Wednesday, June 21, 2017

HG101 at Too Many Games in Oaks, Pennsylvania, June 23-25, 2017

Time for Too Many Games! I've got a table again this year, where you can buy all of the HG101 books (including the brand new Retro Game Super Translation Selection and Contra and Other Konami Classics books), as well as  previews of two upcoming books to browse through, The Complete Guide to the Famicom Disk System, and Retro Indie Classics Vol. 1. I'll also be sharing the table with Carrie Wood, author of the The Overstreet Guide to Collecting Video Games, which I also contributed a couple of articles to and will also be available for sale.

I'll also have a few boxes of games (mostly PlayStation 2, some really good ones too!), and Carrie will have a Zelda standee for sale.

Feel free to stop by and say hi, and also feel free to browse through any of the books we have on display! Here's a map and where we are:

Also, here's me from last year:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Coming Soon: Retro Game Super Translation Selection (English edition)

HG101 is happy to announce that we are publishing a localized version of Retro Game Super Translation Selection, a doujinshi that highlights various written localization changes in 8 and 16-bit games. It was written by Hanenashi Error, who translated and distributed our Sega Arcade Classics and Castlevania books into Japanese, and contribute to our 200 Best Games of All Time book. He is a professional English to Japanese translator for video games, and also runs a blog called Gaminglish that explains various memes and bits of English gaming culture to Japanese players.

I was excited to work on this book because it contains a lot of instances of localization changes that are unknown to most English speaking retro fans. It addresses some of the most famous issues (like the "I Am Error" quote from Zelda II) but there are also many instances from more obscure games that highlight the general attitude of translators of the time, often in funny ways. In some of the highlighted cases, the original Japanese line is plain while the English line adds in jokes; in others, it tries to take Japanese jokes and rewrite them in different ways. Some games included are Paladin's Quest, Secret of Mana, Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, Ignition Factor, Lunar: The Silver Star, Cosmic Fantasy II, Landstalker, Lufia II, Neutopia, Saturday Night Slam Masters, various Kunio-kun games, and many others.

Since it was also originally written for the Japanese audience, there are also a lot of interesting cultural insights that one normally wouldn't get from an American or native English speaker. In most cases, the book deals with Japanese-English translations, but there are a few English-Japanese as well (Brutal: Paws of Fury, Maniac Mansion, Shadowrun, Shadowgate, First Samurai).

We'll be putting up a fuller page on the site with more details soon, but in the meantime, you can check out the Japanese page to see some samples. The release date and price haven't been solidified yet since I'm still working on putting it together, but hopefully it shouldn't be more than a few months.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New Patreon Tiers

We've been running the Patreon here at HG101 for a little over two years and it's worked out great! The expanded budget has allowed us to commission a larger number of articles, and we now generally update about three times a week. So, we've decided to update our Patreon tiers in order to give some more bonuses to our readers and tie it in more closely with our recently re-launched podcast, The Top 47,858 Games of All Time.

$2 - You'll receive regular site updates and early access to each episode of our podcast. Plus, you get your name featured in the back of all upcoming books!

$5 - You'll receive PDFs/Kindle MOBIs of the three latest HG101 book (as of this writing, The 200 Best Video Games of All Time, Digest Vol. 2: Taito Arcade Classics, and Data East Arcade Classics), along with exclusive Patreon-only bonus books, plus as long as you continue to donate, you'll receive PDFs/MOBIs of all upcoming books when they're released, along with the perks of the previous tier.

$10 - You'll get full access to PDFs of all HG101 books, and discount coupons for paperbacks plus all previous rewards. You can also receive special thanks and pick a topic to be discussed on the Top Games podcast. Plus the perks of both previous tiers.

$15 - You'll be given the opportunity to supply a short write-up to be featured in our upcoming books, discussing some kind of personal experience with the topic. What you want to write is pretty much up to you, as long as it applies to the theme of the book (these will be for the Sega Arcade Vol. 2 book and Shoot-em-up book). It will be at least 150 words. You can have a picture featured (or avatar), within reason, of course. Plus all of perks of the prior tiers. Here's a mock-up of one written by myself:

$20 - You'll be shipped color paperbacks when they're available, plus all previous rewards (US addresses only)

$25 - You'll be shipped color paperbacks when they're available, plus all previous rewards (for non-US addresses)

The main changes are that you'll get your name in the back of the book if you're donated $2, whereas previously it was $10. We depend on your contributions in order to put together books on relatively obscure topics like Taito and Data East so this will be a way to see your cash rewarded in print!

Also, you used to be able to get all of the HG101 book PDFs for $5. This made sense back when we first launched the Patreon and only had two books. Now we have eight, with at least a few more on the way, so that began to seem a little too generous! So, that tier has been increased to $10, which is still a fantastic deal considering the PDFs and Kindle files are sold anywhere from $5-$10 each separately. $5 will still get you access to three of our most recent books, if you haven't donated before, which is still an almost $20 value.

The changes to way that Patreon charges customers also allows us to slightly change the tiers for physical books. Since US shipping is not too expensive, we can keep that tier at $20, but if you're anywhere outside the US, the tier remains at $25.

Previously we offered a stretch goal to allow for the monthly production of videos. Unfortunately we never quite achieved that goal, which is just as well, because most of the staff hasn't been able to devote the time to produce these. But we still will be featuring more videos produced by the podcasting team, which will include footage of the game being discussed.

We've got plenty of books coming the pipeline, including:

I swear I mentioned this every time I make an update about books, but this time it's finally almost near completion! Here are early sketches by the cover artist, Thor Thorvaldson, who you'll also remember did the cover for The 200 Best Video Games of All Time book.


We previously produced a book on Konami's library of shoot-em-ups, but we're branching out for another series to cover as much of the genre as possible! The first volume will primarily focus on Hudson (Star Soldier), Compile (Zanac, Power Strike, MUSHA), Technosoft (Thunder Force, Hyper Duel), Irem (R-Type, X-Multiply, Image Fight), and a handful of other PC Engine and Mega Drive games. Here is an early draft of the cover by artist Michael Brennan, which is based loosely on the artwork for Guardic Gaiden, the Famicom version of The Guardian Legend.

A collaboration between Hardcore Gaming 101 and SegaBits, produced for the Sega Fan Jam convention in Savannah, Georgia. This is a short (about 60 pages) book that features selections from the articles for Streets of Rage, Virtua Fighter, Nights, Puyo Puyo, and others, designed to look like a Sega Master System box. Since this was intended primarily for the convention, the articles published here are just samples from the full articles, covering only one or two games in each series. We will eventually be publishing more Sega books in the future, probably starting with the Master System and Genesis, and featuring more complete versions of these articles. But after working on Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 2 for so long, we'd like a bit of a break!


Wrestling with Pixels
Technically we're publishing this book by Audun Sorlie, who previously ran a Kickstarter for it, but if you a Patreon donor you'll get it too! This is different from the usual HG101 book, as rather than featuring reviews, it includes the entire history of wrestling video games, including several interviews. Here are early inked covers by Rusty Shackles, one of our regular cover artists:


Konami Classics: Contra, Mystical Ninja, and More
We still need a good title for this one. After covering Castlevania and the shooters of Gradius, Parodius, and TwinBee, this book will cast a wider net over Konami's 8- and 16-bit output. The main features will be, of course, Contra and Ganbare Goemon (Mystical Ninja), but also covered will be Rocket Knight Adventures/Sparkster, Sunset Riders, and many other Konami titles for the MSX, NES, Famicom, and arcade platforms.

The Complete Guide to the Famicom Disk System
The Famicom Disk System has a large number of titles that are almost completely undocumented in English, including many RPGs and adventure games, and we're going to document all of them! These reviews will be originally written for this book, and are different from the ones currently featured on the site.

Guide to Obscure NES Classics
NES fans are pretty familiar with the works of Nintendo, Capcom, and Konami, so this book will feature games by some of the lesser known developers, from both North American and Japanese territories. This will include games by Sunsoft (Batman, Journey to Silius, Blaster Master), KID (Low-G-Man, GI Joe), Natsume (Shatterhand, Power Blade), and many other titles like Vice Project Doom, Kabuki Quantim Fighter, WURM, Xexyz, Moon Crystal, Holy Diver, Metal Storm, and many others.

We've got several more planned, but this encompasses everything that we hope to have published through the year 2017, so we'd prefer not to get too far ahead of ourselves! But just as a teaser, we'd like to do a book or two on beat-em-ups, modern retro indie games, Namco, and more classic PC stuff.

There are two other large projects that we've mentioned before: a book covering the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona series, and another covering the entirety of Falcom's work (Ys, Xanadu, Legend of Heroes). These are still being planned, but due to the exhaustive nature of research required, we will definitely be looking for freelancers to contribute to these projects. So if you're an expert in these subjects, please keep your eyes open because we'll start looking once we've finished up with a few of our 2016 projects.

Please check out our Patreon if this sounds interesting, and thanks for checking this out!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

HG101 at A Video Game Con - September 10-11 in Parsippany, NJ

I'll be at A Video Game Con in Parsippany, NJ this weekend. Last year was its first year and it only ran for one day, but this time it's running on both Saturday and Sunday. Make sure to check the web page so the parking situation makes sense - it will definitely overcrowd and if you park in the wrong spot you'll get a ticketed/towed.

Here's what my table looked like last year. Expect similar stuff, though I haven't quite determined what games to bring...probably some more boxed NES stuff. Take note that we have several more books available since last year, including The 200 Best Video Games of All Time, Taito Arcade Classics, Data East Arcade Classics, and The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Vol. 2. They're being sold a bit cheaper than Amazon since I don't have to deal with their monstrous cut in the profit, so stop by and talk video game stuff (and buy my book(s))!

Also, take note that there's an excellent Cluck-U Chicken right down the road from the Parsippany PAL Building. If you want to drive about 15 minutes to Morristown, you can also get a fat sandwich for a taste of some traditional New Jersey cuisine. And that's just a 5 minute walk from the Morristown Game Vault arcade.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

HG101 at Too Many Games in Oaks, PA, from June 24-26th

Well, it seems like nowadays this blog is mostly used for convention announcements. And here's another one! I'll be at Too Many Games in Oaks, PA on the weekend of June 24-26th, 2016, selling books and assorted other video game stuff. I'll be at table 23 (marked below on the map).

I'll be selling copies of all seven of our books, plus both volumes of the Untold History of Japanese Game Developers, for prices lower than what you can get them on Amazon. (No exorbitant markup, you see.) I've also got a sample copy of a book that has all of the projects we're working on the next year, if you want to see previews of the upcoming Data East or shoot-em-up books. I'll also have an assortment of NES, SNES, Genesis and N64 games, a handful of video game soundtrack CDs, maybe some manga and strategy guides, some PS2 and DS titles (good ones, too!), and basically whatever else I can fit on a single table. Or just stop on by and chat video games!

Here's my table at Too Many Games 2015 too, just look for this nerd:

Cosmic Cavern 3671 on Steam Greenlight

The realm of early Japanese computer gaming is not widely documented, especially on the English internet, but it's something that we at HG101 take huge interest in. So that's why it's worth checking out Cosmic Cavern 3671 (宇宙最大の地底最), which was recently posted on Steam Greenlight.

Cosmic Cavern 3671 is a remake of a 1980 computer game called Chitei Saidai no Sakusen (地底最大の作戦). Programmed in BASIC for the MZ-80, it was first printed in July 1980, and was written by Takaya Arita, currently a professor at Nagoya University. It's a digging game, that actually looks like Namco's Dig Dug, despite predating it by two years.

This remade version includes ports of the original BASIC versions (using monochrome ASCII-type graphics, of course, with different colors based on different monitor types), as well as a redone version with updated sprites and some changes that are said to make the game less frustrating. The redone visuals were created by Hiroshi Ono, the famous pixel artist who worked on numerous early Namco arcade titles, including Galaga, Mappy, Dig Dug, Pac Man, and many, many, many others. The new soundtrack was also provided by Yuzo Koshiro, famous for thirty years of fantastic video game music.

It's definitely an obscure title - the original game doesn't appear to be emulated anywhere - but it's great to see such a bit of history resurrected for the modern era. Go give it a vote, and check it out when it's released! 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hardcore Gaming 101 video articles are go!

Welcome to Hardcore Gaming 101’s official video channel. We’ve been asked about more video content a lot, and video is the future of games writing, so finally here is our attempt to launch some regular programming.

We’re starting out with two series. The first is a new topic in our popular Inventories line. Super Mario Bros. has just turned 30 this month – what better excuse could there be to take a look at all the platforming games from before that paved the way for it?

The other series is JRPG Chronicles, where we explore the history of RPGs in Japan from the very beginning. This is an extended reboot of the blog series we launched a couple of years ago, and we’ve been looking for an opportunity to do more of this for a while. These aim for deeper research than the old blog posts, and so we’re launching with 1982’s Dragon Lair. We only grazed over it in the original series, even though it might just be the very first computer RPG ever published in Japan (among a few other games of which we know only a vague 1982 release date).

But producing the videos takes a lot of time, and the current site budget cannot support doing it consistently, so we’re adding new milestone goals to our Patreon. They won't be up by the time this is published, but look out for them very soon. Once we reach $1250 (it's currently hovering around $1070), we can ensure one video per month, alternating between the two series. If we manage to get to $1500, that means three videos each month. This will be in addition to all the usual articles we put on the site, so even if you’re already a patron, please take a moment to consider whether this kind of added content might be worth increasing your pledge to help us go on and get better at this.

Mind that the quality isn’t quite where we want it to be yet. I obviously need to work on my delivery a lot, but I also haven’t figured out the acoustics yet, so please view these initial two videos as a proof-of-concept rather than the final standard of quality. We plan to go on with both series even before we reach sufficient funding, but the schedule will be much less reliable.

We’re also going to try out how ad revenue pans out with these. If it contributes in any significant way, then that means even more videos for you. Patrons will get ad-free download access to all future videos a few days before they go on Youtube. Later down the line we will also have votes on Patreon every once in a while when we try to decide on a new series. As ever, as a patron you also get access to all our eBooks at the $5 level and physical copies of future books at the $25 level. An official announcement for a new one will be coming up soon, too.

If you’re into this kind of content, be sure to also check out Dr. Sparkle’s Chrontendo, Jeremy Parish’s Game Boy World and PlayStation Year One by Adventure Pals, all of which informed the style of our videos a lot. Also don’t miss the official channel of our own GameClub 199X crew, where you can find long form discussions about many overlooked games. See our subscriptions on Youtube for all these and more recommendations.

Go to the Hardcore Gaming 101 Youtube channel.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

HG101 at A Video Game Con in Parsippany, NJ on Saturday, September 19, 2015!

A Video Game Con is a brand new video gaming convention starting up in Northern New Jersey. Since this is basically my backyard, I had to get a table here. So, please stop on by and say hi! I should have a near complete copy of the next HG101 book, The Top 200 Video Games of All Time, available for preview too. It starts at 10:30 AM on Saturday, September 19, at the Parsippany PAL, which is right off Rt. 46 and not too far off Rt. 80. It's about a 30-40 minute ride from the George Washington Bridge, if you're coming from New York City.

Anyway, here's some stuff I'll be bringing:

I've got plenty of NES, SNES and Genesis games, plus all of the HG101 books will be available, at prices lower than Amazon!

Here is my table from Too Many Games earlier this year, so you kinda sorta know what to look for!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

HG101 at Too Many Games 2015!

Are you going to Too Many Games, the video game convention on Oaks, PA from June 26-28? If so, cool! I'll be there at a table, selling books and assorted video game stuff. Feel free to stop by and chat about old video games!

I'll be selling copies of all of our books, as well as copies of the Untold History of Japanese Game Developers book, including a few copies of the Kickstarter-only cover special edition. Things will be cheaper than they are on Amazon too!

I'm cleaning out my closets and selling other stuff too, like Japanese PS2 games, SFC games, boxed NES stuff, video game soundtracks, loose cartridges, Japanese video game-based manga, back issues of Gamespite Quarterly and Scroll magazine, basically whatever I can fit in my car and on the table!

Here's me looking awkward by my table back in 2013. (I didn't have a table in 2014 since I hadn't published anything new, but we have put out plenty of stuff since then!) Maybe this year I'll remember to bring some proper signage. 

Here's the floor plan, I've circled our location below. (Click on it, because the thumbnail is tiny and useless.) Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

HG101 State of the Union: June 2015

First off, the HG101 Digest Vol. 1: Strider and Bionic Commando, is now available! It retails for $15 at Amazon, $4 for the Kindle and $3 for the PDF from Sellfy. It's more than just Capcom's series, it covers some similar games and includes a few other really fun, nerdy feature articles.

Coming up this month, we have a bunch of articles on some older computer games, all from Electronic Arts: Murder on the Zindernauf. a mystery on a blimp; 7 Cities of Gold and its pseudo-sequel, Heart of Africa, which focus on exploration and can be seen as the precursor to Sid Meier's Pirates!; and Alter Ego, an extremely forward thinking "life simulator". We'll also be featuring all of Sunsoft's Batman games, including the two NES and two Game Boy games, in time for the release of the new Arkham Knight game, as well as some Namco titles like Phelios and Marvel Land, and the addictive perpetually-a-work-in-progress strategy game Dwarf Fortress.

I'll also be at Too Many Games on June 26-28, at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA. I'll be manning a table selling our books, as well as assorted video games and whatever else I can dig out of my closet and fit on display. Feel free to stop by and chat! As a side note, Robert Belgrade, the voice actor of Alucard from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, is going to be there. Just saying, maybe our Castlevania book would be a good thing to have signed!

For a summary of last month's articles, we started an extensive feature on arcade games within video games (which will be completed this month); a long look at the many, many Lemmings games, which will also be evolving as we fill in some of the small gaps left in coverage; the weirdo cult classic Goat Simulator; the two GI NES games by Taxan; the two Mad Max games to tie in with the awesome new movie (even though Outlander isn't officially a Mad Max game, even though it really is); two fun indie games, the Zelda inspired Ittle Dew and the time-bending run-and-gun Super Time Force; and the early PS1 3D platformer series Jumping Flash.

Now that some of our major projects are completed, it's time to start talking about some new ones.

As a follow-up to our Bionic Commando and Strider digest, we are currently planning two more similar volumes. Vol. 2 will focus on Taito arcade games. While nowadays Taito is mostly known for Bubble Bobble and Space Invaders, they were a huge, huge publisher in the 80s and 90s, as the many arcade compilations can attest. Most of them are not well known outside of Japan, unfortunately, though many are excellent. We're still keeping the whole volume within the 75 page limit so obviously this will only scratch the surface of the company's output. We haven't finalized all of the covered titles yet, but planned articles include an overhaul of the ancient Darius article, as well as Ninja Warriors, The New Zealand Story, Gun Frontier, Metal Black, Growl, and many others. Like the first volume, it will also contain 10 pages devoted to 80 interesting Super Famicom titles. We're also planning some other interesting "Inventory" articles to feature.

A subsequent volume will focus on Data East. The major game people seem to remember from them is probably Bad Dudes, but again, they had quite a bit of output, and even though they aren't always fantastic, there are still a lot of interesting titles. Again, nothing is set in stone, but we plan on covering the Data East Commando games (Heavy Barrell, Bloody Wolf, Midnight Resistance, Desert Storm), Joe & Mac, Bad Dudes, Karnov, Burger Time, Trio the Punch, Edward Randy, and whatever else we can squeeze again. Again, there will be another piece focusing on 80 import titles, though we haven't decided the platform yet (I'm still working on completing the Super Famicon one!)

Of course, we are still working on Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 2! This one has taken awhile (and will continue to take awhile) as we build up all of the games that need to be featured. Basically, the game will cover all sorts of early 80s stuff, from the Sega/Gremlin days, all the way up through the System-32 era. The current list of featured titles are:

119 / Megumi Rescue / Flying Hero, A.B. Cop, Action Fighter, Aerial Assault / Sonic Boom, Air Rescue, Alien 3, Arabian Fight, Aurail, Bank Panic, Bayroute, Bonanza Bros., Borderline, Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom / Zoom 909, Bullet, Burning Rival, Car Hunt / Head On, Carnival / Razamatazz, Choplifter, Columns, Congo Bongo, Cool Riders, D.D. Crew, Dark Edge, Desert Breaker, Enduro Racer, Flicky, Gale Racer / Rad Mobile / Rad Rally, Hang-On, Holosseum, Jurassic Park, Laser Ghost, Last Survivor, Line of Fire, Monaco GP / Super Monaco GP / F1 Exhaust Note / F1 Super Lap, My Hero, Ninja Princess / The Ninja, Pengo, Rail Chase 1 & 2, Riot City, Samurai, Scramble Spirits, SDI / Global Defense, , Sindbad Mystery, Spatter, Spiderman: The Arcade Game, Subroc / Poseidon Wars, Super Locomotive, Tant-R, Teddy Boy Blues, Tetris, Tough Turf, Tranquilizer Gun / Safari Hunting, Turbo, Up'n Down, Zaxxon

We'll also be having smaller reviews of the (many, many) other obscure titles published during this era, like 005, Gardia, Combat Hawk, 4-D Warriors, Tac/Scan, Pulsar, Monster Bash, I'm Sorry, Flashgal, UFO Senshi Yohko, Time Scanner, and others.

One project we've been working on for a few months is a little different from the norm. It's a "best games of all" time book, that highlights favorite titles from the staff. Looking through old magazines, these were always the issues I enjoyed the most (and have the most worth in keeping around) since it gave a good snapshot into the tastes of the magazine, and the attitude towards certain titles of the time, so I wanted to do something similar for HG101.

The main issue with these types of articles is that the actual written content is very shallow, since they're typically just a cover article as part of a larger magazine. Even when other video game sites do "top X" lists, there's not much actual writing, maybe a paragraph or so. We're doing things a little differently, as each piece will have about 450 words devoted to it, describing its history, why it's important, and why we love it so much. We're also doing smaller pieces to accompany each game that we've chosen that recommends similar titles, either other games in the series or just another game that's related in some way. The main reason is that we don't want to feature too many similar games, but at the same time want to talk about as many awesome games as possible. We also tried to balance the selection out so there are a whole bunch of different games from various genres, to give a wide variety of titles to read about.

Although I'm sure many readers will be familiar with a good chunk of our selections, the content will be significantly different from most other magazines or websites. Since we focus primarily on retro content, most of our selections aim towards older games, or modern games that either channel the spirit of older games, or do something really unique beyond the typically bland AAA cinematic stuff that encompasses a majority of today's marketplace. I hope that it will encourage people to check out some new and different titles. It's still very much a work in progress and I haven't quite nailed down how many games we'll be featuring, but it will be at least 175, so it will be a pretty meaty book. Given the size, we will probably be publishing both a full color and a cheaper black and white edition.

Further into the future, we also have two (maybe three?) more books planned. The first one is a Konami special, that will feature two big series - Contra and Ganbare Goemon - along with a good chunk of their 8/16-bit output. I was initially trepidatious about this after Konami grumbled about our Castlevania book, but we haven't had any issues with them since, and they haven't bothered us about the Konami Shooters book, so I think we're in the clear! Other games featured will include their run-and-guns (Sunset Riders, Mystic Warriors, etc) and their many FDS/FC/NES games, like Almana no Kiseki, Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa, Ai Senshi Nicol, Getsu Fuumaden, and so forth.

Additionally, since I've received many requests for a book on beat-em-ups, we've decided to start putting one in order. We have a good number of significant titles already featured on the site, but we're missing a big one - Double Dragon - so we have to complete that first! And in order to chronicle all of the beat-scrollers, we will probably have to publish two volumes, and figure out to do with some of the redundant content that will already be featured in the Sega book. (The Konami beat-em-ups articles will probably be placed here, rather than in the Konami specific volume mentioned above.)

All of these plans are admittedly pretty ambitious! I'm hoping to have the Taito digest, Top X Video Games and Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 2 completed by the end of 2015. Everything else will definitely be planned for 2016.

If you like what we're doing and like what you see, please consider donating to our Patreon, even as little as $5 a month will get you access to digital copies of all books published, past and future, and $10 a month will get your name in print in subsequent volumes. Thank you for your support!