If your middle school library was anything like mine, there was probably a huge waiting list for the only copy of the Ninja Gaiden book from the Worlds of Power series.
The classic young readers series adapted some of the best NES games into full-length books that doubled as game guides. But who came up with this genius idea? And why were only a handful of titles turned into books?
1. They were meant to get young boys to read
The series seems like it was thought up in Nintendo's marketing department, but credit actually belongs to Seth Godin. He was the head of a book packaging company when he was struck with a million dollar idea.
A conversation with his nephew revealed the boy had never read a book unless it was assigned for school. The series was meant to appeal to boys like him, who preferred playing video games to reading.
2. Nintendo turned Godin down
Yes, the video game company was in talks to create the books with him, but the deal ultimately fell through. That's why the cover of each book makes it clear that Nintendo is a separate company's trademark. Instead, Godin had to approach the game's creators one by one for the rights to adapt them into books.
3. The writers actually played the games
Without any strategy guides or help from the developers, Godin and the other writers on the series had to beat each game themselves, then outline the important details in a 'bible' that was about 40 pages long, which would be turned into a completed book.
It's worth mentioning Godin didn't like video games, and claims that playing them for long stretches of time gave him headaches.
4. Godin's pen name was a stroke of genius
While another writer was usually credited as the author, Godin got a credit as the book's "creator." But you would only recognize him by his pen name for the series, "F.X. Nine." Why the strange name? So kids looking for "Nintendo" books would find "Nine's" work on the shelf instead.
So why were only a handful of books made?
5. The books were a huge success
This shouldn't be a surprise - how many of them did your parents buy? - but at the time book sellers were convinced that young boys were an impossible demographic to crack. After the Worlds of Power series sold more than a million copies, video game books flooded the market.
"We sold a million copies to kids that may not have read for fun before. That's a huge success (and) a home run!" Godin told 1up.
6. A writer for the series had a very successful career
A.L. Singer wrote 4 of the 10 Worlds of Power books, including Blaster Master, Ninja Gaiden, and Infiltrator. Singer managed to write each book in about a month, which was good practice for the rest of his career.
Singer is a pen name for Peter Lerangis, who wrote a number of young adult series including Seven Wonders, The 39 Clues and Spy X.
7. The books made some important changes
If you finished the Ninja Gaiden game, you might have been surprised by the ending of the Worlds of Power book, where it's revealed Ryu Hyabusa's father is alive and well. This is a big change from the game, where Ryu's father is dead. Godin and Lerangis were both fathers, and they wanted to give Ryu's story a happy, child-friendly ending.
Lerangis also came up with the shape-shifting alien Eve for his Blaster Master book, and she was featured in the game's sequels. But those weren't the only changes the series made...
8. Lots of violence was cut out of the books
The 90s were a different time, and our parents didn't seem to let us play violent games like Metal Gear, but things were different with the Worlds of Power books. Violence against people or animals was not allowed in the series.
In the Metal Gear book, Snake uses his guns to pistol whip enemies instead of shooting them, and even Ladd Spencer from Bionic Commando shoots "stun bullets." Look closely at the books' covers: weapons like Snake's gun and Ryu's dagger have even been edited out.
9. Godin wanted to keep the series going
In the end, just 8 novels and 2 "junior reader" books were made for the series, Godin had plans to keep making more books. The PC puzzle game Myst was one title that he always hoped to adapt.
"I think that stories never go out of style. I think we need a series like this now more than ever and kids need to learn the habit of reading," he said.
10. Godin's career has really taken off
He doesn't make a point of mentioning his work on the Worlds of Power series anymore, but Godin has found a different path to success in life. He became involved in a pair of successful tech startups that made him a small fortune.
Today, he works as a motivational speaker and writer. His business advice books including Tribes and Linchpin have become best-sellers, but true Nintendo fans will always remember him for bringing us Worlds of Power.
Share this list if you remember reading the Worlds of Power books!