In the year 1991, mentions of the Super Nintendo began to slowly pop up in the Nintendo Power magazine. While the Super Famicom had already been released as of November of 1990 in Japan, the Super Nintendo didn’t release until Fall of 1991 in the United States. In the months before the release, Nintendo Power was slowly but surely building the hype by offering quick previews of many of the upcoming titles. Super Mario World got a lot of the attention, but there were a lot of games mentioned, including what would become known as A Link to the past.
In the July 1991, Issue #26, the very first screenshot of a Link to the Past appeared in Nintendo Power. You can view the screenshot by clicking here. You’ll notice that there is a lot different in the display of the number of rupees, arrows, and bombs that you got. In the final version, this material was displayed in two rows, rather than one. You’ll also notice the magic bar looks slightly different and a different sprite was used for the lantern.
In the August 1991, Issue #27, there was another small caption of the game, along with a few screenshots. It was being advertised as a prequel to the storyline of the Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. At this point the game was still just being referred to as Zelda III. Another interesting note, it appears that Link has full hearts, but there are only 8 in each row. The final version of the game allowed for up to 20 hearts, meaning 10 in each row. Perhaps they added some more heart pieces near thee end of development? Also, Why does he have 19 small keys?
In the January 1992, Issue #32, part 1 of a full blown A Link to the Past comic was released. It had 16 comic pages that followed the storyline of A Link to the Past. There was also a full 5 page preview of the game, highlighting some of the techniques, the storyline, and talking about many of the enemies and characters found within the game. Another interesting tidbit is that within the Table of Contents they list A Link to the Past as being Zelda IV. Could have easily just been a typo, but perhaps this means the rumored Zelda III for the NES was actually something that was farther along than we thought?
You can view all the Zelda reference in the first 32 issues of Nintendo Power over at our Zelda Publications section.
The guys at Nintendo Power did a great job in 1991 of slowly bringing up the Super Nintendo, while also not dismissing what was still a super popular console in the original Nintendo Entertainment System. On the Zelda front, there were still help tips in the Counselor’s Corner for the original Legend of Zelda as late as November 1991. What was interesting about the original Nintendo is that many of the consoles big name titles didn’t release until close to or even after the release of the Super Nintendo. What immediately comes to mind is the Mega Man series, where part 4, 5, and 6 were all released after the Super Nintendo had already been available. This is important since the Nintendo Wii is the most successful Nintendo console since the original NES. So what they do during the last legs of the Nintendo Wii, might be similar to that of the original NES. A very slow phase out, while still producing high quality titles for the system, even when its successor is well established.
Be sure to let us know what you think about these publications and if this is something you’d like to see more of in future.