Nerding Day: Nintendo Comics System 🌭

If I told you there’s a story that involves the World Trade Center and hijacking an airplane, what would you think of first? A major historical event that drove America into an age of depression and impotent anger? What if I told you there was another story that had those elements? One about hijacking a plane, going to the twin towers, and crashing a space shuttle into Disney World. Oh, and it’s also based on Super Mario Land. Impossible? Not anymore since 1990!

While Nintendo may be known for its more famous consoles like the Nintendo, the Super Nintendo, and the Color TV-Game 6, it actually released something truly original in that blessed year. Like the GameCube, it serves visuals that will blow your mind. Like the Wii, it’s so simple that your grandparents could use it. Like the Virtual Boy, there’s not a lot to do. To many, this system is a mystery. To some, it’s a legend. I’m of course talking about the Nintendo Comics System, their greatest console.

Now, you may be asking how it could be Nintendo’s greatest console when it neither uses electricity nor connects to a television. And to that I say, exactly! Through the power of color printing on inexplicably thick paper, Nintendo gives us the complete experience of their most legendary games (and, I guess, Captain N). Electricity free! It’s a lot like an iPad, but made of paper! The paper is bookended by two slabs of cardboard. In fact, let’s make up a new word by shortening “bookended” and calling this console a “book.”

The Nintendo Comics System comes in three varieties. There are individual comics (the base system), trade paperback collections (the base system with Blu-ray drive), and the hardcover collection (the Nintendo Comics System Plus). Each has their advantages and disadvantages. For example, the individual comics could fit between a magazine so you could read it at work while it looked like you were checking up on the latest in business. Meanwhile, the hardcover version can be put on a “bookshelf” so everybody knows that when you read, now you’re reading with power!

As I said, the graphics on the Nintendo Comics System are amazing. Everything looks like it was drawn by hand, because it was. If you remember the game Cuphead, it’s a bit like that, except all of the characters are completely still and you have to move your eyes between little visual boxes to understand the story as it happens. Sometimes a character will talk! Sometimes a character will think! The best part? You see both! The Nintendo Comics System hides nothing from you because it has nothing to hide.

This console does a fantastic job of taking a variety of 8-bit games and making them all look the same, a major challenge for such different franchises. Whether it be New York City, Hyrule, or the wild world of Video Land, the Nintendo Comics System brings it all to life in full color with the best artists that a low budget can buy.

But are the games on the console fun? Yes! In fact, the Nintendo Comics System is the only Nintendo system to have a first party title that features a character complaining about liberal politicians! Specifically, a weirdly angry creep who shoplifts a GameBoy from his job…

and accidentally opens an interdimensional portal to allow in Mario’s greatest nemesis… Tatanga.

If you’ve ever wanted to add some backstory to Super Mario Land, the Nintendo Comics System almost has you covered. Okay, we don’t actually learn the backstory of Tatanga, but we do spend a lot of time with him, which is nearly as good. Could always use more Tatanga Time.

Tatanga wants to conquer the world and woo Mario’s greatest love… Daisy. Hey, there we go! That’s a character that stuck around a little bit! Tatanga is very, very small (cuz he came out of a GameBoy lol), so he relies on that weirdo guy to do a lot of conquering. But two sets of kids separately figure out how to summon Mario into the real world by playing Super Mario Land very, very hard.

There’s not a lot more to it. You just gotta get good. If you haven’t summoned Mario by this point, the problem is on your side of the screen.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, but Tatanga tries to conquer a shopping mall in New York City and then takes Daisy to lunch at the World Trade Center and then hijacks a plane with a little girl on it and then hijacks a space shuttle with the same little girl on it and then crashes it into the It’s A Small World ride. It’s pure Mario action that Miyamoto himself clearly came up with. And, honestly, Super Mario Land is a weird enough game that this could be the real plot and none of us would know.

Of course, Super Mario is only one character in the Nintendo Comics System. Link from The Legend of Zelda also gets cool games on the console! While other entries in the series consist of him gaining useful objects that allow him to adventure further into the unknown, this one is mostly Link sexually harassing Zelda until she dissociates.

That and Link getting slammed down by a dominant man who describes himself as a “bull.”

Unfortunately, the Legend of Zelda on The Nintendo Comics System does not feature New York City nor any imagery that would remind us of one of our nation’s greatest tragedies. Fortunately, it does feature Link turning into a pig when he tries to steal Gannon’s third of the Triforce. And, unlike Tatanga, we do get a lot of backstory for the Legend of Zelda. I would say that none of it is canon, but considering Eiji Aonuma himself recently said the canon timeline of the series isn’t that important, we can just say “it happened somewhere.”

Meanwhile, the roguish Captain N gets to share some time on the console. If you don’t remember, because you don’t, Captain N was also a Saturday morning cartoon series on NBC in which video game characters hung out together and fought villains. On the television show, Captain N was joined by Mega Man and Simon Belmont. On the console, because Nintendo does not own the rights to those, Captain N is not joined by Mega Man or Simon Belmont.

But he is joined by Samus, who is – and you won’t believe this! – a woman!

And since she’s a woman, she must be in love with Captain N! I mean, who wouldn’t have a crush on a guy who wears a Nintendo gamepad as a belt buckle and keeps a Zapper gun in a holster? Samus even offers Captain N the chance to abandon the rest of the team and run off with her! Sadly for us, he says no and stays loyal to his friends. Also, Captain N is supposed to be in high school and Samus looks like she’s 27.

We also get a handful of Samus-exclusive titles for the console, which mostly consist of her frustrating her nemesis, Mother Brain. In the original Metroid, Mother Brain was just a big brain. Here she lives on the planet Metroid and is basically a sassy contestant on Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Why, yes, her voice on the television show was the same actor as Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. Oh, and we also learn that, while evil, Mother Brain has a lonely teenager that literally lives in her head and fights off her worst intentions. Don’t worry, it’s never really brought up again.

The final game in the Nintendo Comics System series is Punch-Out. Of the games, this is the shortest and most straightforward. Little Mac is a boxer. He wants to get better. He fights boxers. He gets better. Honestly, of the entire Nintendo Comics System, Punch-Out might be the only game that sticks to the known narrative.

Anyway, that’s Punch-Out for you!

Overall, the Nintendo Comics System is a beautiful addition to Nintendo’s legendary consoles. While games on the system may bear little resemblance to anything you’ve ever played, they require no electricity and it all still runs perfectly almost 35 years later whenever I open the “book.” I recommend you buy it immediately. If only to get the answer to a question Winthrop’s Brandon Hunter and all Nintendo Comics System users have had since 1990:

Let’s go over the final scores.

Impressive, but could use more motion.

Anything is fun with the power of imagination!

Captain N is sexy, Link is not, and their stories reflect as much.

There is no sound.

I rate the Nintendo Comics System a solid 9 out of 10.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Armando Nava, which is how you say “Bionic Commando” in Nintendese.

4 replies on “Nerding Day: Nintendo Comics System 🌭”

I also owned this and it kicked so much ass. My mom bought this for me in a huge book store on a trip to the city when I was like 5 or 6. I drew all over it. I wish I still had it.

I loved those comics! The Captain-N show was such a let-down compared to the comics lol. I probably became attracted to Amazonian style women from this version of Samus.

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