2017 didn’t just focus around a cavalcade of great games. It also gave gamers a flood of great books based on their favorite hobby.
The genre of interactive entertainment has been covered extensively in a number of ways. But one of the better ways to study its past, present and future is through quality literary works. There’s art books that show off video game covers, concept illustrations, in-game visuals and more. You can also read up on the history of certain publishers/developers, consoles, games and industry personalities in certain tomes. This year brought us a bunch of notable books that covers topics such as the great run of the original PlayStation, Street Fighter’s evolution and even a box art collection that’s all about Super Famicom games.
If you’re looking for the perfect (readable) gift for your favorite gamer or get one for yourself, the books listed below should provide what you’re looking for.
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made
To those on the outside looking in, making video games appears to be a dream job. What those folks don’t realize is just how maddeningly difficult that process can be. Kotaku news editor Jason Schreier went ahead and documented the development behind some of the biggest games ever made. The soul-crushing work hours, technical mishaps, and eventual release day triumphs for the teams behind these games are wonderfully detailed in this book. Wanna know how the devs behind Diablo III fixed Error 37? Need to know the behind-the-scenes details about Kickstarter gaming successes like Pillars of Eternity and Shovel Knight? Those engrossing tales and more are included in this book about the harsh realities that come with working in the world of interactive entertainment.
Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More
When compared to other entertainment mediums such as music and film, video games is still relatively young. Nevertheless, that genre of the arts still has a respectable timeline that’s filled with impactful moments. Dustin Hansen, the author behind this next pick, reflects on the early beginnings of interactive entertainment and even chronicles its current triumphs. The most important icons in gaming are covered here, plus the origin tales behind those mega hits are also explained in detail. Ever wondered how that familiar plumber in red got his name in the first place? Wanna get a play-by-play of the AI design that went into Pac-Man’s pesky ghosts? This book covers those topics and a several other games that made a huge impact on the ever growing video gaming industry. Whether causal or hardcore, this book is a bonafide history lesson worth taking.
Art of Atari (Limited Deluxe Edition)
One of the most prolific video game companies in the world came to life in 1972. Its name is synonymous with classics such as Asteroids, Centipede, and Missile Command. This extensive art book takes a look at those games and the rest of Atari’s collection with box art, advertisements, concept artwork and more. Along with the visual aides included in this book, key personalities who were once associated with Atari provide some backstory on the company and what went into the creation of its catalogue. There’s a Standard Edition of course, but the Limited Deluxe Edition gives you even more bang for your buck. That edition comes with a special slipcase, an Atari Vault Steam Key that lets you play hundreds of classic games on PC and a limited edition art print.
Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library (1985-1995)
Nintendo single handedly saved the video games industry after its collapse in 1983. It introduced the world to the Nintendo Entertainment System and the rest is history. From 1985 all the way up until 1995, the NES played host to some of the most memorable games of all time. This massive book does an amazing job of covering every official and unofficial game released on the NES, plus it includes tons more info and reviews on some of those throwback titles. With nearly 800 games to its name, the NES library has at least one game from every genre and something that gamers/non-gamers will embrace. Flipping through this guide will give those folks enough info they need on which NES games are worth searching out for.
Game Boy World 1989 | XL Color Edition: A History of Nintendo Game Boy, Vol. I (Unofficial and Unauthorized) (Volume 1)
Another part of Nintendo’s history that fans still collect to this day is the original Game Boy. Kids of yesteryear still remember staring at its tiny screen and enjoying miniaturized versions of games starring Mario, Samus, Kirby, Link etc. The gaming historians behind the website GameBoyWorld.com got together to produce a larger sized version of its richly researched Game Boy book. This first volume covers the system itself and the global offering of games released for it in 1989. Along with all that info, there’s pages that also delve into the men and women who helped produce Nintendo’s bulky handheld system. After making your way through this book, feel free to hop into the second volume that details Game Boy’s run in 1990.
Playing With Super Power: Nintendo Super NES Classics
“Now You’re Playing With Power!” That catchphrase is synonymous with Nintendo’s successor to the NES, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Prima Games, who’s best known for producing some of the best video game strategy guides, did something different when it came to the SNES. Their colorful booklet is a literary celebration of everything that made the SNES great – its development, massive collection of games, fan art, music and the storied history behind its long lasting legacy. This hardcover Collector’s Edition looks just like an SNES cartridge, which is an awesome nod to one the console’s best attributes.
Undisputed Street Fighter Deluxe Edition: A 30th Anniversary Retrospective
2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the reigning king of fighting games. Capcom’s Street Fighter has maintained its high position atop the mountain thanks to iconic characters, innovations such as combo moves, signature music and eye-popping visuals. One of the ways Capcom is celebrating Street Fighter’s long run is by releasing this readable retrospective. Diehard fans need this book in their grasp due to the overload of features stuffed inside it. There’s extensive interviews with Street Fighter’s most important personalities, tales about the franchise’s rise to prominence and pics galore. Deciding to go with the Deluxe Edition of this book gets you a special ribbon bookmark, matte cover art, a slipcase that transforms your copy into an arcade cabinet, three art prints and a folded papercraft model.
Neogeo: A Visual History
SNK’s Neo Geo arcade board powered numerous games that endeared themselves well to Japanese and American gamers. If you found yourself gravitating towards multi-game arcade cabinets, chances are you had a blast playing games like King of Fighters, Metal Slug, and Bust-A-Move. Bitmap Books’ officially licensed Neo Geo art book gives a thorough explanation of everything that made SNK’s arcade star great. Along with a number of interviews with key Neo Geo staff, readers can also find chapters about their favorite games, the system hardware itself, concept art, pixel art etc. This coffee table tome takes great pride in breaking down everything about this 90’s arcade staple.
Super Famicom: The Box Art Collection
The Japanese counterpart to the SNES was the Super Famicom, a console that was capable of running its games at a higher level. Not only did it run games much smoother and faster, those same games came housed in much more appealing packaging. This book collects more than 200 examples of said box art from a multitude of Super Famicom’s best and lesser known releases. Each page is dedicated to showcasing each game’s box art while also featuring commentary from the collectors who treasure them. This box art tribute is the perfect companion to the other Nintendo dedicated books on this list.
Artcade: The Book of Classic Arcade Game Artwork
During the golden age of arcades, the familiar sight of a game’s marquee would excite anyone who laid eyes on it. The cabinet artwork of classic titles such as Pac-Man, Out Run and Street Fighter II are simply iconic. We all owe our thanks to a man named Tim Nicholls, who took the task of acquiring numerous original arcade game marquees from a Hollywood props company. This book contains all those newly acquired marquees. Each one of them pops off the page even more thanks to the wonderful magic of Photoshop. Relive the memories behind your many arcade visits by flipping through this book full of gaming nostalgia.
Commodore 64: A Visual Commpendium
Children of the 80’s were most certainly gamers. Besides home consoles, there were also computers that offered up a variety of colorful gaming experiences. One of the more popular computer models of that era was the Commodore 64, which featured standout games such as Beach Head, Attack of the Mutant Camels and Lode Runner. Once the C64 dropped in popularity and support, there were still a dedicated group of developers who still created games for it. This handheld museum of sorts honors the C64 with a visual overview of over 100 of its games. Inside this book lies in-game screenshots, descriptions of individuals who were integral to the British games industry, exclusive artwork and so much more. Once you’re all done with this book, carry on and learn about the history of the Commodore Amiga with this visual commpendium.
NES/Famicom: A Visual Compendium
Here’s another fascinating book that’s all about honoring Nintendo’s NES/Famicom. Like the last book on this list, this visual compendium takes readers on a visual journey through everything that made the console great. Back in the day, gamers in America and Japan were introduced to Super Mario Bros., Mega Man, Castlevania and more thanks to the introduction of the NES/Famicom. One of the best methods towards reliving all those gaming memories is by checking out this Bitmap Books booklet. It’s jam packed with clean pixel art, box art, pages dedicated to the visual designs of both consoles, industry interviews and explanations of prevalent games. Get to know everything there is to know about the epic run of the NES/Famicom with this thick compendium.
Nintendo 64 Anthology Classic Edition
Super Mario 64. GoldenEye 007. Banjo-Kazooie. AKI’s lineup of the best wrestling games ever made. All of these titles and more gave Nintendo’s 64-bit console the push it needed to become a smash hit. September 29, 2016 marked the N64’s 20th anniversary. Geeks-Line Publishing chose to commemorate that glorious day with the release of this anthology book. This 360-plus page tome covers each and every game released for the console. It also takes a look at the N64’s canceled games, large number of accessories and console variations, and the developers who worked on the console’s greatest hits.
Sinclair ZX Spectrum: A Visual Compendium
Bitmap Books seemingly has a detailed book about every influential video game console. They’ve covered the NES/Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Commodore 64/Amiga, Neo Geo, and notable arcade treasures. Another one of their incredible visual compendiums centers on Sir Clive Sinclair’s successor to the ZX80 and ZX81 home computers. The ZX Spectrum (known for delivering standout hits such as The Hobbit, Deus Ex Machina, and Knight Lore) is revisited in the bright and detailed pages within this collection. Each of those aforementioned games and hundreds more are given a new lease on life through beautiful screenshots. Along with the book’s striking visuals, you can engross yourself within the words of the many developers and artists who helped create the games that made the ZX Spectrum thrive.
Generation 64 – How the Commodore 64 Inspired a Generation of Swedish Gamers
The Commodore 64 didn’t just provide hours of home computer gaming sessions; it inspired future gaming luminaries to learn the in’s and outs and video game coding. The gamers impacted the most by the C64 were those who resided in Sweden. This book targets those influential gamers who went on to impact the games industry in a big way. There’s plenty of interviews with the individuals responsible for developing major gaming websites, gamers who helped produce AAA titles and the geniuses who ended up working on console development and major mobile releases. What this book details is just how much the C64 meant to Swedish tech heads and how they made the world of gaming better through their efforts.
PlayStation Anthology (Classic Edition)
The OG Sony Playstation revolutionized gaming in the mid-90’s. Ken Kutaragi set out with a team of talented designers to produce a disc-based gaming console that was littered with legendary titles. If you were never around during its heyday or just want to relive the console’s glory days once more, this anthology is a must have. It documents Sony’s lengthy history, the console’s lifecycle, its legendary games lineup, its many peripherals etc. There’s even more content to soak in by checking out the Collector’s Edition, by the way. This book proves to be the perfect companion piece to the N64 Anthology if you’re looking to learn all about the mid-to-late 90’s war between Sony and Nintendo.