Ever read an article and end up with a long-forgotten memory springing forward? That's just what happened when I read this article about the history of Game Player's magazines over at GameSetWatch. As it turns out, the Nintendo Buyer's Guide and Nintendo Strategy Guide (seen here) published by Game Player's were the first two video gaming magazines that I owned. They were given to me by my parents before I ever had a Nintendo Entertainment System of my own.
As I've mentioned before, Nintendo once contacted the local foam production plant that my father managed to see about custom foam inserts for NES boxes. I wound up with a "loaner" NES while Nintendo and the foam company talked details, meaning that I rented my fair share of games from the local video store. Buying my own games was impractical at the time, seeing as how the NES would eventually have to be returned and at the age of six I didn't have much money coming in beyond an allowance and annual birthday gift money. There was a whole sea of games available for rent. Which were good and which weren't worth the $5 rental charge? That's where these old magazines came in handy.
The Nintendo Buyer's Guide featured brief looks at the earliest NES games. We're talking about the "greatest hits" from 1986 and 1987 here: Adventure Island! City Connection! Amagon! Bubble Bobble! Ninja Taro! Pinbot! "And Many More"! A few screenshots and brief story snippets were on each page and each game received no more than a few paragraphs of coverage. At the tender age of six all of the games in the book looked good. Hindsight tells us that most of the games in the book weren't worth the $50 purchase price or $5 rental price, but at the time each page was full of dreams.
The Nintendo Strategy Guide was similar, but instead of brief plot snippets the text space was spent on tips and tactics. When I say "tips and tactics", I mean the generic help that the tip magazines of the era provided: "Shoot the boss", "Don't get hit", "Collect coins for points", and "Don't run out of time". Money well spent, eh? The best tip the magazine could provide was information on the secret warps in Super Mario Brothers 2.
The Game Player's publications just couldn't compare to the magazines that came later, such as Nintendo Power, Electronic Gaming Monthly, and even GamePro. The old magazines served their purpose, but looking back on it all I think I realize why I didn't bother to save them when I discarded my massive gaming magazine years ago. Everybody has to start somewhere though, and for me that meant Game Player's.