Pick any gaming website on the net today and you are bound to find countless Top 10 and Best Of lists. On the other hand, it is much harder to find a care-driven published novel highlighting a specific timeframe of gaming history. The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 by Brett Weiss, published by Schiffer Publishing, is clearly a labor of love and contains detailed information that is hard to find anywhere else.
Featuring 100 games from the Atari 2600, Odyssey2, Intellivision, Vectrex, ColecoVision, Atari 5200 and NES era, this book preys on nostalgia and provides a glimpse into the origins of gaming. Unlike the plentiful Top 10 Lists found on every website, this publication takes the time to research details, provide quotes from the neglected and forgotten developers, and even spells out current pricing and rarity of games, its original box or packaging, and even instruction manuals. Without question, the attention to detail of each entry stands as the highlighting feature. In other words, newbies can study it while older gamers who lived through gaming’s origin era can pleasantly reminisce.
The author, Brett Weiss, understands his audience. He knows he is going to both please and anger readers by declaring one game is better than another. Not only is he ok with this, he encourages this difference of opinion and even welcomes this sort of passionate feedback; he provides his personal email address in the opening pages. Stranger yet, the way the book is presented and each entry written, the author makes you believe each one of these handpicked games are the best there is, written as if it is fact as opposed to opinion. This strong tone is welcoming as choosing certain games over others is no easy task. The confidence level shines through with a professional but yet critical overtone, backed up by quotes from ancient publications as well as modern outlets.
Even the overall presentation makes you feel like you are holding and reading something special. The cover of this hardcover book, which is shaped and depicted as a NES cartridge complete with subtle texturing, provides the illusion that the reader is holding a game, or more specifically a game box, of yesteryear. Page layout also clearly displays high res box scans, some that even contain an original price tag sticker, and sometimes even corresponding hard-to-find collectables like rare maps or other game-based trinkets. Again, this all stems back to that careful attention to detail and historical accuracy.
While the attention to detail is superb, my biggest complaint is the overall lack of screenshots. The box and instruction manual scans are great, clear, and easy to read but many entries to do not list a single screenshot from said game. The written text often explains how each specific game functions but the reader can’t fully make sense of it all without a screenshot, especially since there are bound to be games that have not been heard or seen before. Video games are visual experiences after all and the one glaringly absent feature in this book.
Sure, readers will inevitably disagree with many entries in this book, which is completely fine, but it is rather difficult to argue with how the information is presented. With 100s of pages filled with all sorts of nerdy gaming trivia, this is one book any gaming fan can proudly display on their coffee table right next to their controllers and new gen consoles; it also sells for around $30. Even hardcore and longtime gaming fans will learn about a few games they never knew existed or never played. It is an eye-opening enjoyable read that is educational as much as it is entertaining.
Not As Good As: living through that era
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By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com