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Hardcoregaming101.net Presents: The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures Paperback – May 17, 2011
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The whole thing is organized by publisher, starting with the bigger ones and giving a brief overview of each company before moving into the games themselves. There are also some interviews, which are really informative. On the whole the book is really well put together.
There have been a few complaints that pop up in various Amazon reviews of this book, some of which I don't think are really fair. The book does go more in depth with some games than others, certainly, but the major points are nonetheless covered, and the information is always valuable. The book also tries to be objective (and is clear from context what is objective and what is not), and while at some points I may not agree with a particular part of a review (this is to be expected), I have yet to find a review that could be called unfair or nitpicky as a whole. Also the book seldom puts down a game without clearly listing what the issues were. Another unfair complaint is the black-and-white pictures instead of color, which is, ironically, actually explained on HardcoreGaming101 itself: apparently the publisher would have required them to split the book into two parts and cost them over double. While I would certainly have preferred big, high-res color pictures, in the real world this is a niche book that will likely never turn much of a profit, despite how informative and comprehensive it is.
All that being said, there is one legitimate issue: the proofreading. There are a number of textual and grammatical errors throughout the book, though they aren't as severe as some reviews have made out. The errors aren't every other page, but they do turn up every so often. I didn't notice any real issues with tone or cohesiveness, though some of the book's reviews are certainly better than others. On the whole it was easy to read and understand, and it never really did anything to turn me off.
So while the book isn't perfect and could have used the careful attention of a professional proofreader and editor, it has no major issues and works hard to be comprehensive and fair. In short I love it, consider it one of the best classic gaming books I've ever read, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the genre.
This book is a massive work, and remains readable and entertaining, which isn't surprising considering the structure: it devotes one to several pages to each title. In each entry it covers the basic plots, mostly discusses the highs and lows, generally what systems it is available on and what the differences are. Overall more coverage is given to the greats, in particular Sierra, Lucas Arts and Zork (as well as derivatives), which is good and evokes a lot of nostalgia, but even the shorter entries which usually only cover really half a page as they generally include a screen shot, give enough information that conveys enough as to whether or not to check out the title.
Despite being a reference it is viable to read this start to finish (as I just did) and remain reasonably entertained, though this is a massive title, with over 750 pages (although a fair few screenshots) and reading that much on a single genre of games is imposing. Still it remains strong enough and varied to keep things going, largely because the contributors are able to focus on what makes each title unique so it itself each entry is something potentially new, and even if you know the (graphic) adventure genre back to front, there will likely be some things you'll pick up from this that you didn't know.
So, great title, why only four stars? Two major flaws: First the proof reading was terrible, with some sentences being completely unfathomable as to what is trying to be said. This seriously grates and while most are just word order or duplication, some are the wrong word be that by typo or apparent voice dictation gone wrong. But maybe three or four sentences were complete non-sense. And the second issue: screenshots are all black and white ... well grey-scale, and many it is very hard to make out what they are trying to show. Some could have been done away with, and I felt nothing was lost after I stopped looking at them, for the most part they were just random screens not something that is particularly funny. A small section of larger color shots of something more substantial would add immensely. There is a minor small gripe, and that is consistency between the contributors. Some articles keep dwelling on humor (or lack thereof) even though the introduction has pointed out not all titles are supposed to be humorous. In the same vein, some entries degrade into how the title could have been better, but not on an objective level of "use different controls", but rather "if this character had a different personality" or the setting were more happy. This backseat re-designing feels off and clashes with more objective statements about voice acting and the like.
This title is arguable for fans of adventure games, especially of the graphical variety. Additionally, this could possibly a reference for someone doing research into some aspect of computer gaming. Other than that this has very limited appeal, with that interest in games probably needing to be there. That said, any adventure gamer would probably love a copy of this title.