Picks and Pans Main: Etc.

updated 10/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/09/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SELF-HELP FOR NINTENDOPHILES

Say, parents, being driven batty by frustrated shouts of "It's not fair!" and "I got him!"? Take heart: There's hope for your little videogame maniac, in various forms of advice for the Nintendo-lorn. Driven-batty dad Ralph Novak and his not-so-frustrated-anymore son, Thaddeus, 9, offer consumer reviews and tips of their own:

SECRET VIDEO GAME TRICKS, CODES & STRATEGIES

There is a very businesslike quality to this hour-long videotape, which shows scenes from and offers useful shortcuts, power-boosters and life-prolongers for Nintendo versions of such games as Contra, Indiana Jones and Ring King. True, you can get through a medium-length career faster than you can program in some of these codes. To choose your level of play in Ikari Warriors, for instance, on the control-pad joystick and buttons you must record: up-down-A-A-B-left-right-A-B-up-A-down-right-right-left-B-up-left-A-right-B-left-right-A-left-up-A-down-A-right-left-B-start. And be quick about it. This tape seems likely to raise a few scores, whether or not it brightens any lives. (MPI, $19.95; 800-338-7710).

(The long scene of somebody just playing Double Dragon without any tips is ridiculous. But this tape is straightforward, gives you the tips and is up to date.)

VIDEO GAME GUIDE

Who invited humans into this business? Five youngsters, picked by something called the American Video Game Players League, clutter up this 40-minute tip tape by bouncing onscreen to say things like, "Yo, dudes! Hi! I'm Sharon." But there are useful hints for such games as Legendary Wings, Rampage and Adventure Island. While Secret Video Game Tricks takes a more strategic approach, this tape leans to the tactical: "Try to position your space ostrich high on the screen" for Joust or "Go just right of the Parthenon and press up on the controller; this will bring you to the Aegean Sea" for Golgo 13. (2M, $9.99; 800-541-1843).

(All that unnecessary jumping around and dancing are dumb.)

NINTENDO POWER

As if the game console and cartridges weren't enough of a license to print money, the Redmond, Wash-based Nintendo of America puts out this glorified sale bill as a magazine. The July-August issue offers plenty of tips (how to beat the Tryclydes in Super Mario Bros. 2, for instance), letters and promos for new games. Using a tough-to-read format-some pages look as if drawings, pictures, type and a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich have been smeared onto them willy-nilly—the magazine is fat and full of data, but so are catalogs. (Year's subscription—six issues—is $15; Nintendo Power, P.O. Box 97043, Redmond, Wash. 98073-9743).

(Some reviews are more detailed than what you find anywhere else, and the "Counselors' Corner" and "Classified Info" sections are good. There are almost no good lines or humor, though.)

NINTENDO STRATEGIES

This paperback presents tips on 30 games (Mike Tyson's Punchout is one) colorlessly if legibly. There's a directory of companies that make Nintendo games. (Beekman House, paper, $5.99).

(All it gives are general tips you can get other places; it's almost no help at all.)

HOW TO WIN AT NINTENDO

Nintendo reviews tend to gush, not criticize. But this paperback, by pop culture writer Jeff (The Encyclopedia of Superheroes) Rovin, offers advice on and rates 40 games on an A-to-D scale for challenge, graphics and sound effects. Urban Champion, for example, gets all C's, while Ikari Warrior's graphics get a D; Double Dribble rates two A's and an A+. While there are no illustrations, Rovin is a lively writer who offers at least a dim hope of keeping this all in perspective. The book's second edition is due in November. (St. Martin's, paper, $3.95).

(When you're looking for what you can really get your money's worth from, this book is it. It mixes tips with funny lines and it's twice more fun. I like in the Spy Hunter chapter where he says that "the most important aspect of the game is this: Wait 15 seconds at the beginning, leaving your car sitting on the side of the road. That way the bloody Peter Gunn music will stop playing and you won't lose your mind.")

CAPTAIN NINTENDO

Nintendo's 900 number, updated weekly, is timely—a recent two-minute tape covered such new games as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—and informative, if expensive at $1.50 a call. (900-420-6100).

(I never call 900 numbers.)

(Thank goodness for small favors.)

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