I’ve been writing about video games professionally for nearly 13 years now.
In that time I’ve reviewed thousands of games, written hundreds of features and covered thousands of news stories.
I take pride in all the work I do, but the NES Encyclopedia is by far my proudest accomplishment.
If you’ve been following my work for a while you’ll already be familiar with the NES Encyclopedia and everything it entails, but if you’ve just stumbled upon it for the first time, allow me to explain all via the not-at-all-overused method of the fake conversation.
Hello there, Chris.
Hello there, completely fictional person I always conjure up for articles like this. How have you been?
Oh, you know, I haven’t been up to much. Literally, I mean. Any time you aren’t making use of me in an article I don’t actually exist.
Right, right. So what’s the topic today?
Well, it’s your shiny new NES Encyclopedia. I shall be fulfilling the role of ‘person who’s never heard of it and wants to know more’.
It’s the role you were born to play! Well, created by me to play.
Quite. So, what’s this book all about then?
Glad you asked. The NES Encyclopedia is the definitive guide to the Nintendo Entertainment System’s software library. Every single game released for the NES during its lifetime is listed in this very book.
How about Dusty Diamond’s All-Star Softball?
And Super Mario Bros 3?
Of cour… why would you start with obscure ones and end with an obvious one?
You tell me, you’re the one writing the questions.
Regardless, the point is when I say every game, I mean every game: a grand total of 714 officially licensed NES titles, all present and accounted for.
Ah, but not every NES game was officially licensed. What about stuff like Cheetahmen II, or the Tengen games? They didn’t get a Nintendo Seal of Approval, so they don’t count in the list of 714.
That’s right, they don’t. That’s why there’s a second section at the back of the book dedicated to unlicensed games: the ones released on dodgy bespoke cartridges to bypass Nintendo’s copy protection.
There are another 162 games in this section, all given the same level of attention the licensed games get, making for a grand total of 876 games.
That’s a lot of games. Presumably most of the crap ones get a single-sentence acknowledgement just to make up the numbers.
Nope. The book is an A4 hardback, and every single game gets a quarter page at the very least, including a screenshot and a piece of trivia.
Yup, as in a fun fact or something related to the subject matter.
An example, damn you.
Well, take a look at the Donkey Kong spread. That shows the three ‘tiers’ of games in the book. The iconic games get a full page, other big titles get a half page and everything else – no matter how obscure or terrible – still gets a quarter page to itself.
I see. And those ‘fact’ bits are there for every game in the book?
Yup, all 876 of them. Even the unlicensed ones.
So this is a big book, then?
It is indeed. Like I say, it’s an A4 hardback. It’s full colour, consisting of around 270 pages, and around 180,000 words in total.
That’s 20,000 words longer than the first two Harry Potter books combined, and you also have my promise that I won’t half-heartedly add retrospective information about the characters’ sexual orientations years after it’s been published, like Rowling does.
That’s a shame. I always wished the Battletoads were gay.
Well, you do you, and I’ll support any fanfiction you choose to write.
Anyway, the book sounds good. How do I buy it? There’s usually a Kickstarter for these things, isn’t there?
Not this time. It’s done. It’s out in less than a week (30 March).
It’s done? No crowdfunding?
Nope. It was commissioned by a proper publisher, and everything. The lovely folks at White Owl Books (an imprint of the successful military publisher Pen & Sword) are handling publishing and distribution: this isn’t a crowdfunded, self-published thingy, it’s a legit, proper publication that you’ll find in book shops and the like.
So which book shops are we talking about?
Any shop that sells books, just like any other book. So you should be able to buy it in Waterstones and the like and if they don’t have it on the shelves you should be able to get them to order it in through their usual channels. If you need it, the ISBN number is 9781526737793.
Yup, of course. The retail price in the UK is £30, but there are plenty of online stores selling it at a discount. Here are some links (all prices correct at the time of posting this):
Amazon UK – £21
Pen & Sword (direct from the publisher) – £24 introductory offer
WH Smith – £21
Waterstones – £30
Wordery – £26.70
Book Depository – £26.85
Blackwell’s – £26.40
hive.co.uk – £22.85
Foyles – £30
Note: These are all reputable book sites but I can’t speak for which ones will get stock in first, and which ones will result in you getting the book earliest. If I’ve learned one thing through this, it’s that the world of book releases is less reliable than the world of video game releases!
That’s all well and good, but I don’t live in the UK. I live in the United States of America.
Are you sure?
Ah, I see it now. Well, you’re in luck: much like Eddie Murphy, the book is Coming to America™ – it’s due for release in June, with a retail price of $39.95. Here are some pre-order links.
Since the book isn’t due out in the US until June, my guess is that if you buy from the UK-based sites, you’ll get the book a bit earlier. That said, I can’t guarantee you won’t have import fees to pay or what have you, so it may be best to play it safe and go with Amazon, B&N etc. – you’ll save money if you don’t mind waiting a little longer.
Actually, I lied. I’m actually living in Canada just now. Can you tell me whereaboots I can order it from?
Are you allowed to say “whereaboots”? Isn’t that a bit… you know.
It’s okay, your wife is Canadian.
That’s right. Well, naturally, it’s going to be released in Canada too, where it appears the retail price is $55.50. Here are some links.
I lied again, sorry. I actually live in a different, undisclosed country that doesn’t fall into either the UK, USA or Canada.
Well that’s… okay, no worries. Amazon is really good these days at handling its own imports, so if your country has its own Amazon store the book should hopefully already be available to pre-order there.
Amazon Australia – $42.10
Amazon Brasil – R$139,05
Amazon Deutschland – €37,49
Amazon France – €36,99
Amazon Italia – €36,70
Amazon México – $615.28 (I certainly hope Mexican dollars have a crazy exchange rate)
Amazon 日本 – ￥4,785
Nothing yet in Amazon China, India, Netherlands, Spain or Turkey, I’m afraid.
If you live in a different country or don’t want to use Amazon, just search for ‘Chris Scullion’ in any other online bookstore located in your country. Alternatively, your other best option is to import from the UK, so I recommend either Wordery or The Book Depository.
Both sites are based in the UK, so should be getting in stock from 30 March, and both promise free worldwide shipping. I’ve never bought anything from them from abroad so can’t vouch for them personally and have no idea how long it would take your book to arrive, but both sites have been well-established for a long time so I have no doubt they’re above board.
Lovely. Just one thing… the NES isn’t my favourite console. Why have you gone with that?
That’s fine! I chose the NES because it’s the console that means the most to me personally. It was the first time I fell in love with video games, it was the reason I continued playing games my entire life, it’s the reason I studied journalism at university, it’s the reason I moved to London to become a games journalist at Official Nintendo Magazine, and it’s the reasons I subsequently met the woman who would become my wife and have our beautiful baby daughter.
Long story short, the NES shaped my life, and for a large part of my life I’ve always wanted to write a book that celebrated its entire library. I could have chosen any other system, really, but in my heart there was only one option.
Ultimately, getting it published is my dream being fulfilled. If it doesn’t sell a single copy, I’ll still be happy it exists. But please do buy it anyway, because it’s good.
That’s lovely. Would you do a SNES one though? I was more of a SNES person.
Here’s the thing. If it’s possible then yes, I would love to do a SNES one. In fact, my main dream now is to become the ‘encyclopedia guy’ and keep writing loads of these books, one for every system.
Hold your horses: remember I’m dealing with a publisher here. They (and I) want to make sure the NES book does well before we consider doing more.
I can’t justify once again spending hundreds of hours of research again and writing another 180,000 words, if only 20 people are going to buy the book (especially now I have a baby and free time is at a premium as it is). And, more importantly, the publisher can’t justify printing another book if it won’t sell enough copies.
So, no SNES book then? You SCUM.
I didn’t say that! Wow, you flew off the handle a bit quickly there. No, the reality is actually the opposite.
The publisher and I are both delighted with how the book looks, so we already have an agreement that if The NES Encyclopedia hits a certain sales target – and we’ll be able to tell fairly quickly based on pre-orders and the like whether it’s going to manage that – then I’ll be contracted to write The SNES Encyclopedia.
If that sells well, I’ll be contracted to write The Mega Drive / Genesis Encyclopedia. If that sells well… you get the idea.
I would love a situation where, 10-15 years from now, my shelves (and yours) have a load of my books side-by-side: the NES Encyclopedia, SNES Encyclopedia, Mega Drive Encyclopedia, N64 Encyclopedia, Dreamcast Encyclopedia, Game Boy Encyclopedia, PlayStation Encyclopedia and so on. But we need to get over this first hurdle.
Long story short, if you keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them.
Okay, I’ve pre-ordered. Anything else I can do to help?
Bless you. Spread the word: tweet about it, post about it on Reddit, talk about it on any forums or Discord servers you frequent. Essentially, do your best to make sure as many people as possible know this book exists. Link them to this page if you want: it isn’t going anywhere!
Also, when you get the book, please tweet about it (I’ll RT you) and please, please, please review it, especially if you bought it online. Customer reviews on sites like Amazon are an amazing help when it comes to convincing others to buy products, and if your reviews are positive (which I really hope they will be!) that’s only going to build more momentum.
That’s about it, really. If you have any more questions about the book at all, please do ask them in the comments and I’ll answer as best I can.
This is a massively exciting time for me, but it’s also a hugely nerve-wracking one. I’ve put so much into this book and while I’m so happy with the results, I really hope other people like it too. I wrote it for me, but more than that I wrote it for you, and I can’t wait to hear what you all think about it.
If you want to help me write more, please consider donating to my Patreon account.
Don’t want to commit to a regular payment? I’ve now got a PayPal ‘tips’ jar: if you like my work in general feel free to chuck yer man Scullion a couple of quid and help stock up my Irn Bru fund so I can continue working away like a bastard.
Alternatively, if you can’t afford to support me on Patreon, please do your normal Amazon UK shopping via this link or Amazon US shopping via this link. Tired Old Hack is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.co.uk and affiliated sites.