SNES/ Super Famicom: A Visual Compendium ReviewOctober 16, 2018
If you grew up sinking tons of hours into games like Super Mario Kart and F-Zero on the Super NES in the 90s, SNES/ Super Famicom: A Visual Compendium is an amazing coffee table book that is absolutely worth picking up. Packed to the brim with interesting behind the scenes info and interviews with developers, this book contains gorgeous pixel art and knowledge on just about every Super NES game ever made within its 540 pages of awesomeness.
Before you even crack this book open, it’s impressive. Its weight and gorgeous lenticular cover immediately suggest that this is a quality, well-made book. Staring at the slipcase, with its myriad iconic SNES sprites, brought back a wave of nostalgia for me. This heavy hardcover tome is durable and could easily knock somebody out. It looks amazing on a book shelf.
There are beautiful foldouts from some of the SNES’s biggest titles, and bookmark ribbons matching the colors of the Super Famicom. This is the first time I’ve seen a book with four bookmarks, and with so much compelling content, I loved the ability to save my reading progress in multiple chapters.
Whether you were a casual or hardcore Nintendo fan back in the day, you’re going to have some serious knowledge dropped on you. You’ll learn about game features that were left on the cutting room floor, how developers realized the potential of Mode 7 to create a gaming experience more realistic than ever before, and how the creators of Donkey Kong utilized advanced CGI technology to create a gorgeously rendered and immersive world that pushed the limits of graphical fidelity on its hardware. Ever wondered how Nintendo managed to craft the 3D world of Star Fox? You’ll learn all about the secrets of the Super FX chip from the man who invented it. The Super NES was most gamers’ first experience with controlling 3D objects, and it’s fascinating to read about the hard work that went into it.
There’s so much interesting information in this book that gamers could easily spend days poring over it. Even just flipping through the artwork takes quite a bit of time, and you’ll probably gain some muscle holding this massive book. I’m about to add this thing to my weight training regimen.
There’s also concept art, interviews, and fond memories from fans who grew up with the hugely influential console. You’ll see blueprints of the Super NES cartridge and console boxes, and see how the design of the system and its controllers were dreamed up. There’s pages of box art – in the age before YouTube and Let’s Plays, all gamers had to go on was the painted artwork and a few screenshots to determine if a game was worth their hard-earned cash. This compendium even takes a look at the many gaming magazines that covered the SNES, as well as homebrew games made years after its heyday. These allowed gamers to experience titles that never released in their region through translations. It even restored cut content and features, and added new mechanics and levels.
If you’ve ever been interested in the history of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and how its greatest games were conceived, this is the book for you. It’s the perfect coffee table book that all your gamer friends will want to pore over. The Super NES is one of the greatest gaming consoles of all time, and SNES/ Super Famicom: A Visual Compendium does a great job of honoring its legacy.