Why you read Nintendo Power even if you didn’t own an NES.

Over at the New Yorker, Reeves Wiedemann laments the loss of Nintendo Power which served his adolescence the same illicit joys as Hustler. (His analogy, not mine.) It’s by far my favorite eulogy for the advertisement rag that doubled as “journalism” and a reminder of the immense cultural sway that Nintendo held over a generation of future world-creators. I am, obviously, not a child now, but it’s difficult to convey exactly why something like Nintendo Power would be so seductive even to those who didn’t own a Nintendo:

The great irony of my Nintendo fandom and my Nintendo Power reading is that during the entire time I made those trips to the library I never owned a Nintendo system, or any video games at all. As hinted at before, I came from a family that considered video games a scourge from some malevolent planet, not unlike like Mario’s Goombas or Metroid’s Space Pirates. In hindsight, reading so extensively about video games without owning is like poring over Rolling Stone without owning a record player. But there was a practical purpose: one of Nintendo Powers great draws were its walk-throughs: step-by-step guides to beating especially difficult sections of games. I read the walk-throughs so that I would not embarrass myself when invited to play Nintendo by friends with cooler parents, or when a babysitter snuck a Nintendo console into the house under my parents’ noses, swearing my brother and I to secrecy, in the (correct) belief that the presence of the games would make her job much easier. My parents were not pleased when my grandmother purchased a Nintendo 64 in the hopes of luring us to her house more frequently. Suddenly we spent a lot more time with her, and by the time I reached high school, my parents gave in and let me and my brother buy our first Nintendo.