It's been a long time coming, but now it's here: Nintendo Power Magazine is shutting down after 24 years. If nothing else, a lot of people's magazine collections are about to become really valuable.
I am feeling about as rotten about this as I did when Dr. Seuss and Jim Henson died. Yes, Nintendo Power was a nakedly commercial corporate thing - a singularly genius bit of marketing by Nintendo of America in realizing that there was going to be a "gamer culture" and getting in front of it with a big, glossy fan magazine of their own. (You can read the first issue in PDF format HERE.)
But it was a HUGE deal, legitimately, as well: Pre-internet, I don't think a lot of gamers (myself included) would've become gamers without NP to show them that there were others and that codes, strategies, maps, fan-art etc was meant to be shared. Having this magazine showing up at my house every month for a decade or so did more to make me a better reader than almost any book did, and I can say for a fact that there were a lot of NES/SNES games now considered benchmark classics that I don't think a lot of people would've connected with without NP "covering" them. A whole generation of (American) gamers were introduced to JRPGs when Nintendo Power gave away a free copy of DragonQuest (as "Dragon Warrior") as a re-subscription bonus. I myself got my first internet connection - and first exposure to the "medium" where I now make my living - in order to use the Nintendo Power AOL site. The AVGN once summed up the memories thusly:
I hadn't subscribed in years - like everyone else, The Internet replaced magazines for things like that for me - but it's still pretty sad to see it go. This is real end-of-an-era stuff - another huge part of the Golden Age of Gaming is gone. In my mind, this is as quietly-devastating a loss as when Sega abandoned consoles.
Rest in peace, old friend.