I am pleased to bring you an interview today with gaming blogger an author Brett Weiss. Brett has written for several popular retro websites and magazines and blogs regularly on his own blog Brett Weiss Words too.
He is also the author of two great gaming books: Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984: A Complete Reference Guide and Classic Home Video Games, 1985-1988: A Complete Reference Guide. Both of which are available on hardback for $44 via Amazon.
For those who don’t know you, can you tell everyone a little about yourself?
I live in Fort Worth, Texas with my wife, two kids (a thirteen-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl), a crazy dog, and a fat cat. I work from home and enjoy hiking, cycling, playing basketball and tennis, reading, writing, collecting and playing videogames (natch), and hanging out with the family.
I’ve worked at Waldenbooks and Lone Star Comics and have been co-owner of two comic book stores (Fantasic Comics & Cards). I was also an editor and writer for the All Game Guide. Currently, I’m working on my third book, I’m an archivist for mycomicshop.com, and I’m on the Comics Buyer’s Guide Review Crew.
I’m a freelance writer and have had articles published in Game Informer, Video Game Collector, Classic Gamer Magazine, Video Game Trader, Scary Monsters Magazine, Alter-Ego, Back Issue Magazine, Toy Cars & Models, Toy Shop, and various other magazines.
Can you remember what your first games console was?
During the late 1970s and early ’80s, I was a nuisance at anyone’s house who owned a Fairchild Channel F System, an Atari VCS (2600), an Intellivision, or any other game system. Finally, in 1982, when I was 15, I got my own ColecoVision for Christmas, but I did have to kick in $100 of my own lawn mowing money. Santa couldn’t (or chose not to) afford the $189 plus tax that the ColecoVision was going for back then. I sat up all night playing Donkey Kong, which came with the system, and Mouse Trap. I was thrilled beyond belief.
What systems have you owned over the years. Which one is your favourite and why?
Currently, I own around 50 systems or so and am still adding to my collection. My nostalgic favorite is the ColecoVision. Not only does it take me back to Christmas of ’82, it has lots of great games, such as Lady Bug, Frenzy, Slither, and numerous other excellent ports of relatively obscure arcade classics. My favorite current system is the PlayStation2 (which also encompasses the PS1 since it’s backward-compatible). I love third-person 3D action games like the Maximo and God of War series, and it’s got a ton of classic arcade compilations.
You have released two books: Classic Home Video Games, 1972-1984: A Complete Reference Guide and Classic Home Video Games and 1985-1988: A Complete Reference Guide. What has the feedback been like for these books?
Very positive. People like that I include write-ups for every game for every system and not just the more popular games. Initially, some are turned off by the price (Amazon currently sells the books for $44 each), but once people look at the quality of the hardcover binding, the wealth of information, and the literate nature and quality of the writing (I’ve been a freelance writer for almost 20 years), they change their tune. To my knowledge, no one who has bought either book has regretted it, and I’ve had some very complimentary reviews show up on the web and in gaming mags.
Do you plan on continuing your book series and releasing a book which covers consoles beyond 1988?
Currently, I’m working on a book that will cover the Genesis, Neo Geo, and TurboGrafx-16. A fourth volume will cover the SNES (among others). I’ll probably continue the series after that if nothing drastic changes in my professional or personal life.
Do you own any modern gaming systems?
I enjoy playing the Wii with my kids. I beat Mario Galaxy, and we’ve had a great time with Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Beatles Rock Band, Guitar Hero III, Carnival Games, and a number of others. I plan on getting a PS3 for God of War III (among others), and my son has talked about buying an Xbox 360.
In the 70s and 80s many great games came from very small companies. In the gaming world today it is becoming increasingly difficult for smaller companies to work in the industry at all. Do you think this is a bad thing or just a natural progression as gaming has become more mainstream?
I think it probably limits creativity in some respects. There were some ridiculous (in a good way) gaming conceits for the Atari 2600 (food themes alone could fill a shelf) that wouldn’t be possible today.
Lastly, in short. Can you tell us your top 10 favourite games of the last 30 years?
The least may be a little different depending on what day you ask me, but here are the 10 that come to mind:
- Mr. Do! (arcade, SNES)
- Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (PS2)
- Maximo vs. Army of Zin (PS2)
- Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
- Tron (arcade)
- Lady Bug (ColecoVision)
- Miner 2049er (ColecoVision)
- Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
- Galaga ’90 (TurboGrafx-16)
- Baby Pac-Man (arcade)
Many thanks to Brett for taking part in this interview. If you would like to know more about Brett or his books, please check out his blog Brett Weiss Words.