There’s an endless supply of retro gaming themed books being released these days, and it’s always refreshing to see a small selection of those books covering Nintendo, I can only imagine the fear of god they face from “Big N’s” legal talons in the protection of their I.P’s when they see people producing a book based on their consoles, software or its third-party software too. So with this in mind I’m sure Brett Weiss took this into consideration when beginning his work on the SNES Omnibus book, in this Volume one he explores the Super Nintendo’s American region released titles from A-M with a massively high page count of 450+ pages, just as a side note, for this review I will not be able to comment on paper quality and print quality as I received a digital version of the book for review, but I believe the book is quite big and thick, possibly justifying the higher than usual price tag of $50 / €42 / £37 at the online checkout.
So what’s it all about? Well there is a fantastic foreword by Bill Loguidice covering the technicalities of the system as well as well-informed insights about the SNES’s beginnings in the United States and he himself is the author of eight technology books and was a writer and producer of Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution, a feature film documentary on the history of video games. The book follows up with a Pre-face acknowledgment by the author Brett Weiss to inform the reader about who he is and what his history of video games is like etc, in others words a self-promoting page which I normally bypass to get straight to the content. The book there after jumps straight into the games where your greeted with four to five images, these are made up with box Art of the game, a photo of the game’s cartridge and screenshots of the game littering the page followed by what I feel was a basic break down of the game and info on the other formats it may have appeared on, looking simply like something just to add to the games word count.
One interesting addition that helps flesh out the game spreads within the book is the “Notable Quotable” concept, these are great as a reference about what was said about the game back in the day by video game journalists reviewing the game within your favourite video games magazine, they really are used to great effect in the SNES Omnibus book, but I also feel that these should have been only used for AAA titles, rather than for most games to just fill out the pages on the lesser popular or mediocre games. The book also adds another spin on content aspects with “Insiders Insights” here Brett has organised for inclusion of the book, You-Tubers, Game Reviewers, Video Game Bloggers and such like to contribute their personal perspective and memories of the games found inside the book, this is a great touch and adds additional depth to what has already been written. I did find some of the insider’s insights very touching, especially Catherine Despira’s insider for “Bugsy 2” dam near brought a tear to my eyes! Where other insights were simply perspectives of other formats of the some games (Adams Family, Test Drive 2: The Dual and Midway Arcade Classics) attempting to size up the SNES without actually playing that version! Which left me thinking why have them included if they don’t know the machine?
So what more can be said about the book, well, without a doubt it’s a must have book for those who loved the SNES like myself and a great addition to sit beside, if you own it, the Bitmap Book’s “SNES Compendium” book completing your lust for everything Super Nintendo, but, and yes there is always a but….for a book covering the Super Nintendo I feel the book deserves a lot more energetic flair to its design, which I found boring, screenshots of games misplaced throughout the book simply to fill space up and also to use postage stamp sized screenshots didn’t do the games justice in some places, but with the book been a full-sized publication this can probably be excused here. I did not like the tiny write ups by the author at times, it was simply what the game was, what other formats it came out on and lacked any personality to the description of the game, either leading to lack of insight of the games themselves he may have played or simply rushed for time restraints during production of this book, I can’t tell, but I do feel that the author was very sincere to the best of his ability in acknowledgement of the titles covered in the book. The insider’s insights where overall a fantastic touch and with that, the book is packed with them expanding the universe of knowledge of those that actually played and remembered them.
So with these pros and the cons done, is the book worth purchasing? I did enjoy a lot of the content of the book more than I didn’t so this is a saving grace here, I felt the design work of the book was very light and did not promote the games in the fashion a lot of them deserve, basic layout and format wins the day here, but the information within the book is very solid combining all aspects of the author’s research, insiders insights and notable quotable’s making the book a monarch of SNES goodness, I also liked the tiny snippets of trivia that was added too was a nice touch. So all in all the book is a solid piece of work and I would recommend the purchase for it if you can afford the asking price, but also note if you purchase from the author himself Brett Weiss you get additional extras for your purchase, like signed copies and you can receive a free retro gaming magazine in the process, so sounds like a cracking deal to me.
My rating based on all the above is a 7 out of 10 regardless of the having the physical version or digital version of the book. It’s a very good book, but could have been much better; let’s hope volume two will structure the content more effectively.
You can purchase the book HERE at Brett’s own website
It’s a solid book from a PDF point of view, recommended for all retro fans and SNES fans alike.
Creator of forth coming Coin-Op:Arcade Guide and creator of the Atari Gamer Magazine and the Atari ST Gamer Magazines. Retro gaming expert & fact finder.