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Literature / Worlds of Power

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Worlds of Power is a series of novelizations of Nintendo Entertainment System games published in the early 1990s by Scholastic Books. They were written by several authors using the pen name "F.X. Nine". The books average about 120 pages long, and feature (usually very basic) hints for the featured game as an added incentive, either in a trading card on the inside cover or in mirror writing at the end of each chapter. At the end of each book is a list of recommendations for other books the author "thought you might like".

The quality of the books varies, as does the faithfulness to the game's plot. Blaster Master and Bionic Commando are generally regarded as the best adaptations, with the former even becoming canon to the game series.

There are eight books in the series, each named after the game on which it was based:

There is also a Junior Worlds of Power series, aimed at an even younger demographic. They are physically bigger, but only about 70 pages long. There are only two books in the series: Mega Man 2 and Bases Loaded II.

This series contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: Considering how simple the games' original plots were, a lot had to be added. Many of the stories add a great deal of backstory, or even additional characters:
    • Blaster Master adds Eve, a Human Alien from another planet, as the original owner of the SOPHIA III vehicle. These details would later become canon in Blasting Again. Other elements of the novel would also be used in Zero.
    • One of the stranger examples is the Castlevania II book, which adds elements such as the heroes needing to rescue a woman named Linda Entwhistle who is apparently Simon's girlfriend, Dracula as a lackey for Thanatos, Master of Death, and an encounter with a friendly troll named Freddie. Strange because the kid who accompanies Simon is a fan of the Castlevania games and he specifically enters the world of the games, not just a fantasy world recognizable as a well-known video game to the reader, like in Wizards & Warriors.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In Ninja Gaiden, Ryu's dad doesn't die in the book like he did in the game.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • While the Bionic Commando hero is awesome as-is, the book had him be a ninja, a top-ranked spy, and gave his bionic arm several enhancements such as a Truth Serum and the ability to generate intense heat.
    • Kilt was The Unfought in the video game and didn't have much presence aside from an appearance in a neutral zone, but in the book he's an active threat who communicates with other characters frequently and co-pilots the Albatross alongside Master-D.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Justin Halley, captain of the Snake Men, from Metal Gear, is portrayed here in a way that is significantly different to the iconic, melodramatic Solid Snake as he would be in Metal Gear Solid.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Dracula was dead in Castlevania II and still ends up more threatening than his Worlds of Power counterpart, who's thwarted repeatedly by bad puns and jokes.
  • Age Lift: The original game version of Ninja Gaiden established Ryu Hayabusa to be a young adult. Here, he's merely 13 years old.
  • Argentina Is Nazi Land: While Master-D's identity isn't mentioned in the Bionic Commando novel for obvious reasons, the book does mention him hiding out in Brazil, Columbia, and New York, which is where some actual Nazis went after the war.
  • Audience Surrogate: A lot of the books, like Simon's Quest, Wizards & Warriors and Infiltrator give the game's adult hero a kid sidekick presumably to involve the reader in the narrative more. Some like its version of Ninja Gaiden and Before Shadowgate make the main character a kid in the first place most likely for the same reason.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: In the Bionic Commando book, Master-D kills the Hand when Jack finds himself cornered; it's justified in that the Hand had previously tried to kill him and he was out for revenge.
  • Badass Boast: In the Bionic Commando book, Master-D gets one when he kills the Hand and confronts Jack Markson, and Kilt gets one posthumously when the self-destruct sequence activates.
  • Bag of Spilling: Invoked in Wizards & Warriors, where Kuros drops all his weapons before the fight with Malkil, saying his magic sword is the only thing he can use in his duel with the wizard. Seemingly to make writing the final battle easier on the author, since the player's never required to just give up their entire acquired arsenal in the game.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Snake is trying to stop Metal Gear at the end of the book, all the POWs he's rescued storm in and attack the other guards to free him up.
  • Big Eater: Most of the protagonists love to eat, especially Jack Markson of Bionic Commando and Timothy Bradley of Simon's Quest.
  • Bowdlerise: To placate the parents, it was rare for villains to actually die. Enemy soldiers would be taken out with tranquilizer bullets, animals and boss enemies turned out to really be robots, and there's a separate world for monsters that they're sent back to when they're defeated by meddling heroes, to name a couple examples.
  • Canon Foreigner: Several examples, usually to give the heroes love interests or partners:
    • Bionic Commando adds Heather Willis, a female spy and fellow agent who planned to marry Joe before he was captured, and Tiger, a Tagalong Kid who wants to go to America and draws a map of Stage 5 for Jack.
    • As aforementioned, Blaster Master added Eve, who would later become a character in the games themselves.
    • Castlevania II adds Linda Entwhistle, a girlfriend for Simon, a monster named Thanatos who Dracula is subservient to, and a friendly monster named Freddie.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: Chapter 4 of the Bionic Commando book ends with Jack suffering a flashback and forgetting how to work the grappling hook on the bionic arm as he leaps down an elevator shaft. Chapter 5 begins with it activating and saving him from the fall.
  • The Comically Serious: Simon Belmont's seriousness and inability to get jokes is played for humor at times, leading Timothy to be surprised when he makes a joke of his own.
  • Composite Character: The enemy bionic soldiers from Bionic Commando are comprised into one opponent named "The Hand."
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: In the Bionic Commando book, Jack has trouble accepting the bionic arm at first, feeling as if it's not part of his body at all. When part of it gets broken and he feels like he's lost part of himself, he realizes he's accepted it and what it represents as part of what he can do.
  • Darker and Edgier: Bionic Commando gets fairly brutal with deaths on both sides once it hits its home stretch, and Jack's arm is cut off by ninja stars in the opening scene.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Tim taunts and attacks Thanatos, Master of Death, and alongside Simon is able to send him back to his home dimension.
  • Dream Intro: The first chapter of Blaster Master has Jason in an enigmatic area where he investigates a strange noise coming from behind a door and being horrified by what he sees. The next chapter immediately begins with him falling out of his bed, revealing the previous chapter to be a dream.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: The first scene in Bionic Commando has the heroes fighting a group of enemy ninjas. The game didn't have ninjas, and ninjas don't appear later in the book. They seem to have been included early just to hook the reader, with how ninjas were popular with young audiences at the time.
  • High-Dive Escape: Bionic Commando has Rad Spencer do this to escape an assassination attempt by Nazi ninjas. He leaps out of a hotel room window and manages to land in the hotel's pool, where he is rescued. The cost is high, though—his arm, already badly injured by shurikens, is further traumatized by his rough landing in the pool from ten stories up, forcing doctors to amputate and give him a gadget-laden bionic arm as a replacement.
  • Humanity Ensues: While running Mega Man through a duplicating machine to better his odds against Dr. Wily's more powerful batch of robots, Dr. Light accidentally turns him into a human instead.
  • Humanoid Abomination: In Castlevania II, Thanatos is described as a humanoid monster, but his innards have galaxies and stars within:
    Tim had a glimpse beyond jagged fangs and rotting molars... a glimpse of stars and nebulae, of shadows between planets and worlds being born and worlds dying.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Once Tim hears the plot of Castlevania II from Simon he thinks it'd make a fantastic video game.
  • Improbable Age: Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden has his age lowered from adulthood to 13, making his travel to America and his whole journey rather improbable.
  • In Name Only: Before Shadowgate has nothing to do with Shadowgate. It's ostensibly a prequel.
  • Karma Houdini: While Vermon CaTaffy's plan to launch nukes across the world was thwarted, he slipped away while Justin was not looking and ultimately receives no repercussions for his actions.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Timothy Bradley's jokes are so lame they actually drive off Dracula when he possesses Simon early on:
    "Arrgh!" cried Dracula's voice. Simon's body jerked back as though physically struck. "A pun! I abhor puns! If there's anything I can't stand more, it’s stupid, silly jokes!"
  • Lemony Narrator: Castlevania II's narrator slips into this at times:
    Gosh, he was really in kind of a jam, and it wasn't the grape kind either.
  • Lighter and Softer: Yes, they've been bowdlerized from E and E10-equivalent games. Wildlife is non-fatally diverted away in Ninja Gaiden, or turn out to be robots for no real reason.
  • Morality Chain: Castlevania II has Dracula's curse cause Simon to have to resist the Seven Deadly Sins, leading Timothy to rein him in when he has a bout with gluttony or anger.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: In Infiltrator, the hero is a genius who tries to learn the language of the country he's penetrating on the supersonic helicopter flight over. He messes up an innocuous word with the one for wombat, and would've blown his cover if his sidekick who already knew the language didn't smooth things over.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Master-D in Bionic Commando is short for Master Destructo.
  • Renaissance Man: Johnny McGibbits in Infiltrator. He somehow manages to own and operate a multi-national conglomerate, be a rock star, concert pianist, and international super spy.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: In Castlevania II, Simon has to avoid these, as indulging in vices would make him susceptible to possession. Greed and pride are swapped for deceit and blasphemy, but lust stays as-is.
  • Shout-Out: Castlevania II has references to Metallica and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The Bionic Commando book mentions the Nazz, the prototype name for the Badds in the instruction manual, and the booby-trapped elevator scene mentioned in-game over the enemy communication devices. Master-D is also named accurately, as is Hal, a soldier you talk to near the very end of the game.
    • The Mega Man 2 book's descriptions of stages generally follow the layout of the game, and the Guts-Dozer, dragon, and the Wily alien hologram also feature.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Subverted as Kilt survives to the end of the Bionic Commando book past what killed him in the game, with his in-game death being given to his traitorous lackey The Hand. Then he gets blown up when the Albatross explodes and dies anyway.
    • Played straight in Ninja Gaiden, as Jo Hayabusa miraculously survives and even climbs out of the collapsing ruins with a makeshift crutch and splint. He joins Ryu and Irene for a victory laugh at the end of the book.
  • Sweet Tooth: Timothy Bradley loves candy of all kinds, but chocolate is his favorite.
  • Tagalong Kid: A lot of the books, though not all, have the main character actually be some middle school student who goes on an adventure with the hero.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Timothy Bradley goes from generally being The Load to using Simon's whip correctly and taking down Death, and helping to destroy Dracula in the finale.
  • Totally Radical: Used in a number of these books, usually to make the viewpoint character more relatable to kids.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Happens in the Castlevania II book, in which the Kid Hero gets transported to the world of the video game itself, which is treated as specifically the world of a video game, unlike, say, the Warriors & Wizards book, which treats Kuros's homeland as a fantasy world or other time period.
  • Truer to the Text: The final confrontation in Metal Gear actually features the titular Metal Gear, which had been Adapted Out of the NES port of the original game in favour of a generic "Super Computer" as the final boss, although Justin Halley doesn't actually fight it, instead just fighting to reach its deactivation control. This is zigzagged, however, in that the big plot twist from the game and the True Final Boss are completely absent, with Vernon CaTaffy (a Canon Foreigner in the NES port) being the actual Big Bad.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: In Castlevania II, Dracula can't stand bad puns or jokes, which are enough to stop him from possessing Simon.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In the Ninja Gaiden novelization, Jaquio holds the life of a 13-year-old Irene Lew for ransom, puts a 13-year-old Ryu through a gauntlet and a fight to the death with his brainwashed father; again threatening to kill said father and Irene if Ryu doesn't fight; and attempts to kill Ryu and his father himself.