Chris Scullion has, in accordance with the creator description, been a gamer for over 30 years. In his 15 years working professionally within the enterprise, the Scottish online game journalist has additionally written for a number of institutions. His resume comprises names like UK’s Official Nintendo Journal (plus the Official PlayStation and Xbox Magazines, so no fanboyism there), Retro Gamer, Polygon, The Guardian, and Video Video games Chronicle (VGC). With such an extended and productive profession, it is not onerous to consider that Scullion possesses an enormous information of video video games and consoles. Fortuitously, he is chosen to share this data with us by writing and publishing books.
Scullion has beforehand written three unofficial guides for Nintendo Leisure System (NES), Tremendous Nintendo Leisure System (SNES) and Sega Mega Drive, with every guide protecting each single sport launched on these consoles for the Western market. Scullion’s fourth guide was printed in August 2022 (or December 2022 in the event you stay in the USA), and this time he is taken it a step additional by additionally together with each sport launched solely for the Japanese market as effectively. It could sound intensive, however contemplating the console in query is the Nintendo 64, the duty is not as daunting as you may anticipate.
Although the entire video games library for Nintendo 64 was considerably smaller than each its two predecessors and its biggest competitor, the Sony PlayStation, Scullion’s guide nonetheless covers a complete of greater than 400 video games over its 256 pages. Because of this regardless of how restricted your expertise with the Nintendo 64 could be, you’ll nonetheless discover some devoted phrases to your fondest reminiscence from the console, whether or not your sport of alternative is likely one of the classics like Goldeneye 007, Tremendous Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or lesser identified titles like Bass Hunter 64, Energy Rangers Lightspeed Rescue, or one of many gazillion wrestling video games (what number of of these do you really want?)
That is an advert:
After a brief introduction in regards to the console itself, which may have been longer even when the main focus of the guide is the video games and never the N64 or its place in gaming historical past, Scullion goes proper forward and begins in alphabetical order (which after all implies that 1080° Snowboarding is the primary sport out). Each sport is listed with its full title, launch 12 months, developer, writer, and three symbols displaying which areas the sport was printed in. The best video games (or, within the case of Superman 64, essentially the most infamous ones) get an entire web page for themselves, whereas smaller titles and plenty of sports activities titles get a half web page and even only a quarter of a web page. The precise info shared in regards to the sport could differ, however largely it is in regards to the sport’s place in its sequence (if it is a part of one), presentation, reception, efficiency, challenges confronted throughout improvement, or some ideas on the sport’s leisure worth. The guide would not search to overview every sport, however you possibly can nonetheless extract info on whether or not it is good, dangerous, or just for the actually lovers based mostly on what’s written.
Whether or not you’ve gotten any earlier information or relationship to the video games, it is simple to sink into the fabric and switch web page after web page to undergo the console’s library. That is due to the guide’s mild and nice nature, the place Scullion is not afraid to throw in a nasty pun or two (earlier than apologizing for his foolish humour) to spice issues up. The jokes are by no means distracting nor merciless, which is one thing to understand. What’s a pleasant bonus is that every sport’s article comes with its personal enjoyable truth or curiosity, and these are written in their very own devoted bubbles making them simpler to search out when trying up the sport once more later. All of it comes collectively to make the guide each simpler to learn and extra gratifying than related titles throughout the identical style, the place the standard ranges from improbable to amateurish, particularly amongst unofficial guides. I did nonetheless discover a few small errors within the guide that would have simply been corrected with extra proofreading earlier than publishing (I solely counted three in all the guide, which might be lower than what yow will discover on this overview provided that it is written by a non-native English speaker). None of those errors are grave sufficient to throw you off the circulate whereas studying, so they need to solely be thought-about minor particulars and never compelling arguments towards studying or buying the guide.
That is an advert:
All video games are paired with screenshots taken by Scullion himself. A few of the screenshots may be diffuse and unclear, however that is simply as a lot an affidavit to the graphical high quality of video games on the time because the creator’s aesthetic expertise. Talking of images, the best downside with the guide is that it would not embrace field artwork for every sport. There could also be many the reason why that is omitted: House is the obvious one, it might be onerous to return by excellent copies of every Nintendo 64 sport field, if that’s even doable anymore, and the covers have been typically completely different between areas. Nonetheless, many people have a number of recollections connected to the mere field artwork of those outdated video games, so a collage of all field arts within the again would have been a pleasant addition.
What you do get, nonetheless, is a bit on the final pages of the guide the place all Japan unique video games are lined, which is a pleasant bonus contemplating Scullion hasn’t been capable of cowl these video games in his earlier books as a result of Western libraries being giant sufficient as they’re. The part begins with the ten video games launched for the 64DD, the magnetic disk add-on launched solely for the Japanese marked in 1999 earlier than being discontinued in 2001. This part is further juicy for readers who want to increase their horizons as a lot as doable, and you may simply perceive when studying why most of those video games did not obtain a global launch resulting from their area of interest nature (it is onerous to see why we would want a gazillion mahjong video games over right here, although we did get that type of variety of wrestling video games). Nonetheless, a few of these releases may have had a possible outdoors of Japan, and it appears like a disgrace they by no means obtained an opportunity. The run-and-gunner Sin and Punishment or Tetris 64 are simply two examples that would have been profitable in each United States and Europe, however the largest shock is that Nintendo skipped out of the chance to publish a Pokémon sport outdoors of Japan. The guide can let you know that Japan obtained not two Pokémon Stadium video games, however three, as the primary sport within the sequence known as Pocket Monsters’ Stadium was a Japan unique. The sport was considerably lacklustre because it solely contained 42 monsters, however provided that it was launched in 1998 when the Pokémon craze was simply starting within the West, you possibly can’t assist however assume looking back that the sport would have bought effectively. Then once more, Pokémon Puzzle League was solely launched in Western territories, so I suppose no area obtained to catch ’em all …
Those that are followers of reference books about video video games, online game historical past and/or Nintendo 64 will get their cash’s value with The N64 Encyclopaedia. Scullion’s writing fashion is joyful and straightforward to learn, the construction makes it simple to search out particular video games you could be in search of, the manufacturing worth is stable due to nice supplies and easy-to-read fonts, and the illustrations are largely good, although a number of the screenshots may have been higher. Hopefully Scullion is not uninterested in writing but, and whereas we’re ready for his subsequent guide there’s his again catalogue I now need to take a look at.