Book Reviews Archive

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Book Review: The History of Sonic the Hedgehog

history of sonic
Pix’n Love Publishing has set a rather high standard with their first two English books – the History of Nintendo series, so when I found out they were preparing a book on the history of Sonic the Hedgehog, I was pretty damn excited. That excitement increased further when it was revealed that Sega had endorsed the book.

The History of Sonic the Hedgehog promises an in-depth look at Sega’s most famous character and all of the games he has featured in, with plenty of choice pieces of concept art, colour pictures and factoids you may not know. Read the rest of this entry »

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Book Review: Hardcore Gaming 101 Presents Sega Arcade Classics Volume 1

hg101sega
Hardcore Gaming 101 is arguably one of the best sources online when it comes to video game information. Their in-depth articles on major game series and obscure games have a level of research and attention to detail that makes a lot of online game writing look pretty poor by comparison.

Last year, the crew behind the site released their debut book, Hardcoregaming101.net Presents: The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures (which we’ll get around to soon enough). Now they’ve moved on from adventure games to the illustrious archive of Sega with Hardcore Gaming 101 Presents: Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1, the first in a series of books exploring the company’s back catalogue. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: The History of Nintendo Vol. Two – The Game & Watch Games


A couple of months ago, we wrote a review of The History of Nintendo Vol. One – 1889-1980 – and we loved it. That book is the best researched and fleshed out investigation of Nintendo’s pre video game history available.

So you can imagine that we were feverishly anticipating the release of the other books in the series. The History of Nintendo Vol. Two – The Game & Watch Games, has just been released in English by Pix’n Love Publishing, and it’s damn good, too.

The second book picks up where the first left off by venturing into the development of the Game & Watch. The book is split into four segments, the first chapter details the development of the Game & Watch technology, the games and its impact on the market, the second is a detailed breakdown of every Game & Watch game (of which there were more than 50) and variant ever released, the third is an examination of clones and variants inspired by the Game & Watch, while the last segment focuses on post-Game & Watch LCD games released by Nintendo. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: The Making of Doom 3

Can you believe that it has been almost 7 years since Doom 3 was released? Shocking how quickly time passes. Saying that, I have no doubt that many of you immediately question the game’s credentials as a “retro” game, but it fits into our current coverage timeline (games on hardware released up until November 20, 2004 – the day before the release of the Nintendo DS), so as far as we’re concerned, it’s ripe for the picking.

Doom 3 was met with awe when it was first revealed at E3 2001, but the response to the final result in August 2004 was a little more tepid – though it was still most certainly a good game. Steven L. Kent, former video game journalist and author of the excellent The Ultimate History of Video Games takes us behind the scenes of the development of this landmark game in The Making of Doom 3 (ISBN: 9780072230529).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time

Most of the books we’ve reviewed here on RGA have had a historical focus, either on sole companies, the market itself or in the form of collections of capsule reviews. Today’s review is for a book that’s a little more academic in its approach to following the progression of video games development, making for a nice change of pace from the usual barrage of facts and figures.

Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time (ISBN: 9780240811468) is a study on video games – particularly those video games which have had the greatest influence on the market today, whether they were big successes at retail, genre-defining or even genre-creating.

The authors of the book, Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton, are noted video game historians with quite impressive resumes – the former a passionate freelance writer and collector and the latter an associate professor of English. The pair also run the website Armchair Arcade, a computer and video game history site. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Video Game Bible, 1985-2002

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been looking at books which attempt to review large numbers of video games in bite-sized reviews – much like similar reference guides for movies, like Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide or Halliwell’s Film Guide .The last of our video game capsule review tomes to go under the microscope is the self-declared Video Game Bible, 1985-2002 (ISBN: 9781553697312).

The Video Game Bible was assembled over the course of three years by a team led by Andy Slaven and Michael Collins. The book, released in 2002, covers all consoles released between 1985 and 2002 which had completed their life cycle. As such, the guide leaves out the entire second generation era including the Atari 2600, the first majorly successful home video game system and the Sony PlayStation, the leading system of the fifth generation era which had well and truly wound down by late 2001. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988

Last week, I gave a somewhat harsh (but utterly deserved) review to The Video Games Guide, a compilation of capsule reviews of video games from the last 40 or so years. This week, we’ll be looking at Classic Home Video Games 1985-1988: A Complete Reference Guide (ISBN: 9780786436606), a similar book which features quickfire reviews of video games from the third generation of video game consoles.

This is the second volume of a series of books written by Brett Weiss, an accomplished US-based freelance writer. The first volume, Classic Home Video Games 1972-1984 (ISBN: 9780786432264) covered the second generation of video game consoles (Atari 2600 VCS, Intellivision, Colecovision et al.), but I am more personally attached to the third generation, so I’ve jumped ahead (a lack of understanding of the second generation wouldn’t exactly make for a fair assessment, either). Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: The Video Games Guide

With the history of gaming now representing a rich tapestry, there is demand for reference guides that can provide a simple analysis of the quality of a game in a very short paragraph – similar to Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, which covers motion pictures. There are several writers that have either published or are continuing to work on compilations of capsule reviews for video games, and we will evaluate each of these books in the coming months.

The Video Games Guide (ISBN: 9780752226255) was one of the first of these guides to be released, hitting shelves back in 2006. The author, Matt Fox is a passionate gaming fan who spent six years compiling the book while working as a science teacher. The book covers over forty years of releases, starting with Spacewar and moving through to the early PlayStation 3 lineup. Sounds quite promising, no? Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: The History of Nintendo Vol. 1 – 1889-1980

Everybody knows that Nintendo is an old company. Most fans know about their history as a card and toy company along with infamous forays into love hotels and instant rice. Few know the story of exactly how Nintendo went from the card making company Nintendo Koppai to the multinational video gaming juggonaut it is today.

Whereas most books on Nintendo simply focus on the production of their gaming systems or their performance in the video game market, The History of Nintendo Vol. 1 – 1889-1980 attempts to fill the gaps in the general public knowledge of the company by taking us through the story of Nintendo from its foundation through to the period just prior to the release of the Game & Watch.

The book was produced by Florent Gorges in association with Isao Yamazaki, and published independently through Gorges’ Pix’n Love Publishing. It was originally published in French in 2007; this is the first book that the company has published in English. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition

The Guinness Book of Records was always an intriguing bit of light reading for many generations, usually coming by way of forced visits to anaemic school libraries or as a stocking stuffer on Christmas Day. Over the years the book became big business, and some stuffy marketing sought felt the need to develop a new version of the book – Guinness World Records Gamers Edition – to cater for the rapidly expanding video game market.

Guinness World Records has assembled a rag tag mob consisting of in-house editors, British gaming press personalities and the Twin Galaxies crew to help it assemble what is effectively a hybrid of a gaming year book and the more traditional record book. The 2008 edition is actually the first version of the book – subsequent releases have arrived around Christmas time and are showing no signs of stopping. Read the rest of this entry »