The Worlds of Power series consist of 10 short books about different video games or ports of video games on the NES. These are novelizations of the game’s plot or are based on the game’s story. The books are targeted at younger readers, and the writing reflects this.
It doesn’t make the books bad. I found most of them to be fun short stories about video games. A few give the reader a character to relate to, as some revolve around a kid being pulled into a world similar to the game the book is about.
At the time, these books were a great idea! You take something that you know kids like, video games, and try to use that to get them to read. How many kids bought these books and got into reading because of them? I’m sure my elementary school had these books, but I don’t remember seeing them.
There were some compilations of the books released by Scholastic. They did similar things with Goosebumps. Four books would be bundled together and sold as a set. I’ve only seen pictures of the Worlds of Power set, which included the first four.
Let’s go through the history of the books and talk about which I liked the most.
The games behind the books were all third-party titles. Many of them would have been a strange choice to have a book made based on their story. I was surprised to see how close the books came to the stories of some games.
In a few of the books, characters are added to the story. Kids are pulled from the “real world” and end up in the game world. This happens in the Wizards & Warriors and the Simon’s Quest Books. I don’t think these additions are always needed.
In two of the books, Before Shadowgate and Bionic Commando, the plot of these two games has been expanded upon. Before Shadowgate could be a stand-alone story as it creates a decent prequel story. Blaster Master influenced future games.
There are other notable books in this series. I think Metal Gear does an excellent job translating the NES version of the game’s plot. It would have been nice if the MSX version had been adapted because of the Metal Gear fight, but at the time, I don’t think the differences between the two games were that well-known.
The only book that I didn’t read for this project was the novelization of Bases Loaded the Second Season. Aside from having no interest in that one, I couldn’t find a copy and figured it wasn’t all that necessary. I wasn’t all that interested in reading a novel based on a sports game.
The books were sold with a single trading card inside of them. All but two of the books I found didn’t have the card or the cardboard that held the card. In my copy of Bionic Commando, both the card and the holder are still present. In Metal Gear, I have the cardholder. It is pretty cool to see both of these as it reminds me that other people bought them, and it adds to the history of the books.
A contest was also going on in these books. I remember Scholastic Books and other companies doing this at the time. They were giving away some Game Boys, and Nintendo didn’t endorse the contest. I couldn’t find any information on the winners, which didn’t surprise me that much.
There were supposed to be ten grand prize winners who would get Game Boys and twenty-five runners-up who would get a video game carrying case. To enter the contest, you had to mail proof of purchase from the back of the book and hope that you were selected. I miss contests like this.
Scholastic Book Fairs
These were a huge part of my childhood. They came by once a year until I was in High school. The book fairs were a ton of fun!
Scholastic Books would bring in these vast racks full of books, and you would shop for whatever sounded interesting. Mostly, I remember looking for the latest Goosebumps books or scary stories. I liked being scared when I was a kid.
I don’t remember seeing the Worlds of Power books on the shelves, but I’m sure they had to be there. They were released in the late 80s and early 90s, and that was when I should have been able to see them. I would have been six or seven, and I don’t think I knew how to read at that age.
I’m not sure how well these books sold back then but targeting young readers with these books was a great idea. Many of the games would have been something that kids would have played, even if they didn’t have the iconic Mario or Zelda.
Who is F.X. Nine?
F.X. Nine was the pen name used by Seth Godin. He was the driving force behind the Worlds of Power Books. He is also an author and a businessman.
Only third-party developers like Konami and Capcom signed on to the Worlds of Power books. He tried to negotiate with Nintendo but wasn’t successful. I couldn’t find any information as to why they broke down.
While not writing any of the books, he was the driving force behind the project. His role was like a movie producer. He created some design documents to help the authors while writing and found the authors to write the books.
The Authors behind the books
There are ten books in the Worlds of Power series. Eight are numbered, and two are shorter “Junior Editions” and are not numbered. None of the authors’ names appear on the books, and the pen name of F.X. Nine is used. Here is a list of the books with the names of the authors.
- Blaster Master by A.L. Singer
- Metal Gear by Alexander Frost
- Ninja Gaiden by A.L. Singer
- Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest by Christopher Howell
- Wizards and Warriors by Ellen Miles
- Bionic Commando by Judith Bauer Stamper
- Infiltrator by A.L. Singer
- Before Shadowgate by Ellen Miles
- Mega Man 2 by Ellen Miles
- Bases Loaded II: Second Season by A.L. Singer
A.L. Singer (Peter Duncan Lerangis) wrote four books, and I think they are all fine. He wrote the book I didn’t read, but the other three are pretty good. Ninja Gaiden was probably the best, and Infiltrator was the worst. None of them were bad; I had issues with Infiltrator because of my background, and knowing it was unbelievable. I know it is about a video game, and realism isn’t necessary.
Ellen Miles wrote my least favorite book in the series, Mega Man 2, and one of the best books in the series, Before Shadowgate. Before Shadowgate was very good for the most part, it was a fun book, and I was trying to think about how an eight to ten-year-old me would have thought about it. I would have liked it.
Judith Bauer Stamper wrote Bionic Commando. This was the book that was the best. It felt like an action movie and had a bunch of stuff that would have made total sense to me as a kid. Of course, a spy would take time out of his mission to devour an entire pizza!
Christopher Howell wrote the Simon’s Quest book, which had the biggest cliffhanger. I remember reading this and wanting the book to keep going. However, like many of the books, this one sort of stops. It was great, but the ending was a letdown.
Some of these authors also use pen names, which makes looking them up to give credit a bit more fun. Others, I couldn’t find any information on it. I wanted to see if they had written anything else I knew, but I couldn’t find much. I’m sure it is out there; I wasn’t looking in the right place.
Favorite and least Favorite
Bionic Commando is my favorite book from the series, and the book I didn’t like was Mega Man 2. It was hard to pick one as my favorite, while my least favorite wasn’t a hard decision. There is one book that I couldn’t get my hands on, and if I read that one (Bases Loaded Season 2), I might change my mind, but I doubt it.
What I didn’t like about Mega Man 2 was the plot and how nonsensical it was. It begins with Dr. Light turning Mega Man into a human. This serves no real purpose because he can still do everything he did as a robot.
There was no reason for Mega Man to be a human. He isn’t turned back into a robot at the end of the book, which makes the third game a little nonsensical. It was meant to add a sense of danger to the book, but it doesn’t.
Everything in the Mega Man 2 book felt rushed. All the robot enemies from the game were in the book, but the fights weren’t all that interesting. The robot masters are all dealt with quickly, which makes Mega Man being a human even more pointless.
Now with Bionic Commando, everything was done much better. You’re given a reason why our hero has a bionic arm and he is trained in how to use it. He also discovers some things about the bionic arm that weren’t explained to our hero.
The story is way more exciting for the most part. Some stupid things are in it, and some plot threads are left unfinished. I also found it interesting that our hero’s partner seems to have a fetish for being kidnapped and saved.
Bionic Commando is the most interesting book of the series to me. It felt like reading an action movie from the 80s or early 90s. It made me want to go and try the game.
I probably would have enjoyed this series of books when I was a kid. They’re written for early readers and kids who were into video games. It is a shame that Nintendo properties weren’t able to be included.
Reading them for this was interesting. It is weird to see how some of these games were stretched out into a book, even a short one. Something like Infiltrator, which didn’t have much plot, was bizarre to read as the story was dumb.
These books and the Sega Power and Sega Forces books are collector’s items. They can be fun to read, but the people who remember them aren’t the target audience anymore. They’re simply an interesting piece of video game history.