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Friday, February 15, 2019
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
FREE BOOK for Reviewers and YouTubers - The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N–Z)
Attention writers/journalists and YouTubers: If you would like to review The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 2 (N–Z) in advance of its April 28 release date, please email me your request and the URL of the site where the review will appear. I will have my publisher email you a PDF of the book. You can reach me at email@example.com. Thanks!
Volume 2 of The SNES Omnibus is a fun and informative look at ALL the original Super Nintendo games released in the US starting with the letters N-Z. More than 375 games are featured, including such iconic titles as Star Fox, Street Fighter II, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Tetris Attack, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Each game, whether obscure or mainstream, is covered in exhaustive detail. In addition to thorough gameplay descriptions, the book includes reviews, fun facts, historical data, quotes from vintage magazines, and, best of all, nostalgic stories about many of the games from programmers, authors, convention exhibitors, video game store owners, YouTube celebs, and other industry insiders. The book also features more than 2,000 full-color images, including box art, cartridges, screenshots, and vintage ads. Plus, there’s a gorgeous centerfold starring your favorite SNES characters. Includes nostalgic stories by such gaming celebs as John Jackson Miller (best-selling author of Star Trek and Star Wars novels), David Warhol (Intellivision programmer), Steve Woita (Genesis and Atari 2600 programmer), Rusel DeMaria (author of SNES strategy guides), Kelsey Lewin (popular YouTuber), John Riggs (popular YouTuber), John Lester (popular YouTuber), and many others.
Thursday, February 7, 2019
Erin Hawley, a.k.a. The Geeky Gimp, is one of many gifted contributing writers for The SNES Omnibus project, but her stories stand out because they are directly tied into her physical limitations. This not only gives the stories added weight and poignance, but makes a strong case for video games being a positive force for good. Further, she’s a terrific writer, as you can see from her story about F-Zero, reprinted from The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol.1 (A–M):
I’ve never played sports competitively. Growing up, I went outside with other neighborhood kids, getting my wheelchair stuck in the dense foliage of our backyard while playing hide-and-seek until the street lights came on, but I was never on a school baseball or basketball team. I was all right with that, as suffering through my brother’s games and practices were enough sporting for me. But there was one thing I excelled at and could contend in—racing video games.
The clearest and most nostalgic memories of my childhood took place in front of our friend’s TV, sitting crossed-legged on their carpeted floor, playing F-Zero. My brother and our pals would race the tracks, trying to beat each other’s high scores. I would repeatedly win, expertly dodging those bumpers and taking curves like a master pilot. Years of driving my motorized wheelchair gave me the skills to outplay everyone on those retro highways.
Maneuvering F-Zero’s hovercars felt natural and gave me the same thrills as driving my chair down a steep blacktop driveway. In F-Zero, when you pull to the side of the track to recharge, there’s a risk of losing control of your vehicle or slowing down enough for other cars to pass. You’d either take that chance or pray you don’t bang into another wall in the next lap. It was exhilarating to make such a decision in that instant, and it mimicked the choices I made when I went “off-roading” in my chair. Of course, I wasn’t flying at F-Zero speed, but the danger was real. Over 20 years later, I’ve slowed down and put safety first, but my driving hand is still flying. - Erin Hawley
Here's Erin’s bio from the SNES Omnibus books:
Erin Hawley is a writer, editor, and digital content producer living in New Jersey. She started playing games on the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64, and now spends her extra time streaming PC games on Twitch. Erin’s blog, The Geeky Gimp, focuses on disability representation and accessibility in nerdy media. You can find her work at geekygimp.com, and follow her on Twitter @geekygimp.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
I was recently interviewed by Patrick Hickey Jr. of Review Fix, and he was kind enough to let me reprint it here for your perusal. Enjoy the interview!
ReviewFix chats with author Brett Weiss, who discusses the creative process, vision and goals for his new book, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and ItsGames, Vol. 2 (N–Z).
Review Fix: What was the reception like for The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1?
BrettWeiss: Overwhelmingly positive. Readers like the straightforward layout, the large format, the quality of the binding and paper, and the fact that there are tons of photos. More importantly, they love the nostalgic “insider insight” stories written by YouTubers, authors, programmers, and others involved in one form or another in the video game industry. They love the memories associated with the stories, from getting a special Super Nintendo game for Christmas to shopping at Toys R Us and Blockbuster to the comfort a particular game gave to someone going through a rough time. These were fun for me to read as well when I was editing the book.
Readers have also told me that they discovered games they didn’t know about through the book, and that they like the fact that even the obscure games get at least one page of content.
Review Fix: How did that influence Vol 2?
Weiss: The books were basically written concurrently, so the format is essentially the same. However, I did spend a little more time working with the publisher on the positioning of the photos, so readers may notice that. This book has more pages and text because of all those “Super” games, and I made sure to include more photos.
Review Fix: What games in this volume do you think stand out the most?
Weiss: Most of the triple-A titles get two full pages, such as Star Fox, Super Bomberman, Super Castlevania IV, Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World 1 and 2, and each of the titles in the Star Wars trilogy. Certain other titles that you might not think of right away get two pages as well, such as Q*bert 3, Shadowrun, and Phalanx. Not only are these great games, I really like the two-page spreads.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite entry? Why?
Weiss: That would have to be Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting. Not only is it a nice two-page layout, it’s got a great story written by my wife about how we would pummel the hell out of each other and how we decided to stop because it wasn’t the best thing for our relationship (we started playing Donkey Kong Country instead). The vast majority of insider insights were written by industry people, but my wife’s story was too strong to leave out of the book. And besides, she’s an insider by marriage and a terrific writer. My son’s got a couple of stories in the book as well. As I’ve said before, you could argue that I’m only the second or third best writer in the family.
Review Fix: What did you feel like once all the work was done?
Weiss: A great sense of relief and accomplishment. Writing a book like this, if you’re doing it right, is a massive undertaking. It can be a lot of fun, but those weeks leading up to the deadline are brutal. It’s tedious going over each page again and again to make sure everything is accurate, concise, and grammatically correct, but it’s very important for posterity’s sake and for the reader. When customers are shelling out their hard-earned money, I want them to be happy with their purchase.
Review Fix: Bottom line, why must someone pick this one up?
Weiss: The nostalgic stories. They’re like a trip back in time to the 1990s, not only in terms of gaming, but the general zeitgeist. Also, instead of slogging through a lot of poorly-written crowd-sourced stuff online, you can read game write-ups that are concise and accurate. The quotes from old issues of Electronic Games Monthly and other magazines are also pretty cool.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Weiss: Good question. Maybe a Sega Genesis Omnibus, if the Super Nintendo books sell well enough. Or maybe a sequel to The 100 Greatest Console Video Games:1977-1987. I think it would be fun to cover the next decade. I’m also busy writing for a variety of magazines, websites, and newspapers, including OldSchool Gamer, CultureMap Fort Worth, CultureMap Dallas, and AntiqueWeek, where I have a national column called The Pop Culture Collective.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Weiss: We live in an age where some people don’t “get” books. People will ask, “Why should I buy a book? I can just find that stuff online.” Not true. The nostalgic stories in the SNES Omnibus books are original and exclusive to this project. Also, reading a professionally written, professionally edited, professionally published hardcover book you can hold in your hands is a much different experience than reading a bunch of crowd-sourced stuff online.
Volume 2 of SNES Omnibus is a fun and informative look at ALL the original Super Nintendo games released in the US starting with the letters N-Z. More than 375 games are featured, including such iconic titles as Star Fox, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Tetris Attack, and Zombies Ate My Neighbors. Each game, whether obscure or mainstream, is covered in exhaustive detail. In addition to thorough gameplay descriptions, the book includes reviews, fun facts, historical data, quotes from vintage magazines, and, best of all, nostalgic stories about many of the games from programmers, authors, convention exhibitors, video game store owners, YouTube celebs, and other industry insiders. The book also features more than 2,000 full-color images, including box art, cartridges, screenshots, and vintage ads. Plus, there’s a gorgeous centerfold starring your favorite SNES characters.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Sunday, January 20, 2019
The name “Rawson Stovall” may not mean anything to you, but it should. Back in a time when video game reviews were seldom seen outside of such magazines as Electronic Games and JoyStik, he wrote a syndicated column published in more than 40 newspapers around the country. In fact, he was the first nationally syndicated reviewer of video games in the United States.
Remarkably, Stovall was only 10 years old when the first installment of his column, “Video Beat,” appeared in 1982 in the West Texas newspaper the Abilene Reporter-News.
A published writer at an age when many kids have a hard time simply paying attention in English class, Stovall was a true phenomenon, appearing on such television programs as The Tonight Show, Hour Magazine, That's Incredible!, and The Today Show. Stovall cemented his reputation as a wunderkind in 1984 when Doubleday published his book, The VidKid’s Book of Home Video Games (a now-hard-to-find tome that sells for around $70 on eBay), where he analyzed 80 video games for such consoles as the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, and Intellivision. He also reviewed the consoles themselves and even offered tips on many of the games.
For many of us who grew up during the 80s, playing video games and dreaming of one day becoming a professional writer, Stovall is something of a legend, so imagine my surprise when he reached out to me via Facebook recently and asked if I wanted to grab some breakfast. He was in town for the holidays (his mother lives near me in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas) and had some time to kill before heading back to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he works as a video game designer. I had to work late the night before, but I wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity, so of course I said yes.
Stovall and I hit it off right away, sharing industry trade stories and some laughs. I told him how I broke into writing about video games in 1997 for the now-defunct All Game Guide (a sister website of allmusic.com), and how I wrote the first-ever video game book for McFarland Publishers in 2007 (the company now has an entire division of video game books), among other bona fides, while he revealed how he got his first video game console, and how he came to be a young reviewer. I even got him to sign my copy of his book.
I wasn’t meeting Stovall for breakfast as a journalist or with an article in mind—just as a fellow video game fan and writer—so I didn’t take notes or record our conversation. Fortunately, the introduction to his book contains plenty of info on how Stovall became a whiz kid (ahem, “Vid Kid”) and the first video game columnist in the United States, so I’ll summarize that for you here.
When he was in third grade in 1980, Stovall asked his parents and Santa Claus for an Atari 2600 game console. His request was denied (his dad called video games a “waste of money”), but in the fall of 1981, he raised enough cash selling pecans (gathered from a trio of trees in his backyard) to purchase an Atari system, and then Santa came through with some game cartridges for Christmas.
“Those first games gave me the start I needed,” Stovall wrote. “I played them until I knew them backward and forward and then loaned them to friends, who in exchange loaned me some of their games.”
Later that year, Stovall’s reading teacher assigned the class a project where they would get into groups and do a mock TV program. Stovall and his crew decided to do a show on video games.
“For each show, we reviewed around three games, told of the games to be released, and had a quiz contest,” Stovall wrote. “We also invited guest speakers such as Mr. Jack Williams, owner of the Abilene Video Library, a retail store where I got much of my information, and Mr. Max Martin, manager of the local Chuck E.Cheese Pizza Time Theatre. Mr. Martin caused quite a stir when he brought all of the Pizza Time characters with him.”
One day, as Stovall was talking to Williams about video games in his store, Williams suggested to the young boy that he write an article on the subject since he knew so much about it. Stovall’s mom suggested that he make it a column. Not only would a recurring column give Stovall more room to write about his favorite topic, it would earn him money to purchase a computer. After writing several sample columns, Stovall took his idea to Dick Tarpley, executive editor of the Abilene Reporter-News, and he readily accepted Stovall’s proposal.
After some legwork on Stovall’s part (with the help of his father), other papers ran the column as well, including the Waco Tribune, the San Antonio Light, and the El Paso Times. Early in 1983, Universal Press Syndicate caught wind of the column and began syndicating it in April of that year.
In 1985, Stovall, appearing at a public relations event, was the first person to demonstrate the Nintendo Entertainment System (released in 1983 in Japan as the Famicom) to the U.S. media. Stovall, whose writing also appeared in such publications as Family Circle, Omni, and Woman’s Day, continued writing his column until 1990, when he enrolled in college at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.
At breakfast, Stovall told me he had discontinued the column because he would have had to start buying the new systems that were out at the time, such as the SegaGenesis, TurboGrafx-16, and the forthcoming Super Nintendo. He also told me that the Atari 2600 and the Vectrex (a short-lived tabletop unit with vector graphics) were the only vintage game systems he still had in his collection.
As we parted, Stovall and I agreed we should hang out at some future point when he would be in town. I’m already looking forward to it.
Thursday, January 17, 2019
I'll have a booth at the DFW Record Show in Hurst this Saturday, Jan. I'll be selling and autographing some of my books, including Encyclopedia of KISS, The Arcade and Other Strange Tales, and The SNES Omnibus. I'll also have records and related items for sale. Check out my article on the show HERE.