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!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A friendly reminder of the ways you can support Hardcore Gaming 101

According to our randomizer feed for the front page, there are now more than 1200 articles on Hardcore Gaming 101, including book reviews, Weekly Kusoge, 500-word indies and more! If you ever wished you could pay someone for all that content, the good news is you can! Patreon and our most generous readers have already enabled us to post about 20 articles on average each month over the past ten months. Besides many one-shot looks at classic and indie games, we've had massive serialized retrospectives about the Wizardry and Mega Man series and fun features like an enumeration of the video game heroines of the 1980s, which is right now being followed by a thorough history of arcades and arcade machines within video games.

We've also published three more books within the past year alone, comprehensive volumes on the Castlevania series and Konami's entire shoot-em-up output over the decades, as well as a special of assorted contents for the holidays. Patreon backers can receive all our ebooks (or even hard copies of future books, depending on the funding level) for free. More books are always in the making!

The great thing with Patreon is that it allows us to react flexibly to our funding level. The more funding we get, the more content we can publish the next month. And there is no shortage of content in sight: For the time being, we even had to temporarily suspend external submissions in order to be able to reduce our posting backlog and keep the waiting time for each individual submission in check, so every contribution helps in getting out more articles.

So, if you've got a few bucks to spare each month and think our content is worth your money, head over to our Patreon page!

If direct financial support is not an option for one reason or another, there are other ways you can help us out. Please consider clicking on an ad or two. When you go to eBay, Amazon, PlayAsia or through our links, anything you buy still gives us a tiny cut even if it's not anything that's recommended in the links themselves. Also follow us on the social media of your choice - we just recently added Tumblr to our list of outlets, but there's also Facebook, Twitter and our Steam community group - and share, mention, reblog, retweet or forward whenever you see something you like.

Also shoot us comments about what types of content you'd like to see more of, or what additional site features could make your stay more pleasant. Did you know that as of recently, you can easily browse covered games by company, genre or themes, with a screenshot of each entry as a preview? We're on a neverending quest to try and improve the site and its content, so your feedback is always welcome.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

HG101 Sega Classics book part of the latest Storybundle!

Yesterday the Video Game Storybundle 5.0 went live, featuring several video game related books! If you pay at the $12+ tier, you get a copy of HG101 Presents: Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1, in both PDF and a newly created Kindle format. It also includes a bunch of other great stuff - I've been wanting to read some of the Boss Fight Books series for awhile, which are extremely detailed essays on a particular game, as well as Leigh Alexander's title - plus I have the original issuance of the I Am 8bit art book and it's pretty fun!

Additionally, since I needed to create a new digital version of the Sega Arcade Classics book, I decided to do a small revision to add a few new things. I'd originally intended to do these later in the year after all of the 3DS ports had been released in America, but did them now since Storybundle requested the book's inclusion. They aren't major addition, and the page count hasn't changed, but these include:

-An updated format (for the PDF) which includes the same headers and page numbers as the Castlevania book, so it looks a little nicer
-Updated text to include the 3DS ports of all of the featured games, since only Space Harrier had been released at the time the book was originally published (December 2012)
-Since there were some changes to text spacing, some of the articles are slightly expanded with extra details or pictures

For right now this revised version is only available digitally as part of this bundle. It will be issued in physical form shortly, but I'm still waiting on the proof from the printer to ensure that everything looks good.