Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Nintendo Action Games

Posted by Tracy Poff on July 2, 2015

Nintendo Action Games by Christopher Lampton reviews twelve action games for the NES.


It’s incredible that not so long ago a book such as this could be published. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of it–brief reviews and miniature strategy guides was also the format of Jeff Rovin’s excellent How to Win at Nintendo Games series, after all–but there are only twelve games included in the book, and the entries are far from thorough.

The average entry contains one full-page screenshot and about two pages of text, half of which is a description and review, and half tips, passwords, and trivia. The reviews are brief sketches at best. The tips are often useless, too; for Tetris, Lampton offers:

The rows that you fill in don’t have to be at the bottom of the screen. They can be anywhere in the pile. If there are holes you can’t reach because of the pieces on top of them, see if you can’t remove the rows that are in your way.

Another tip informs us that the line piece, though rare, is useful. Gee, thanks.

The ‘Fascinating Factoids’ are no better. From the entry for Ninja Gaiden:

The Japanese word gaiden means “telegram” or “message.” At the beginning of the game, the Ninja Ryu receives a message from his late father telling him to go to America. Hence, the title means, roughly, “Ninja message.”

Nice story. It’d be nicer if it were true. The gaiden (外伝) in the title means, roughly, ‘side story’. There is a word gaiden (外電) meaning telegram, but it’s not the one that is used in the game’s title. Better luck next time.

In the future, I’ll take a look at Rovin’s work for an example of this kind of book done right. As for this one–well, don’t trust it more than any random blog on the internet, I suppose.

List of games

  • The Adventures of Lolo 2
  • Batman
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Contra
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Duck Tales
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Tetris
  • 1943


Christopher Lampton, Nintendo Action Games. (Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1991).
Jeff Rovin, How to Win at Nintendo Games. (St. Martin’s Press, 1988).

2 Responses to “Nintendo Action Games”

  1. unwashedmass said

    Bigger cover scan! What on earth has happened to those turtles?

    So with (pages per game)x(total games) we come to a slim volume of approximately 40 pages?

    Jeff Rovin really ruined it for us, the epitome of books (not just his game guides; I knew him first due to his encyclopedias of superheroes and movie monsters) 10-year-old-boys-in-1989-hope-to-write-when-they-grow-up, only to find that Jeff experienced a brief moment in history when it was possible for one and only one man to live that particular dream.

    • Tracy Poff said

      Bigger cover scan! What on earth has happened to those turtles?

      Rather horrifying, aren’t they? Teenage Mutant Ninja Alligators, I think. Here’s a bigger version.

      So with (pages per game)x(total games) we come to a slim volume of approximately 40 pages?

      The official count is 72 pages, which includes the index, blank pages, and various other debris.

      I perhaps should have said something about the index in my post–it’s astonishingly thorough, given the quality of the rest of the book. For example:

      A button, 12, 17, 22, 26, 30, 31, 38,
      42, 44, 46, 47, 51 , 52, 56, 60, 64
      Action games, 11,12
      Alma, 18
      Amazon, 38, 43
      Backdoors and passwords, 13, 17,
      19, 27, 31, 40, 44, 65
      Baron von Blubba, 26
      Battle of Midway, 64-66
      B button, 12, 16, 18, 22, 26, 30, 31,
      38, 42-44, 46, 47, 51, 56, 60, 64
      Black Shadow Warriors, 34, 35
      Bombs, 57
      Bonus figures, 65
      Bonus items, 26, 27, 43
      Bonus round, 53
      Boomerang, 22, 23
      Bosses, 12, 23
      alien, 31
      Barbarian, 43
      Basaquea, 43
      Cybernoid, 23
      machine, 31, 65
      mini-, 57
      monster, 31, 39
      Bowser, 50
      Brontosaurus, 26

      I would never have considered indexing “A button” or “B button”, but there you have it.

      Jeff Rovin really ruined it for us…

      So we must make do as we can, writing on our blogs and arguing on MobyGames (not that I’ve been terribly visible there, of late) in vain imitation of those dreams.

      On a tangentially related note: I was recently contacted by a French student writing her thesis on the subject of in-game advertising, regarding some matter I’d been involved in nearly eight years ago (the arc of the retrogaming universe is long…). I was able to help her, and pointed her in the direction of your related efforts as well. Take heart! Even if we can’t all be Jeff Rovin, we can make our contributions, all the same.

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