"With Jeff Rovin's help, you'll soon be the best and baddest, conquering the most awesome Nintendo games the world has ever known!"

As far as video game strategy guides go, this one is rather pathetic. What we have here is a series of books written by Jeff Rovin that, unlike the better strategy guides, are in paperback form. They are printing on the traditional paperback paper with cheap glue, feature no illustrations or screenshots of any kind, are completely unofficial & unauthorized, and are downright boring to read. The majority of these books cover the Nintendo Entertainment System, while one covers the Game Boy. I have heard rumors of a Super Nintendo Entertainment System version, although I have never actually seen one.

There are seven books in this series, and each sold for a suggested retail price of $3.99 with each being approximately 160 pages long. The complete list is...

  • How To Win At Nintendo Games (was printed three times and sold over four million copies)
  • How To Win At Nintendo Games #2
  • How To Win At Nintendo Games #3
  • How To Win At Nintendo Games #4
  • The Best of How To Win At Nintendo Games (is comprised of reprited material of the first four books)
  • How To Win At Nintendo Sports Games
  • How To Win At Game Boy Games (also features two pages of Atari Lynx passwords)
  • How To Win At Super Mario Bros. Games (covers Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario Brothers 2, and Super Mario Brothers 3)
  • How To Win At Nintendo Games Box Set (features all four original books)

Each chapter covers a different game. The basic breakdown of each chapter includes (the following list is typed directly from the Game Boy book listed above)...

  • Type: In a nutshell, what the game is.
  • Object: A detailed look at the story of the game.
  • Hero: What powers and abilities do you have while you play?
  • Villians: What kinds of enemies and obstacles do you face?
  • Points: How you get them, and whether or not there's a timer.
  • Strategy: Detailed tips on how to win.
  • Rating: Would you be better off spending your money elsewhere? We'll give you the lowdown.

As for the strategy section of each chapter, directions on "how to win" include such advice as...

Ratings assign an A-F grade to each game reviewed, although it seems to me that the author loves almost every game. I was hardpressed to find a game in the book that scored below a C+. Some people might say "Ah, that shows that Jeff Rovin only reviews high-quality games!", but I also think that this shows that the game companies that paid the most money got better ratings.

I'm actually curious about this "Jeff Rovin". Between 1989 and 1992 he banged out six books in this series, and searching for him while preparing this writeup revealed that he's also written a number of crummy trivia books, joke books, and unauthorized biographies. Could "Jeff Rovin" be a pen name? A literary Alan Smithee? Is he a collection of writers, all working together under a single name? Notice above under "Rating" that the books says "We'll give you the lowdown". Some people have speculated that there really is a Jeff Rovin and that he wrote these books by having his friends' children buy, play through each game, take notes on the games, and then turn over all this research to Jeff who would compile it and publish it under his own name.

These books are an utter waste. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I bought HTWANG#1 and the Game Boy book in my youth. I was young; I didn't know what I was getting into! HTWANG#1 fell apart years ago and has long since been thrown away, although the Game Boy book survives thanks to it being stored in my rarely-opened Game Boy suitcase. If you should have a warped desire to read these books, your best bet in finding them is garage sales where they often go for a dime a piece. Personally, I think paying a dime is a little generous.


References:
I have the Game Boy book right here.
http://www.atarihq.com/tsr/books/rovin.html

CST Approved

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