Savor the history of the NES in a hardcover print edition

NES Works 1985 and 1986 are on sale now at Fangamer, so you can grace your bookshelves with the weight of history (and the heft of thick, glossy paper).

As much as I love putting together our weekly Video Chronicles episodes — especially when the game under the microscope is as brilliant as this week's topic, U.N. Squadron — video has never been the endgame for those productions. Since the beginning, my goal for Video Chronicles has been to use the weekly releases as a raw material resource for putting together something that will hopefully prove more enduring than YouTube videos: Comprehensive platform library studies in print.

I'm proud to announce that the latest of these print volumes, NES Works 1986, is now available for purchase from Fangamer. For $24 plus shipping, you can buy a large, full-color, hardcover book packed with 184 pages of retrospective text about all 19 games published for Nintendo Entertainment System in the U.S. throughout 1986. The text will be familiar if you've seen the NES Works 1986 videos, as I've adapted the book's content from the video scripts, editing, polishing, and even rewriting it where necessary. 

Nintendo, wow! It's a hardcover volume now!

In addition to the revised text, NES Works 1986 also contains full-color photography of every game's packaging, even the ridiculously overpriced rarities like Donkey Kong Jr. Math and Chubby Cherub (thanks to Steve Lin of the Video Game History Foundation). On top of that, I've written new sidebar content to explain terminology, trace creative influences, and compare NES games to licensed source material or arcade originals. Every game includes an extensive gallery of screen shots culled from the high-definition source footage I capture for Video Chronicles (so, taken directly from NES or Analogue Nt Mini via RGB and upscaled for crisper detail — no emulation), as well as lots of artsy off-screen photography showing all those delicious CRT scanlines the games were originally designed to be seen with.

Every game gets the deluxe treatment in NES Works… even the ones that don't really deserve it.

You have better things to do with $1200 than to buy a complete copy of Donkey Kong Jr. Math; now you can luxuriate in its cardboard shell for a mere $24.

Each game also includes a breakdown of the different platforms it's appeared on, including where you can purchase them on current platforms (when possible). Finally, the volume closes with a bonus section called NES Works Gaiden 1984, which details every single game to launch on Nintendo's Family Computer throughout 1984. The idea there is to compare and contrast the games that showed up on the American NES and Japanese Famicom during their respective second years on the market. The Gaiden section also includes the usual packaging photography and direct RGB-feed screens.

Every game includes multiple upscaled, direct-feed RGB screen shots captured from authentic hardware.

In short, I've done everything I possibly can to make this book the definitive look at this period of the NES's life. I don't know if I'll be able to make it through the NES's entire library within in my lifetime, since I'm also splitting my time across other consoles, but the NES Works series will be the most comprehensive dive into the portions of the console's run in the U.S. that I'm able to cover. I realize plenty of other people have covered the NES before, but never quite this exhaustively.

Now, I suppose it's fair to ask just how exhaustively one actually need examine Tag Team Wrestling, but NES Works 1986 explores the good and the bad alike.

Fancy off-screen photos and sidebar supplements., too.

Also up for preorder on Fangamer is NES Works 1985, which is still in production but should ship before Christmas. Like 1986, it's a 184-page, 8x10", full-color, hardcover volume that sells for $24. If you buy both books together during Fangamer's Black Friday sale, you'll save $5 off the set (meaning the pair will be $43 instead of $48). That's a hefty chunk of video game history for a damn good price.

Note that the material in NES Works 1985 was previously published last fall as Good Nintentions 1985 through Amazon. If you've gone looking for that book in the past few months and wondered why it's no longer available for purchase, this is why: It was delisted so I could rework it as a companion volume to 1986. If you already own Good Nintentions 1985, you don't need to pick up NES Works 1985; its contents are almost completely identical to the first edition save for a handful of copy edits, a few minor tweaks, and a couple of small sidebars I added to flesh out the page count. 

These books will not, to my knowledge, be available through Amazon again. The older edition was produced through Amazon's print-on-demand service, which was handy for me when I was producing these works in my own free time. However, Fangamer is able to offer you far higher quality (heavy paper stock and hardcover binding) at a much more reasonable price; if I remember correctly, the color edition of Good Nintentions 1985 listed at $36 — 50% higher than the Fangamer price, despite its lower-grade paper, printing, and paperback cover. Hopefully you'll agree that the move to work with Fangamer makes sense.

Compare and contrast the second year of NES's life with the second year of the Japanese version of the console through the 40-page import supplement at the back of the book.

The first few third-party games released for Famicom were quite different than the ones we saw early in the NES's life.

Eventually, all but one of my previous productions will migrate from Amazon to Fangamer. I'll be combining the existing Game Boy World books into a single Game Boy Works volume, and I also have plans to expand on delisted Anatomy of Games projects in new and interesting ways. Only the original Good Nintentions, which is a comprehensive overview of the NES's entire lifespan, will remain on Amazon for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, though, it's Fangamer all the way! Please look forward to it.

So, to summarize:

  • NES Works 1986 is shiny and new and costs $24;
  • NES Works 1985 is the same material as the book previously published as Good Nintentions 1985, now in a shiny and new edition, also for $24
  • Both books together cost $43 instead of $48 during Fangamer's Black Friday sales;
  • The book Good Nintentions is just plain ol' Good Nintentions, shares no material in common with NES Works, and will remain on Amazon;
  • Game Boy World 1989 and 1990 are still on Amazon but will be combined into a hardcover collected edition available through Fangamer in 2018, so I'd recommend holding off on buying these books for now (the combined volume will almost certainly cost less as a huge full-color hardcover than Game Boy World 1990 alone currently costs in its flimsy color paperback format);
  • A partridge in a pear tree.

Anyway, please enjoy these books in good health. I'm really proud of how NES Works 1986 has turned out and hope you'll love it as much as I do. Thanks for your support of Retronauts projects like this!