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Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 075-2073004248
ISBN-10: 0744004241
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chris Kohler currently lives in North Branford, Connecticut. He graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts in May 2002, receiving a BA in Japanese and the Japanese Language and Literature Prize. His graduation thesis was titled "The Cinematic Japanese Video Game" and earned highest honors.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: BradyGames (September 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0744004241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0744004243
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,373,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Kohler has done a very, very good job of surveying the Japanese video game industry.
Unlike other writers who have written game histories, Kohler speaks Japanese and lived in Japan. He covered the Japanese video game market for international publications. Frankly, the depth of his understanding shows throughout this book.
Kohler's interviews are direct and insightful. He managed to get access to many of Japan's leading game designers. As somebody who has read many books about the video game industry, I noticed that Kohler's knowledge of the Japanese language resulted in a more direct style of interview.
Kohler managed to get his hands on the creators of such games as ICO, Parapa, and, of course, Mario.
One thing I will say about "Power-Up" is that it is a specialized book. If you are looking for a general survey of gaming, or a picture book with glossy full-color art, this is not the book. This is NOT a book for folks who want to read about the games they played as kids.
"Power-Up" is a highly-specialized book. I believe that it belongs on the top shelf of ANY collector who considers himself/herself a serious student of video games. This is a resource, like Lenny Herman's "Phoenix," that will be appreciated by hardcore gamers for a very long time.
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Format: Paperback
I've read a number of video game books over the years, and while most are well researched and informative, they seem to take a cynical or flat out negative tone most of the time. Possibly because they are more focused on the business side of the industry. Not so with this book. A labor of love by a fan who actually speaks and reads the language in which Japanese video games are created, he takes us on a journey from the beginnings of Nintendo in the late 1800's to the modern era without missing a beat along the way. The author also examines aspects of the industry that have gone unexamined in other texts, such as game music and Akihabara. It also includes a number of interviews with leading members of of various aspects of the Japanese gaming world. All in all, it's a wonderful example of what these inds of books can be, and I truly hope to see moreon this subject, both from this author and others, in the near future.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book, mostly. Within its scattershot set of chapters about Japanese games in general, there's a fascinating, albeit sketchy, history of Nintendo that contained many small revelations for me, despite that I've been playing video games incessantly since 1987 or so. But the rest of the material was less compelling for me. The chapter about music games and music in games actively frustrated me--it gave only a brief survey of either topic, and seemed to spend most of its words on a tedious, obsessive examination of Final Fantasy albums. A chapter about Akihabara, Japan's premier consumer electronics marketplace, pushed the trivia-to-insight ratio similarly high. In his effort to treat video games as if they deserve the attention of artists, Kohler concentrates too much on material that is only interesting to fans.

Still, on the whole I'm glad I read this book, and I hope Kohler's stated desire to encourage further such works is satisfied; there is clearly much more to say.
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Format: Paperback
Power Up examines video games in general, and Japanese video games in particular, as an interactive storytelling medium. But video games were not always regarded as art - Japanese influence pioneered cinematic techniques that transformed games from primitive, non-story plaything such as the classic Pong to sweeping epic sagas such as the hero's complex journey in role-playing games like Final Fantasy 7. Though non-Japanese games are included in the discussion, Power Up especially examines how storytelling ideas in Japanese videogames have so thoroughly permeated the gaming world, from the first-ever game cutscenes in Donkey Kong onward. Author and dedicated game fan Chris Kohler presents his research of and personal interviews with industry movers and shakers such as Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario), Hideo Kojima (designer of Metal Gear Solid), and many more. The impact of classic series on game storytelling and narrative include discussions of specific series such as a Mario games, Pokemon, Final Fantasy, and Grand Theft Auto among others. Black-and-white photographs and screenshots illustrate this fascinating exploration of everything from how videogame music evolved from bleeps and boops to full-symphony orchestras to the adventures that might await any truly hardcore gaming fan who dares to shop in Akihabara. Though Power Up concentrates especially on video game history, references to modern developments up through 2004 keep this survey current. A highly recommended treat for gamers in particular, and a valuable resource for students and researchers seeking to better understand the cultural shifts in video games as a communicative, interactive, expressive artistic medium as vibrant (and popular!) in its own right as books and movies.
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Format: Paperback
History in the eye of the beholder

(only took ten years for me to correct "boot" to "book; give me a break, I was in Iraq). I heard on Retronauts the book is being republished - probably no SEGA love still) The book has very useful information for video game collectors and researchers who are looking for information related to mostly Nintendo oriented lore. I stress its for game collectors and researchers vice enthusiasts. Enthusiasts are looking to be entertained as well as informed and this book does very little entertaining. I found my self reading parts of the book over the course of several months. It just wasn't the page-turner that some other visual treats like "High Score" were. All in all it was worth 13 bucks, however I liken it too a History book on the 20th Century, with key events missing like World War II! Sega is not even mentioned as a footnote! Phantasy Star, Shining Force and several other important events in Gaming History never even captured the interest of the author, and it painfully shows here. Three Stars.
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