Too Much Free Time

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

Posts Tagged ‘Craig Wessel’

Super Mario Advance

Posted by Tracy Poff on February 15, 2016

A break from game reviews to look at a curio from 2001: Super Mario Advance. Wait, isn’t that a game? Well…

Super Mario Advance (book) - cover

This is Super Mario Advance by Craig Wessel (perhaps the same as the author of A Parent’s Guide to Computer Games?), a choose your own adventure book based on Super Mario Advance the game (the GBA version of Super Mario USA). Hints for secrets in the game are scattered throughout the story, and it includes a tiny (seven page) game guide at the end.

The book entices the reader, in its introduction, with “This special book is more than just one story about Mario and his friends — it’s a choose-your-own-adventure book. You get to decide what happens every time you read this book!” Exciting! This freedom of choice, Wessel promises, is “the best part — there are several endings to this book! Some are good, but some of them are bad. Every time you read it, you can make a different set of choices and read a brand-new story.”

I’ve probably given away already by writing this that the book doesn’t quite live up to its promises. As I read it, I found that I was doing a lot of flipping through the book without too many choices, and some of the choices didn’t seem to have much impact. Well, I’m a suspicious sort.

I made a chart.

Super Mario Advance (book) - graph

As I suspected, Super Mario Advance is as on-rails as RollerCoaster Tycoon. There aren’t some good endings, there’s one, plus one bad ending per character, and the whole thing is very linear, with each route joining up in the middle. Depending on your choices, Luigi’s individual story is the shortest, lasting for only five pages, while Mario’s could be up to fourteen pages before everyone joins up on page 50. Poor Luigi is always getting the short end of the stick.

I was pretty excited when the book promised to be a combination CYOA and strategy guide, neatly combining my interests, but this book doesn’t deliver on either. The story isn’t particularly good, nor is it a good example of CYOA, and the guide is fairly useless, being limited to very brief descriptions of the characters, items, and enemies. I suppose it’s not surprising when an adaptation of a video game is subpar, but it’s still a shame.

Advertisements

Posted in 2001, Book | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

A Parent’s Guide to Computer Games

Posted by Tracy Poff on March 21, 2014

In my quest to save marginal game-related information from the depths of obscurity, I came across this book, A Parent’s Guide to Computer Games by Craig Wessel.

ParentsGuideToComputerGames-cover

Its back cover is very ominous:

Your kids know what “RPG” means. Do you?

Surprisingly, it’s a fairly decent book, given its focus. The first half is given to discussing generalities: the game platforms of the day (Windows, Macintosh, N64, Game Boy, PS1, PS2, Dreamcast); game platforms to come (Xbox, Gamecube, Game Boy Advance, even Linux is given a few paragraphs); surprisingly, a brief mention of emulation, specifically Bleem and Bleemcast; discussion of the various types and genres of games; a few pages devoted to online games, including specifically EverQuest and Ultima Online; finally, an explanation of the ESRB’s rating system.

The second half, of course, is devoted to the games, including one to three page reviews of each featured game.

I’ve uploaded the table of contents for the review section, above. It includes many notable games, including Age of Empires 2, Deux Ex, Diablo 2, Half-Life, Civilization 2, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sim City 3000, The Sims, StarCraft, and Unreal Tournament in its “Hot Titles” section, and a fair mix of others (from Icewind Dale to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) in the other sections.

This book was published in 2000, so it’s only about 14 years old, today. That said, I think it’s worth looking back to see just how things were perceived even as recently as that. The book predicts that Sony wouldn’t be able to do much about Bleem, and notes, of Linux, that “game developers have embraced the operating system”, though it’s cautious about Linux’s future prospects.

I’m looking at some other examples of this type of book, as well. Secondary materials won’t be forgotten, if I have anything to say about it!

Posted in 2000, Book | Tagged: | 4 Comments »