The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987, by Brett Weiss, is an excellent summary of 100 of the best and most influential games of that era. History, artwork and gameplay are at the forefront of this book.
There have been many books written about classic video games, but it is not every publication that gives you such elaborate detail about the history of console gaming. Games for the Atari 2600, Odyssey 2, ColecoVision and the Nintendo Entertainment System are a few of the consoles that are covered here. Each system had its own benefits as well as drawbacks dealing with graphics, sound, joystick controls and other features.
Although these home console systems were quite popular, it was still a luxury for many households to have. Some of the consoles and games had prices comparable to more than what we pay now. These systems would have been considered quite expensive at that time for many people.
It is good to revisit some of these games since many households owned only one system. This book gives you a great opportunity to learn more about games that you may have missed or only played briefly at a friend's house. It is also a great resource for those who were not even alive during this era. It gives them an opportunity to learn about the original creations that helped "give birth" to our modern video game masterpieces.
One of the great features of this book, is its extensive detail to all aspects of each game on the list. It offers stories and anecdotes from some of the game creators and programmers. Instead of saving pertinent reference information only for the bibliography, Weiss includes links as well as publication information within the game reviews for those who want to delve deeper into a specific game.
Since gameplay is discussed in such detail, it's important to know how these games broke ground. I was fascinated, reading the review and interview about Adventure for the Atari 2600 and the creator of the game, Warren Robinett. Although it was a simplistic game, Robinett helped transition fantasy adventure games from text based gaming to joystick control. This would later influence countless games including The Legend of Zelda, Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy.
It's also great to hear the backstories about original games like Yars' Revenge (which originally included a comic book to accompany the game), Pitfall! and Miner 2049er. These unique games were created specifically for the consoles. Of course, another big selling point for these systems were the many ports of popular arcade games of that time. Classics like Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, and Defender, definitely contributed to the popularity of these consoles.
What really impressed me about Weiss's book, was the detail in its presentation of the accompanying artwork that was featured in the different video game releases. The manuals and art from the packaging of many of these games was quite exquisite and sometimes overlooked. This added an extra dimension to the fantasy of you actually being transported into the game.
Since art is part of the marketing process, it is also interesting to note the elaborate artwork that accompanied many of the Atari 2600 games. This could compensate for some of the graphic and audio limitations of that system.
When you open the book, the inside cover has a comic book style ad for the games Moon Patrol and Solar Fox. It is exciting to look at the creative advertising aspect of promotion and marketing of these games as well.
If any of your favorite games are not in the top 100, Weiss also includes a brief description of another 100 games as honorable mention. Hopefully you will at least find a few of your choices there.
Whether you are feeling nostalgic and want to revisit the games of your youth or if you are discovering for the first time the games that paved the way for the modern classics, this is an excellent reference source and a book you will want to pick up time and time again.
The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987 is published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
Olumide was born and raised in East Harlem, New York City. He loves talking and blogging about comics, food, travel, films, and music. He is also a musician and filmmaker and produced a documentary about the late Al Feldstein (former editor of Mad Magazine and co-creator of some of the most popular titles of the E.C. Comics line). Olumide is also in the process of writing a yet to be titled web series.