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Friday, May 28, 2010

From The Retro Gaming Magazine Box: Howard & Nester

Posted by Earnest "Nex" Cavalli on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 1:08 AM

That logo could only be more 90s if it were drawn by Rob Liefeld.
  • Nintendo of America
  • That logo could only be more 90s if it were drawn by Rob Liefeld.

Last week I cribbed a handful of pages straight from a copy of GamePro from 1997 in an effort to exploit your childhood nostalgia. It went over like gangbusters and as a result I think I'll make it a regular feature.

This week's installment focuses on Nintendo Power, or more specifically, a comic that ran in early issues of the magazine called Howard & Nester.

(Do any of you really need to be reminded to click the blue text below?)

Before we get started, a short primer on the history of Howard & Nester.

The comic appeared in Nintendo Power's first 55 issues, and served as something of an illustrated hint section for whichever game the magazine's editors decided was most popular at the time. This being Nintendo back in its most gilded of golden ages (read: the NES era), that translated into comics featuring Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, Startropics, Contra, Duck Tales, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Tetris, and in an isolated instance of the editors not singling out a game that would permanently install itself into the collective unconscious of my generation as a classic, The Lone Ranger.

Most kids who grew up suckling on Nintendo's electronic teat assumed the series was just a novel way of pushing information through our rapidly declining attention spans. Few realized the horrifying truth: Howard is a real dude! Specifcally, the bowtie-clad comic character was based on Nintendo Fun Club president (and de facto company figure head) Howard Philips. Philips go on to work for JVC only a few years later, and as a result he disappears from the comic after volume 25.

Since most readers seemed to prefer the slapstick antics of the completely fictional Nester however, I'm going to guess not many kids left their pillows awash in salty tears.

Alright. History lesson over. On with the comics!

Howard & Nester's debut.
  • Nintendo of America
  • Howard & Nester's debut.

The Legend of Zelda — Volume 1

The duo use their first appearance to help gamers stuck in The Legend of Zelda's mind-numbingly labyrinthine dungeon system as well as pimp features of the very same magazine that their comic is found in. Given that no one would have any idea about their capitalist message unless they had actually purchased this first issue of Nintendo Power, I'm left hoping this was an incredibly meta joke that the one and a half people tapped to create the early volumes of Howard & Nester are still giggling about to this day.

Whip it. Whip it clockwise with a gentle, consistent motion.
  • Nintendo of America
  • Whip it. Whip it clockwise with a gentle, consistent motion.

I still dont see how this is better than hit Deborah Cliff with your head to make a hole.
  • Nintendo of America
  • I still don't see how this is better than "hit Deborah Cliff with your head to make a hole."

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest — Volume 3

The first two-page Howard & Nester installment also sees the debut of Nester literally making his way through whatever game they were discussing that volume. This would become de rigueur for the comic, as are Howard's condescending tone, and Nester being functionally braindead.

(Side note: This comic came from the infamous issue of Nintendo Power that sports a cover featuring some dude dressed as Simon Belmont and carrying Dracula's severed head. I'm of the camp that believes the cover is totally wicked awesome rad, but apparently a ton of parents wrote letters to Nintendo to complain about the issue, saying it gave their bitch-ass children nightmares.)

I like turtles.
  • Nintendo of America
  • I like turtles.

Anyone who says they beat the underwater bomb level in this game is a goddam liar.
  • Nintendo of America
  • Anyone who says they beat the underwater bomb level in this game is a goddam liar.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — Volume 7

Though this is one of the earliest comics hinting at Howard's imminent decrease in face time, the bowtied asshole still manages to telecockblock Nester in front of the way-hot-in-a-late-80s-illustration-sort-of-way April O'Neil.

What a dick.

Easily one of the weakest games featured gets one of the best comics.
  • Nintendo of America
  • Easily one of the weakest games featured gets one of the best comics.

I only wish this comic was based on Uninvited. H&N badly needed more brutal violence.
  • Nintendo of America
  • I only wish this comic was based on Uninvited. H&N badly needed more brutal violence.

Déjà Vu — Volume 23

The verbosity of this comic is only matched by the verbosity of the featured game. If you never played Déjà Vu, it was a noir crime tale ported to the NES by ICOM Simulations from their similar (if slightly more adult) Macintosh adventure game of the same name.

The comic is not just a great representation of the game's bizarre world — yes, there really is a crocodile in the sewers — it also does a great job of getting hints across alongside tame kiddie comic entertainment. Too bad it took 23 issues of Nintendo Power for Howard & Nester to finally live up to their initial premise.

As with last week, I don't want to run afoul of any lawyers, so I leave you with only the above comics. This time, there's a silver lining though.

Did you guys notice the watermarks on some of those comics? That's because instead of scanning the images direct from my back issues of Nintendo Power, they're brought to you courtesy of the Howard & Nester Comics Archive. I've been reading the H&NCA for years now and fully recommend you take a look at everything they have over there if you dig what you've seen above, or just need a bit more nostalgia crammed up your weekend.

Next week I think I'm going to go with a look at Nintendo Power's non-comic content. Same copyright infringing time, same copyright infringing channel!

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