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While I’m not much of a gamer per se, the NES and Sega Genesis system played a vital role in my varied cast of childhood escapes. I ultimately gravitated toward Sega as my go-to system, racking my thumbs with iconic games like Mortal Kombat, Road Rash, Sonic the Hedgehog and subsequently delving into more obscure titles like Comix Zone, Boogerman and the oh-so overlooked gem Skitchin’. However, I still find myself invariably drawn to that 8-bit allure of those classic NES games. So when I stumbled across Secret Video Game Tricks, Codes & Strategies in a nameless and dust-ridden porno shop in Brooklyn for a mere three bucks, no way was I leaving without it.

And it's got the Player's Seal of Approval! Bitchin!

Das a'lotta games, man...

Secret Video Game Tricks, Codes & Strategies was released by MPI Home Video in 1989 and is hosted by three U.S. National Video Game Team members: Donn Nauert, Shane Olivio and Jim Allee. These three gaming gurus each head-up their share of 26 separate segments which display a hearty assortment of NES compatible games ranging from the instantly recognizable (Double Dragon, Contra, Blaster Master) to the somewhat unsung (Karnov, Flying Dragon, Ring King).

Anybody see a similarity between these and our beloved VHS covers?

The tape holds true to its name and teaches the viewer a slew of tricks and strategies, some more impressive and practical than others. The ever-present and widely recognized Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B,A, Start makes a few appearances as a full power up in Gradius and a code for 30 lives in both Contra and Life Force. Codes to warp to different levels, invincibility, infinite ammo, how to rack up massive bonus points and strategies on how to beat the most perturbing end bosses are all accounted for within the segments. Even the “Flying Barrel Trick” from Double Dragon has a cameo. While this trick attests to a player’s insider knowledge of the game, for me, it never did much other than waste a perfectly good barrel! This tape just oozes with NES nostalgia. Secret… unloads a plethora of on-screen action sequences only switching out to demonstrate how to perform joystick and button combo codes as the boys pound them out on a Beeshu brand “Jammer” and “Ultimate Superstick”, both of which are crazy cool arcade-style controllers that just scream retro video game mastery. All of this, along with its dated 3D segues, the unmistakable 8-bit scores and SFX and, yes, even the nerdy yet endearing demeanors of our U.S. National Video Game Team members as they host their very own video cassette shoots us back into a time when the NES gaming revolution was in stride with the booming home video era.

The Ultimate Superstick did not discriminate. Both right and left-handed players were able to dominate!

Other tapes surfaced including a series called Game Player’s Gametape which ran for about eight or so installments and looks to be the most prolific of all the gaming videos. Kodak also took a stab at this micro-market with a couple of tapes aptly titled How to Score More Points on Nintendo Games. These attempts to mesh the two video crazes and turn a neat profit were ultimately thwarted in 1991 with the release of that little revolutionary game enhancing supplement known as The Game Genie. Anybody who’s familiar with the The Genie knows that it absolutely crushes the competition when it comes to the best codes, cheats and power-ups.

Couldn't we all have used some tips when it came to TMNT on NES? Man, that game was stupid hard slash confusing.

You can readily grab yourself a copy of Secret Video Game Tricks, Codes & Strategies (as well as the other gaming videos mentioned) on the cheap from eBay and Amazon. The prices range, but you’ll probably end up paying a little less than ten bucks a tape. There are a couple sealed copies of Secret… running around on eBay both going for outrageous prices (one over $230!), but as always, I recommend a visit to your nearest yard sale, flea market or dirt mall where you just might find this puppy perched right next to a R.O.B. the Robot and a couple VHS copies of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Oh, and if you like this kind of fun and games on video, be sure to take a peek at my article in LM # 6 on Interactive VHS Gaming for a condensed history of even more gaming crossover cash-ins spawned from our beloved video era! And because it’s just so dang pertinent, I have to recommend the arcadesploitation gem Joysticks. If you’re a retro gaming aficionado, it’s one that’s not to be missed. Josh Schafer

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