Long-time fans of the site will surely know the name Super Famicom Guy. It's been the online handle of Scotman Stu Brett for almost a decade, and using this moniker he has spread his love of Nintendo's 16-bit console to thousands via his Twitter account, Instagram feed and - most notable - his book Super Famicom: The Box Art Collection, which was published by Bitmap Books earlier this year.
However, Brett feels that it's time for a change and is retiring the Super Famicom Guy name to rest to embark on another exciting retro journey. We sat down to speak with him prior to the launch of his new venture, Ghost Arcade.
Nintendo Life: Why are you retiring the Super Famicom Guy name?
Stu Brett: I've spent the past seven years blogging about the games, sharing pictures of my collection, designing bespoke boxes for versions that never existed, hosting little competitions online, featured in magazines, websites, newspapers and I even wrote a book about the console. There's nothing really I have left to say and I don't want to be one of those old gamer guys that sound like a broken record, going on about the same old stuff week in, week out. So I figured it's time to move on to something else I absolutely love and I'd like to devote my creativity to. Hopefully, it will attract others in the same way the Super Famicom Guy persona did.
Are you proud of what you've achieved using that particular name?
Yes, incredibly so. I got to do some great stuff over the years with Super Famicom Guy and meet so many cool people. I held a Mario Kart Instagram competition back when the app was in its infancy with another IG user from Switzerland. That was great fun, if a little difficult to manage! It was a great way to reach out to other gamers and take part in a classic high score/time attack challenge. We also held a Hector 87 competition on IG for NES and SFC users. We had so many people take part, from Germany, Italy, Sweden and Saudi Arabia to Japan, America and Brazil.
Creating a book about the Super Famicom for Bitmap was without doubt the highlight of everything. It gave me the opportunity to put what would have been the equivalent of five years worth of blogging into one concise, detailed and polished product – something everyone could enjoy and put on a shelf, right next to your games. It was an immense undertaking but it was worth it. The collector's edition was illustrated by Super Play's Wil Overton, another hero from my teenage years. It was an honour to work with him. We commissioned him to draw a cover that had a little 'Super Famicom Guy' character. That was fantastic!
I took the book to Japan in the summer and the reception was beyond my expectations. At one point it was front-page news on Yahoo Japan. It was so surreal. I took the book to Meteor's Famicase exhibition and to Enami's King of Games studio in Kyoto. There was one particular night when my friend James Wragg – who also worked on the book with me – took my wife and I to 84 Hashi, a members club for Nintendo staff which doubles as a bar restaurant. The location is sort of kept secret from the public and the entrance is hidden behind a fake double door! I spent the evening sharing the book with the developers behind EarthBound. Watching them pass the book around and share anecdotes about the games was for me, the icing on the cake! It was one of the best nights of my life. I've made a lot of friends in and out of the Industry over the book and from around the world and I'm extremely proud of what we created and of the reaction it has had amongst Nintendo fans.
What's the focus of Ghost Arcade and why have you chosen to look at coin-ops over consoles?
I've always wanted an arcade machine and I finally got my hands on a Japanese candy cab last year. As soon as it arrived, I started planning the new project as it's been something I've wanted to from before the creation of Super Famicom Guy. Coin-ops are - for me and other gamers my age - the ultimate retro gaming platform. They were these unattainable games from our youth that could only be experienced by visiting your local arcade and all the games we played at home just seemed to pale in comparison.
I loved the atmosphere of amusement arcades – the dark, smoke-filled, grimy buildings ran by gangsters, the booming sound of the cabs and the crowds of kids that would play them. Hanging out with my friends, showing off your skills at Street Fighter. That's proper nostalgia and there was a huge arcade scene in the city I grew up in during the '80s and '90s. I get a little piece of that vibe every time I drop 50 yen into my cab and fire through a game of Final Fight on a Saturday morning. It still exists in little pockets around the world, and I think it deserves as much attention as retro consoles and computers, if not more so. It tends to get crammed in amongst console content, typically as a screenshot from MAME and a reference, followed by a recommendation to check out the PS1 or Saturn port (they're never as good!). I guess a lot of gamers see it as some sort of hardcore level of collecting, but its really not. Two rare Super Famicom Games will buy you a Sega Blast City Cab!
The site will cover the games I play on my cab, the flyer art, arcade culture, the collectors, fans, developers and everything in between. I'm also filming little 1 minute Instagram videos to go with each game post. I like the idea of linking Instagram with the site and keeping that visual theme I had with the Super Famicom Guy blogs. I'm not a fan of shouty YouTube personalities, monetising channels, ads, toxic comment sections, popups and all that stuff. These little vids will be the equivalent of a tweet – condensed information that only takes 60 seconds to watch. If you dig it, you can read the article online. Ghost Arcade will be a magazine format dedicated solely on arcade gaming, but with a more relaxed tone of writing. I've no idea if it will work, but I don't really care. I'm just doing it because it's fun!
Does this change in focus mean you're done with the Super Famicom, and Nintendo in general?
Yes! My collection is done and dusted! The book was always intended to be the final chapter, so to speak. The best tribute I could create and share with other fans like me. Nintendo has one of the biggest online communities, and there are hundreds of sites devoted to the Super Famicom now. I've met collectors that weren't even born when the console was released. That's amazing to see. Those are the sort of Super Famicom collectors and bloggers I want to be reading about on the web, not the old bitter fanboys! I'd love to try and create a platform for arcade culture that's similar to what I managed with Super Famicom Guy. Who knows, maybe there will be a book in 10 years time about it – have you seen Japanese arcade flyer art? It's incredible!
What would you say are your favourite arcade games?
Final Fight, Ghouls n Ghosts, Commando, Aliens Vs Predator, Street Fighter Zero 2, Sunset Riders, Tekken Tag Tournament, Daytona U.S.A, Soul Calibur, X-Multiply, Shadow Dancer, Crude Buster, Street Fighter Championship Edition, Raiden, Layer Section, Xevious 3D/G, Bionic Commando, Knights of the Round, Robocop… I could go on forever!
Ninterviews are a series of interviews where we get to know interesting people with a passion for Nintendo. Please contact us if you have any suggestions for future Ninterviews. Click here to see the full series.