I must admit to not paying a lot of attention to Retromags, a project to scan up old, historically interesting game mags and distribute 'em over the net. I feel a little ashamed because they've uncovered more than a few things that surprised me, because I hadn't really seen examples of them elsewhere. Case in point: all the places the name "Nintendo Power" showed up where you wouldn't have expected it.

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Nintendo Power Flash was Canada's equivalent to the Nintendo Fun Club News, a free newsletter distributed to NES buyers that sent off for it. The difference is that the seasonal, 16-page Power Flash is quite a bit younger than that, premiering with the Summer 1988 issue and continuing on for at least five more installments until 1990, when the US-based Nintendo Power received official Canadian distribution.

Why didn't they just publish Nintendo Power up there from the start? Because Nintendo of America had no Canadian distribution until 1990 -- they handed that job over to Mattel, as they did with certain parts of Europe. I have heard that the Canada arrangement came to a halt when Mattel sued NOA over grey-market imports of NES hardware and software over the US border or something like, though I haven't found any details behind this claim.

Regardless, Power Flash is an interesting anomaly, partially Canada-made content from readers and partially a clone of NP content, right down to the screenshot maps and Japan-style original art (except the art's different from what was in NP itself). I'd like to get some issues of my own, but they seem to show up only rarely on eBay and it's not like I'll just happen to run into any here in Texas.

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Neither, likely, will I run across examples of this Australian edition of Nintendo Power, another 16-page newsletter that was presumably distributed for free to buyers. This summer-1991 issue is the only one I've ever heard of; the content is mostly straight from the US Nintendo Power, so I assume it's an official publication from whoever distributed the NES in Oz at the time. (I have to assume because there's no contact information within the mag itself, which claims to be "edited" by Mario in the table-of-contents page.)

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Finally, here's something I'm a little embarrassed hasn't been in my collection until now -- Pocket Power, a free booklet distributed by some theaters to anyone who bought a ticket to see The Wizard (as shown in this TV ad). Pocket Power is essentially a 40-page edition of NP, offering a couple features on the movie and Fred Savage and filling out the rest of the pages with quick, NP-style game previews. The content seems to be sponsored (every page features large company logos in a way that the real NP never would), but it's also mostly original, which makes me wonder if you can really call an NP collection complete without this little thing on the side. I wonder how many of these they distributed?

Regardless, thanks to Phillyman and the other people at Retromags for bringing this stuff to my attention.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He's also Executive Editor of PiQ, a new magazine hitting stands in March.]