np-8807.jpg    np-0711.jpg

The November Nintendo Power arrived in my mailbox the other day, and as managing editor Scott Pelland writes in his opening letter, it's officially the last one that Nintendo of America is producing. As was widely reported elsewhere, after 20 years and 221 issues (only one of which Pelland himself isn't on the masthead for -- the very first one, July/August 1988), production of NP will be handled by Future, which has already been producing Nintendo: The Official Magazine in the UK for nearly two years now.

I think Scott's editorial letter is worth reading even if you don't read NP regularly, so I'll reproduce it here:

"For nearly 20 years I have had what many people would consider to be the best job in the world. (No argument there.) And the same thing could be said of my talented colleagues -- the writers, designers, editors, and incredible support staff that have weated the details every month to bring you the world's first and best official video game magazine. Nintendo has been our home, and our parent, too, supporting and guiding us as we have tried to tap into our passion for both the games and the print medium to inform and entertain our loyal readers.

But there comes a time when we all leave home and strive for even greater achievements, and that time is now for Nintendo Power. This issue is the final edition to be published by Nintendo of America. Beginning with Volume 222, Future US (one of the most accomplished magazine publishers on Earth) becomes Nintendo Power's official publisher. Huge news, I know, but not discouraging.

In fact, although some masthead names will change, I am convinced that Future's new team is not only dedicated to carrying on with the traditions and quality you expect, but will deliver exciting new content and benefits, such as an annual holiday bonus issue. Subscribers will continue to receive NP monthly in the mail, and newsstand patrons will find NP in more locations than ever before. So please join me as I say welcome to the future, and to Future US."

So not a heck of a lot of information on what Future will do with the mag, other than the fact it'll be 13 issues a year just like every Future title. This issue of NP has a full preview of games covered in next month's edition, so I'm assuming we'll see the December issue right on schedule, though I don't know what the editorial lineup looks like yet.

Perhaps not all that much will change with the new publisher, but I still think it's a good occasion to look back on what Nintendo Power accomplished. At its peak, NP was the premier outlet through which gamers got their info and strategies. For a time from its inception to around 1995, having a game make the cover of NP was a major advertising coup for whatever third-party publisher managed the feat, because full coverage in the mag had a direct effect on sales of the sort that good reviews in Famitsu are purported to have over in Japan.

Its total circulation was in the millions until the N64 era proved harsh for Nintendo (and the Internet made traditional tips-n-strategy mags obsolete), and few game mags ever did more to define the tastes of a generation of console owners. Even now, the mag remains pretty unique in the marketplace, with a very singular approach to coverage, interviews and game-preview coverage you don't see anywhere else, and a general feeling of "fullness" (sorry to be vague here) even though it's the same number of pages as any other game mag these days.

Not bad, really, for what's supposed to be a glorified company newsletter. I hope that Future is able to keep the tradition of excellence going.

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He's also an editor at Newtype USA magazine.]