Compute!'s Guide to Nintendo Games
Length: 258 pages
From: Steven Schwartz/COMPUTE! Books, 1989

Compute's Conquering Super Mario Bros. Adventures

Ad copy: "At last, a book for serious players. Make the most of your Nintendo time with insider tips and secret information... Schwartz provides money-saving ideas, rates violence levels, and shows how to make Nintendo a real learning experience."

The truth: I really wasn't excited about this book when I first found it (I actually found two copies in one week), but I was pleasantly surprised by the extras on it. I imagine that Compute! was losing money right and left on its computer-magazine business and turned to Nintendo (much to their magazine readers' chagrin, I'm sure) to get some quick cash.

Schwartz does pretty much the usual tip-book business for the first bunch of pages, showing each game's story, giving some number-based ratings and offering a bunch of hints. After this are some previews, then some "super secret" hints printed in mirror-image text so you don't needlessly spoil the game.

My personal favorite section comes up next - Schwartz reviews about 20 or so game controllers, giving pictures and ratings for them all. The reviews are hugely in-depth and are a great resource for anyone interested in that sort of hardware thing. At the end of the book there's the requisite parent's guide to video-game violence

The funniest thing in the entire book is Schwartz's "review" of Nintendo Cereal System, the cereal inspired by the console. Here it is in its entirety:

Nintendo Cereal System

Classification: Miscellaneous
Players: As many as you have bowls
Controller: Standard spoon
Pause: If you feel like it
Restart at Last Level No, but you wouldn't want to
Manufacturer: Ralston Purina Company
Retail Price: $2.79 (approx.)

First, there was the NES. Now try the NCS - the Nintendo Cereal System! It kind of makes you wonder what will be next... Teenage Mutant Ninja Bran Flakes?

No manual is included, but then you probably know how this one works. Check the side panel for some special game tips you won't find anywhere else.

NCS borrows a packaging concept that has had success in the candy world. Inside the box are two bags of cereal: Mario on one side and Zelda on the other. The two cereals are described as "Fruity" and "Berry". Sounds like a good name for a Saturday morning cartoon team. They're further described as having "two different natural and artificial flavors." In case you're interested, Super Mario Bros. is the one with the natural flavors - although it doesn't mention specifically where in nature the flavors come from.

The current version of the NCS includes an innovative and appropriate prize: a miniature Zelda or Mario pinball game. For safety's sake (and in case you crave more sugar), you can eat the balls it uses. They're made out of candy.

Sound and Graphics
The graphics in the two sections of the NCS are the reverse of their game counterparts. Where the original Zelda graphics were far from state of the art, those in the cereal - for the most part - are easily recognizable. The hearts and boomerangs are my favorites. On the other hand, although the Super Mario Bros. game has some of the best graphics around, it suffers in its cereal version. The yellow things are 1-UP mushrooms and Goombas, I think.

I don't get it. No snap, crackle, or pop. In fact, unless you whack them with your spoon, the NCS just floats there. Unlike the inferior Brand X cereals, however, the NCS does stay crunchy in milk. You'll have to make the sound effects yourself. (And I was so hoping for a cereal with a theme song.)

It's easy to work your way through either the Zelda or Super Mario bros. portions of the NCS. I don't suggest that you try it in one session, however.

As a parent, one of my biggest challenges was to get the kids to brush their teeth afterwards. Since sugar is second on the list of ingredients and the manufacturer neglects to mention the number of grams in an average serving, I'd consider this one of your challenges, too.

Play Value
Even if it is a cute idea and has a great prize, it's hard to recommend the NCS. I don't think kids should be encouraged to play with their food.

Tips, Tricks, and Strategies

  • Unless your town has fluoridated water, keep the serving size to the recommended single ounce.
  • To avoid unnecessary confusion, never try to eat both versions at the same time.