Wednesday, September 10, 2014

HG101 State of the Union September 2014

Here's a summary of the stuff that's been going on with HG101 the past month:

After being in the works for over two years, the Castlevania book is almost ready for publication! We unveiled the cover artwork a little while ago, provided by Rusty Shackles, who does lots of fantastic video game crossovers in the style of comic books. I spent this past weekend fixing up small little issues and am waiting for the final proof. Initially I'd anticipated having it ready for sale at the end of September, but that's because I like to leave a "Murphy's Law" buffer in case something goes massively wrong. So far it's shaping up okay though, so if all goes well it may be available by next week!

Note that everyone who contributes to the Patreon at the $5 (or more) per month level will receive free copies of the PDF and Kindle copies - the PDFs will be sold for $5 alone and probably about $7 for the Kindle copy. Anyone who has donated $10 or more has their name appearing under the table of contents nearing the beginning of the book. The cutoff date has passed for any future contributors, but the same deal will apply for any future books! Anyone who's donated at the $25 level will receive free copies of the books shipped to them, which I'll handle after the final proof has been approved.

The retail price of the Castlevania book is $25, but Amazon has a tendency to discount them, so it may be cheaper once it actually goes live.

Since most of the work on the Castlevania book has been completed, I've been concurrently working on the Konami Shooters book. This will encompass articles for Gradius, Life Force/Salamander, TwinBee, Parodius, Otomedius, and the Konami Shooters article, which includes Scramble, Time Pilot, Gyruss, Axelay, Xexex, Thunder Cross, Space Manbow and others. All of them are being updated to fix up various stuff, and the Parodius and TwinBee articles have been almost entirely rewritten, since they were from the early days of the site. We're also featuring a section on the numerous minigames featured in Tokimeki Memorial and other Konami games (which I started several years ago but never finished, because I hate playing those games), the usual sections about trivia, reviews for a few Gradius inspired games like Satazius and Hydorah, a rundown of some clones and fan games, and a full list of soundtrack albums. Since there is still some work to be done I hesitate giving release dates, but if all goes well it should be ready by early 2015.

I have a feeling that the Konami Shooter book may not be as popular as the others, just because there doesn't seem to be a large English speaking fan base. The forums at Gradius Home World aren't too active and most of the folks on the Shmups forums seem to rally around more modern shooters. Konami did a very poor job in building an audience in North America by failing to localize many of their shooters (they did a bit better in Europe, where they at least tried with a few Parodius and TwinBee games). But if you're a fan of Konami in general it'll definitely be worth checking out! In the 80s and 90s, the company had the feeling of an extended family, with games often cross-referencing each other (especially Parodius, which the series was essentially built for), and I love drawing these connections together, even if they are for games that are not particularly well known.

As for other site news: last month we pushed past the Patreon threshold to allow us to bring back the Your Weekly Kusoge column and solicit submissions. Since its inception, we've published reviews of Contra: Legacy of War, Sonic's Schoolhouse, Spanish for Everyone, Muscle March, Midgard, and Gokuu Densetsu: Magic Beast Warriors. We've closed submissions for the moment since we have a little over a month's left that's still to post, but we'll be reopening them soon.

We also debuted a new series of columns called Inventories, a name which is more or less blatantly stolen from The AV Club. They're basically listicles, but with more effort put into the standard thoughtless clickbait that most people seem to use them for. For our first one, we've featured a list of over 70 video games featuring women in leading lady (or otherwise featured) roles. We'll probably be updating it in the future to include a few that we've missed - you can drop in to the article's forum topic if you seem any that we've missed and that fit into the requirements. Someday we'll probably also flesh it out to more to include more heroines from the rest of the 8 and 16-bit era, but we'll be focusing on other Inventories for awhile instead. They do take a long time to research and compile - this one here is the result of a year's on-and-off work between Derboo and I - but they should be a more regular feature going forward.

Finally, other articles we've featured include PS1 platformer Tomba, 16-bit era shooter Steel Empire and its recent 3DS remake, the indie Mercenary Kings, the offbeat SFC RPG Gokinjou Boukentai, a look at the early 3D games powered by the Freescape engine, the (very) early falling block puzzler Highrise, and unfortunately unlocalized Falcom PSP RPG Nayuta no Kiseki. And we've finished publishing a massive article on the original Mega Man series, making it one of the larger articles on the site. The Game Club 199X page has been expanded to include the video series, as well as a new podcast line focused on indie games, the most recent topic being the fantastic Sega inspired Freedom Planet. The newest episode of the main podcast focuses on the recently fan translated Game Center CX 2.

We've also introduced a long requested function to swap the white text/black ground to a black text/white background, to improve readability. There are still some pages using the old pre-CSS code that won't work, but most of the site has been updated to feature this. Thanks to Derboo and his behinds the scene wizardry to get this up and working!

As for the coming month, please look forward for articles on System Shock, Danganronpa, Wizardry (another very long article to be posted in multiple parts), Smash TV/Total Carnage, Elemental Master, and the usual kusoge and 500 Word Indies columns.

As always, if you like the work that we do, please check out our Patreon! Your contributions are always much appreciated!

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