Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Free Sample Story! - Filtered Future from The Arcade and Other Strange Tales



For your reading pleasure, I've posted Filtered Future, one of the short stories from my book, The Arcade and Other Strange Tales. It is sociological science fiction, meaning it extrapolates a current trend to its logical extreme. Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron and George Orwell’s 1984, the story deals with political correctness, safe spaces, safety issues, and more. Enjoy!

Filtered Future
  
It was 2053, nine years after PolitiCor had issued the required—by penalty of death—impact suits.
Mark Bannister sat at his desk, remembering how bad things had been before the impact suits: when man killed his fellow man over a pair of athletic shoes, when angry words and simple hand gestures could lead to gunfire, and when a sting from a wasp or a scathing comment from a loved one burned like wildfire.
Now, thanks to the spandex-like suits, which incorporated nanotechnology in their design, it was virtually impossible to harm or offend anyone, either physically or mentally.
Mark gulped a mug of blazing-hot coffee like it was fraternity beer. The coffee passed through the sensor-enhanced translucent fabric stretched over his mouth, cooling it to an innocuous warm.
Mark set the coffee mug on his desk, opened the right-hand desk drawer, and pulled out a tattered copy of the King James Bible. Leaning back in his chair, trying to make the most of his ten-minute break, he turned to the story of Noah.
It seems Noah and his family and their pets—two of every kind of animal—were onboard a luxury liner, soaking in the warm sunshine. A rainbow stretched from one horizon to the other, neatly dividing the cloudless sky in two.
An occasional yacht would float by, filled to the brim with smiling, clean-shaven men, beautifully adorned women, and cherubic, almost angelic children. Invariably, they would wave at Noah, yelling words of thanksgiving for his warnings regarding the flood.
Mark set the book aside, secretly embarrassed for indulging his hobby with such a sacred tome. Over the years he had developed a fascination with comparing his memories of pre-impact suit reading material, art, movies and music with the current, suit-revised versions of same.
Like a heroin addict, Mark hated himself for his filthy habit. He hated himself not because of his interest in collecting and enjoying various forms of entertainment media, but because of his blatant hypocrisy.
Initially, Mark had loathed the impact suits and had bitterly opposed them. He despised the idea of censorship, and the suits were terribly uncomfortable. Also, it was hard to breathe naturally and easily through the rubbery mesh material.
Like most everyone else, however, Mark grew to tolerate and even appreciate the impact suits. They made life safe and largely painless, but what Mark really liked about the impact suits was their sheer cleverness. He was fascinated by the way the sensors translated offensive material, how they could instantly transform any type of art, communication or physical contact into sanitized pabulum.
Alterations of best-selling books, such as the Bible, had been preprogrammed into the impact suits, but the straight-jackets (as some people called them) were also good at modifying lesser known works on the fly. Mark remembers reading a murder mystery written by a friend of his years ago, but in the story no one died or was even wounded. That one was pretty boring, he had to admit. It was much more fun to read the classics and spot the differences.
“Hey, Boss.”
Mark startled from his reverie and looked up from his desk to see Richard Hanking grinning from ear to ear and holding a letter opener in his hand. Richard worked down the hall in accounting. He was a hairy, nervous little guy who called everyone “boss” and “pardner.” Like a rat, his eyes were close together.
Mark watched as Richard began stabbing the knife-like instrument at his stomach, neck and wrists.
“Ummm…what are you doing?” Mark asked.
Richard threw the impotent stainless steel implement to the floor. “I am my suit! It fits me like a glove! I am my suit! I am loving it again!” Like a toddler who doesn’t like his jammies, Richard pulled and yanked at his impact suit until his face turned red.
Mark frowned, trying to make sense of the translation. The suits weren’t perfect. They did manage to filter out and alter most offensive material, but sometimes they made a mess of certain phrases spoken in haste, especially if said phrases were nonsensical in nature. And they weren’t sophisticated enough to control body language (at least not yet).
Mark assumed that Richard wasn’t really “loving his suit again,” but that he was fed up and frustrated—out-of-his-mind angry, cussing a blue streak. This wasn’t the first time that Richard had complained about his form-fitting suit.
Trying to calm his coworker and friend, Mark said, “It’s been almost ten years. You’ve got to learn to accept how things are. There’s nothing you or I or anyone else can do about it.”
Richard stopped tugging at his suit. His shoulders slumped, and he slunk down in the chair across from Mark’s desk.
Mark leaned over and spoke in a hushed tone. “Richard…you’ve got to understand…underground scientists have labored night and day for years trying to find a way to remove the suits, and nothing has worked. They’re years away from a solution, and before they even come close, government scientists will have upgraded the suits, or at least reconfigured the sensors.”
Impact suits didn’t filter all subversive conversation—that technology was still a few years away—their specialty was toning down violence, eliminating harsh language and preventing physical and emotional harm.
Richard looked down at the floor, scratched the back of his neck and said, “I know, I know. I’ve heard it all before. I just can’t live like this anymore. The darned thing is driving me crazy. I can’t taste my cigarettes. I miss chewing my food—that liquid stuff the government doles out tastes terrible. And when I’m with my girl, I feel like my whole body is wrapped in a condom.”
“You haven’t already forgotten the car wreck you were in last summer, have you?” Mark asked. “Your impact suit saved your life. Mine saved my life, too.”
Richard rolled his eyes and took a deep breath. “I know, I know. I’m just…What do you mean your life? What happened?”
“Hunting accident. I’ll tell you about it sometime.”
Richard nodded, nervously pulling at the transparent layer of second skin covering his hands.
“Hey,” Mark said, his eyes lighting up. “Why don’t you come with me to my next bouncer meeting? You can have some fun with your suit.”
“Your what?”
“You know, bouncing. Surely you’ve heard of it.”
Richard rubbed his chin, shrugged his shoulders.
“We meet downtown every other Sunday when all the businesses are closed,” Mark said. “There’s about fifteen of us. We jump off buildings and rebound safe as basketballs off the sidewalk. We bounce around like idiots, laughing hysterically. It really is a lot of fun. And amazingly therapeutic!”
Richard frowned, shook his head and said, “I don’t know about all that. Sounds kinda scary.”
“Think about it, will ya? The impact suits aren’t so bad when you learn to take advantage of all they can do.”
Richard looked like he was going to cry.
“You know you can’t beat the security of these things,” Mark said, patting his chest. “I’d feel naked without my suit. Vulnerable. Exposed.”
Richard nodded unconvincingly.
Mark smiled, trying to lighten Richard’s mood. He shuffled some papers on his desk. “Gotta get back to work. Maybe later we can grab some lunch. I hear Bentley’s over on seventh has killer beef broth and excellent shakes.”
“What’s the use?” Richard asked. “The stupid suit filters out all the flavor—the fat, the sugar, most of the salt—everything good.”
As Richard left Mark’s office in disgust, Mark flipped on his computer. While waiting for it to warm up, he leafed through a copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—the story of a young married couple who lived happily ever after.
Grinning, Mark shook his head. “Ole Shakes would roll over in his grave.”
“Welcome to the World Wide Wonderland,” the feminine computer voice said. “You’ve got messages.”
Mark tossed the book aside. Nothing but junk mail. He told the computer to delete the mail and began composing an email of his own.

Steve,

How about those guys down in Houston? That was a close one. Those rascals at NASA are pretty bright. Ahem, were pretty bright. LOL. Anyhow, there’s a little weasel down the hall from me named Richard Hanking. I think he’s about to crack. He’s mostly just a number cruncher, but he does have some technical expertise—in college he majored in computer science and minored in engineering. And I believe he has connections at the University. Anyway, it’ll probably come to nothing, but you can never be too sure. Even the slave riots of ’32 had to start somewhere small. Let me know if you want the situation taken care of. I think I’ve still got a couple of those PolitiCor-issue suit-piercing bullets somewhere around here.

Mark

P.S. Next time you’re at PolitiCor South, say hey to Judy for me.

Mark pushed back from his desk, tired from hardly doing anything all morning. He had some virtual files to go through, but he figured they could wait until after lunch. He opened the right hand drawer of his desk, reached inside, grabbed a copy of Frankenstein and began reading about the adventures of a happy scientist and his grateful creation.
Later, during lunch, Richard barely spoke. He slurped his strained potato soup through the stretchy material covering his mouth. He told Mark he might show up at the bouncer meeting, but Mark was skeptical.
***
The following morning was Saturday, and only Mark and Richard were scheduled to work. Mark showed up a few minutes early, but noticed that Richard’s car was already in the parking lot.
Mark, thinking it odd that Richard beat him to the office, shrugged his shoulders and let himself in through the front door, locking it behind him.
Mark frowned as he went by Richard’s office. The door was open, and the light was on, but Richard wasn’t there.
Mark continued down the hallway to his office, passing by a decidedly different print of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Beneath a clear blue sky, the figure was smiling, his teeth shining brightly.
Mark stuck his key card in the door to his office, but the lack of a beeping sound betrayed the fact that it was already unlocked. He nudged it open with his briefcase. As he stepped in, he flipped on the light. He froze in his steps.
Richard was sitting at Mark’s desk, fidgeting, squirming, looking nervous and uncomfortable in his impact suit.
“Richard! You scared the shoot out of me! What the heck are you doing in my office? Why are you sitting here in the dark?”
Larry pulled a gun from his lap and waved it in the air. “Just being nosy.”
He pointed the gun at Mark.
“Your email never made it to this Steve guy. Must’ve been a problem with the server.”
Mark laughed nervously. “Haven’t you forgotten something? My impact suit will…”
Mark suddenly recognized the gun. It was his own, taken from his locked desk drawer. And it was loaded with suit-piercing bullets.
Richard, slowly standing up, said something that sounded like “You friend! I’m going to like you. You friend!”
Beads of sweat appeared on Mark’s forehead, dampening the fabric stretched over it.
“Richard, buddy, let me explain. I didn’t mean—”
“Keep talking!” Richard seemed to say.
Mark felt as though his impact suit were shrinking a size a second. His scrotum followed. He closed his eyes and reached out as though to he could ward off the bullets with his hands.
“BANG!”
Mark heard the shots ring out, but he felt no pain. Maybe I’m in shock, he thought. Maybe Richard missed. Mark slowly opened his squinting eyes.
In his state of extreme anxiety, Mark hadn’t heard Richard’s body crashing over the desk and to the floor. Richard’s impact suit had sprung a bloody leak over the newly created hole in his forehead.
A pool of blood began to appear on the floor, a sight that Mark hadn’t seen in years, not even in the movies.
Shaking in his suit, Mark realized he had been holding his breath and let out of an audible sigh. He was relieved to be alive, but angry at his “friend” for scaring him witless.
After texting the police, Mark flipped on his computer, his busy mind already composing a new email to Steve.
While waiting for the computer to connect to the WWW, Mark mindlessly flipped through a copy of The Unabridged Friedrich Nietzsche. He settled on a single line of text, frowning. It read: “God is alive.”
Mark put his head on his desk and began to sob.
The crying sounded like laughter.

THE END

You can purchase The Arcade and Other Strange Tales HERE. The digital version is available HERE


Monday, February 25, 2019

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #43 - Kale Menges


Kale Menges has been a supporter of the SNES Omnibus project almost from the beginning, and he’s got industry street cred. Not only does he have a deep history as a fan of gaming, he’s a longtime professional, developing video games for such companies as Boss Fight Entertainment, BioWare Austin, and Gearbox Software. He’s also a fine writer, a good dude, a sharp cookie, and a devoted family man. Plus, he’s got a cool, healthy sounding name. :) Thanks, Kale!


Here's Kale's bio as it appears in the SNES Omnibus books:

Kale Menges has been an avid gamer all his life, starting with the Atari 2600 nearly four decades ago. According to legend, in the early 1980s, when he was just an infant, his mother would prop him up in the arcade cabinet as she played Pac-Man while waiting for clothes to dry at the laundromat, the radiation from the CRT warping his imagination and setting his destiny in motion. An artist and graphic designer, Kale has spent the last decade working as a game developer, contributing to a myriad of titles across an array of platforms.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #42 - Kieren Hawken

Kieren Hawken does what I know to be a difficult thing: freelance writing. He writes with knowledge, authority, and passion for various outlets, including Retro Gamer magazine, one of the best video game magazines ever published. Lucky for me, he also volunteered his time to write some really good stories for The SNES Omnibusproject. Kieren, a family man and all-around good egg, operates out of the U.K., giving a dash of international flavor to the books. Thanks, Kieren! Jolly good show, mate!

Here’s Kieren’s bio as it appears in the SNES Omnibus Volumes 1 and 2.

Kieren Hawken has been writing about video games for more than 10 years for many different publications, but he’s best known for his work on the award-winning Retro Gamer magazine. Other published works include numerous digital books, most notably his popular A-Z series. Kieren was a contributing author on Let’s Go Dizzy: The Story of the Oliver Twins and The Story of the Commodore Amiga in Pixels. In addition, he appeared on the prime time UK technology show Sky News Swipe, as well numerous podcasts as both a guest and co-host. His own YouTube channel, The Laird’s Lair, features a wide range of videos focused on the world of retro gaming.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

SNES Omnibus Spotlight #41 - Darran Lee Jones


Darran Lee Jones is the editor of Retro Gamer, one of the best video game magazines in the history of the industry. It’s based in the UK, but you can easily find it at Barnes & Noble here in the states. Colorful, informative, and a whole lot of fun, Retro Gamer has expansive, exhaustive, and entertaining features on the games many of us grew up playing, including such favorites as Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Tetris, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Resident Evil. Years before I knew Darran, some of my books were featured in Retro Gamer, which was a huge honor.


Darran, a true professional and by all accounts a good man, has been an enthusiastic support of the SNES Omnibus project and contributed several really stories to TheSNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M).

Here’s Darran’s bio as it appears in Vol. 1:

Darran Lee Jones joined Retro Gamer magazine in 2005. He’s helmed the magazine for “12 long years,” breaking exclusives and speaking to many of his idols who made the games he loved growing up. Darran loves the 16-bit generation (particularly Sega’s Mega Drive) and grew up with an Amstrad CPC, but his true passion is with handheld systems like the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS and PS Vita. In his spare time, he’s a keen bird photographer.




Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Free Play Arcade - New Location in Fort Worth!


Free Play Arcade is opening a new location in Fort Worth, Texas, which is where I live. I wrote a story about the arcade for CultureMap Fort Worth. You can read it HERE. Previously, I wrote about Free Play Arlington for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. You can read that article HERE. As always, thanks for reading!



Sunday, February 17, 2019

Super Mario Bros. Cartridge Sells for More Than $100,000 - Plus Heritage Auctions' FIRST Video Game Auction

If you’re into retro gaming, you probably heard about the recent record-breaking sale of the factory sealed Super Mario Bros. NES cartridge selling for more than $100,000. It was given a 9.4 grade by Wata.

You can watch a concise, informative video by Kelsey Lewin on exactly why that cartridge is worth so much here:

Prior to that record-breaking SMB sale, Heritage Auctions, a prestigious auction house, tested the waters on video games graded by Wata by including several in their Jan. 13 Sunday Internet Comics, Animation, & Art Auction. I wrote about that Jan. auction for AntiqueWeek. You can read the full text of that article below.

:
Video Games Go Mainstream with Heritage Auction

By Brett Weiss

It had to happen.

Retro video game collecting has been mainstream for well over a decade, with prices for desirable games skyrocketing exponentially, and Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, one of the biggest auction houses in the world, is finally getting in on the action.

“The key to making it happen was Wata Games,” said Heritage Vice President Barry Sandoval, referring to the video game grading service. “We toyed a little bit with the idea of selling video games, but what sold us is that one of Wata’s principals, Mark Haspel, used to be with CGC. That he was involved made us take it seriously. CGC has graded somewhere between three and five million comic books. That’s a good model to follow.”

Heritage dipped its toes in the vintage video game waters by offering 25 boxed games—some of them factory sealed—at its Jan. 13 Sunday Internet Comics, Animation, & Art Auction. More than 30 collectors bid on a factory sealed 9.4 B+ (Seal Rating) copy of The Legend of Zelda (1987), a groundbreaking action role-playing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES, which debuted in the U.S. in 1985, revived the console industry after the Great Video Game Crash of 1983. Zelda was the top video game lot in the auction.

“We thought Zelda would sell for a few hundred dollars,” Sandoval said. “It went for $3,360.”

To get an idea of the value of specific games, Sandoval said Heritage “checks out eBay and other websites,” but they “don’t put estimates on these types of auctions.”

“It’s up to the bidders to determine the worth,” he said.

Sandoval said he is a “former collector” whose interest is in Atari, but he explained that Atari is a “smaller niche” and that the Nintendo Entertainment System is the go-to console for “big money.”

The NES was indeed well represented at the auction, with high prices commanded for such popular titles as:
·         Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989, 8.5 CIB), $312
·         Super Mario Bros. (1985, 8.0 CIB), $312
·         Wario's Woods (1994, 9.4 A+ Seal Rating), $228
·         Mega Man 5 (1992, 6.0 CIB), $216
·         Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990, 6.5 CIB), $210.

Nearly two dozen bidders competed for a factory sealed (8.5 A Seal Rating) copy of Excitebike, a motorcycle racing game that was an NES launch title, meaning it debuted with the console in 1985. It went for $1,140. The game was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, known best for creating such iconic Nintendo titles like as Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and Starfox.

Another top earner was Dragon Warrior (1989), the first game in the long-running Dragon Quest role-playing game series. Seventeen bidders drove the price of an 8.5 A (Seal Rating) example to $660. As a promotional tool, Nintendo of America had offered the game free to new and renewing subscribers to the company’s Nintendo Power magazine.

The highest price realized for a game released for a console other than the NES was Double Dragon (1988) for the Sega Master System, which was the closest thing the NES had to a serious competitor during the late 1980s. A 9.6 CIB copy went for $204. The auction also included some loose (cartridge only) Super Nintendo games. The Super Nintendo EntertainmentSystem (SNES), released in 1991, was the follow-up console to the NES.

Sandoval sees correlations between video games and comics. A relatively modern type of collectible (the first video game console was the original Magnavox Odyssey, released in 1972), video games evoke comic books in several ways. Both are colorful and cartoonish, both are meant to be used (as opposed to merely looked at), and the fan demographic is similar.

However, there’s one key difference in terms of collectability. Unlike the vast majority of comic books released during the late ’80s and early ’90s, which are worth practically nothing, a fairly high percentage of video games from this time are quite valuable, especially complete in the box.

Sandoval said that is because “comic books from that era were preserved in large numbers,” thanks in large part to the speculator boom in which people were hoarding comic books in hopes that they could one day sell them in order to send their kids to college. Video games, on the other hand, were often thrown out or sold for pennies on the dollar at garage sales and flea markets once the next big gaming console would come along. And few people kept the boxes and manuals, a consideration not relevant to comics.

Sandoval said Wata will at present only grade games from the Nintendo NES and forward, meaning they don’t deal with video games released for such relics as the Atari2600, Intellivision, and ColecoVision. Currently, they are primarily interested in systems produced by Nintendo and Sega. Sandoval hopes this will change at some point in order to “round things out.”

According to Sandoval, Heritage’s strategy going into video game sales is to start off slowly with internet auctions, get bidders used to the idea, and then come in later with the more expensive stuff for their signature auctions with live auctioneers and bidders.

“This will give people results to look at to lend the idea more credibility,” he said.

Sandoval called the Jan. 13 auction “just the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to video game sales.

“We’re going to auction more every week, and we have some real rarities on tap for our large February Signature Auction,” he said. “For example, we have a ‘not for resale version’ of Halo for the Xbox that may go for as much as $10,000.”

Friday, February 15, 2019

Old School Gamer Magazine -- FREE SUBSCRIPTION!


How about a FREE digital subscription to Old School Gamer Magazine! You can read the new issue for free HERE, or you can get a free digital subscription HERE.

Colorful, fun, and nostalgic, Old School Gamer Magazine features articles by some of the best writers and most important industry insiders in the business, including programmer Warren Davis (creator of Q*bert), historian Leonard Herman (author of Phoenix, the first true video game history book), celebrity icon Walter Day (famous video game scorekeeper), college professor Michael Thomasson (who once held the record for world's largest video game collection), and others. And it's all FREE, with no strings attached! Happy reading!

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 brettw105@sbcglobal.net. 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

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #40: Erin Hawley


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

Review Fix Interview with Brett Weiss - SNES Omnibus Vol. 2



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.