Have you ever been so obsessed with a band that you’d hunt down every single song they’ve ever done to make certain you didn’t miss a single one? I don’t mean just collecting LPs – I’m talking limited-released rarities, obscure B-sides, old live tracks, demos, pre-signed recordings, cover songs, paying-a-fortune-on-eBay-for-one-added-on-track-from-a-CD-single-released-only-in-Japan-two-decades-ago type of obsessed. Well, in his new book The Complete SNES Collector’s Book & Ultimate Guide (definitive edition), author Jeffrey Wittenhagen has combined his passion for writing with an OCD type of adoration of the Super Nintendo to hunt down every SNES title known and made a beast of a compendium for meticulous collectors of the system.
And, with the SNES Classic’s release just around the corner, there’s no better time to look back at a console that has helped to define our childhoods since 1991 and get some perspective from the man who’s combed the world for every single game for it.
Jeffrey Wittenhagen (hagensalley.com)
My main reason for doing the “Collector’s Book Series” is to get a better understanding of all the games for a system. With the Super Nintendo, I was already very familiar with the main licensed games, however, it’s the things like Super Famicom where I am only including the games that enjoyable without knowing how to read Japanese that have really opened my eyes to what other awesome games are available on the console. There are a ton!
One of the coolest games that I never knew about as a kid was Run Saber. Playing it while researching for the book, I couldn’t believe that there was a cooperative Strider-style game that was right under my nose this entire time! And that is just one of the amazing games I’ve come across during my journey as there are so many Super Famicom games that should have been released here that it’s ridiculous!
Absolutely! As I get older, I find that I have less time to dedicate to gaming; especially when I also want to put together these amazing books on top of it. So the amazing RPGs that the SNES has to offer, while still outstanding, tend to go on the back burner for me and I have been focusing on those action-oriented games that I can typically enjoy in a single sitting.
So my writing process is filled with OCD goodness! Because I write in a minimalist fashion everything is based on my reactions to games as I play them. Yes, I play each and every game that I talk about in all my books. Only in my other “Compendium” series do I talk about my memories with games and systems. This book is all about what the games are and a quick personal reaction to add a bit of flavor.
That is kind of a loaded question, as that really depends on the talent level of the individual(s) involved with the process. When we are talking about “making” a game, there are a lot of factors involved; many artistic in nature. You have to realize that not everyone is DiVinci or Thomas Edison, and game creation basically requires both to make a masterpiece. Fortunately there are homebrew games out there, made by fans, that rival anything put out by a big developer and in the end, we all win!
Easily thousands of hours go into the research of each book I do. The thing is, this is a passionate hobby. So instead of playing the latest and greatest games coming out, I’m playing games for the next book and creating all the aspects that go into each spread. It’s a very long process, but because I keep at it I typically finish my books fairly quickly.
There definitely could have been more use out of the accessories. Through the playing and research for this book, I noticed a lot of the on-rails shooters didn’t even support the Super Scope, but only the SNES Mouse. I also found a ton of games that could have really used SNES Mouse support that didn’t. Fortunately, this is something where a ROM hacker could actually implement a bare bones mod to a game, but just think if we had more support back in the day for them!
Well, my favorite game of all time is on the SNES; The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. That game is an utter masterpiece! As for a franchise low, nothing really pops out that was truly terrible on the SNES, but I’m sure something is out there.
So an actual franchise that I enjoyed for the Super Famicom, that we never got here in the US, is the Go Go Ackman series. The artist for the Dragon Ball series, Akira Toriyama, did the art for the game and it’s an amazing action platformer that has a ton of humor thrown in for good measure.
Of course, the most expensive titles for the SNES are the Competition Cartridges. The Star Fox Super Weekend and Donkey Kong Competition Cart were mail-aways and pretty expensive. However, the Powerfest ’94 and SNES Campus Challenge ’92 “giant boards” are among the rarest on any system out there!
Nintendo’s biggest mistake would have to be continuing the tightened grip they had on third party developers during this era. This caused a lot of developers to jump ship at the first opportunity they got, whether that be companies like Tengen over to Sega or more importantly Square with moving the Final Fantasy franchise to Sony’s PlayStation. It is something that peaked with the 16-bit and they are still feeling the ramifications to this day.
Basically, the community contributors were allowed to pick any games they wanted, no minimum or anything. So that left the remaining 90-95% for me to write. Keep in mind that most of the contributors reached out me wanting to write in the book because they are passionate about the SNES, and/or video games in general, so I’m not going to mandate anything as that’s not my style. I honestly love doing these kinds of books, so even if I was writing it all myself it’d still be a fun time!
My guiltiest pleasure would be for Super Punch-Out, since I have set Twin Galaxies records on that game. I really like the quick nature to the bouts and it is extremely fun to play in short bursts. For some reason, I also love Uniracers on the system, as that game is fast and frantic madness!
This being the Definitive Edition of my 500 page Complete SNES release in 2015, I am upgrading every aspect of the book. This includes glossy paper quality, brightening up images, perfect binding, adding the text for each Title (no clue why I didn’t initially include that!), bookmark ribbons, and a new SNES character collage; not to mention over adding over 300 Super Famicom games! We are also offering a slipcase that has the classic 2-scene animation that you used to see on trading cards in the 90s! The price has also now been dropped down to $40 for the book, or $60 with the animated slipcase! This is going in line with my new business model as I want my books to be something cool that everyone can afford and at a gigantic 630 high-quality pages, this book will be well worth the money!
You can follow along at www.tinyurl.com/snesbook
and make sure you star and follow me on there so you can be among the first to be alerted when we go live this October!
Michael A. Jones firstname.lastname@example.org www.nerdsintheburbs.com
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Michael Adam Jones is a writer and cartoonist. Author of the upcoming series Nerds in the Burbs. He lives near Raleigh, NC