About this project
In 2013, Gabe Durham pitched a series of critical, historical, and personal nonfiction books about classic video games. The generous backers of our first Kickstarter campaign said “MAKE IT HAPPEN!” and Boss Fight Books was born. Thanks to your continued support since then, we've released sixteen great books about classic video games, and we've got so much more planned for the future.
For Season 4, we're offering five all-new books by six all-new writers. This time around, every book this season shares one thing in common: unprecedented access to people who made these games. In our first ever Creator Access Edition, you'll meet a diverse group of creators and characters, including:
- Final Fantasy legend Hironobu Sakaguchi
- Mark Turmell's team behind NBA Jam, including announcer Tim Kitzrow
- Knights of the Old Republic Lead Designer James Ohlen and Senior Writer Drew Karpyshyn
- Yacht Club Games, the entire team behind Shovel Knight
- the team behind Postal, and infamous video game film director Uwe Boll
We hope you’ll subscribe to Season 4 and join us as we explore these fascinating games.
For Season 4, we've enlisted designer Cory Schmitz to give our covers an updated aesthetic that will look great on your shelf alongside all of our previous titles. Each book is numbered and collectible, and will have the usual crisp, elegant interiors thanks to returning layout designer Christopher Moyer.
All the books will be available in:
- Paperback: 5x7-inch, matte finish, 128-222 pages.
- eBook: DRM-free in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF formats.
Final Fantasy V by Chris Kohler
When Final Fantasy V was released for the Japanese Super Famicom in 1992, the game was an instant hit, selling two million copies in the first two months alone. With a groundbreaking job system that combined the usual character classes like knights, thieves, and mages with offbeat classes such as chemists, dancers, and bards, the game appeared to be a shoo-in for North American distribution. But the game was dubbed "too hardcore" for a Western audience and was swapped out with Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, a simplistic new game tailor-made for Americans.
That didn't stop a teenage Chris Kohler from tracking down Final Fantasy V. The young RPG fan got a Japanese copy of the game, used it to teach himself Japanese, and with the help of some internet companions created the first-ever comprehensive English-language FAQ of the game. As the internet narrowed the cultural gap between the East and West more each year, the game was eventually translated into English for the PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, and iOS.
Fans in the West finally got to learn what all the fuss was about. Now the acclaimed author of Power-Up and an editor at Kotaku, Kohler is revisiting the game that started his career in games journalism. Based on new, original interviews with Final Fantasy V's director, Hironobu Sakaguchi, as well as previously untranslated interviews with the rest of the development team, Kohler's book weaves history and criticism to examine one of the Final Fantasy series's greatest and most overlooked titles.
Chris Kohler is the author of Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, and the founding editor of Game|Life, the Webby-nominated video game section of WIRED. He is currently Features Editor of Kotaku, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Shovel Knight by David L. Craddock
In 2014, Yacht Club Games released its very first game, Shovel Knight, a joyful 2D platformer that wears its NES influences on its sleeve. This unlikely pastiche of 8-bit inspirations manages to emulate the look, feel, and even the technical limitations of nostalgic titles like Mega Man, Zelda II, and Castlevania III—imbued with a contemporary sense of humor and self-awareness. But how is a fundamentally retro game created in the modern era? And what do the games of the past have to teach today's game designers?
Based on extensive original interviews with the entire Yacht Club Games team, writer David L. Craddock unearths the story of five game developers who worked so well together while at WayForward Games that they decided to start their own studio. From the high highs of Shovel Knight's groundbreaking Kickstarter to the low lows of its unexpectedly lengthy development, Boss Fight presents a new master class in how a great game gets made. Get ready to steel your shovel and dig into this fascinating oral history. For Shovelry!
David L. Craddock lives with his wife and business partner in Ohio. He is the author of Stay Awhile and Listen, a three-part series that chronicles the history of World of WarCraft developer Blizzard Entertainment and Diablo/Diablo II developer Blizzard North; Break Out: How the Apple II Launched the PC Gaming Revolution by Schiffer Publishing; and HERITAGE, a young adult fantasy novel. Connect with David on Twitter or Facebook.
NBA Jam by Reyan Ali
When NBA Jam dunked its way into arcades in 1993, players discovered just how fun basketball can be when freed from rules, refs, and gravity itself. But just a few years after Midway's billion-dollar hit conquered the world, Midway, home version publisher Acclaim, and even video arcades themselves fell off the map. How did a simple two-on-two basketball game become MVP of the arcade, and how did this champ lose its title?
Journalist Reyan Ali dives deep into the saga, tracking the people and decisions that shaped the series. You'll get to know mischievous Jam architect Mark Turmell, go inside Midway's Chicago office where hungry young talent tapped into cutting-edge tech, and explore the sequels, spin-offs, and tributes that came in the game's wake.
Built out of exhaustive research and original interviews with a star-studded cast -- including Turmell and his original development team, iconic commentator Tim Kitzrow, developers and executives at Midway and Acclaim alike, secret characters George Clinton and DJ Jazzy Jeff, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Doom co-creator John Romero, and 1990s NBA demigods Glen Rice and Shaq -- Ali's NBA Jam returns you to an era when coin-op was king.
Follow Reyan's progress on Twitter at @nbajambook.
Reyan Ali is a writer from Columbus, Ohio. He’s been published by Wired, Rolling Stone, Spin, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, and alt-weekly papers across the country. Born in Dallas, he grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, where he soaked up 1990s NBA action almost exclusively through trading cards, Beckett Basketball back issues, and NBA Jam: Tournament Edition on the Sega Mega Drive. His first writing gig was contributing to the Mortal Kombat Netherealm (MKNe), a fan site long lost to time. At MKNe in 2000, he scored his very first interview: GamePro editor Dan Elektro. Over a decade later, he interviewed Elektro once more -- this time for NBA Jam, his first book.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic by Alex Kane
Set in an even longer time ago in a galaxy far, far away, BioWare's 2003 RPG Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic wowed Jedi and Sith Lords alike with its compelling characters, lightsaber customization, complex morality choices, and one of the greatest plot twists in video game history. Among the droids and blasters, the game delves into themes like choice, free will, and the construction of identity and memory.
Featuring brand new interviews with Lead Designer James Ohlen and Senior Writer Drew Karpyshyn, game critic Alex Kane's book unveils how this classic game was made, analyzes KotOR's worldview through the lens of philosophy, mythology, and the ethics of war, and investigates how the game borrows techniques from contemporary films like The Sixth Sense and Fight Club. Whether you align with the light or the dark side, you're invited to dive into this fun and thoughtful exploration of the most beloved Star Wars game of all time.
You can read an early excerpt of the book here.
Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and critic based in west-central Illinois. His work has appeared in Glixel, Kill Screen, the website of Rolling Stone, StarWars.com, and elsewhere.
Postal by Brock Wilbur & Nathan Rabin
In 1997, game studio Running with Scissors released its debut title, Postal, an isometric shooter aimed at shocking an imagined pearl-clutching public. The game focused on a disgruntled "Postal Dude" whose goal is to murder as many people as possible. It was crass, gory, and dumb—all of which might have been forgivable if the game had been any fun to play.
Postal gained enough notoriety from riding the wave of public outrage to warrant a sequel. And DLC. And a remake. And, perhaps most surprising of all, a Golden-Raspberry-winning feature film adaptation directed by the infamous Uwe Boll.
In this thoughtful and hilarious tag-team performance, comedian Brock Wilbur & media critic Nathan Rabin mine the fascinatingly troubled game and film for what each can tell us about shock culture & mass shootings, interviewing the Scissors team and even Boll himself for answers. Like it or not, Postal is the franchise that won't die—no matter how many molotov cocktails you throw at it.
Brock Wilbur is a writer and comedian from Kansas who now lives in Los Angeles. He lives with his wife Vivian and their cat, Cat. He is the author of a forthcoming book about growing up with a adopted Bosnian brother, and an investigative journalism piece where he exposes a cult that has haunted the east coast since the late 70s.
Nathan Rabin is the former head writer of The A.V Club and a staff writer for The Dissolve as well as the author of six books, including The Big Rewind (Scribner), My World of Flops (Scribner), Weird Al: The Book (with Al Yankovic) (Abrams) and most recently 7 Days in Ohio and Kanye & Trump for his own imprint, Declan Haven Books. He is also the proprietor, owner and editor-in-chief of his own website, Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. He lives in Decatur, Georgia with his wife, dog Ghostface Killah, and son Declan.
Each campaign, backers get a chance to decide the subject of one of our upcoming books. Thanks to our supporters, we've published fan-selected books on Chrono Trigger and Shadow of the Colossus, and last season's choice Final Fantasy VI is planned for future release. Now it's time for you to pick the next fan-selected Boss Fight Book.
When you back the campaign, hit the comments section and name the game you most want to read a book about. Then, in the final week of the campaign, we're going to tally all the games mentioned and create a shortlist of 3-4 finalists, and you can vote once more on the finalists. From there, we'll put out a call for book pitches about that particular game, and choose the author who we think will write the best book.
May the best game win!
Since the series launch, Boss Fight Books has been written up in top-tier publications. Check out a small sample of our reviews for last season's books:
On Super Mario Bros. 3 (named one of author Dennis Cooper's Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2016): "Super Mario Bros. 3 is worth a look, especially if that mustachioed plumber holds a place of reverence in your own nostalgic heart." - ZAM
On Mega Man 3: "This is a fantastic book for anyone who is interested in the history of Mega Man, Nintendo in general, video game design, the Japanese gaming industry, nostalgia, and excellent writing." - E.C. Myers
On Soft & Cuddly: "[...] a love note to all things grungy and bootleg, to everyone who managed to succeed despite standing in their own way." - Heavy Feather Review
On Kingdom Hearts II: "[I]t's Alexa's own personal story and attachment to the game's questions [...] that make up the hardest-hitting points of her critiques and analyses over the series. If this is the start to a new age of discussion over the series, I welcome it with an open heart." - Kingdom Hearts Insider
Try before you buy! Check out select excerpts from our current lineup of titles:
- Chrono Trigger
- Jagged Alliance 2
- Super Mario Bros. 2
- Bible Adventures
- Baldur's Gate II
- Metal Gear Solid
- Shadow of the Colossus
- World of Warcraft
- Super Mario Bros. 3
- Mega Man 3
- Soft & Cuddly
- Kingdom Hearts II
You'll notice a little overlap between Seasons 3 & 4 below! This is so that we can get you your copies of Final Fantasy V while still finishing up Katamari.
September 2017: Digital Kickstarter rewards arrive (Anthology, bonus eBooks, etc.).
October 2017: First book, Final Fantasy V, arrives. Physical Kickstarter rewards arrive (t-shirts, Season 1-3 signed books, etc.)
November 2017: Next open reading period for book pitches. This will include both general pitches and pitches for the new fan-selected book.
December 2017: Release of Katamari Damacy, our final book of Season 3.
February 2018: Second book arrives.
April 2018: Third book arrives.
June 2018: Fourth book arrives.
September 2018: Fifth book arrives.
We currently estimate that the Season 4 books will come out in the following order: Final Fantasy V, Shovel Knight, NBA Jam, Star Wars: KotOR, and Postal. This order will likely change as the books progress.
Your support helps us cover the costs of publishing the great books, with expenses including:
- eBook conversion
- Rights to high-resolution cover images
- Graphic design
- Book storage
- Distribution fees
- Boss Fight website upkeep
- California LLC fees
- Author royalties
This Kickstarter season, we've got some great reward tiers for signed books, t-shirts, free eBooks, and a ton of bonus content. But our Kickstarter at its simplest looks like this:
- For $25, you'll get digital copies of all our Season 4 books delivered right to your email account.
- For $100, you'll get print and digital copies of all our Season 4 books delivered right to your mailbox and email inbox. (Includes shipping in the U.S., with an additional $10 per book internationally.)
- And if you're new to Boss Fight, you could get the whole 22-book catalog for $100 (digital) or $400 (paperback + digital).
If you've been with Boss Fight awhile, we hope you'll take this opportunity to renew your subscription. Your support will allow us to keep Boss Fight publishing great books about classic video games, and you'll keep receiving each of our books before its public release.
If you're new to Boss Fight, we're glad you found us! You can subscribe to the new season, order existing books from our website, or find us in a bookstore near you! Just tell your local bookseller how they can stock our books.
Risks and challenges
All of our authors are already hard at work on their books -- except for Chris Kohler, whose Final Fantasy V is ready for printing! Other books may take more time than we or the authors expect, as our Katamari book from Season 3 has done.
Boss Fight Books remains a press with only one full-time employee, and even with the help of the rest of the Boss Fight crew, accepting, editing, releasing, fulfilling, and promoting each of these books while supporting our authors with constant feedback and research help can be pretty intense. There may be some times in the next year where we are so inundated with tasks that it will take a few extra days to get back to your questions. That said, we promise to always keep you in the loop on how these books are coming, and to work with you if issues ever arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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