“Nintendo and Reptiles Forever!”: Nintendo Power’s Best Reader Letters

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 22 2012 3:49 PM

“Nintendo and Reptiles Forever!”: Nintendo Power’s Best Reader Letters

Nintendo Power cover
A vintage Nintendo Power cover.

Courtesy Nintendo Power.

For Power Glove-carrying members of the NES Generation, there’s no getting over the shocking news that Nintendo Power will likely soon cease to exist. Of course, word of the magazine’s demise is less shocking than the fact that the long-ago gaming bible managed to survive for 24 years.

Though it has long since outlived its usefulness, Nintendo Power was indispensible in the 1980s, helping armies of adolescents navigate the back roads of The Legend of Zelda. But the go-to guide for Nintendo addicts offered much more than just maps and cheat codes. In the pre-Internet age, the Nintendo Power letters page provided NES enthusiasts with a mass audience for their tales of 8-bit achievement. These missives also allowed far-flung gamers to connect with each other. The letters page showed that video games could be one of society’s great levelers—grandmas, 11-year-olds, and household pets may have little in common otherwise, but they all love Mario.

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More than a decade ago, we compiled (and posted, on a free Tripod site) an anthology of our favorite Nintendo Power reader mail. That list, which is reproduced below, includes letters from and about old people, submissions from self-proclaimed Power Players, and one note from an Apple co-founder. We assure you, these are actual letters from actual Nintendo Power readers. (Bold headers all originally appeared in the magazine. Notes in italics are comments from Nintendo Power editors.)

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nintendo_poemgramps

A Zelda And Poetry Fan

I did it! I defeated the First Quest of The Legend of Zelda—finally. This may not seem like a big deal to a lot of your fans, but for someone my age—75—I feel like I've accomplished quite a lot. I made up a poem about Nintendo while writing in my journal: I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for a great game!!

My grandson introduced me to a Nintendo game,
That I play on my TV most of the day,
The Legend of Zelda has taxed my brain,
Outwitting many demons throughout the play!

My wife says that I have lost my mind,
And have made her a house recluse,
That doing so I have been most unkind,
She states that it's a form of spouse abuse!

I told her the alternative is my visiting pubs,
And possibly becoming a drunken souse,
Or go swimming with girls in hot water tubs,
So what's wrong with my playing in the house!

My wife's answer was a real doozy,
She called the plumber and ordered a jacuzzi,
So there goes the old Nintendo game,
I guess I have only myself to blame!

William Convery
Hampton, VA

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"Old Lady" Scores

I wanted to drop you a line to let you know what a help Nintendo Power is. The Super Mario Bros. 3 Strategy Guide was my first issue. It arrived just in time—with its help, I beat Koopa.

I had purchased a few back issues at a local toy store. I'm writing because I noticed that most of the items were about young kids. When I got my hands on the November/December 1989 issue, I was delighted to see the poem by 75-year-old William Convery. I don't know Mr. C, but he's my kind of grandpa! I want you to know that all my friends are in their mid-twenties and older, and those of us who have kids play NES video games more than the kids do! A lot of your readers are adults and proud of it.

A funny thing happened to me when I received Tetris for Christmas last year—I became "Tetrisized." One day I stopped at the corner store to get a Pepsi. I saw the arcade Tetris game there, and I couldn't help myself—I dropped in a quarter and began playing, not really noticing the kids playing next to me. After I completed four or five tetrads in a row, the boys began watching me play. I set a high score on the machine by the time I finished. One boy turned to the other two and said, "Wow, check out that old lady's score!"

I'm 34 and have two kids of my own. Move over, children, Mama's on a roll!

Gail Gillit
Manteca, CA

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My wife and I gave ourselves a Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas in 1988. We thought it would be fun for our grandkids when they visit. Well, it's not hard to guess what happened—we were instantly hooked.

nintendo_dog

We not only found it VERY entertaining, but it has helped us close the "generation gap." You can talk Nintendo with almost every young person.

While we all have our own favorites, my wife and I play most games together. One runs the controls, the other draws maps or helps as needed.

I sent you a picture of our Brittany. She's AKC-registered "Sleeping Princess Zelda." She really doesn't play, but she likes to sit in our favorite playing chair.

Together, my wife and I have completed Hudson's Adventure Island, Metal Gear and The Legend of Zelda, among others. Our next challenge is Ultima. I don't know if this makes us "Power Players," but we think it's pretty good for "old folks."

Bob and Fran Hembree
Portland, OR

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Grandma the Gamester

My name is Mark. I have a grandma who was baby-sitting my sister and I one night while we were playing our NES. I asked if she wanted to play with us, and she said, "No, that's for kids." Later we went to bed. In the middle of the night I woke up because I heard beeping.

Grandma was on Level 4 of Super Mario Bros.!

Mark Giuntini
Medford, OR

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nintendo_seniorstrategist

Senior Strategist

I am 15 and an avid video game player. I love my NES and have beaten almost all of the games I have. But recently I have been forced to share my Game Boy with someone else: my grandfather. At first I figured that he wouldn't be any good, so my turns would come quickly. Wrong. My grandfather, Frank Delong, amazed me with his skill at games like Tetris, Klax, Spot, and Golf.

He can play them all with only one hand. He had a stroke when he was about 67 that left him without the use of one arm. My grandfather is about the best player I know at puzzle and strategy games. He is now in the hospital again so I gave him my Game Boy and Tetris to help pass the time. I hope he has a quick recovery-at least he'll have a great game to keep him company.

James Delong, Jr.
Birmingham, AL

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Hi! I'll be 11 by the time you read this and I think I should be a Power Player. I might not solve games super fast, but when I do it once, I do it each and every time after that. My club's name is "The Kwaj Tricksters." We only have two members, but games are hard to get out here and there aren't very many people. I live on Kwajalein, an island in the Marshall Islands 2400 miles southwest of Hawaii. Kwaj is only a half mile wide and less than three miles long with a population of around 2000. My hobbies are Nintendo playing, sports, and riding my bike around our island with my friends. I also love to read books.

Jonathan "Overboard" Esten
Kwajalein, Marshall Islands

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nintendo_gilkey

Power Player Profile: Jeff Gilkey
Age: 16
City:
Crocker, MO

The reason I feel I am a Power Player is I can usually solve any game that I get my hands on within five days. Some of my more outstanding accomplishments are: solving The Goonies 2 in one day, and scoring over 3,000,000 in Mega Man and solving Super Mario Bros. 2 with 72 lives left over.

My friends at school call me Nintendoman because I can usually answer a question about a game whether I've played it or not, thanks to the time I spend reading Nintendo Power.

My favorite game has to be The Legend of Zelda. The variety of enemies and helpful items make it a great challenge. And, with the Second Quest, I don't get bored doing the exact same thing over and over again.

Some of my best tips are:

  • In Dragon Warrior, be patient and raise your levels before you go adventuring too far. There's no way to finish a game like this overnight: it takes time and thought.
  • In stage 5 of Blaster Master, when looking for the Monster Crab, don't leave your vehicle until you have to. Otherwise you may find that you have no way to get back to it.
nintendo_marty

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I'm writing to inform you of a Nintendo standout here in northern California, my oldest son, Marty. Marty recently turned 11 and is the oldest of five brothers. Marty received Zelda II and worked on it only on the weekends, that's the rule around here. He needs one more item to move on to the final stages. Well, one day his younger brother pushed the wrong button and the rest is history. Marty was reluctant to start again, but within one day had zoomed back to where he was. After one phone call to your counselors, he won the game. Then he wanted to see how fast he could win it again. Forty-two minutes later, he did it.

The amazing thing about Marty is he enjoys teaching the other kids on the block. Our house usually has at any given time a dozen or so neighborhood boys in it. They all take turns and encourage one another to reach new heights of winning their games.

Marty is even patient with the little ones and tells them to "keep going" and "good job." Everyone looks up to Marty. He helps cultivate good sportsmanship, boosts self-esteem, and has gained a lot of self-confidence and self-worth from NES.

Kathy Kraham
Lodi, CA

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nintendo_wozniak

Sky High Scores

This is to update you on a couple of my recent Game Boy Tetris scores. On July 8th I achieved a score of 404,599 with 200 lines while flying at mach 2 and 53,000 feet in the Concorde between London and New York. This was my first score in excess of 400,000. In one sense, it will always be one of the "higher" Tetris scores ever—53,000 feet high!

My first score in excess of 500,000 was 507,110 on July 26th, even though I had only 167 lines. Photographs of both scores are enclosed. I will write again when I score 600,000.

Steve "Mr. T" Wozniak
Los Gatos, CA
P.S. My "lines" record is 202.

Talk about high scores! Ingenious Apple-man and Video Ace, "The Woz," alias Mr. T, topped November's NES Achievers list with his amazing Tetris total.

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nintendo_tcchristen

Video Spotlight

I am president of a club that goes by N.E.S.A. Our motto is "That was easy." The other members and I are 17, and all together, we have finished more than 150 games.

Members Jason and Daniel have Game Boys that we play through big speakers during lunch—the teachers love that! I've gone as far as hooking Game Boy up to a guitar amplifier. At first it sounded pretty obnoxious, but after a few adjustments, it sounded awesome. Sometimes we get together at a member's house and hook the NES up to a stereo.

Some of the games I've finished are Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Shadowgate, Snake's Revenge, Ninja Gaiden, The Guardian Legend, and Ultima.

I've videotaped most of my game endings so I can see them and show them to my friends without spending mega-hours completing them again. I also taped the cinema scenes and exciting conclusion to make my own "Ninja Gaiden: The Movie."

I love playing my NES, but it doesn't take over my life. My first love is beating percussion, and I've even won some soloist awards at jazz festivals.

A tip for Final Fantasy: Some weapons and armor have magical powers; be sure to take advantage of them.

T.C. Christensen, Agent 2112
Midway, Utah

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nintendo_reghetti

A Ring-Tail Twosome

I love Nintendo Power and my favorite game is Super Mario Bros. 3 because I also love raccoons. In fact, I have two of my own. One is albino, with white fur and red eyes. The other, which is black and brown, I named Tanooki.

Milo Reghetti
Transfer, PA

A true Tanooki! Has she mastered the Tail Attack?

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nintendo_kitty

No Catnaps Allowed

I've been playing my NES for four years. My cats have been playing for one year. When I get ready to play, they come running. My white cat, Shiloh, really likes Arkanoid, as you can see. He chases the ball, and when I miss it, he looks for it at the bottom of the TV screen.

I've conquered Super Mario Bros. 3 thirteen times. My highest score so far is over one million, and I can find all the warp whistles. Thanks for a great game.

Devin Linsenbach
Cape Coral, FL

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nintendo_iguana

A Cold-Blooded Player

This is my Iguana, Phyllis, enjoying the Nintendo Entertainment System. Nothing personal, but I think that she appreciates the heat generated from the NES more that the exciting graphics and great game play!

Nintendo and Reptiles forever!

Jason Tarshis
Campbell, CA

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Rap It Up!

My brothers, my friend, and I wrote a rap song about a few of our games. We hope that you like it!

The Nintendo Rap

My name is Matthew Bearup and I'm here to say,
I like Nintendo in a crazy way.

Super Mario Bros. is awesomely cool,
But in Mario 3 the koopas are dudically cruel.

Double Dragon is neat, but part two is better.
You need to be smart or Vanna won't turn your letter.

Dr. Wily is quick, but Mega Man is quicker,
And for a very good snack, munch on a Snickers.

Ninja Turtles are green and they love to fight,
Heroes in a half shell....All right.

Chip and Dale are small and they have buck teeth,
They have to fight Fat Cat and a dog with no leash.

Simon Belmont is brave, and he's no geek,
He has to fight Dracula, who is a freak.

The Dark Knight in black, the Joker needs bail,
He has to go fight just to save Vicki Vale.

The Simpsons are coming to Nintendo, Yo!
They'd better hurry 'cause I got to go.

Music is great to straighten out the mind,
But Nintendo is cool if you want to unwind.

So yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo, yo Homeboy.

Cory Cardwell, Matthew, Jamie & David Bearup
Rome, NY

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

Kevin P. Maney lives in New Orleans.