Letters have gone out letting subscribers know that their last issues of Nintendo Power are imminent. The long-running game magazine was a constant presence in the homes of Nintendo fans, including yours truly. Sure, it was oft-times more advertising circular than hard-hitting critical journalism, but it was also the manifesto for those of us who still defined ourselves by what system we owned. Good thing those days are over, right, PC gamers?
All joking aside, I'm going to miss the old rag, even though it's been years since I was a subscriber. One of the things I'll miss the most is the absolutely insane Players' Polls Sweepstakes that they used to run, and I do mean insane. Nintendo Power gave away, or at least promised to give away, amazing gifts and opportunities to its readers. I never won any of them, but here are the ten I most wish that I had.
10. A Golf Cart and Clubs
Yeah, golf clubs are cool, but if you're a kid you want mobilization, and a golf cart is one of those things that blur the line between driving/not driving. The contest, celebrating the upcoming NES Open, suggested you could hand these presents off to your dad, but like that was really going to happen. Hell, I'd take the golf cart now!
9. Be an Extra in The Mask II
Though I can't pin down the exact issue (it's probably Vol. 77 or near there), Nintendo Power was actually the first to announce a sequel to Jim Carrey's The Mask. Not only that, but they were so pysched about it that they offered a chance to be an extra in it. Of course, The Mask II never happened because Jim Carrey refused to return to the role. I've always wondered what the kid who won got instead.
8. Trip to Nintendo of America
Vol. 7 of Nintendo Power offered to fly five winners out to Nintendo of America in Seattle. While that was cool in and of itself, sort of the gamer version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the extra prize was a chance to beta test upcoming games. Granted, anyone that has ever seriously tested games knows that it's not nearly as fun as it sounds, but the bragging rights alone were worth it. Plus, Seattle's nice.
7. Visit the Set of Robocop 2
The very next issue offered kids a chance to be on set for Robocop 2...which didn't mean much to us since it was filmed in Houston. Even though the offer to tour the place where we actually live wasn't an incentive, who wouldn't want to meet Robocop himself! Now that I think about it, though, it was a little odd that they were offering a trip to the set of an R-rated movie about a drug-addicted cyborg being shot by another cyborg.
6. Private Screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Despite having Batman on the cover, Vol. 10 allowed you to set up a private screening of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for you and 25 of your friends...which if you didn't have 25 friends before the contest you would definitely have them once you won it.
5. Total Recall Adventure
You'll notice that a lot of the contests were themed toward marketing games licensed to movies. That's because almost all licensed games are pretty terrible, and Total Recall on the whole is one of the worst, so they need all the help they can get. That said, what a deal! You got to meet Arnold on set, get three days in Hollywood and they sent you home with an actual Martian Police Uniform. Even the second prize was pretty awesome, a set of ultra-rare, not sold in stores uniform patches from the film.
4. Street Fighter II: Championship Edition Arcade Cabinet
One of the things that plagued the 16-bit era was how the home games never matched the power of the arcade cabinets they were ported from. Nintendo took care of this in Vol. 37 when they offered a complete SFII:CE arcade game as a prize, a $3,500 value. If pinball was more your style, a Super Mario Brothers Pinball table was the grand prize in Vol. 38.
3. Star Wars Extravaganza
LucasArts used to be a very big name in making some of the greatest games ever. Among those were the excellent 16-bit adaptations of the original trilogy of Star Wars films. Winners of this contest got to tour Industrial Light and Magic, play demos of LucasArts games under development, visit the Star Wars archives and attend a private screening of Episode IV.
2. Bill & Ted's Phone Booth
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Did you ever wonder what became of Bill and Ted's time-traveling, totally not a TARDIS, phone booth? A boy in Mississippi got it in 1991 as part of a Nintendo Power contest. In addition to just owning it, Nintendo paid to have it installed in the boy's room and paid the family's phone bill for an entire year. That is indeed most excellent.
1. Appear in a Zelda Game
In 1990, the biggest challenge in RPG gaming was beating WarMech, a hidden boss in the first Final Fantasy that had only a 1-in-250 chance of spawning on a single screen, and would almost certainly kill you anyway because it was more powerful than the final battle by far. Nintendo Power offered a chance to be in a future Legend of Zelda game if you submitted a picture of you beating WarMech, and the winner was Chris Houlihan.
The result is the Chris Houlihan Room in Link to the Past, a glitch-based secret area that can only be accessed by an incredible series of highly illogical moves. Oh, and it took over a decade before anyone could even find the damn thing. So on one hand, Houlihan got to be in one of the most iconic video game series of all time, but couldn't show it to anyone when the game came out because no one could find it.