Book Reviews Archive

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Review: Replay: The History of Video Games

There are many books about the history of the video game industry. In fact, Replay: The History of Video Games (ISBN: 9780956507204) one opens up with a quote from former Sega of America head Michael Katz where he asked the author “Why are you writing another book on the history of video games?” – a quote which perfectly summed up my initial feeling upon hearing about the existence of this book.

Author Tristan Donovan quickly stamps out any notion of this being just “another book by” casting a wider net. Where previous video game history books have mainly focused on America with a little bit of Japan, Donovan brings Europe and post-Internet expansion South Korea into the picture to give the book a more balanced view of the history of games development. Donovan claims that the book has a global focus, but you will find nary a tale of pre-Internet expansion South Korea, the piracy dominated Middle East or the Tectoy fortification of Brazil. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts

Over the past decade, LucasArts has effectively gone from one of the leading forces in original video game development to a tragic shell relying solely on Lucasfilm’s most successful product – Star Wars. Most of us like to think of LucasArts as the company that brought us hits such as Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max Hit the Road, Grim Fandango, TIE Fighter and Jedi Knight.

A new(ish) book Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts (ISBN: 9780811861847) gives us an opportunity to relive those glory days. Author Rob Smith, who used to be the editor of numerous Future Publishing rags such as PC Gamer, Official Xbox Magazine and PlayStation: The Official Magazine, tells the story of the development studio from its humble beginnings in the early 80s, right through to the current day hysteria of The Force Unleashed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: The Ultimate History of Video Games

If you’ve stumbled upon this site, chances are you’re “hardcore” enough to know the basics about the foundation of the video games industry and the major consoles we’ve been treated to over the last 30 years. However, if you want to know the whole story, The Ultimate History of Video Games (ISBN: 9780761536437) is here to fill in the gaps.

The Ultimate History of Video Games is by no means a new book – not only was it published over 10 years ago, but it’s also an updated re-release of The First Quarter: A 25 Year History of Video Games, which was first published in 1999. The fact that the book is still completely relevant even a decade on is testament to the skill of its author, one Steven L. Kent, who was the premiere video game journalist in the United States until 2005, when he decided to focus on a career in science fiction. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Collecting Classic Video Games

When you start collecting old video games, it’s good to have some sort of reference to assist. Most of us rely on the Internet now, but that wasn’t always the case; the great resources we have now weren’t always there – books were the only way to go. If you were going in blind (like me for anything pre-NES), having a book to guide you is mandatory. This is where books such as Collecting Classic Video Games come in.

Collecting Classic Video Games was written by Billy Galaxy, a collector who also runs a shop in Portland, Oregon which is best described as some form of nerd Mecca. The book was published by Schiffer, a small publishing house which has produced a number of titles for collectors of pinball machines and popular toys like Transformers and comic book action figures. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Street Fighter: The Complete History

Believe it or not, it has almost been twenty years since Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was released – an event which changed the face of fighting games forever. The franchise continues to flourish to this day, and its rich history is the subject of a recently released book – Street Fighter: The Complete History.

The book is written by Chris Carle, formerly the editor of the IGN Guides section, now the entertainment editor. Carle splits the Street Fighter timeline into three periods – Genesis, Evolution and Impact. Genesis discusses how the series rose to prominence, Evolution details how the series moved from the mainstream audience to a hardcore audience and back again, and Impact examines how Street Fighter has affected the world of video games, the audience and other media. Interspersed between pages of prose are over 200 artwork images, including the original art pieces from the development of the game as well as pieces drawn by fans, both professional and amateur. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: EA: Celebrating 25 Years of Interactive Entertainment

Like it or loathe it, Electronic Arts is one of the giants of the video gaming industry. For their 25th anniversary in 2008, they commissioned a book on the history and progression of the company to celebrate the occasion. Joe Funk, co-founder of Official PlayStation Magazine and Videogames.com (now part of GameSpot), and his company Mojo Media were commissioned to handle the project and EA: Celebrating 25 Years of Interactive Entertainment (ISBN: 978-0761558392) is the fruit of their labour.

Presented as a full colour coffee table-style book, EA: Celebrating 25 Years of Interactive Entertainment charts the history of the company in five stages, from its foundation by a young, fresh-out-of-Apple Trip Hawkins, through its rise to a major force in the 16-bit era, and right through to the era where the company held the position as the number one third party publisher. These segments are split up with pieces detailing EA’s relationships with the movie and music industries and their forays into casual game development. A DVD accompanying the book provides some supplmentary information including video interviews with key EA personnel, visits to the EA studios and some making-of featurettes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: The Encyclopedia of Game Machines: Consoles, Handhelds and Home Computers 1972-2005

We don’t have any German readers here at RGA, but you can rest assured that if we did they would immediately recognise the name Winnie Forster. As the co-founder and editor of PowerPlay, VideoGames and Man!ac, Forster is a major force in the German industry, which makes him the right man to write a reference book on video game hardware.

The Encyclopedia of Game Machines: Consoles, Handhelds and Home Computers 1972-2005 (ISBN: 3000153594) does exactly what it says on the tin, providing a (mostly) detailed analysis of gaming equipment from the Magnavox Odyssey through to the PlayStation Portable, with brief stops along the way to explain things such as arcade machines, storage media, major events in video game history and other gaming related paraphenalia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die

Quintessence’s 1001 Before You Die series of reference books typically act as a catalyst to debate among fans of the subjects they cover, and 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die is no different.

The Video Games entry in the series has been handled by Edge magazine editor Tony Mott, with contributions from the usual suspects of the UK games writing scene such as Kieron Gillen and Simon Parkin. Peter Molyneux introduces the book, offering a rather dull foreword about his experiences in gaming and what the future might hold.

The 1001 games selected for the book are organised chronologically, starting in the 1970s and roughly ending at February 2010. Each game gets a basic summary and justification that runs between half a page and a page along with a pretty colour picture. Some of the entries on more historically important games will seem a bit brief but space is, understandably, at a premium. It’s the price you pay for the printed word. Read the rest of this entry »