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Stone Age Gaming: Nintendo

Stone Age Gaming: Nintendo "The Power Game" Calendars

Kris Randazzo
28 minute read

Do you like really weird old Nintendo art? Do you also like outdated calendars? Then this episode of Stone Age Gaming is for you! Kris flips through his 1990-1993 Nintendo "The Power Game" calendars, and appreciates all the fascinatingly inaccurate artwork contained within.

Transcript of the video:

Hi, everyone. Kris, from Stone Age Gamer here and welcome back to Stone Age Gaming.

Being a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s who was obsessed with video games was a very different experience than I imagine it is today. Nowadays, there are tons of vinyl pop figures and merchandise related to video game characters is everywhere. I mean, she's look behind me, look at these amiibo figures. I would have gone nuts for stuff like this when I was a kid that Mario figurines I had when I was little did not look as good as these. One place where this is really apparent, where you can really see the difference is in wall calendars. I know wall calendars very exciting, but bear with me here. This right here is a Metroid calendar for 2020, and it's really cool. It's got all this official artwork and stuff on it, and it's it's Metroid. This was 20 20. This was before Metroid Dread hit and Metroid became more popular, and it's still had its own calendar. You can find calendars for Mario Games and God of War Games and all kinds of great stuff. Video game related calendars super easy to find. But back when I was a kid, this is what we had for calendars, and they're extremely awesome. It's a bit on the bootleg side, this is the Nintendo Power Game calendar, and I love them. Let's take a look. 

[00:01:19] All right, here we are. This is the Nintendo The Power Game 1990 calendar. Now this is not to be confused with a Nintendo Power calendar if when when looking for these things online to find other pictures and stuff I've always seen Nintendo Power Calendar like this is not related to Nintendo Power at all. In fact, this isn't really related to Nintendo specifically, as far as I can tell, but let's take a closer look at what this actually is. This is the first of four of these that existed, and this is from 1990. See here on the cover. We've got this interesting picture of link here, which looks to be taken from. 

[00:01:59] I don't know, is this supposed to be a Zelda one sprite sideways? Or is this a Zelda to when he's ducking? Just kind of drawn weird. You got a, you know, princess toadstool for Mario two. You got war right here on the cover. Love that this super cool looking digital Sam is going on here and Donkey Kong roll and barrel and this wacky look in picture Mario pits up there in the corner. This is super awesome stuff. 

[00:02:24] Flip over to the back and we have the ending the Super Mario Brothers two on Mario laying here dreaming about Sub Con and Boy I a toads face certainly has a he's got some eyes on him there. Let's see here. This was, uh, subscribe to Nintendo Power. There is an ad for it on the back. That's pretty cool. This was published by Harry Neighbors Inc. So a Times Mirror company. So it doesn't mention subscribing Nintendo Power, but this was not a Nintendo power thing, but it is an official licensed product. So let's take a look at what's on the inside of this awesome thing. There is so much crazy artwork in here. I love it. Now, if you have ever followed us on social media, you've probably seen some of these pictures before. I tend to post one of these every month on the strange game or Twitter account whatnot, but this is a little bit closer of a deep dove. 

[00:03:16] So here we have Super Mario Brothers is the first month in the in January. You got some super cool tips here. Bowser power booster mushrooms moved to the right. Don't let them escape. And there's one of these on pretty much every page. We're not going to go full detail every single month, but just kind of taking a look and everything and pointing out some of the wacky stuff like here's the same render of Mario, and I don't know where this render came from. It's super interesting. Just looks like an old style render. He's thrown a fireball straight ahead. These super awesome like early look. And what are they supposed to be? The bricks and Bowser's Castle, I guess. And this like the way the light follows, or the Super Troopers jumping cheep cheep, a mushroom toad and princess peach in a yellow dress. For some reason, this is so weird and off brand, but also like, you know, these are real sprites just combined with other weird stuff. So let's keep going here. 

[00:04:16] What is next in February is RC Pro Am can see that I marked my sister's birthday on there when I was a kid. This is RC Pro Am, which is such a cool game. I love this this image here with the latest, the stark colors and everything. The lightning bolts coming out of the the RC antenna. The trophy looks like that classic, you know, old PC game almost look to it as your course with the tires and stuff on it. Oh, that's a lot of tires for a course and our super. I'm pretty sure you can have more than one set of tires on a course at a time. But like I said, this stuff is like super off brand. Let's see what's a tip here. Collect bonus letters one per track when you have enough to spell Nintendo. You get a faster car to race, super cool march, we have a look at this. 

[00:05:09] Look at this, the legend of Zelda. Jeez, this is a I don't know what these oh, this was a countdown to when we got cable, when we first got cable in my house. Oh, those were the days, man. Look at this thing. Look at this skeleton. That is the coolest thing. That's like straight out of the money for nothing. Music video from dire straits. These guys to move. And this neat looking, pixelated picture of link, I've seen this this was an instruction manual or something. And you got Uncle Mentis over there, old guy just floating in the air. That's that's pretty wacky. But boy, what a picture. 

[00:05:49] So let's see what's April? Oh, another one of my favorites. Look at this. I had never played kid Icarus until way later in life because I never knew anyone who had the game. None of my rental places had it, and my parents had never bought it for me. But I was always fascinated with it because it looked like this like fourth pillar of Nintendo's pantheon of things. It was Mario, Metroid and Zelda and Kid Icarus, right? Because they had capped it in with, with Pitt being one of the main characters, even though they called him Kid Icarus. And then this was in the calendar. I always saw the screenshots on the posters. It looked like such a fascinating game, and just look at this thing. It is so cool with like the Reaper in the rip in the corner, and then Pit just looks great. The Frog Monster jumping out of there, whatever that is, if a suspect knows and I forget what the name of these guys are, but like they, it looked so goofy and so interesting and fascinating. This is one of my favorite favorite favorite pictures. 

[00:06:44] Let's see. In May we make it to Super Mario Brothers to and we've got Mario, Mario, Mario and Mario and shy guys looking like they're moving way too fast in the desert stages and stuff. This is pretty cool on June. Here we go. This was Donkey Kong obviously pretty weird choice of font on this. It's tear with the polka dots, but whatever. And you got your Super Mario brothers Mario walking around for hours rescuing Pauline and Duncan Jr. here, even though he wasn't in Donkey Kong. But who cares? All right. It's still pretty awesome. I like how they did. They used the ladders for the the days of the month. That was a pretty, pretty clever thing to do. All right. 

[00:07:26] Next up, we've got punch out. We got some some Bald Bull and Great Tiger, Don Flamenco Glass Joe, Piston Honda, King Hippo. And yikes. And you got Mario here. And then just I guess these are supposed to be like the bubbles that King Hippo sees when you knock them down. I don't know. I still totally awesome. Love this picture. I love Punch out.

[00:07:51] What's next? What's next? Oh, this is such a weird one. Hogan's Alley. Like, I understand why this of all games got picked to be a month. I'm glad it did, because like, man, look at this, this is probably the most in-depth Hogan's Alley art you'll ever see. My friend Joey had this game when we were kids is the only place I'd ever played it, and now it was a neat game. But Hogan's Alley got its own month in the calendar even, and it looks super cool of the cigar out of the gangster here. Like this is such a such a great great picture. 

[00:08:25] Let's see. Oh, look at this one. I love this one. Probably this might be my favorite on the whole, this whole calendar. I'd look at this. This is insane. But this great picture of armaments all digitized again, this official link artwork had, you know, all blocked out like this to look like it was, you know, on in any act or something tactile. It's like all weird a metallic one out. But just look at the shading inside the the tree with the eyes on it, the entrance to, what's that? Probably say, level one. But I don't think there are tactile prints around level one, but our commenters was the boss level one. Whatever it doesn't matter, it's it's not actually accurate, but a little traps in here. Shields got all this extra shooting. I love this image. This is such a cool picture. 

[00:09:09] All right. September, October. We have golf. Yep, that's golf. Oh, here we go in November, look at Metroid, look at this amazing CG Samus. This is nuts. I like what the heck? This is so cool, Ridley. Bright red looks like he's holding a stick that's shooting fireballs out. At least that's what I thought, because Metroid was another one I didn't get to play until I probably a couple of years after I had seen this, so I had always assumed Ridley was this little dragon that held a stick that shot fireballs out of it. And look, it looks like this. The the what's it? The little turret thing for mother brains is actually shooting and breaking into another brain, and then that looks like a sideways appetite is shooting. What the heck is that thing called one of those little floaty guys from Bronze Star? Looks like it's shooting out of that thing. Like, clearly this was done by somebody who had only seen concept art and Sprite work from Metroid. But boy, what awesome stuff. Let's see. What's a tip if you go through three airlocks from the starting point of the game corridor corridor and number one and climb the long shaft upward, the first airlock that you come to on the left leads to a long beam. Well, thank you and like a little metaphor there. Totally awesome. 

[00:10:33] All right. We've got 11 November December Zelda to Oh, I love this one. You know, I love this one because this is such a weird picture. First off, he's wearing the handy glove when he picks it up, which is super cool. But look at this. This is such a weird misinterpretation of this sprite in the actual game. He's holding his shield in front of him, and this here is supposed to be his sword. But whoever recovered this clearly didn't understand it and thought the sword was more of his arm, and he's holding the sword in front of his face. So he's got this super weird, super long arm. It's so bizarre. I love it. Oh, that's so crazy. Great. Great month there, right? December and then we get next year. 

[00:11:18] January of 91 is warped and and princess toadstool fight and war and Super Mario Brothers, too, and that wraps up the first power game calendar. Absolutely awesome. Now, something that you'll notice in these is that every year they get a little bit more bootleg. There is clearly a lot of effort put into this one, even if it wasn't accurate. They put a lot of work into it, but every year things get just a little bit less kind of know thorough. So let's take a look over at nineteen ninety one. 

[00:11:53] So here's the 1991 calendar, you know, a little bit cleaner looking, a pixel work on the front of these things, but we're really down to like, punch out Zelda, Mario and Metroid. So now we've only got four things represented on the front of this. What's on the back of this one? Oh, this great picture of masters just hanging out with this toadstool while Mario rockets into space. So let's see what's going on on the inside of this one. 1991 what was January of 91 was, Oh, look at that. That is some great legend of Zelda Ark Art Lun molas. I think what were these things were supposed to be called? They didn't look anything like this in the game. But boy, what a cool picture like. It's weird that the background is top down and then you've got this like over the shoulder picture of link fighting one of these guys. Look at that. I look at the art on that. That's so awesome. 

[00:12:51] Let's move on to February. We've got Super Mario to Luigi in blue, just a full on blue Luigi. They're facing down. Try Clyde. This is an awesome one, too. Pretty straightforward. I like, you know, making the numbers out of the bricks. That was pretty solid plan. I always wondered what the M stood for on those. There's a little things that they wrote, but whatever. There's a tweeter down there and that's not that's not wrong. Twitter would occasionally show up in these boss battles and Mario, too. All right. Not bad. Yeah, we got some more cool Metroid art like this in the bubble room and shoot a Chozo statue. You got a bunch of like cool looking enemies up there. Zuma and Dragon Ball. And that's not a side hopper. What the heck is that thing? And that's a desk figure. Maybe, you know, just do the one with the big, lumpy arms I can't remember. Either way. Super cool. Look at that made the bubble room. The bubbles, the numbers. That's that's awesome. 

[00:13:54] Super Mario Brothers. This is great. These are I don't know what this is from like these look like completely original renders, which is super awesome. This is clearly like a cleaned up take on the sprite of him swimming. I think like that's really what this looks like, but the proportions are all weird. I don't know, like that's a sprite, that's a straight up Sprite, and then you've got these look like cleaned up artwork from the game. I don't know. This is such a weird one, but I love the look of these two bloopers over here. That's that's such a such a cool look. More punch out. We've got little Mac sock and a bald bowl in the face they're making. The camera flashes. The the numbers was really clever. Mario not looking great. Not sure what's going on there, but Mario is looking pretty bizarre there.

[00:14:44] Got Zelda to facing off against the big dragon at the end of the second to last dungeon and Zelda too. What the heck is that dragon's name? I should know this. He makes a really weird noise in the Japanese version, too. But man, look at the link does not look it looks pretty scared, they're still pretty cool like the colors, really. They got the color of the dungeon right or the dragon is so, so that's certainly something. Then we got Mario three. This one makes absolutely no sense. We got a big star coming in, but it's like the hollowed out version of the star. So it's like, that's the one that's inside the little block at the end. But whatever you got, boom, boom flattened on the floor. And then here's where the king supposed to be. And there's nothing just Mario weird looking Mario jumping. OK, that's that's that's not bad. Good work.

[00:15:43] Then we got, Oh, look at this now. We got more Metroid. I have to assume this is the same render that they had from the last one. They just put in a different position. I have to assume that craved being bright red and behind a shield of some sort. That's interesting. So again, probably not designed by anybody who's ever played Metroid, but still super cool again. Super Mario to love the way off stage in Mario two. This was such a cool place, especially like when you're pulling vegetables out of a whale's back that doesn't make any sense at all. But hey, there's Mario to that game was weird. 

[00:16:20] October you got a big old Gib dough up there. The floating balls looks great. Link looking super bootleg down here. That's awesome. And he's holding up his sword. You never get a sword in one of these areas in the game, but hey, whatever man still looks cool. This one's great. Look at this weird thing. Welcome to the war zone. I love this image. Then just another weird render of Mario looking. I mean, this is this looks ahead of its time and we're in like any area right here, and that just looks like super futuristic CG Mario. But just this whole concept of him falling through a warp zone is super cool to me. 

[00:17:04] Let's see, November, December it was December. We've got him fighting horse head first level all to iron knuckle hanging out in the doorway back there. I always thought this was cool because it's like a real attempt at making the room where you fight a boss and Zelda two three three dimensional. So seeing the statue was like, you know, actual dimensionality to it and the curtains on both walls. This is a pretty neat link. Looks. Yeah. Again, looking a little off. But here we are. And then for January of ninety two, we have some more Super Mario brothers three Mario walk around in an airship looking pretty worried about all that fire. And really, why wouldn't he be so? 

[00:17:46] That wraps it up on the power game calendar 1991, which means it's time to move on to nineteen ninety two. All right, so what are we got on the cover this time? We've got more Metroid, Zelda, Mario and Tetris of all things. So you've got, yeah, we've got three. Again, you can see the love and care attached to these things is definitely starting to dip way further. Let's see what's on the back. We got more Mario three, because it was pretty much the biggest thing in the world. Mario riding in the tornado from the Warp Zone, a super bootleg question block back there, angry son, which never shows up in the clouds. But hey again, it is what it is. Let's take a look inside the 1992 calendar. 

[00:18:33] We start with January Superar, but there's three Big Bertha there. Um, this is like all of these renders. This looks really nice, like the way they add the shine to everything. This is a really, really nice one. I know some of the proportions are off. Obviously, this flower was not, you know, a sprite or anything. This is just something that was probably drawn just for this purpose. But still, the rest of this looks really nice. It's super good. One February, we've got a link facing off against the Gladiator. What was that guy's name? Guma, I think, was what they called him. He's the big guy with a chain. I love this boss. He was a really wacky looking boss and he wasn't in the Japanese version of the game. 

[00:19:16] Then we've got this. Look at this. This is Sam is outside of her suit and just you didn't see this much back then. Effectively zero suit before. That was a thing. This is I was kind of blown away by the fact that retroactively blown away by the fact that this even exists. Here's the end of Metroid. We're just going to go ahead and spoil the ending right here. I mean, I guess they showed off the ending of Mario two and earlier one, but still tip. And now it can be told when Samus removes her armor after defeating the mother brain, she is revealed to be a woman. Amazing. It's pretty, pretty cool under two blond hair, which this is interesting to me because in. I said the Justin Bailey code, you didn't really get to see her as a blond. I felt like Sam is being blond wasn't really determined until later. This is such a weird. I would love to know the actual history of this particular image, like how this came to be. This is a fascinating picture to me. April is another great one. Look at this. I love this picture of Mario's got the big, goofy eyes. Fry Fraga has always been one of my favorite bosses. I'm so sad he never came back. And, of course, a fan of her chasing after you in this great level where you had to ride the shy guys across the spikes thought that was such a clever stage. Great pic,. 

[00:20:35] Tetris man. When Tetris hit, this was such a huge deal. So of course there'd be a Tetris one pretty straightforward. And yet you're falling blocks and weird angles, which thankfully never happens in the game because that would just make things. And you imagine playing Tetris with just like physics and the Tetris blocks fumbling all over the place. This one's pretty. It's nice. It's kind of boring.

[00:20:58] Get Mario jumping over a blue, lumpy piranha plant. OK, cool. Good job. July facing off against the four headed glitch. OK? That's pretty awesome. That's a. I don't know where you got where they got this image from, but it's super cool and, you know, blank look a little tiny, diminutive link. There's a bug out eyes over there. It's pretty pretty, pretty classy. Then we get the Gameboy one because, you know, Gameboy is out now. So we've got your basic tennis, golf and baseball here. I love Game Boy tennis. One of my favorites, I like how they used this kind of like reddish thing. So they didn't go with the the, as the second commercial says, creamed spinach color. Look for this. They went with this kind of red and orange tint, which I think was used in a lot of the background art for Gameboy like accessories and stuff. It's an interesting look. I like this one a lot. Kind of having a Gameboy centric thing like Game Boy is its thing, not these individual games. That's that's pretty wild. 

[00:22:02] Then we got this one. It's neat. It's super lazy. But here's the game over screen. Here's a literal sprite of an iron knuckle that we cleaned up and link's foot. There you go. Guess he's using jump magic? Oh, look at that tip. That jump spell can be used to avoid some of the stronger enemies. Never do that. Always fight the stronger enemies earlier in the game. Get good at doing the combat so you can level yourself up always worth the time to level up. Do some grinding and Zelda to it'll make the end game easier on you. 

[00:22:33] This is a great one. Again, it's somewhat lazy, but it still comes off pretty awesome with the mouse or being blown up by his own bombs. Master was such a cool boss. I cannot believe they haven't put Mouser in more modern Mario games, like they kept Birdo from Mario two, but none of the other big bosses and especially Mouser. He was a main character on the old cartoon, but it's a pretty cool one, at least that got Luigi's Colors right this time. Guys, good punch out Mac dodging soda, pop and ski here again with the camera flashes as the as there's the No. The calendar up there, which is cool, but again, straight forward not doing anything crazy with this one. Still, I love it. 

[00:23:13] Dr. Mario loved Dr. Mario. Mario looks like he's been taking some of those vitamins. He looks wired. All of these characters, especially the blue on the blue, was always my favorite look, and he just looks so sinister and they say vitamins on him, that's pretty cute. And using the clipboard was was it was a clever thing. And then we get on to this one. This is simple but super effective. Love this January 93 went in for the longest time. I thought this was it. I thought this was all there was of these calendars, which always bummed me out because they were one of the things I looked forward to every year was seeing what kind of weird interpretations these calendars were would put together for these classic Nintendo games that I loved. But years and years and years later, after the advent of the internet, I discovered that this existed the 1993 power game calendar. And as far as I can tell, this was the last one that they ever made. 

[00:24:07] Anyway, we've got a yellow virus on the front. Now we've got Super Mario World, so Super Nintendo is involved here. You know, Zelda two down here in the corner, the funky looking again with the googly eyes that looks great and giant boo on the front and see what's on the back here. Luigi is doing one of the bonus stages in Super Mario World and actually winning, getting a one up look at that pretty snazzy. So let's see what's inside this one. This is definitely the laziest of the four had lazy is the wrong word. Effort was still clearly put in, but like, wow, the amount of effort put into this is definitely taken a backseat. Like, OK, that's a large sprite. That's a blaq sprite. But they added like extra bits to the eyes and stuff and look at the weird lines that they did for Luigi's hair like it just doesn't quite look right. Like he's got a star and he's got the trail of flashes going behind him. So it's pretty clever. But yeah, I don't know. They really nailed that one, guys. 

[00:25:08] This one, however, look at that. That is awesome. This is a super narrow. What was this? A silence track, I think is what stage this is. Not having the Blue Falcon anywhere on the page is pretty, pretty wild, you know, focusing on fire stingray. But it just looks. I mean, it's basically an EF zero screenshot at this point because a lot of the stuff they were doing with this artwork was able to be replicated on Super Nintendo pretty, pretty closely. So, you know, these were obviously cleaned up and redrawn to some degree. But outside of that, it just looks like a scene from silence, which is awesome. Well, that's April 1st, March, March. There we go. OK. Boy, Bowser looks something. Yeah, I guess skipping March was not a bad idea. Yikes. 

[00:26:00] Anyway, back to April. Here we go. Another link versus our commenters picture. This is nowhere near as cool as the last link versus the documents we saw. So the Blues nice, I guess. Pretty, pretty, pretty neat. Then we get May. We've got another Tetris, which looks all right. Then we got Metroid to return of Samus for Gameboy. So you got like monochrome look to things. This is a really, really cool looking one. You know, Samsung shipped back there, kind of cleaned it clean that up a little bit, added some shading to it. A couple of Metroid is coming after you and that thing shooting all the fireballs, which makes the numbers. That's this pretty clever like that. 

[00:26:40] Let me got some more Super Mario World again with the weird shading and Mario's mustache and hair Yoshi's looking kind of tired. But these guys, the Dynamo Rhinos and the Mini Dane Mini Reinhardt Mini Rhino, many don't even remember Dino Rhino is that cape that big guy? Jump on him. He turns into that. I like this one. It's a pretty good picture. Solid pick. Good job, guys. Then we get Mario to going back to classics and his style, and Jake's just that's a lot of yikes. Let's keep going here. August,. 

[00:27:15] September. We've got Dr. Mario again, the weird hair shading here, and it looks like this just looks wrong. I don't know, man, why is he throwing a double yellow pillow to a blue? What's wrong with you, Dr. Mario? You are. You are off your game, sir. You do not have the cure to charity. So let's see. September, October we again go with some ghosts. This is pretty great one. Love the the different booths as the numbers. That's really cool. I like that one a lot. And of course, the king boo back their giant boo. The eyes look a little off. But hey, whatever, man. Good stuff. Solid play here.

[00:27:57] November. I don't know what they were going for here. Like, this is the inside of a toad house. But then you've got like Mario's giant toads just here. And here's some treasure chests like, I feel like they didn't really know what to do with this one and just kind of plopped it on there. Then you got December with link fighting the iron knuckle on the horse. I'm pretty sure he's supposed to be blue. I don't know what's going on with that fairy. That is weird. Looking stuff, blank looks very angry, he's got the angry eyes going on, making the curtain into the numbers very clever and then for the very last one pilot wings, I like this one a lot. The fire looks a little weird coming out of the rocket belt, but the fact that they made these cool little dot things, the calendar I always loved because this stage I don't understand what these things are supposed to be. But if you land on them, they blow up and you bounce off of them. I don't get it. I never have. I never will. That's fine. And this was the last one. This is it. That's that's the end of the Nintendo Power game calendars. And they're super goofy off brand art that I love with all of my heart. 

[00:29:04] So, yes, I have an irrational love the Nintendo Power game calendars, but I mean, can you blame me? There really isn't an equivalent to this kind of art today. Early computer graphics and stuff had such a weird and unique look to them, and now people still make pixel art, but it doesn't quite look like that stuff. You know what I mean? The 3D rendered skeletons was all very fascinating to me, and I still think they look super awesome to this day. Well, thanks for watching everybody. If you liked what you saw here today, please, please comment. Like, subscribe, share. Let us know. Tell us your stories of super awesome old video game related stuff that just couldn't exist today. They don't make anything like it anymore. I love old gaming merchandise. I think it is the coolest stuff in the world. I was obsessed with it as a kid, and that obsession never went away, so I'd love to hear from you. Thanks again on behalf of all of us here at Stone Age Gamer. Keep playing games. 

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