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8 people found this helpful
Interesting but disappointing
on January 29, 2010
I really wanted to love this book, but ultimately found it a bit underwhelming. I don't really have a problem with the choice of games featured, but found the book's execution lacking.
Firstly, the chapters were inconsistent. One would look at cultural impact of the title it was discussing, but not really explain the game sufficiently (not a problem if you're familiar enough with the games, but it could be frustrating if not). Another would describe the game in a lot of detail, but gloss over the history too easily. It would have made for a better read if there was a consistent structure to each chapter - description of the game, history of the developer, precedents leading to that game, impact (culturally and on the gaming industry) of the game.
Secondly, the actual writing felt sub-par at times. Too many times it would introduce a topic, and then literally say "We will now discuss this". Exclamation marks appear a bit too often. A bit of judicious editing would've helped the flow of reading the actual text.
There are numerous images through-out the book, but a little too many of box art and not enough of the games. For example, the chapter on "Pole Position" only contains a single screenshot of "Pole Position" itself (admittedly, not a game that needs many screenshots to get the idea across). The screenshots also don't always focus on things that the text is making a point of saying were important/a major innovation.
A minor quibble is every time a game is mentioned that is has a chapter to itself, the chapter is always mentioned in full after the game e.g. "... a game like Super Mario Bros (Chapter 19, 'Super Mario Bros (1985): How High Can Jumpman Get?') wasn't ...". I understand why this is done, but after seeing it for the 50th time interrupting the flow of the text, it became rather frustrating.
Theres no doubt a lot of work has gone into this, and I discovered a lot of history I was unaware of. I just wish it had been a better read than it was.