Nintendo’s 16-bit juggernaut gets the encyclopedia treatment in Scullion’s second compendium.
2019 saw the release of The NES Encyclopedia: Every Game Released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, my review of which you can read here. The not unexpected follow-up from author Chris Scullion chronicling the Super Nintendo’s robust line up released in early November, and I’ve had the pleasure of perusing it from cover to cover. Its greatest success is in reminding the reader of all the wonderful 16-bit classics from three decades hence; its second is in shedding light on the obscure, forgotten, and region-specific games that many may have never come across.
After a brief foreword from Kevin Bayliss, formerly of Rare and currently with Playtonic Games, The SNES Encyclopedia includes a concise history before launching into an alphabetical list of 779 titles that released in North America, Europe, and Australia. As a bonus, the book ends with the 22 Virtual Boy games that came to Japan and North America. Most of the listings—four to a page—provide the title, release year, publisher, developer, an image from and paragraph about the game, an interesting fact. More notable releases such as Aladdin and Breath of Fire have half a page of real estate, with a larger image and lengthier write-up. Major releases such as Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and Star Fox have a full picture of the box art and multiple paragraphs describing and detailing the game. The full and half-page entries are incredibly eye-catching, and the facts in every listing are sure to enlighten even the most informed players of a neat tidbit or historical oddity.
There’s a conversational tone and style to Scullion’s writing that makes reading The SNES Encyclopedia feel like having a conversation with a pal (a “mate,” I suppose, in his neck of the woods). The blurbs are never pretentious or assuming, but instead offer insight and concise prose that even makes reading the book from cover to cover an enjoyable endeavor, even if the alphabetical organization and index lend themselves better to looking up specific games. I have to admit that the Virtual Boy section once again filled me with regret at not having purchased a console and five (!) games for the hideously inexpensive price of $19.99 at a Toys R’ Us south of the Canada-US border. It was nice, though, to see attention thrown at Nintendo’s least discussed console, one that every collector would kill to have in their collection.
The pages of the hardcover version of The SNES Encyclopedia are thick and easy to turn, and the text as a whole feels sturdy and well put together. The classic purple and violet hues of the console border the top and bottom of every page and the bold font of the game titles makes flipping to a specific one a piece of cake. For some of the four-to-a-page entries, the images appear to be of different sizes, and while I’d have liked to see every game be given its own page, the weight and thickness of a dictionary probably wouldn’t make for a very effective coffee table book. When friends come over, I always try to have a handful of my video game books within eyeshot, and just as The NES Encyclopedia has often been picked up and browsed through many a time, I’m expecting the same for this book.
Without question, The SNES Encyclopedia: Every Game Released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System makes for an excellent video game library addition. It’s an economical and well-crafted book of Nintendo’s 16-bit history, and it’s sure to leave you yearning for the days of Super Mario World’s vibrant colors, Super Metroid’s intoxicating atmosphere, and Super Punch Out!!’s incredible tension. If you already own The NES Encyclopedia, you’ll know what to expect, but if you’re just starting a collection of video game-themed books, you can’t go wrong with this condense and informative offering.