Digging through my old photographs from over the years, I found some SNES gaming screenshots I took back in February of 1995 that I had forgotten about. Instead of giving me a nostalgia feeling seeing these shots again, they gave me a sick feeling of anger and betrayal. Yes, it was the time when I took on Nintendo Power's contests and "Pro" challenges. Here's how it went down:
I was soon to be 21 years old and living in Carrolton, Texas at the time, and I had just settled in after losing most everything I owned in a failed bid to make a living in Seattle the previous year (I was deep in the grunge crowd there when Cobain shot himself). Anyway, I started re-collecting all my favorite NES and SNES games, including buying new games like Demon's Crest (and completing that bastard 100%) as they came out. I had such a heavy new dose of Nintendo fever that I even re-subbed to Nintendo Power after a few years away from them during my Sega Genesis and Neo Geo years. Low and behold, I discover NP magazine has these contests where you take a photograph of your TV and console running the game with your high score on the screen.
I was an absolute master of Super Punch Out!! and decided to take on NP's gauntlet challenge of beating their "pro" records on a few of the boxers. Here's one of the challenges they laid out on three of the boxers:
After spending hours each evening, I eventually broke all known records for each and every boxer in the game (including the 3 in the above contest, using my nose to do the pause trick on Gabby-jay as Jeff Wittenhagen correctly determined), took photographs, and sent them in. Now keep in mind I followed all their rules. This included of course no cheating (game hacking devices), making sure the the screen score was visible, making sure the console with the game running was visible, making sure to include my full name and subscription information, etc. Here's one of my surviving pics, where you can see I beat their "pro" record by over 6 seconds:
Eventually, I received official letters from NoA congratulating me for my new records and that they have confirmed I followed all the rules properly. Unfortunately, my records were never published by Nintendo Power. I began to get paranoid it was one of a few reasons why I was snubbed in spite of my efforts:
1. They thought my rather unique name was bogus and didn't want to print it.
2. Their counselors couldn't believe one man could have beaten every one of their records, informing the contest admins that I HAD
to have been cheating (which I wasn't). As it turns out, all my records would later be nicked be people using emulators and frame-by-frame timing sequences anyway.
3. Somehow even though I was congratulated, maybe my submission didn't arrive in time for the contest deadline. My photos were sent 3 weeks in advance, but I couldn't rule out that possibility.
And then came the final straw...
The February 1995 issue of Nintendo Power arrived in my mail. This time, there was a Final Fantasy III challenge. I loved this game and knew I could dominate anything they threw at me for a challenge on it. Here's what they had come up with:
Right, so I started my task with a methodical determination. I sketched out shortest paths in each of the areas, and even discovered little quirks in the programming of the step counter. For example, I found that if you held the directional pad as you passed into a doorway, it would count as two steps. if you just tapped the pad once you reached the doorway, it would only count as one step when you appeared on the other side. I was that frikken obsessive about doing as close to a perfect record as I could...
Ultimately, I finished with 5,826 steps. I took several photographs showing the TV screen and the game running in the console to show I wasn't cheating. I mailed several of the photographs in one package to Nintendo Power a full 5 weeks
before the contest deadline. Yet again, I received a letter of congratulation from NoA, and yet again confirming I had followed all the rules set forth. Here's a scan of one of the photos I didn't send as it cut off too much of the console. It's all I have left to remind me of that record:
So, I then wait for the follow-up contest results, hoping to finally see my name and my efforts recognized by Nintendo Power. Finally the May 1995 issue arrived in my mail, and what did I see printed for the contest results? Look for yourself from this clip of the top 3 finishers:
That was the last damned straw. I wrote an angry F-U letter to Nintendo Power, cancelled my subscription, and immediately switched to the Sony Playstation when it came out later that year...
After several attempts and extensive research, I was able to put together a flawless run. No glitches, hacks, or other means of cheating were used. Old record of 5,826 steps done in February of 1995. New record of 5,696 steps done December 14, 2012. Please note that this is the SNES version of the game. The GBA version's perfect run would be 7 steps faster at 5,689 due to the Mog scenario screens being 7 less steps to navigate in total. Here's the final screenshot of the SNES perfect Mog record: