‘Buy my book!’ ~ Jay Sherman
While much of modern society has moved on to the world of “electrons and information“, there are two demographics that still eat up the printed page: kids and old people. Interestingly enough, these are also the two age groups who often love Nintendo the most. With kids, we can guess that Nintendo’s general rejection of most things edgy, gritty, and grumpy is a major selling point. For older adults, the appeal is probably tied closer to longstanding attachments and the appreciation of the little things, though I’m sure it’s different for everyone.
With the holidays fast approaching, and the knowledge that print publications and Nintendo games often share the same audiences, we thought it would be fun to look at some of the better Nintendo-oriented publications to see print this year. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the Nintendo fan who has everything, or if you are that Nintendo fan and you’re not sure what to tell people to buy for you, then this list was made with you in mind.
A quick disclaimer: I contributed a couple of pieces to this collection, as did former Destructoid editors Topher Cantler and Colette Bennett. I didn’t get paid for my work though, and I don’t get a cut of the sales either. In fact, I had to buy my two copies of the zine with my own bucks.
You’ll get no complaints from me about that, though. As a diehard Rhythm Heaven/Tengoku fan, this collection was a must-have for me from day one. Every stage from the first three games is represented in some way or another, so regardless of which is your favorite, you’re sure to see plenty of familiar faces. The biggest star artist here is probably Natasha Allegri, creator of Fiona and Cake and Bee and Puppycat, though there are plenty of other contributors that fans of the series may recognize. The zine is currently out of stock, but it should be available for purchase again any second now, so keep your eyes peeled.
Clyde Mandelin is probably best known for spearheading the fan translation of Mother 3, so it’s no surprise that he’s partnered with Fangamer to create a series of books dedicated to examining the process of translation and localization. He’s started off with the Legend of Zelda series, and it’s not just the video games he’s looking at. There is plenty about the Zelda board games, the breakfast cereal, and other bits of related merchandise that make up part of the franchise’s massive history.
Though these diversions into the obscure make for plenty of enlightening moments, the book does well to regularly return its focus to the original Legend of Zelda. So much was done to transport that seminal title from its first home on the Famicom Disk System to the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Western audience that played there, with much of that work inadvertently helping to spawn the lore and literal “legend” that makes up the series today. It’s hard to imagine an invested Zelda fan being disappointed with what Mandelin and his team have produced.
Here’s another one I contributed to, but again, Nintendo Force‘s sales numbers don’t affect me financially in any way. I work for the magazine because it’s really fun to share my interest in Nintendo’s past, present, and future with the Nintendo fan community. This issue is without a doubt our greatest success in meeting that goal to date.
While we were all deeply saddened when Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away earlier this year, his passing did a lot to bring fans of his work together. Case in point, with this tribute issue, we worked our butts off to compile a detailed history of Iwata’s career in game development, all while reflecting on exactly why he was such a great role model to gamers and game developers. I’m not totally happy with my personal output for this issue (there are at least two sentences on one page that still look wonky to me), but I have no hesitation in recommending every other page of it to diehard Nintendo fans (and I think I only worked on like four pages, so it’s easy enough to skip over my stuff if you want).
Splatoon has been out for less than a year, and it’s already developed a larger fan base than some Nintendo franchises that have been around for ten times as long. While many were hoping that the game’s popularity here in the U.S. would lead Nintendo of America to publish the official Splatoon Ikasu Artbook outside of Japan, it’s looking like their hopes may have been in vain.
Thankfully, importing it is easy enough, and the only bits that really require literacy in Japanese to fully appreciate are the Twitter logs and comic strips in the back. My biggest gripe with the book is there are a ton of pages dedicated to showing off renders of clothes and weapons that are taken directly from the game. That feels a bit like a waste of space. That said, the bulk of the book’s 320 pages are filled with rare or unique storyboards, character design documents, and visual plans that have plenty to offer Splatoon fans everywhere.
Shotaro Ishinomori is most famous for creating Kamen Rider and Cyborg 009, but he’s also one of the creative minds that helped shape the Legend of Zelda series as it moved beyond its first few entries. While we don’t know exactly how influential his A Link to the Past manga was for the games that followed it, there are plenty of ideas that debuted here before going on to become mainstays of the Zelda series.
The core story more or less follows the events of A Link to the Past on the SNES, but the manga also marks the first time the Zelda series depicted a fairy as a ball of glowing light that helps lead Link forward in his adventures. It’s also the first time Link ever traveled under the light of a death-faced moon, his face hidden behind a Zora mask, while working to infiltrate a monster’s fortress. To tell more may lead to spoilers, but trust that there are plenty of eye-opening ideas here, new and old, for Zelda fans to chew on.
Jeremy Parish is one of the most passionate, well-informed video game experts in the industry today. He’s been writing about games for over ten years, covering everything from level design analysis to current game news to charting the history of gaming as a whole. He’s already put out a number of books, but Good Nintentions is probably his biggest and best work in print to date.
Though the title doesn’t make it totally clear, the subject of the book is the Nintendo Entertainment System. Literally everything about the console is examined, from its inception, its eventual demise, and everything in between, including detailed descriptions of of over 200 NES games and their developers. Few are able to keep a keen eye on the past, present, and future of gaming as well as Parish, so those interested in any and all eras of the medium would do well to check out his work.
There’s been plenty of chatter lately about the idea of a Legend of Zelda title that stars a woman. Second Quest, a Kickstarter-funded comic book from writer Tevis Thompson and artist David Hellman, gave the idea a detailed look earlier this year with a story that deftly turns multiple Zelda conventions on their heads. If “history is written by the victors,” then it’s fair to guess that the legend of Zelda, Link, and Ganon may be skewed towards demonizing the losers of those conflicts. Second Quest tells the story of a young woman who discovers that guess to be true, and in doing so, sets forth alone on a journey to the unknown.
Though the story doesn’t technically star Zelda or Link (likely due to obvious copyright issues), Second Quest still manages to think on two characters, and many other Legend of Zelda mainstays, in multiple thought-provoking ways. Concepts of sexism, matriarchy, xenophobia, religion and myth as method of societal control, and other more sophisticated sociological concepts are explored, but not at the expense of telling a tense and thoughtful standalone story. While only those true Zelda experts will likely get more out of all the parallels between Second Quest and The Legend of Zelda series, the only real prerequisite to enjoying this story is an interest in lovingly crafted, hand-drawn fantasy comics.
Animal Crossing is like knitting. Both involve relaxing, repetitive interactions with soft, warm materials that can eventually lead to the creation of something much more substantial. While the series has never gone the literal route of Kirby’s Epic Yarn or Yoshi’s Woolly World, any fan of the games will tell you that playing Animal Crossing can feel just as comforting as a putting on a hand-made sweater.
It’s that hand-crafted feeling that makes Kari Fry’s A Guide to Village Life such a perfect fit for the series. This 256-page hand-drawn catalog of the flora, fauna, villagers, and other Animal Crossing attractions is about as affectionate of a love letter as any video game could hope to receive. If you also love Animal Crossing, you’ll find a lot to relate to here.