The Official Nintendo Player's Guide
Length: ~200 pages
From: Nintendo, 1988

This book is just the mack daddy (pardon my vernacular). Although Rovin may have perhaps beat this book to the press by a few months, it is this book that showed what a real video game book should be like.

Admittedly, the book isn't perfect. Like some of the early issues of Nintendo Power itself, some parts read like they were directly translated from Japanese. Some of the maps inside have glaring errors. The guide devotes too much space to useless things at times, like complete listings of a game's enemies (with color pictures) or profiles of every slam dunk in Double Dribble.

But when you take a look at some of its sections, it's , like, man. Complete walkthrough for Metroid, along with an outlandishly detailed map (which Nintendo reprinted several years later in Nintendo Power). Complete walkthrough for The Goonies II (the game's utterly impossible without it). Complete maps for the first 2 levels of Ikari Warriors; the maps even show the locations of hidden items (which you can only uncover by hitting certain places with grenades; I'm sure that none of these would have been discovered without this map). Reviews of every NES game released at the time (all 90 of them).

In short, this is the book that all NES fans should have, and it's worth it at almost any price. I've wasted away many a long car trip with this book.

Top Secret Passwords - Nintendo Player's Guide
Length: 160 pages
From: Nintendo, 1991

Ad copy: "Here it is! The only top secret file from the pros at Nintendo with passwords to lead you to the final enemy or the last stage of the game. From secret shortcuts to winning moves to strictly classified information, programmers are sharing their deepest secrets! Without this Player's Guide, you just won't have a clue."

The truth: Basically a reculling and reorganizing of 30 issues' worth of "Classified Information" columns from Nintendo Power, but still a high-quality, full-color piece of work. It covers about 140 games (admittedly, it has Game Boy and early SNES crap too.. sorry), as well as a 250-game quick index in the back. It's worth having around simply because it looks pretty cool.

NES Game Atlas: Nintendo Player's Guide
Length: 176 pages
From: Nintendo, 1991

Ad copy: "The NES Game Atlas, part of the Nintendo Player's Guide series, is your route to more game fun than ever! If you haven't finished these all-time video hits, you need this incredible insider's guide to help you get the most fun out of every game. If you have played them, you won't believe how many new twists, turns and tricks you'll discover in your old favorites! Go for it!"

The truth: Detailed maps and walkthroughs for a bunch of games: The SMB series, Mega Man 1-3, the Castlevania series, two TMNT games, and so forth. Sort of like having an issue of Nintendo Power with nothing but walkthroughs for all the really good games.. although they include maps of the incredibly simple DuckTales for some reason. Oh well, still a great work on Nintendo's part.