We’ve got lots of stuff planned for 2019 here at HG101! Here’s the lowdown:
HG101 Digest Vol. 4: Star Fox and F-Zero now available
The fourth HG101 digest was released earlier this week. I started the digest series back in 2015 as a shorter, magazine-style format that would feature a couple of major game series, then a few other related topics. In this case, Star Fox was used as a springboard to examine Argonaut Software and some of the early 3D games that preceded it, as well as some other lesser known rail shooters, mostly for the original PlayStation. Our goal has always been to attract readers with popular titles and then sort of trick them into learning more obscure history, in hopes of placing everything in a greater context, so I think this particular digest does a pretty good job fulfilling that idea.
These digests were supposed to be a more regular series back when I first started with the Strider / Bionic Commando one, but new projects kept cropping up and so they weren’t produced with the regularity I’d intended. I’m finally getting these back on track, so I’m also announcing….
Digest Vol. 5: Treasure and Digest Vol. 6: Namco Arcade Classics
Late last year, I held a poll to get some input of what kind of books we should be publishing. We got plenty of great feedback, but the one topic that was overwhelmingly requested was a book on fan favorite developer Treasure, so that will be the focus of our next digest. We’ve already featured most of Treasure’s games here on the site, so rather than just reprinting those and calling it a day, we’re also expanding the net and putting in some titles made by Treasure staff, particularly the Asuka 120% series, Mad Stalker, Code of Princess, Phantom Breaker, and a few others. We’re also resurrecting the “80 Import Titles” feature from the first two digests to cover a bunch of cool Saturn titles, which should be a system near and dear to any 2D gaming fan. We’re planning on putting this out in early June, to have it out in time for the Too Many Games convention at the end of the month. The cover illustration will be drawn by Kaibuzetta, who recently did the Guide to Retro Indie Games Vol. 1 cover.
The sixth digest will focus on assorted lesser known Namco arcade classics. This has been in the works for a very long time – at least four years, at this point – and the major sticking point was finishing up the article on Mappy, which is intended as a cover feature. I finally got that completed last year, and so he’ll be featured along with Dig Dug. My fascination with the weirder side of Namco began with Namco X Capcom on the PlayStation 2, which featured tons of characters from games I’d never heard of, so much of the rest of the digest will be focusing on games like these: Burning Force, Baraduke, Genpei Toumaden, Youkai Douchuuki, Wonder Momo, Bravoman, and so forth. This is expected to be out sometime in late summer/early fall. The cover will be provided by Thor Thorvaldson, who’s worked on the cover for NES Cult Classics, Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 2 and The 200 Best Games of All Time.
There’s more than just digests planned for the year…
The Unofficial Guide to Shin Megami Tensei/Persona and Wrestling with Pixels
Our Shin Megami Tensei book has been in the works for even longer than the Namco one, but five years on and it’s finally coming together. Wresting with Pixels is a project done by an HG101 contributor and has also been in the works for a very long time, but these are both on schedule to be out before the end of the year. Extensive samples of both are available now for Patreon subscribers at the $5 and above level, if you’d like to check our progress. The Shin Megami Tensei book currently covers all of the mainline games plus the spinoffs Devil Summoner, Devil Survivor, Digital Devil Saga, and Tokyo Mirage Sessions; our next update will cover all of the Persona games, and then it’s the home stretch for some of the odder spinoffs (Last Bible, Majin Tensei, Devil Children). Wrestling with Pixels currently covers every wrestling game through 1993.
2020 and Beyond
As you can probably infer, planning and putting together these books often takes place over several years, so of course we’re planning ahead even further. Other requested books we’ll be working on are The Guide to Shoot-em-ups Vol. 2 and The Guide to Beat-em-ups Vol. 1. We’re also slowly putting together an extensive guide to Falcom games, though with the rate they put out new “Trails of” games, it makes it hard to keep up!
Also, I want to do a second volume of Retro Indie Classics. I created that book since most of the contemporary games I play nowadays are games like these, and I think they deserve the same kind of care and respect we give to the older titles. However, even though I usually don’t pay too much attention to sales…this is the only book I can look at and say “yeah, the sales are pretty bad”. I’ve known that, based on site traffic and social media, reviews of indie games rarely get the same level of engagement as retro games, but I also hoped that it would break out of the traditional HG101 audience and attract some new readers; unfortunately, that never really happened. I guess it’s because these reviews aren’t really special or unique compared to other sites that also cover indie games, of which there are several, even though I still think we do a pretty good job with them.
But, on the flipside, putting together another Retro Indie Classic book is significantly easier than others – primarily because we already cover them regularly anyway. So basically, if enough readers request a second volume, I’ll still begin work on one, so please let me know! If you want to help spread the word about the first volume and hopefully improve its sales, that will be a great help too!
Japanese Video Game Obscurities
Another book, which was crowdfunded last year and published by Unbound, will be out this coming August (for backers) and September (for everyone else). They’re still running preorders until February 24, so if you’d like to get your name in the book as a backer, you pledge now before they’re closed off. Here are a few samples of how the book will look. (It looks different than the one on the crowdfunding page because those were just early mock-ups.)
While I finished all of the text for this back in June last year (we’re still working on the layout and tweaking various things as of now), I enjoyed writing it, and so I’ve (very roughly) begun work on a potential second volume. Of course, ultimately whether that comes into being will depend on sales for the first volume, and there’d probably be another crowdfunding campaign, since that’s the way Unbound works. I wrote the first volume as a balance between “essential Japanese imports” and “really weird stuff”, but the second I’m planning is currently mostly “super weird stuff” now that the basics are covered. So please keep an eye on this when it’s published, and hopefully a follow-up volume can be produced!
Top 47,858 Games of All Time Podcast
Last year, the HG101 site podcast switched formats so there are now three individual episodes per week, two of which are posted publicly and one released solely for Patreon contributors. For $2 per month pledge, you’ll get access to ALL of the bonus episodes, which is over 30 at this point, plus new ones weekly going forward. We’ll probably be releasing a few of these publicly as previews, just to get a taste of some of the weirder stuff that gets discussed.
Books Going Out of Print
Since all of our current books are print-on-demand, most of them will be in print until the service goes belly up. However, there are a couple that we are removing from the service for assorted reasons. Verb/ose: A Personal Analysis of the Adventure Game Genre, will be leaving Amazon primarily because our contract with the author has expired. The HG101 and Sonic and Sega Fan Jam 2016 Fanbook will also be leaving the service, since it was primarily created for that event over two years ago, and the final convention was held in 2018. This was a short book that featured samples of some of Sega’s series, and some configuration of them will probably appear in assorted Sega volumes in the future. Both of these will be going out of print at the end of February, so if you’d like to make any final purchases, please do them now!
One of the main reasons that this site ran with crusty old HTML design for so long was that there was so much content that migrating to a new platform would be overwhelming. However, it needed to happen, and indeed, it’s taken a very long time. However, nearly two years since we started, most of the site is now on the new WordPress platform. There’s currently nearly 3,000 articles, with maybe 95% of the main articles now here, though we still need to do a lot of the 500 Word Indies and Your Weekly Kusoge pieces, plus most of the interviews and features. A few of the larger ones, like the History of Korean Games feature, may remain HTML for the moment. There are a handful of articles that don’t really match the current standards of the site, which I’m going to rewrite before bringing them over here – I already posted new versions of Athena / Psycho Soldier and Commando / Mercs in the past few months, and Kiki Kaikai/Pocky and Rocky and Kunio-kun will be next in line. We won’t be migrating the old Shin Megami Tensei / Persona article since most of it is being rewritten from scratch for the book anyway.
However, since HG101 is about preserving history, there will still be some of the original content kept here on the new server. How much of it depends on how much disk space we have with the web server (I have a feeling I’ll be needing to upgrade soon anyway). While WordPress is certainly significantly easier to work with, I still miss the look and feel of the old site, so it’ll be good to reminiscence about it in a decade or whatever in the future. Once I’ve finished migrating everything I want to, then it’ll be time to tweak some other issues with the site, mostly fixing broken tag links, updating redirects, customizing the company/theme/genre pages, and generally improving other stuff around the site that needs improving.
Once we’re done, I’ll also be removing the archive on the old Kontek server. All of the pages there have broken formatting, due to a mismatch with HTTPS, so they’re difficult to view anyway.
We’ve been planning to add some more goals to our Patreon as well. One of our main goals is to create more physical goods, so I’ve been commissioning some artists to do some custom postcards, and to create posters, bookmarks, and other goodies. Beyond that, though, at a certain level, we’ll allow donors to request specific games to cover on the site. Obviously, these need to be within reason and will need to be approved – no super long JRPGs, no really expansive series. I don’t mind covering adult games but nothing out-and-out pornographic. And nothing too recent, because I don’t want indie developers paying for our reviews.
Once we get something more concrete in the future, we’ll be officially updating them. Our next goal, at $2,250 a month, will bring back some of the regular columns, like Your Weekly Kusoge and 500 Word Indies, and I’ll also be posting some of my work for the second Japanese Video Game Obscurities volume mentioned above. Our recent anime video game series overview of Yu Yu Hakusho was also well received, so if we hit that target, we’ll be making these a regular feature as well.
Anyway, as these 2,000+ words can attest, this will be a busy but ultimately very fruitful year for HG101. I hope you’ll considering supporting us on Patreon if you don’t already, or purchase any of the books that interest you. If you like any of our books, please consider leaving a review on Amazon too, especially for the ones that don’t have many (or any at all) because stuff like that really does help us out! Thanks!