Nintendo Power Staffers Remember
As former Nintendo Power greats, Jason and I (Jenni) took the news that Nintendo Power would soon be shipping its last issue like a Deku Nut to the head.
We’ve been seeing tributes around the internet, and decided to throw our two gold coins in. Then we thought, hey, we know a lot of the former staffers (spanning the heydays of the SNES to the Wii). Let’s ask them for their favorite memories, too!
Paul Shinoda, Writer
Working from notes from Japan, I cited Falco’s last name as “Lombardi” in the Star Fox 64 player’s guide. I got it wrong. It was supposed to be “Rambaldi,” after Carlo Rambaldi, Italian sfx artist, whom Miyamoto admired. It appeared as “Lombardi” in official U.S. publications for YEARS.
Drew Williams, Writer
The comments from tour groups that used to walk by the Power area when it was next to Cafe Mario. One notable incident: I had been trying all morning to get gold medals for every level on an early build of “Rogue Leader.” As I was about to have an aneurysm, a dad in a passing tour group leaned down to his son and said, “Look, these people are [air quotes] “working.”
Sonja Morris, Designer
One of my favorite projects was the three-part Secret of Mana insert I worked on. It was a great collaboration for a great game.
Nate Bihldorff, Writer
Anyone who ever worked the Player’s Pulse pages remembers those giant bins of letters that arrived every month. It always blew my mind seeing those stacks, and whenever I felt burned out, opening a few letters would remind me of how it felt to be a kid with a new Nintendo game. While we all tended to write for as broad an audience as possible, in my mind, I was always writing for my ten-year old self that would have been writing those same letters—trying to reach back across the years to make that kid smile.
Jason Leung, Writer
Besides getting paid to play video games and then write about them, my favorite memory of working at Nintendo Power was getting the opportunity to write the English screen text for The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and going to Kyoto, Japan for a month to work alongside Shigeru Miyamoto and his team on localizing game. It was an honor to be a tiny part of Nintendo and Zelda history, and it was also an honor to take part in other Nintendo Power shenanigans including: meeting Gary Coleman, Richard Kiel (Jaws from the James Bond movies), Tony Hawk (I think every Nintendo Power staffer has met him at least a dozen times) and getting paid to go to London with Jenni to chaperone a contest winner. Plus, I love the one time a bunch of us took a limo to the airport to fly to E3 because it was cheaper than each of us taking a cab, shuttle or parking, and then we ended up pulling up behind our boss at Sea-Tac who was baffled by our arrival.
Andy Myers, Writer
One of my most memorable NP assignments was going to Paris, France to meet up with Ubisoft reps and play a very early build of Red Steel for Wii.
I’d never been to France before. As luck would have it, I arrived smack dab in the middle of the 2005 French riots. The streets were full of masked youths blocking intersections and smashing cars. I got into a cab with a crazy Frenchman with a club, who would drive right into the middle of an occupied intersection, jump out of his car, then start waving his club and threatening all the young rioters until they dispersed. It was utter mayhem.
I stayed in the Paris for two days, conducted my business with Ubisoft, then hurried home. I’ve yet to return to the City of Love.
Paul Shinoda, Writer (again)
After watching a work cut of the first episode of the dubbed Pokemon TV series, Mr. Tsuboike [NP Editor-in-Chief] and I agreed that it would NEVER be successful in the U.S.
Tony Sandoval, Designer
There are a lot of good memories from working on the mag. I’ll go for the knee-jerk reaction. The first thing that popped in my mind was working on a review for Tamagotchi. I created a character named MALF. I wanted to drive it til’ the wheels came off, so I fed him all the cake he wanted, then he would get sick and take a dukie, then I would give him shots to get better and then repeat! Poor little MALF didn’t live long, but I think he may have sprouted a little horn before he died. He left the screen spreading those little angel wings! What a funny game!
Jenni Villarreal, Writer
Writing the Player’s Guides was my favorite part of the job, even though it was the hardest part…uh, if you did it right. I’m sure anyone can understand how satisfying it is to know that not only did you finish the hell out of a game, but you did it (mostly) on your own and sometimes in a language you didn’t understand…and then you wrote a book about it in like, a week or two. If you also managed to sneak in lyrics to songs like “Theme from ‘Mahogany’ (Do You Know Where You’re Going To?)” and “Radio, Radio”, or a handful of very clever double entendres, well, so much the better.
Paul Shinoda, Writer, Clearly Not an Editor (just kidding, <3 u Paul)
It’s amazing to consider the impact Nintendo Power had on a generation of gamers, including many who currently work in all capacities within the industry. Someone I’ve worked with for more than a decade in development, an art lead who is very serious about his work, and not one generally given to sentimentality, turned into a drooling fanboy when he found out I once worked on the magazine. We’ve been friends for years, but he suddenly seemed to be putting me somewhat on a pedestal, once he found out I was part of something so iconic to his childhood and his eventual career.
This photo is like “The Last Supper” of Nintendo Power, except we’re doing a taste test of Pokemon cereal and Pop-Tarts. Either Jason or Pikachu is Jesus in this picture. Probably Pikachu.
Drew Williams, Writer (yeah one more, why not, I let Paul go on and on)
I’m pretty sure that working on the Conker’s Bad Fur Day guide was the most fun I had at Power. The writers nailed the “field manual” tone and designers created a thing of beauty—in spite of (or maybe because of) the lack of character art.
When we shipped the guide, it was wrapped in plastic like a porn magazine. I think we sold about five of them.
Jason Leung, Writer (look, he was there a long time…)
Runner-up memories: 1) Writing the Game Boy Camera Funtography Guide. I loved that gadget and spent countless hours snapping pictures and editing photos with it. Initially, almost every page of the guide had a picture of me on it, since I was taking all the photos myself. 2) The last day of Nintendo online chat with fans (a bunch of the staff chatted with fans every week). The kids got so emotional when Jenni and I announced we had resigned. (We resigned pretty much 10 years ago around this time, and 10 years later, now the magazine is calling it quits. Coincidence? Yes, a big one!) It turned into a really tender chat, and that’s when it really set in what an impact the magazine and writers had been having on everyone’s childhood.
Matt Fisher, Designer
Lots of great memories… being able to attend E3, the Nintendo press events and parties, sitting in the office overhearing Oliver’s conversations while playing Hey You, Pikachu!, working on the Conker’s Bad Fur Day guide… Good times, good times.
Emily Sakura Crowell, Designer
Definitely going to E3! The excitement of my first NP layout (Spider-Man) and the feeling of accomplishment of stuffing a Final Fantasy game down to 4 pages. Take that Final Fantasy! I did a timeline for it BEFORE facebook did a timeline. Getting together with everyone in the office to play some multi-player for a Metroid player’s guide during the workday. It had to be done. It was for work. And it was awesome. Being introduced to Pokémon…..not knowing just how much time I would eventually come to spend on it! And working on Twilight Princess.
Sarah Robinson, Designer
Getting to work on Dragon Warrior pretty much cemented my love for RPG games old and new!
Jenni Villarreal, Writer (it’s my Tumblr and I’ll hog it all I want!)
Remember all those amazing trips Nintendo Power gave away in the monthly contests? Yeah, we got to chaperone the winners. VIP tours at amusement parks, E3, Wrestlemania, a week in London…we were the hosts, there to show the winners a good time and do all kinds of awesome stuff on the company dime. So. Fun.
Jason Leung, Writer (it’s his Tumblr, too)
I also got a kick out of being the TV spokesperson for the magazine, and one of the annual marketing videos of me hawking Nintendo Power and the Player’s Guides was featured at every Nintendo display in every Target store of America for a year. The video also played in a loop on the floor-to-ceiling video wall in a Nintendo merch display area in the office lobby across from one of our glass conference rooms. Whenever there was a meeting, I’m sure people would get distracted/annoyed/seduced by my giant head popping up on monitors. For years around that time, people would tell me they saw me on TV at Target.