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This week sees the release of The Lost Worlds of Power, Volume 0 as a Groupees exclusive. It contains a total of five stories, unique to this collection, and each with its own illustration. For that reason, this week will be given over to spotlighting one of the featured authors every day. Today, Robert Holt, author of “Ring King.”

Robert HoltHello, I’m Robert Holt, and I am a horror writer. My first novel is slated for release in June, and I have dozens of short stories out in horror anthologies, but I’m not going to try to sell you any of that. Instead, I am going to talk about my jaunt into this thrilling retrospective anthology of forgotten video games.

I am excited to have been included in this preceding volume to the official book. My story, “Ring King,” was a natural choice for me. I have had a lifelong love affair with the sport of boxing, and a lot of it started when I was given Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! by my father at the age of nine.

It was one of the most incredible moments of my childhood. I was sitting in the basement watching Diff’rent Strokes, and my father came home from work.

Ring KingHe crouched down next to me and asked if I had been good that day. I noncommittally said yes and he dropped the Babbage’s bag onto my lap. It was like a dream.

I had never watched boxing then, and had only a vague knowledge of who Mike Tyson was, but the game was so amazing. I was hooked. The very next game I bought was Ring King because if Punch-Out was that good, Ring King had to be on par.

Right?

Well, I was disappointed in it. Majorly disappointed. The gameplay was sticky and it lacked Punch-Out‘s puzzle aspect of trying to solve for an opponent. The game was soon abandoned.

Ring KingIt wasn’t until years later, after I had fallen in love with the sport of boxing and gone through puberty that I dug the old box full of crappy games out and gave Ring King another go.

It fared far better in its second chance than Deadly Towers or Fist of the North Star. I learned how to play it and actually got quite good at knocking my opponents out of the ring in the first couple seconds. My friends and I always got a huge kick out of the between-rounds corner bj.

If you have never played this game or need a refresher, just youtube it. It is worth the viewing.

Ring KingSo when I started to work on this project, I wanted to go against Philip’s real vision of recreating a bad book that didn’t relate to the game at all. Instead, I wanted to write a moving and thrilling story that existed in the world of the Ring King, a world where the contestants must know that they will never live up to the rivals of Punch-Out and Pro Wrestling. A world where even Mario will not enter. A world where a fight can end with a single punch. A world where bjs are performed openly in front of crowds.

It is a fantasy world captured perfectly in the 8-bit graphics of the 80s, a time when nobody really gave a shit. And I hope you enjoy.

–Robert Holt

Ladies and gentlemen: we did it.

The Lost Worlds of Power:  Groupees Edition

Featuring:

“Mario is Missing!” by R J Burgess
“Balloon Fight,” by Lucas Hale
“Ring King,” by Robert Holt
“Kirby’s Adventure,” by Chris Gomez
“Tetris,” by Philip J Reed

It will be out this week, as part of a name-your-own-price bundle from Groupees. I’ll post the information as soon as I have it, but for now I wanted to take a moment to thank everybody involved with this.

When the opportunity to work with Groupees came about, it was a bit of a dream come true. It was also seemingly impossible. I’d have to put together an entire unique fiction anthology in under a week.

Thankfully, I was not alone. In spite of the insanely tight turnaround time, Sindi Johnson provided another gorgeous cover (pictured above). In addition to his job, daily webcomic, and the work he’s doing for the main volume of The Lost Worlds of Power, Ron DelVillano provided illustrations for all of these stories. Co-editor James Lawless stepped in to help me prepare everything here for publication…at 3:30 in the morning. Samuel Clementine proofed my own story so that he could catch the errors that I was too close to it to see. And Thomas Whitehead, hero of the millennium, took everything we had and turned it into an actual, functional, properly formatted eBook.

If any of the above folks hadn’t pitched in, The Lost Worlds of Power: Volume 0 would still have existed, but it wouldn’t have been this good.

What could easily have been a desperate product assembled in a panic is instead something I’m extraordinarily proud of: a beautiful, professional collection of great stories, with great illustrations, assembled for your enjoyment, with a whole lot of love. In a panic.

Ron DelVillano said to me that as tight as this deadline was, he wasn’t going to be the one to fuck this up. And he didn’t. In fact, that was the attitude absolutely everybody had, whether they would have phrased it that politely or not. If we had more time, we would have taken more time. But we didn’t. So what? Nobody was going to let this project down.

We haven’t just provided Groupees with an exclusive volume; we’ve provided them with something I know readers will truly love and enjoy.

I also have to thank the authors who wrote these excellent stories. Each of them was submitted for publication in The Lost Worlds of Power, but was not selected. The reason wasn’t qualitative; it was simply that we had more great stories than we had available room.

Now four of them are here, as well as a fifth I wrote myself. And I hope you enjoy all of them.

Anyway, I’m going to sleep. I’ve earned that much.

The bundle is supposed to launch this week. It will be your only chance to grab these five stories. Believe me, it’s worth it. We wouldn’t have worked so hard on this if it weren’t.

Every week until the release of The Lost Worlds of Power, one author selected for inclusion will be given the floor. I’ve asked them to talk about themselves, their approach to the project, and anything else they’d like to say up front. I’ve also asked them to avoid spoilers, so have no fear of those. Anyway, week five: Jerod Mackert, author of “Yo! Noid.”

Jerod MackertHi, guys. I am the author of what I sincerely hope is the longest Noid fanfiction ever written. I’m so, so very sorry.

This is the first thing that I’ve ever had published in any capacity, which is pretty exciting. I’ve been writing ever since I had my trusty journal in high school, and I spent most of my college years working on (now defunct) websites with my friends, but a career in engineering made it kind of hard to keep up with writing in general.

Lately I’ve been trying to get back into it, since I’ve missed the outlet that it provided me, and when I saw the call for submissions, I was immediately interested in joining in on the fun. By some stroke of luck, I even managed to make it in! Hopefully I don’t disappoint.

I had a few ideas swimming around in my head when I first found out about the compilation, but somehow Yo! Noid won out in the end. It wasn’t my favorite game or anything; I remember renting it and thinking it wasn’t so bad (only later did I find out that it was just a reskinned Japanese game that had our favorite pizza mascot thrown in), but I’m pretty sure I never even got to the end. Aafter watching a playthrough on YouTube recently, it’s obvious that the game quickly moved beyond my difficulty threshold.

Yo! NoidSo why choose this game for my story? Honestly, at least part of it was that the odds of someone else choosing Yo! Noid for his/her story seemed pretty low. I don’t have a particularly high level of faith in my writing ability to begin with, so writing something good enough to make it into the collection seemed daunting enough on its own, without the added stress of having to compete with someone else who was using the same game.

Plus, of all the obscure Nintendo games that I have played over the years, Yo! Noid seemed ridiculous enough to slap together an entertaining story. The game itself is already a made-up story explaining why we’re controlling the Noid, who until then had been a villain, so to create another made-up story on top of that guaranteed a whole new level of insanity. The game merely made no sense before; now it makes double no sense! I can’t go into too much detail, but the result is a tale with even more action and even fewer stakes.

Since I’m now out of interesting things to say (for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that anything up to this point has been interesting), I figured I would let you in on several preliminary game ideas that I had for my story, but never quite did anything with. There are a couple others that I’ve actually gotten a bit further on, but I’m keeping them to myself for now, just in case I can use them in a future volume, or just want to write them to torment my friends and loved ones.

Yo! NoidTetris: I wanted to do a story set in the Cold War that somehow involved the Berlin Wall, but I just wasn’t knowledgeable enough to botch it very well, if that even makes sense. Instead of reading up on the subject and coming up with an outline, I watched old Domino’s commercials on YouTube all night. A wise investment indeed.

Adventures of Lolo: My plan was to write a story as boring and monotonous as the game itself can be, either by describing every single move Lolo makes in the game, or by writing the entire thing as if it were lyrics to that neverending song. I quickly realized that nobody would want to read that, and I certainly did not want to write it. As a bonus, I got the song stuck in my head for a week. And now you probably will too! Lesson: never think or talk about Adventures of Lolo.

Yo! NoidPrincess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom: I didn’t get very far on this one honestly. A kid gets transported to the Salad Kingdom because reasons? Or something? The plot was not very inspired, unlike the rich tapestry of action and intrigue that is “Yo! Noid.”

Well, that’s about all I’ve got. Thanks to Philip for letting me introduce myself, and I hope you guys enjoy the book.

–Jerod Mackert

The Lost Worlds of Power...Again.So, first things first…I really, really didn’t want to miss posting ALF this week. In fact, I have the notes and screenshots all ready to go, but I haven’t had time to sit and write it. My bad. It will return next week, and continue uninterrupted from there.

But something warranted an interruption, I felt, and I hope you’ll agree. Ready?

The Lost Worlds of Power is getting a second volume!

…but it’s not volume two. In fact, it’s going to come out before the main volume. Like, next week.

Yeah!

What happened is this: Groupees was interested in featuring The Lost Worlds of Power in an upcoming bundle. Unfortunately, there was no way the book would be ready by then. So we emailed back and forth, and ended up deciding that I would provide another, exclusive volume to Groupees, which could be ready by next week.

So this isn’t one volume and a sequel, or anything like that. The original volume is still coming, more or less on schedule. It’s just that now there will be a complementary volume available elsewhere, featuring 100% unique content.

You’ll get a shorter — but just as potent — taste of Lost Worlds of Power much sooner than you expected.

What’s more, Ron DelVillano is illustrating the five stories in this exclusive Groupees collection, and Sindi Johnson is providing another cover. The turnaround time on this is super tight, and I’m genuinely touched that they both not only agreed to work on this as well as the other book, but that they’re excited to do so. There’s a lot of love going into these collections, and I hope that this is received as good news.

I don’t want to disappoint anybody, and hopefully I have not. Remember, the original plan is proceeding just as we expected. But now it has a major opportunity to gain exposure to thousands of readers who would not have otherwise known about it.

It’s a chance for a few more authors to have their work spotlighted, and the original authors to find a larger audience. On top of that, it’s five more stories for all you folks who were already interested. This is a big win all around.

By all means, please let me know your thoughts in the comments. And mark your calendars. In one week you’ll be able to read these, and I couldn’t be happier that so many others will be joining you.

The Lost Worlds of Power Expansion Pack:
“Mario is Missing!” by R J Burgess
“Kirby’s Adventure,” by Chris Gomez
“Balloon Fight,” by Lucas Hale
“Ring King,” by Robert Holt
“Tetris,” by Philip J Reed

More information to come. Wish me luck. There’s always a chance I won’t get this done to make it into the bundle in time, but I’ll do my best to make sure I will.

Every week until the release of The Lost Worlds of Power, one author selected for inclusion will be given the floor. I’ve asked them to talk about themselves, their approach to the project, and anything else they’d like to say up front. I’ve also asked them to avoid spoilers, so have no fear of those. Anyway, week four: Samuel Clementine, author of “The California Raisins: The Grape Escape.”

Samuel ClementineEvery once in a while, a person will wake up and realize that if they died tomorrow, they would leave nothing behind. It was a realization that struck me around the same time Philip was conceiving the idea of Lost Worlds of Power, so it stood to reason the only way to break out of this existential funk was to write a novel about the California Raisins.

Before I began writing I wasn’t sure I’d have anything people were interested in hearing. The only thing I can recall writing was a short story entitled “The Farmer and His Wife Go to the City” back when I was in the first grade. I don’t recall the specifics, but I believe they all learned a very important lesson or something.

I decided to break my 15-year writing hiatus when Phil informed me of this project, but I had no idea what NES game had that certain allure that would make it any fun to write about. Philip suggested the unreleased California Raisins video game, California Raisins: The Grape Escape. My destiny became clear.

The California Raisins: The Grape EscapeI had recorded a playthrough of this particular game a while back, and it remained memorable to me as the most absurd game I’d experienced. It was made under the banner of Capcom, which is what initially enticed me to see just what this game had going for it. It might surprise you to learn that a game based on claymation food mascots from the late 1980s did not lend itself well to the technology, and spawned a rather poorly designed and absurd game that was forever stuck in my psyche from then on. The ending screen had the Raisins standing beside each other, with the word “Congraturaisins!” displayed as the credits rolled.

That single screen still makes me smirk every time I think about it. No matter what is happening in life, someone was paid to write down the word “Congraturaisins,” and considered that to be the pinnacle of a reward for successfully completing the challenges they designed for you.

This ending screen is forever with me, and it’s so absolutely silly and surreal that I can still barely believe it exists in this world. My goal while writing this story was to provide moments that would create the same feeling inside of the reader that I had upon being Congraturaised. I hope throughout this story you have a Congraturaisins moment as well!

The California Raisins: The Grape EscapeAs ridiculous as it will sound, I was actually really nervous writing this story. I thought it wouldn’t stand up to the other authors’ tales, and I’d create something that wouldn’t provide the reader with an enjoyable experience. As of now, I’m still not positive that people will enjoy it, but I know I’m satisfied with where it is, and I hope that you will be, too.

I’m looking forward to being included with the other authors in this project, and reading their interpretations of games long since forgotten. I want to give thanks to my fellow authors for going forward with this challenge to recreate a world from the days of the NES. I hope the story I’ve written will be able to stand up to the things they’ve put their hearts into as well.

I’d like to thank Philip and James for the likely arduous process of making sure each of these stories was done to perfection, and guaranteeing that the reader and writer would be able to connect on the perfect wavelength. Above all else, I’d like to thank anyone who reads these stories, because, what else are we writing for really? Thank you for seeing this project through, and keeping with us.

The California Raisins: The Grape EscapeI’d like to conclude by sharing a moment in my life that occurred not too long after I had finished writing. It was the night of the Super Bowl, and as you might be able to imagine coming from a man who wrote a short story about the adventures of anthropomorphic raisins, I wasn’t particularly interested in a football game.

As I was talking with my family members and playing a round of poker, my eyes wandered from the table, and I saw an ad on the TV for Radioshack or some other company struggling to survive the economies downturn. I noticed the gimmick of the ad was that a number of 80s icons were appearing, and I guess the appeal was that familiar characters still existed and thus we should all purchase a discount RC car at whatever Radioshack was still open nearest us.

raisins3Before I could turn my head back to see how awful the flop was, I noticed none other than the California Raisins present on the screen. I stopped what I was doing as I got extremely excited and tried to emphasize why this was so important to me. Before I was able to explain what a couple of claymation raisins did to trigger such urgent thoughts inside of me, I realized that to elaborate on my excitement I would need to explain to members of my nonimmediate family that I had written a story about a video game, a video game from the early 90s that was never released. A video game that was about the California Raisins.

I would have to say those things to people that I wanted to respect me.

Instead of saying any of those things, I cleared my throat, and told them I would fold this hand.

–Samuel Clementine

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