One thing I’ve always toyed with doing here on Gaming Respawn is a retrospective on video game magazines from the days of yore, especially as I’ve picked some up over the years and it seems like a way of justifying having a bunch of old magazines lying around my flat. There’s also something so nostalgically nourishing about taking an adventure back in time to an era where retro games were actually contemporary and the hype cycle was in full flow. Today, we’ve got a magazine that I didn’t read back in the day as it came out before I owned an N64 as we look at Nintendo World Issue 12, which came out in May 2000.
The magazine scene at the time featured a mixture between the official company sponsored ones (such as Official PlayStation Magazine UK) and a host of independent ones (such as PSW magazine). Nintendo World would fall into the latter category, with the scene having quite a few smaller non-affiliated mags trying to get some nibbles in the big video game ocean without angering the bigger fish. It’s funny to think how many smaller indie mags were about at the time as the scene has shrunk considerably these days due to the profligacy of websites on the internet (including this one you are currently reading).
Nintendo World eschews the usual intro and welcome page by getting straight into the meat of the main course with a review of Pokémon Stadium for the NG4 (the magazine covered all of Nintendo’s major home and handheld consoles from this era). I must say that I kind of like there to be a bit of a preamble at the start of the magazine to get us all settled in, but then again, I’m a bit old-fashioned. The review of Pokémon Stadium features a lot of nice screenshots showing the game in action, and the copy does a good job of letting a potential player know what they will be in for if they decide to give the game a purchase. There are a few typos, unfortunately, but overall, this is a solid way to get the magazine rolling out of the blocks. Nintendo World enjoyed the game and gave it a 91% score.
Following that initial Pokémon Stadium review, we get the excitedly named “Hyper News Explosion”, which strangely enough covers some news in the world of Nintendo. The two big news items are the rumoured new hardware Nintendo has on the horizon for all its dedicated video game enthusiasts, those being the Game Boy Advance and Project Dolphin. They have a look at potential designs of the new handheld Advance, although they optimistically have pictures of Super Mario 64 running on it. Nintendo World is kind enough to confirm that such graphical fidelity on a handheld console was unlikely at the time, which indeed proved to be the case.
There’s quite a fun section where readers can send in game pitches to developer Dave Palmer, and he’ll give his thoughts on them. Sophie Oakley sends in a pitch for a Mario/Zelda hybrid-style game where you play as Luigi and slice away at beasties with a sword. Palmer thinks Luigi stabbing things is a bit risky, but he seems to like the pitch in general. Project Dolphin would go on to be named the GameCube, of course, with Nintendo World saying it is due to be released in 2001 and will use DVDs instead of cartridges. They also think it might have online capabilities. The GameCube would indeed hit shelves in 2001, but it would use mini-discs instead of full sized DVDs and would support limited online play. This part is more speculation rather than real news, with the source being an IGN64 interview with corporate director Perrin Kaplan. It was still an interesting read though, even if some of it wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny.
We get a previews section, with the main focus being on The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and its game mechanics of using masks. Nintendo World doesn’t seem to understand the time travelling aspect, but they were probably playing a Japanese version of the game so were kind of guessing as to what was going on. There are a lot of nice screenshots here, which surely got Zelda fans all hyped, although they dedicate most of the section to Zelda and kind of skimp on the coverage of the other games. Pokémon Yellow receives very little coverage by comparison, for instance, which is strange considering it was a game that came out with a lot of hype, and you’d think they’d really want to get some good copy written for it here, especially as other games in the series were such big hits.
After some nice centrefold posters featuring the likes of Mario (with Lara Croft even making an appearance because there was a Tomb Raider game planned for the Game Boy), we move onto the rest of the reviews, within which Metal Gear: Ghost Babel for the Game Boy Color gets top billing. In a nice touch, they actually have the button layout included on the review in the corner, which would be very helpful in explaining to a potential buyer how the controls of the series would be tweaked for a handheld release. The review for Babel is a little bit brusque, but it still covers the points it needs to, and the game ends up getting an impressive score of 92%.
Most of the reviews are pretty quick reads, with more space being dedicated to screenshots than actual copy. I don’t mind that with a review occasionally, but I feel you shouldn’t take that tact with every review in the mag, which is pretty much what Nintendo World does. I’m sure if you were a younger reader who just liked looking at pictures, then you wouldn’t mind too much, but I feel some of the reviews barely scratch the surface of the topic at hand, let alone get right into the meat of the game they are reviewing. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is also reviewed and gets an exceptional score of 93%, although again, the review is a bit light on details. There is a nice mix of home and handheld console reviews though, which is nice to see as it means you don’t just need to be an N64 owner to appreciate what’s being reviewed.
We, of course, get our mandatory cheats and tips section of the mag, which was quite useful back in 2000 as not everyone had reliable, speedy internet connections at home, so having a bunch of codes in a magazine was pretty handy. We find out how to unlock new wrestlers in ECW Hardcore Revolution and also get some level codes for Rainbow Six, amongst other things. I actually used those Rainbow Six ones back in the day because I didn’t have a Memory Pak for my N64, so I couldn’t save my progress and had to use the codes to pick up where I left off.
Overall, this was a breezy read, although I would have personally liked there to be a bit more detail in some of the reviews. For an unofficial video game mag that cost £2.50, I feel like you would have gotten value for your money back in the day.