Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 Year in Review!

It's been good, but some changes had to be made.
In 2019, I had articles published in 32 physical issues of magazines and newspapers. I also write for a couple of websites, and my latest book, The SNES Omnibus Vol. 2 was published. I'm proud of my work, but this is down significantly from 2017 and 2018, where combined I had articles published in more than 160 issues (80+ each for both of those years). The primary reason for the downturn is that the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has for the most part stopped publishing entertainment-related articles from freelancers. In addition, several magazines I used to write for went under. Also, I've started a graveyard shift job (unrelated to writing) so our family can have a good, affordable healthcare plan.
Changing with the times and the new economy, I've started a Patreon page for fans of my work who are interested in reading exclusive articles and my monthly column. Patrons also get access to exclusive videos, behind-the-scenes photos, behind-the-scenes information, advance chapters of my books, my office archives, updates on my work in progress, personal updates, unpublished work, and more. For as little as a buck a month, you can join. Check it out here: https://www.patreon.com/brettweiss
Thanks for your support, and have a happy 2020!

Monday, November 25, 2019

Read Old School Gamer Magazine #13 for Free!

The new issue of Old School Gamer Magazine is now online! You can read it for free by clicking HERE.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Support Brett Weiss on Patreon

I’m now on Patreon!

For just $1 per month, you can support my work and get early access to my videos.
For a little more, you can watch exclusive videos, ask questions that will appear in my videos, check out behind-the-scenes photos, get early access to my articles, read advance chapters of my books, view my office archives (such as early photos, articles, and unpublished material), and more. Thanks for your support!

Click HERE to go to my Patreon page.

As a follow-up to the above paragraph, I’ve had some people who aren’t really into gaming ask me about the whole Patreon phenomenon. Some had never heard of it. It's Patreon, as in Patron of the Arts. It seems like something new since so many YouTubers have Patreon accounts, but the concept actually dates back centuries. Catherine the Great was a patron of the arts, for example. Kings, queens, and other people of means would give money to artists, writers, musicians, and the like to support them in their work. Sometimes they would be rewarded with special perks, such as “free” commissions and private performances.

There’s been a bit of backlash against Patreon since some people have abused the program, but there are some excellent Patreon pages where you get some really cool perks for your contributions. The concept of the Patron has come back in a big way in part because it is harder these days to make money creating videos, books, albums, etc. than it was just a few short years ago. There are many reasons for this, including a very crowded field of content creators. Patreon can be a crucial way for the creator to keep it at. With my Patreon account, I will endeavor to make it worthwhile for anyone who contributes with all kinds of perks, including behind-the-scenes stuff, exclusive videos and articles, a look at archival material (including unpublished work), and more.

Thanks for your support!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Backstage Interview with Tommy Tallarico!

I had a blast at Video Games Live Saturday night, and I even got to interview the legendary Tommy Tallarico backstage before the show! You can watch the video on my YouTube channel by clicking HERE.
Thanks and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games Books - HUGE SALE!

Super Nintendo Book Sale!

The two-volume SNES Omnibus book set is now on sale! You can now get the $100 set on Amazon for $65.35!

Click HERE to check out Vol. 1 and HERE to check out Vol. 2.

Here’s what you’ll get:

*Two MASSIVE, deluxe hardcover coffee table books, written by Brett Weiss, a respected gaming historian who’s super passionate about the Super Nintendo

*More than 470,000 words; More than 870 pages

*Write-ups for EVERY U.S. release for the Super Nintendo--each game gets at least one page

*More than 4,100 full-color images: box art, cartridge scans, screenshots, vintage ads

*A pair of colorful centerfolds featuring your favorite SNES characters

*Nostalgic stories from prominent YouTube celebs, programmers, developers, authors, reviewers, and other industry insiders

*Quotes from vintage magazines like GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly

*Essays on the Super Game Boy, the Super Scope, the Console Wars, and Super Metroid

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Name Your Game Expo October 5-6 - Tulsa, Oklahoma

I'll be a guest at the Name Your Game Expo October 5 and 6 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'll be selling and autographing my books, and I'll host a panel on YouTubing. Here's the info about the show from the organizers:

Name Your Game Expo aims to represent all players by being uniquely positioned at the intersection of tabletop, video, competitive, and free play gaming. We take pride in showcasing a diverse lineup of both video games and tabletop games, powered by our Oklahoma-grown team members who are passionate about the genres and titles they curate!

Gaming is our focus, but no convention is complete without artists, authors, cosplayers, exhibitors, charitable causes and vendors. These contributors serve to round out our convention experience and further represent what gaming culture has to offer. We are thrilled to deliver an inclusive, family-friendly weekend for all attendees to enjoy!

Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center
200 W. Albany St., Broken Arrow, OK 74012
Hours of Operation:
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Old School Gamer Magazine #12 - READ FOR FREE!

Old School Gamer Magazine #12 is now available!
It features articles on Nolan Bushnell, the Magnavox Odyssey, Space Invaders, Yar's Revenge (by designer Howard Scott Warshaw himself!), and much more, including my article on YouTubing.

You can read the digital version for FREE by clicking HERE. Enjoy!

Friday, September 13, 2019

A New Review of Both Volumes of The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games

One of the longest reviews ever written about any of my books popped up on Amazon recently. Very thorough. Here it is:

By Samuel Stinson

BrettWeiss has done a great service for the classic gaming community, not only in his earlier work writing for the All Game Guide and other publications, but most recently in his creation of both volumes of the SNES Omnibus. Weiss’ two volumes of the omnibus include and A-Z approach to listing all of the published SNES games released, with A-M appearing in the first volume and N-Z in the second volume. I would highly recommend both volumes for the personal libraries of classic gamers, as well as for reading material for those who are new to the classic gaming scene. In addition, the variety of materials included is a helpful representation of the classic gaming community, so those interested in the discourse community of classic gamers as a whole will highly benefit from reviewing these texts. In this review, I will review the general structure and content of the omnibus, briefly beginning with the material included in the front matter, then discussing the the structure of the entries themselves, and finally the back matter.

Front Matter

The front matters provide a fascinating review of how these materials came to be, and how we might appreciate the contributions of the teams that developed both volumes. The foreword in volume 1 is provided by Bill Loguidice, the producer of the documentary Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution. Loguidice provides a technical breakdown of the SNES and discusses the affordances of the system and how it relates to the designers’ intents for releasing a system that at the time represented the cutting edge of 16-bit game systems. Weiss then includes a preface that overviews how he got into writing about video games and how he assembled the group that contributed to the writing. For volume 2, Weiss again writes the preface, this time more briefly. This time around, however, Ben Reeves, the senior editor for Game Informer, pens the foreword. Reeves notes that compared to the competition, the SNES was actually “underpowered” in terms of processor—though the production team made specific use of the system’s technological constrains with respect to music and visuals.

Structure of the Entries

Each entry in the omnibus includes the selected game, publisher information, selected box art and scenes from gameplay, a summary of the game’s story, and a fun-fact about the game or the game’s production. Also included is contributor information from developers or players commenting on their experiences playing or purchasing the game. Much of the game summary helps the reader to understand play mechanics. For instance, for the “Illusion of Gaia” entry in the first volume, Weiss notes that the protagonist “Will must converse with townsfolk to gather clues, solve puzzles (by flipping switches, moving blocks and the like), dash quickly to smash obstacles and climb steep hills, slide through narrow openings or into foes, collect jewels to trade for items and powers, and destroy monsters to garner extra hit points, strength, lives, and defense.” The insider insight for this game was written by Kris Randazzo, who notes that the promoters of Illusion of Gaia framed the promotional materials to trick players into thinking the game was another in the Zelda series, which led to better sales for the title. For the game “Home Improvement,” based on the TV show, I appreciate the inclusion of the fact that the original game did not include an instruction manual: “There’s no true instruction manual for Home Improvement. Rather, it has a fake manual with a sticker plastered over it claiming, ‘Real men don’t need instructions.’” Funnily enough, this makes the omnibus’ entry more extensive as to the controls and story of the game than the original game’s in-box materials.

Back Matter

At the conclusion of the omnibus entries, each volume includes several essays written by contributors on topics of significance to the classic gaming community. The first volume includes an essay titled “The Console Wars” by Rusel DeMaria that describes that role of the SNES in the 1990s market-place conflict between Nintendo and Sega. The writer’s personal interview with Minoru Arakawa, the then-president of Sega of America, offers insights into the conflict. In “Emulating the Super Nintendo,” Alex McCumbers provides four points of consideration for video game emulation, that emulation is not new, that it is too simple to call all emulation illegal, that emulation benefits the industry, and that emulation provides an educational benefit. While I appreciate the sentiment of these points, I would have preferred to see Nintendo and the other members of the industry have their legal perspective included here: Nintendo has been very clearly and staunchly not an advocate of unauthorized fan emulation as well as being strong protectors of their IP. These positions on emulation while not being popular in the classic gaming community are directly responsible for the creation of the gaming industry that creates the games the community so much appreciates. A more balanced perspective that invited a representative from the industry would have useful and interesting as a counterpoint.

Volume 2 also includes essays that alone may be worth the price of admission. ZoeHoward’s essay “The Super Game Boy” provides insights into the SNES’ (perhaps) most prized library-extension-tool, allowing players to load and play early Game Boy titles on the SNES. Ken Horowitz provides an extended reflection on immersion in “A Deeper Meaning for Super Metroid,” discussing how the title creates mood and atmosphere in its 16-bit virtual environment. Ah, Super Metroid—you were such a cinematic and ludic joy to play—but I digress. Finally, Michael Thomasson gives an expose of “The Super Scope 6” and Nintendo’s promotion of the peripheral and other gamic guns.


My only real complaint about the entries is that I was not invited to provide insider insight for any of the games! Aside from that, and more seriously, the entry list is extensive and reading about other players’ and collectors’ experiences with the SNES library brought back a nostalgia for me that, outside of watching reruns of the Angry Video Game Nerd and the Gaming Historian, often stays cuddled beneath the surface and thinly caked veneer of modern life. And given the extensiveness of the SNES library, I enjoyed reading about games that I never got a chance to experience, rent, collect, or play back in the day. While the collector market for video games has exploded in recent years, leading to ballooning costs for retro games (perhaps best represented by sites such as pricecharting.com), the entries in this omnibus would most certainly be of benefit for the SNES collector who encounters a flea-market bargain but does not have ready access to information about the titles.

The price tag for each volume of the SNES Omnibus sits at $49.99 (US), so that snagging both volumes will put the collector at a little over a hundred dollars for both, after tax. But it is worth it--I cannot think of a single collection that offers this much nostalgia for the price, with respect to the reviews, box and screen art, insights and reflections, and contributor essays. These volumes are both a ready and welcome addition to bookshelves and coffee tables of collectors in the SNES classic gaming community.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #51 - Patrick Hickey

In all the years I’ve been writing professionally—more than two decades (yikes!)—few people have been as supportive as my good friend Pat Hickey Jr., a journalism professor who has shared my videos and Amazon links, contributed stories for my Super Nintendo books, promoted my 100 Greatest book, reached out to ask how I was doing, given me shout-outs in multiple podcasts, interviewed me about my work, and much more. He even asked if I’d like to write the foreword to his excellent book, The Minds Behind the Games, which of course I readily agreed to.

In addition to writing about games, Patrick is a devoted family man to his beautiful wife and daughter and an all-around cool guy. When I had the chance to meet up with him on my trip to New York last summer, we had a blast talking shop and checking out the local sights, bookstores, restaurants, and, of course, video game haunts. Pat is all energy all the time, and I’m proud to call him my friend and colleague. Thanks, Pat!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Let’s Play Gaming Expo 2019 -- Rampage Creator Brian F. Colin

The Let’sPlay Gaming Expo, one of the most interactive video game conventions in the country, is returning to Dallas/Fort Worth for an action-packed weekend of alien invading, dot munching, and pixel blasting. The annual, all-ages event will be held August 9-11 at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

 If you’ve never been to Let’s Play, here’s the deal: you can get your game on with console and arcade games all weekend long, leaving your quarters at home as all games are set on free play, including such classics as Pac-Man, Q*bert, and Space Invaders. Convention organizers team with some of the premiere collectors in Texas, so there will be rarities to you can check out as well. If you haven’t played the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, or Nintendo NES in decades, the console area will send you back in time to your childhood.

It’s all about having fun, whether you’re a seasoned joystick jockey, a NOOB who wants to see what gaming was like in the old days, or a pop culture fan who enjoys getting their geek on. Tournaments will be held throughout the weekend, meaning you can test your mettle against other gamers. Most tournaments are free with admission, but you will need to pony up $10 to take part in the Southern Regional Qualifier for the Classic Tetris World Championship, which will be held at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo in Oregon.

If you’re looking to add to your collection, Let’s Play features a sprawling vendor’s area with more than 85 booths filled to the brim with cartridges, consoles, and collectables. You’ll be able to purchase boxed rarities, complete game systems, toys and related items, and much more.

No world class video game con is complete without special guests, and in this respect Let’s Play delivers. The featured guest speaker is Brian F. Colin, who designed and created the art for Rampage, the 1986 coin-op classic from Bally/Midway. The game, which featured giant, Godzilla-type monsters crushing buildings, was made into a feature film last year starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Much to his delight, Colin, who lives just outside of Chicago, was invited to the set during the production of the movie, part of which was filmed in Chicago. “Someone from the Chicago casting company called me and said they’d love to have me down since I created Rampage,” he says. “I was an extra running through the streets of Chicago a couple of weekends, and then someone called me over and said, ‘Hey, this is the second unit director and the assistant director, would you like to do a cameo?’, and I said ‘Sure.’ I spent an entire afternoon running away from an imaginary building, running behind cars, cameras mounted on huge trains. It was fun and wonderful, but exhausting—It was 90 degrees, and I thought I was gonna have a heart attack.” [Laughs]

Colin received praise for his effort, with some of the other extras saying he did a good job and that he “really looked scared.”

A couple of weeks later, Colin got a call from the John Rickard, who produced the film. He invited Colin out to Hollywood for the final week of shooting.

“I got to hang out and meet The Rock,” he says. “He was as nice as everybody says he is. He was in the middle of filming one of the final scenes of the movie while I was taking pictures with the producers. He was like, ‘Stop, stop I’ve got to be a part of this.’ He came down, and I found out later he was a big fan of Rampage as a child, so I’m geeking out over him, and he’s geeking out over me. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. I was treated like royalty and got to go to the premiere.”

Sadly, as so often happens in Hollywood, Colin’s scenes were cut from the film, which he discovered while watching the premiere. He was disappointed, of course, but far from bitter.

“I loved the movie,” he says “I knew it wasn’t going to be my slapstick game, but I thought they did a really nice job.”

Unlike many people in the video game industry, Colin didn’t grow up a gamer. In fact, he barely gave them much thought and was a casual gamer at best.

“I’m a little bit older than most, so video games for me were the original Magnavox Odyssey, which my dad got us for Christmas in the early ’70s” he says. “The fact that you could put a green static cling gel over the screen to get color was the advancement of technology. I was an artist. I was a filmmaker. I went to school for film, and I never really connected with video games. Nothing drew me to video games at all growing up other than, ‘Hey, this is fun, this is interesting.’”

Colin says he “backed into” the video game industry when in 1982 he answered a classified ad for an artist from the Bally/Midway company. He thought they were looking for someone to paint pictures on pinball machines.

“I went in expecting to be interviewed for a job as a pinball back-glass artist,” he says “The gentleman who interviewed me, George Gomez, was the heart and soul of Bally/Midway’s new in-house development group. He told me they wanted me to do art for video games, that they need someone who understands the principals of animation because they want this stuff to look better.”

Colin says that he was “crushed,” but that he “kept a smile plastered on my face the whole interview.” The pay was good, so he reluctantly accepted the job, which he ended up loving.

“I started by working with a programmer named Bob Dinnerman on Discs of Tron,” he says. “I fell in love. I thought, ‘There is so much I can do with this. There are so many ways to push this industry.’ The restrictions on 16 colors and the pixels…the challenge grabbed me completely, totally engaged me. I did a complete 180. I was in love with making games and coming up with things that hadn’t been done before. I stumbled into this industry at exactly the right time.”

Colin proceeded to work on and have a hand in creating such arcade classics as Rampage, Arch Rivals, and Rampage: World Tour (a sequel to Rampage), as well as General Chaos for the Sega Genesis. He did the art for numerous other games as well, and today he’s the CEO of Game Refuge Inc., a company he co-founded in 1992 with Jeff Nauman. Game Refuge creates games for arcades, consoles, casinos, computers, touchscreen countertop machines, mobile devices, and Facebook.

Colin is looking forward to coming out to Let’s Play and meeting and greeting fans.

“Some of the nicest fans and collectors are in Texas,” he says. “I don’t think I get embraced anywhere as much as I do in Texas. They are so welcoming, and they tell me great places to go after the show.”

Colin has appeared at numerous trade shows around the country, but he didn’t even know about video game conventions until a few years ago when Doc Mack, owner of the Galloping Ghost Arcade near Chicago, turned him onto them.

“I went with him to a couple of shows, and then I started getting invited,” he says. “It blew me away. It’s incredibly flattering that people remember my games, and they share their stories about how this was the game they played, this was the one I played with my brother…The stories are wonderful, but some of them will break your heart. ‘This was the game I played with my friend in the seventh grade before he died.’ I’m thrilled and humbled at the same time.”

Other special guests who will appear at Let’s Play include voice actor John St. John (Duke Nukem), voice actor Dameon Clarke (Borderlands), cosplayer Dee Rich, YouTuber The 8-Bit Guy, and voice actor Jeff Baker (Star Trek: Legacy), among others. A 30th anniversary celebration of The Wizard video game movie will take place, featuring actor Luke Edwards, who played Jimmy Woods in the film. The Wizard writer David Chisolm and producer Ken Topolsky will be there as well.

For more information, check out the Let’s Play Gaming Expo website: www.letsplaygamingexpo.com.

500 W Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving 75039
Aug. 9-11
Weekend Pass: $35
Friday Only: $20 (12PM - 8PM)
Saturday Only: $25 (10AM - 6PM)
Sunday Only: $$20 (10AM - 6PM)
Children 7 and under get in free
$10 extra to enter Tetris tournament

Monday, July 22, 2019

Land of the Lost Article - Written During the Original Run!

I found this article on Land of the Lost the other day while rummaging around in my office. What's cool about it is that it was written during the production of the show, not as a nostalgia piece years later. Amusingly, it appears alongside a story about Flesh Gordon, the soft core porn version of Flash Gordon.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Old School Gamer Magazine #11 - Kelsey Lewin Article

Old School Gamer Magazine #11 is now available. It features such writers as E.T. and Yars' Revenge programmer Howard Scott Warshaw, The Father of Video Game History Leonard Herman, historian and professor Michael Thomasson, and yours truly. You can read my article about popular YouTuber Kelsey Lewin by clicking on the images below.

You can read the digital version of the magazine for free HERE, and you can subscribe to the mag HERE. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Tales from a Retro Gamer -- My New YouTube Show!

My latest venture is called "Tales from a Retro Gamer", a YouTube series where I discuss the history of video games from a personal standpoint. Things like my first video game, rare finds I've made, conventions I've attended, famous gamers I've met, the first time I played the NES, and much more. I'll cover various retro gaming topics in the news as well. New episode every Tuesday at 2:00 PM Central Standard time. Click HERE to check out the channel. Please subscribe--after all, it's free! Thanks--enjoy the videos!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #50 - Cierra Caballero

If memory serves, I was the first person Cierra Caballero interviewed for PopNerdTV, a geeky news site covering all the cool things in life, such as comic books, movies, and video games. She interviewed me at the 2016 Retropalooza video game con in Arlington, TX, where I was selling and autographing my books. I could tell right away that she was a cool and fun person to be around, thanks to her chill attitude and big smile.

Cierra and I have been friends ever since, and we’ve even collaborated on a few projects, such as my 50th anniversary feature on Night of the Living Dead and a story I did for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the Texas Frightmare horror convention. Cierra is a purveyor of all things pop culture, but she’s especially keen on horror, and she’s always interesting to talk to about things that go bump in the night. I was very happy when she agreed to write a story about SimCity for my latest book, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games,Vol. 2 (N–Z).

Here’s her bio from that titanic tome:

Cierra Caballero is a versatile writer and show host whose passion for creating and storytelling lead her to wanting to create her own path in the entertainment world from a young age. From writing articles, to singing in a band, to hosting her own horror edutatinment show “Jump Scare” on PopNerdTV, there is no limit to the mediums she wants to create in. Cierra stars in Berenice and Irene, a comedy web series she co-created with Jacqueline Davis.