder that print publications are dying because of the web, cell phones, Kindles, iPads, etc. But let’s face it, the zine had a tremendous and unprecedented run. For over 280 issues and nearly 25 years it was the definitive source of Nintendo news, making it arguably the most successful video game publication ever. So for today’s Daily List, Topless Robot will be paying tribute to the legacy of Nintendo Power by looking at its ten coolest covers. In the interest of fairness, we will also be looking at ten covers that were misfires for reasons ranging from odd graphic design choices to strange sexuality the likes of which you usually see at this very site on Friday afternoons.Here then is a look at the best and worst of what Nintendo Power had to offer. It will be sorely missed.


The Coolest:

10) Kirby’s Dreamland 2

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Full disclosure: I have never played a Kirby game. You see, it was always something I meant to do but never got around to — like having a checking account with more than three cents in it or an orgasm with another person. Sigh. Anyways, while researching every Nintendo Power cover for this list, I stumbled upon the above image. Basically, what we see here is the promise that Kirby’s Dreamland 2 is so much goddamn fun that players will vomit stars. I realize this probably isn’t the case, but I’m going to grab a used copy on eBay just in case.

9) Duck Tales

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To promote Capcom’s awesome Duck Tales game, the magazine offered up this cover that inspired many a reader to solve a mystery or rewrite history for hours on end in front of their NES. Ooh woo woo!

8) Dr. Mario

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Before Dr. Nick Riveria and Dr. Leo Spaceman, Dr. Mario was pop culture’s first dubious physician. (With constantly having to snake Donkey Kong’s toilet and rescue the Princess from another bath salts-fueled escapade there was no way Mario had time to attend med school). On the above cover, the good doc stands idly by with a smile on his face while viruses wreak havoc. That’s big medicine for you. Still, the plasticine renditions of the characters presented here are superb, and light years away from the amateurish clay Mario that graced the cover of Nintendo Power’s first issue. More on that later.

7) Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

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Man, even this drawing looks more realistic than Yoda in the prequels.

6) Hey You, Pikachu!

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This site has done a lot to ruin Pok?mon for you, so let us remember a more innocent time for the franchise with this adorable cover from November of 2000. Poor Pikachu, he doesn’t know what he’s in for. The poor bastard.

5) Epic Mickey

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There’s no doubt that this subscriber’s only cover of Nintendo Power featuring Fred Gambino’s Epic Mickey concept art is jaw-dropping — regardless of what you think about the finished product.

4) Tetris

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This illustration from a late-1989 issue takes a cue from the trippy art of old Atari 2600 box covers to depict a player who is so obsessed with Tetris that he actually becomes part of the game. We’ve all been there.

3) 25 Years of the NES

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In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the magazine published two covers — one featuring avatars of the system’s most iconic characters and another replicating the art for the best-selling Super Mario Bros. 3. Both of these are a nostalgic reminder of how amazing the NES was…and still is.

2) Castlevania II

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“Yeah, I beheaded Dracula. CAUSE THAT”S WHAT SIMON BELMONT DOES, BITCHES!”

1) Maniac Mansion

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The journey that brought Lucasfilm’s Maniac Mansion to the NES is a fascinating one. Despite the headaches the development team at Jaleco faced, the finished game still remains amongst the most complex and fun titles ever released for the console. When it was originally released in 1990, Nintendo Power did a story on it that came complete with cover art depicting the creepy old Edison house and characters like Bernard and Weird Ed. Even though the TV series spinoff was terrific, this cover gives a frustrating glimpse at how great a project based directly on the game and its characters could have been. Speaking of which, could someone convince Andrew Stanton or Dean DeBlois to make a CGI Maniac Mansion film already?

Hit the jump for the lamest Nintendo Power covers ever.
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The Lamest:

10) Track & Field II

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Belle & Sebastian once sang that “stars of track and field are beautiful people.” Not so in this cover which features an invisible runner participating in the Left Behind Olympics.

9) Virtual Boy

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Seriously you guys, I think the Virtual Boy is going to be the hot new peripheral of the 90s. Oh shit, Phantom 2040 coverage too? Fuck and yes to this issue.

8) The Add
ams Family: Pugsley’s Scavenger Hunt

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Nintendo already had the pudgy adolescent boy market sewn up, so this cover just felt like pandering.

7) Ninja Gaiden

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I don’t think I ever realized how Draconian the pre-Photoshop era must have been for graphic designers until I saw this hastily slapped together cover.

6) Paper Mario

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Inadvertent fingerbanging is a problem that has plagued the publishing industry since the invention of the printing press way back in 1440.

5) Super Mario Bros. 2

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See, this is the type of shit that happens when you cheap out and don’t hire Aardman Animation to handle your claymation needs.

4) Star Tropics

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This issue marked the first — and last — time Nintendo Power invited Jimmy Buffet to guest edit.

3) Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

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It’s a little known fact that prolonged exposure to the Triforce causes sociopathic behavior. Which is clearly the only explanation for Link’s creepy voyeurism here. That or he knew that Zelda’s favorite song is Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” and this is just some weird kind of foreplay.

2) Felix the Cat

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Since the NES wasn’t the leading source of entertainment at Depression-era penny arcades, the existence of a Felix the Cat game is utterly baffling.

1) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

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It’s hard to say what’s more troubling about this cover: the appearance of several Yoshis fawning over a diaper-clad Mario or the fact that his ass is apparently “hot news.” Eww.

About Author

Chris Cummins is a pop culture writer and Archie comics historian who has contributed to The Robot's Voice, Den of Geek US, Philebrity, Geekadelphia, Uproxx, and Unicorn Booty. He is the co-producer and co-host of Nerd Nite Philadelphia, and is regularly involved in producing and hosting New York Super Week events. In 2014, Chris began Sci-Fi Explosion, a mix of live performance, trivia and funny clips celebrating the weirdest in science fiction that regularly travels around the United States. He wrote the introductions to the compilations Archie's Favorite Comics From The Vault and (with Paul Castiglia) Archie's Favorite High School Stories. You can find Chris on Twitter at @bionicbigfoot and @scifiexplosion.