Wizard Week Gaiden: Bantam…Bluh…Huh?

While the 16-bit strategy guide wars raged between Prima and Sandwich Islands Publishing, Bantam Books wanted its own slice of that sweet pie. Bantam started off by publishing guides covering 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System games, then produced one volume for Game Boy games. Then they stopped making video game strategy guides.

I’m not quite sure how to approach these. Um.

Wizard: No
Dragon: No
Dapper zootsuited runaway sailor fox/wolf thing: Sure enough


Wizard: No
Dragon: …maybe?
Money-saving coupons: Get a $5 rebate for buying four $40 Capcom games!


Wizard: Definitely not.
Dragon: No, not really.
The hell? Yeah I don’t know.

All right. Okay.

That’s: A cat man.
He’s: Surfing.
And he’s riding: An electric guitar.

[Photo credits: Andy, Libby]

15 Responses to “Wizard Week Gaiden: Bantam…Bluh…Huh?”

  1. Michael Stearns Says:

    Dang, I dunno! Those first two especially, and less so the fourth one, these really say “video games” to me. Wizards are cool and all, but they could be selling D&D, sf/fantasy novels, or some good ol’ new age metaphysics. There’s just no telling.

    But some sort of well-to-do dogman running across a desert against a blue sky, perhaps fleeing some sort of UFO, all in brilliant, radioactive colors? And look at those 80s lines! Sign me up for this game!

    The second one has that smooth airbrushed thing going on, like a Famitsu cover, that’s as close to CG as we were going to get before anyone was really doing CG, and he’s wearing sunglasses and eating chips, so you know he’s a totally rad dude. (also, nice hair?) But are they like, computer chips, or space invaders? Who knows? All I know is I also want to play that game, too!

    I’m impressed by these images because they really do strike me as very convincingly video game-like, but not in some sort of poser “jumping around with a control pad” sort of way, and yet have no direct connection to any existing video game that I’m aware of. How did they come up with this? Who painted them? This is fascinating cultural art!

  2. sardoose Says:

    I wish I knew who the artist was! The second volume (the only one of these I own) doesn’t seem to give a artist credit anywhere. Which is a shame, because I’m really curious as to what kind of other stuff he/she did other than mind-blowing strategy guide covers.

  3. BBH Says:

    Are there any Game Boy games that actually merit needing “book-length reviews”?

  4. Rosco Says:

    Why so many cats? Were there even that many games back in the day that featured cat protagonists? I think only Bubsy comes to mind. Maybe they had Psycho Fox in mind for the first one, but the rest are just weird.

  5. klarthailerion Says:

    It would be great if Active Enterprises were somehow, someway involved in this cat-man-themed artwork.

  6. Rosco Says:

    The third one looks actually pretty awesome. For some extremely odd reason it reminds me of “Sigue Sigue Sputnik”. Must be because even though it is tacky and horrible artwork it still manages to be interesting.

  7. Kyle Orland Says:

    I actually had ALL of these books at one point in my childhood. They were carried at my local Erol’s Video where I rented NES games in Rockville, MD. The only time I recall cracking one open was while waiting at a Circuit City for my mom’s car radio to get fixed for what felt like HOURS.

    I will always remember those haunting covers, though. I would stare at them as I waited for a game to restart after a lost life. They stared back… at my soul.

  8. Shih Tzu Says:

    Hahaha, I actually had all these. They might still be around back at my parents’ house. I remember their weird-ass covers, but I think at the time I just figured that that was how books about cool stuff looked. And I suppose I was right.

  9. Madeline Henry Says:

    Don’t know what some of these are, but I can say for certain that they’re all by an artist who’s been around elsewhere: covers 2 and 4, respectively, are extremely similar to the album covers for “Kilimanjaro” and “Tourist In Paradise” by veteran smooth jazz superstars The Rippingtons, whose mascot is an extremely cool cat-man.

    And now you know!

  10. Michael Stearns Says:

    Well, by getting the wrong answers over and over on their official quiz website, I was able to determine that the artist for the cat-man at least (the surfing cat is actually on the cover to Tourist in Paradise, too!) is Bill Mayer. This is his website: http://www.thebillmayer.com/

    But the reason I came here today is because I found more covers while taking a look through an old GamePro that I found in one of my drawers! The images are tiny so I have made them huge, but the high res scan really doesn’t help much. In particular, I like the confident dragon warrior guy in the upper right, the blue monster on the middle left, and the strange lemur-like creature on the TG-16 cover.

  11. Michael Stearns Says:

    Oops, here’s the link to that scan: http://www.starquail.com/michael/gameprostrats.png

  12. Bill Mayer Says:

    Too funny…Where the hell did you find these? I am the illustrator responsible for those little diddies, all of the picture Nintendo Strategies were originally done for other clients and uses. They were not allowed to use any of the copyrighted material so they looked around for images of monsters. eventually ran out of monsters and started just looking for anything bright and colorful to stick on the cover. These books were done in ,I am guessing the 1980’s? Can’t believe they are still out there haunting the halls of used book stores in small quiet unsuspecting small towns all across the country Beware…

  13. Bill Mayer Says:

    Ps. still illustrating http://www.thebillmayer.com/ and my blog on http://www.drawger.com/billmayer/

  14. Captain Rufus Says:

    Michael S: Dude I have that Ninja Turtles cover one. (And had the 2nd book mentioned in this entry. I may still have it. It actually praises the Game Boy’s sound capabilities.)

    Its kind of amusing but like everything Gamepro did back then, was mostly for 10 year olds.

    I wished you didn’t show that picture because now I know there is another Castlevania book I must hunt down for my Castlevania blog and I just wasted enough money on ebay this week!

    (I actually dug the Gamepro book out because it had Castlevania stuff in it. And it was nigh useless as anything other than a quick set of tips to Simon’s Quest. Not like, a USEFUL MAP or anything.)

  15. Why does a nostalgia review site need to be in blog format? « Lobst.com Says:

    […] its value as a blog (as opposed to a collection of standalone pages), you need only look at his Wizard Week series — in which he posted a series of unauthorized strategy-guide covers for the audience to […]

Leave a Reply