Before the days of Twitch, YouTube Let's Plays and 24/7 video game news sites, video game fans relied heavily on print media to learn their way around their favorite games. Special strategy guides with detailed maps and tips from the pros were especially popular in the pre-internet era.
One man, 32-year-old Brian Smith of Colorado Springs, Colorado, is working to bring that bygone era to the modern day.
"The classic publications of Nintendo Power were great," Smith stated. "Back in the day before the Internet they were one of the only sources of information on how to get past that part of the game you just couldn't figure out. They were high quality and fun to read, and its too bad they aren't published anymore."
During his modern-day efforts to collect merchandise for Nintendo Entertainment System classic The Adventures of Lolo, Smith noted that strategy guides were printed only for the first and third games in the puzzle game series. He decided to do something about this apparent oversight.
"Since I loved Adventures of Lolo for the NES as a kid and was never able to buy it at the time, about five years ago I set out on a quest to collect the games and merchandise in the Lolo / Eggerland series, which is a quite large series with all of the Japanese Eggerland titles," he recalled. "The USA release of Adventures of Lolo had three titles in the series, and Hal published strategy guides for the original Adventures of Lolo, and the Adventures of Lolo 3, which I added to my collection. But they never published a strategy guide for the Adventures of Lolo 2. I don't know if it is because I am OCD or what, but it bugged me that they published a guide for the first and third titles in the series, but not the second. So I decided I would write and publish my own guide for the Adventures of Lolo 2."
After publishing his throwback guide for the second Lolo title, Smith found further inspiration. After viewing one of the many video game documentary films of recent years, he was moved to follow up with a second strategy guide for an even more iconic puzzle game classic.
"The Tricks of the Classic NES Tetris Masters book came about after I watched the awesome Ecstasy of Order documentary movie about the Tetris World Championships," he said. "It was incredible to see what the world's top NES Tetris players could do in the game. After watching the movie I went online to find out how they managed to play the way they did at Level 19 and beyond, which seemed completely impossible to me. After a lot of research I was only able to pick up a little information here and there about the tricks of the game, and I couldn't find anything with complete, detailed information on how to master the game. So I decided the best way to learn for myself was to write a book on it."
Smith stated that each book took around six months to complete, due in large part to taking time to receive feedback from known NES experts via noted Nintendo fan websites. The result of his hard work is a pair of books with the look and feel of the classic Nintendo strategy guides with the advantage of decades of expert play strategies.
"For classic games I think the physical strategy guide book has some appeal over a website or video," Smith added. "Physical books have high quality information, can be collected and have that retro feel like they did back in the day."
Both of Smith's throwback strategy guides are available on Amazon.com.