A SNES Bible
In 2014, author Brett Weiss wrote The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987 published by Schiffer Publishing (read my full review here). No easy task, narrowing down the best games of that decade is not only daunting but also proved informative and insightful. Now, four year later, Brett Weiss released The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol 1 (A-M) also published by Schiffer Publishing. Here, just about every SNES game through the letter M has been covered in impressively concise detail.
Upon first opening this 400+ page hardcover is a heartfelt letter from the author, explaining his time in the game industry through journalism. Without going into detail, this gives credibility to the author and provides insight on his knowledge and passion for all things games. While the amount of care and dedication can easily be seen by simply holding this book in your hands, it is nice to become familiar with the author through these few pages even if the reader is unaware of his previous work.
Here is the official description of this SNES publication:
“Volume 1 of The SNES Omnibus is a fun and informative look at all the original Super Nintendo games released in the U.S. starting with the letters A–M. More than 350 games are featured, including such iconic titles as Chrono Trigger, Contra III: The Alien Wars, Donkey Kong Country, EarthBound, F-Zero, Final Fantasy II and III, Gradius III, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. 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.”
The first thing that stands out is the physical presentation. Besides being a hard cover, the oversized 9” x 12” dimensions makes this the perfect coffee table book for geeks. The combination of the oversized pages, the hard cover, and the fact that there are over 400 pages require some energy by the reader as holding the book is rather weighty. The front and back covers sport some high def shots of SNES paraphernalia including the instantly recognizable SNES controller and some of the most iconic game boxes making this a SNES dream through and through. That phrase “don’t just a book by its cover” does not apply here.
The SNES Omnibus needs to be recognized for its consistency. Just about every entry follows the exact same format with inspiring characteristics. Besides the obvious name of the game in the top corner, each entry is listed with the publisher, developer, genre, number of players, and year released. The kicker, however, is that the box art, cartridge art, and screenshots accompany every game. While it is common to see box art all over the internet and in other publications, it is much rarer to see cart art. Taking it another step further, the top cartridge art has also been included and Photoshopped on top of the front cart art. Displaying full cartridge art, especially a scan of the top label, is impressive and something fans should undoubtedly appreciate. Keep in mind, some games are very expensive to acquire today but yet they are all here.
The included screenshots are the icing on the cake and just wouldn’t be the same without them. Depending on the game and spread, most entries feature the game’s opening title screen and a couple in-game shots. Final Fantasy II, for example, features the dagger title screen, a shot of the overworld, and a shot of battle to encompass all the different perspectives of gameplay. Three screenshots of combat could have been included but the deliberate decision to include the different views this game has to offer really speaks to the care that went into each page.
Each game usually receives a few paragraphs written by the author that explains what the game is, why it might be important, and other quick tidbits. Then, depending on space, the “notable quotable” section are snippets taken from other authors, game enthusiasts, and professional publications. In fact, there is one quote that I would like to point out from one of the first games listed, The 7th Saga, as our site, www.mygamer.com was quoted. Just to set the record straight, I had no clue this was going to be included in the book and found it just by browsing through. We think it is pretty cool and a clever way for the author to not blow smoke up his own horn.
In addition to this consistent formula, some more notable titles received some extra treatment. For example, the two-page spread of Bubsy features extra screenshots, a scan of a magazine cover in which the game was featured, a scan of a print ad, and more. I do not want to give away spoilers here but these extras are welcomed and act as another way to preserve a piece of gaming history. There are also a few pages of emulation at the end and a quick mention of Nintendo’s SNES Classic plug-and-play console.
The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M) is a wonderful, thoughtful, and passion-produced archive of the history of the Super Nintendo. With over 350 games spread across 400+ pages, this massive book will take hours to scourer. Whether you leave it in the open on your coffee table or store it on a shelf, this is one book to keep for reference, can be used as an educational tool to learn about the titles you never had a chance to play, and just geek out over. The final product was made with care and respect and any fan of the SNES should want to browse through it. This is recommended reading and looking forward to the sequel.