Q. What is "Awesome NES," anyway?

A. Awesome NES is the title of a book I began writing in late 2004.  Awesome NES was designed to catalog every game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in America and Europe, along with the lion's share of unofficial releases, key titles for the Japanese Famicom, and some of the more recent homebrew and Hong Kong releases.  In addition to brief reviews of these games, Awesome NES was going to feature editorials and nostalgic retrospectives from fans of the system.

Q. Why wasn't Awesome NES published?

A. Boy is that ever a loaded question!  Well, there are several answers to that one...

THE EDITOR.  Yeah, I'll be the first to take responsibility for the death of Awesome NES.  As hard as I worked on the book, I felt like I wasn't dedicated enough to the project to complete it.  The book was also much too ambitious, with planned features that would have added greatly to its appeal but I just didn't have the motivation to write.  That leads me to the next reason the book was shelved...

A LACK OF INTEREST.  Not everyone thought that Awesome NES was a good idea.  One person even made it clear to me that if I published the book, it wouldn't sell very many copies due to its high price and limited audience.  This was confirmed when the book was rejected by Rolenta Press, which didn't have the resources to print hundreds of copies of a book with three hundred full-color pages.  People were also hesitant to get involved with the production of Awesome NES... Nintendo of America refused to offer resources like box artwork that were necessary to finish the book as it was originally envisioned, and although several Nintendo Entertainment System fans pledged their support for Awesome NES, only one actually supplied me with content.

OPENOFFICE.  I made the mistake of laying out the pages in an open source word processor called OpenOffice Write, which suited my needs until I needed to make revisions to the content.  Then it became an arduous task of shifting panels, text, and screen shots to accommodate any games I had missed.  I couldn't export the review text to other applications either, due to the design of the layout.  It was probably for the best, as any text I would have exported surely would have been lost by OpenOffice's extremely unstable database program.  I tried porting over a few entries to Base by hand, only to lose them all to constant crashing.

Q.  So why publish Awesome NES on the Internet?

A.  Two words... flexibility and versatility.  Publishing on the Internet lowers costs to the floor and grants me total autonomy.  There are no book publishers to answer to and I can publish sections of the book at my own pace.  Furthermore, if I need to edit pages or include new entries (and I almost surely will), I won 't have to publish a new edition of the book or shuffle around dozens of page elements to do it.

Q. Where's the rest of the book, anyway?

A. Barring unforeseen circumstances, a new section of the book will be published every Thursday and Sunday.  Each section will include up to eight game reviews.

Q. Could you describe how the review capsules work?

A. I'm glad you asked!  Let's take a look at the legend...

The review capsules are pretty self-explanatory, but I'll explain the list of elements so nobody's left in the dark.

A.  Game's Title.  The title of the game appears at the top of the capsule, inside a tab.  Every game will be given the title that appears on the title screen, rather than the box.

B. Publisher and Developer.  The official publisher of the game will appear in this box, along with the design team that created it (if applicable).

C. Date of Publication.  The date of the game's publication will appear in this box.  This box will be left empty in the instance that the game's publication date is unknown.

D. Genre.  This is the category that best describes the gameplay of the reviewed game.  Some games fit neatly into one category (Tetris), while others are a bit harder to classify (Solomon's Key), so don't be surprised if a game fits into multiple genres.  Some common genres of NES games include Shooter, RPG, Action, Action-Adventure, and Strategy.

E. Number of Players.  The number of players who can enjoy the game is listed in this box.  Some games are designed exclusively for one player, particularly RPGs, while others let two or more players in on the action.  Others still pass play to a second player when the first loses a life.  These games are marked with the abbreviation "Alt," to indicate that play alternates from one player to the next.

F. Review Text.  A brief review of the game in question is contained within the white text box.  The review describes the game and offers a subjective review of its quality.

G. Fast Fact and Other Data.  Interesting facts and trivia about the reviewed game will appear here, if this information is available.

H.  Title Screen.  This is the game's title screen, which generally appears when the game is first turned on.  Each screen is presented in full 256x224 resolution, without resizing or resampling.  It's the next best thing to playing the game on your television!

I.  Gameplay Screen.  This box displays a picture of the game in action.  Again, the image is left intact, with no resizing or resampling to reduce its quality.

J. Quality Rating.  Each game is given a rating from zero to ten (shown as a series of colored blocks) to indicate the quality of its design.  Zero is the absolute worst a game can be on the NES, while ten is the absolute best; a masterpiece that will be enjoyed by generations to come.

K. Rarity Rating.  Where value is concerned, not all NES games are created equal.  Some titles, like Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, are ridiculously common, popping up at practically every pawn shop, thrift store, and garage sale.  Others, like Little Samson, are not so easy to find due to limited print runs.  A game's rarity is rated from zero to ten, with zero being nearly worthless and ten being a holy grail among NES collectors.

M. Peripherals Required.  Some NES games require additional peripherals.  Duck Hunt is the most obvious example, as it was designed especially for the Nintendo Zapper.  Any required or suggested peripherals will be displayed in this window.  Some peripherals, like Taito's Vaus controller, are not strictly required but will greatly enhance the gaming experience.

Q. Can I make a suggestion?

A. Well, it depends on what you're suggesting.  If you'd like to offer helpful advice that could improve this guide, by all means send it to me!  If you'd like to request changes to the rarity ratings, you may do so, but please be aware that rarity is extremely subjective and may vary depending on your location.  If you want to contest a review rating, do so politely.  Any angry venting will quickly find its way into my circular file.  If you're a troll from Something Awful or any individual with malicious intent, your comments will be immediately discarded and your E-mail address dropped into my Spam list, along with the ads for penny stocks and herbal Viagra.  I haven't got time for you being a pain, no no no.

Q. Who helped you compile this list?

A. I've got to give a shout out to Ross Woodard, who was a big help to me when I was working on the book.  He even took on the thankless task of reviewing all the unofficial (read: crappy) games for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  When I've made some progress on this list, I'll start publishing his reviews along with my own.  Awesome NES was also made possible with some assistance from Ayce and Sen's list of NES releases, as well as a grant from the Chubb Foundation.

Q. One last thing.  How is Awesome NES pronounced?

A. I generally pronounce "NES" as three letters, rather than one word.  However, the book was always meant to be pronounced as such: "Aw-sum-nehss."  Yeah, it's an 80's pun.  It seemed fitting for a system that defined gaming in the mid to late 1980's.