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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read not without its flaws
This charts Tom Kalinske career at Sega so from 1991 to 1996 and covering a golden period in gaming history, with the Megadrive, Saturn and Nintendos NES and SNES and N64. Then going into the rise of Sony and the Playstation. The book switches only occasionally to Nintendo and Sony, with almost all from Sega of Americas point of view.

Blake Harris reportedly...
Published 2 months ago by Thedrisk

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3.0 out of 5 stars Narrow in scope, but entertaining
I bought this book because I was very much an 80’s Nintendo kid and there has been quite a bit of buzz about it.

The first thing that must be said about it is that this is a book with a very narrow scope. It’s not a history of the console wars, it’s not even a history of Sega (check out Service Games for a better book on this subject). Instead...
Published 27 days ago by Mr. N. Long


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read not without its flaws, 14 Jun 2014
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This charts Tom Kalinske career at Sega so from 1991 to 1996 and covering a golden period in gaming history, with the Megadrive, Saturn and Nintendos NES and SNES and N64. Then going into the rise of Sony and the Playstation. The book switches only occasionally to Nintendo and Sony, with almost all from Sega of Americas point of view.

Blake Harris reportedly interviewed 500 people at Sega and Nintendo for this book, but I suspect most were marketing guys and girls and most in Sega. For this book is essentally a marketing story, dont expect to meet the writers of the game beyond the tiniest mention and yet chapters on the latest Sega advert. This isnt a criticism just an observation upon its focus.

It is written in a novelised form, with dialogue to make you cringe, but Blake Hartis does a good job of making a dry topic a great read never the less through this style.

I pride myself on knowing quite a bit on the subject of video game history and this book is generally good and although the research is patchy (particuarly when discussing Nintendo) and the dialogue the characters speak are highly suspect and couldn't exist outside a Mills and Boon novel... still most events described it is accurate.

Also the book is very US centric to the point of Xenophobia, the Sega of Japan are portrayed as bumbling idiots and one time explained as all cowards unlike the Sega of Amerca who must all wear capes with S emblazed upon their chests such is there flawless and constant heroic decision making. I can't vouch either way personally how Sega of Japan were, but I strongly believe they were far better than this book portrays them. It basically reeks of egotistical people recounting a story where nostalgia and hindsight makes them all into flawless heroes.

The book has mistakes in it and the mistakes and ommissions seem bizarre until you realise that Blake has mostly interviewed the suits in marketing and so you are dealing with those peoples mistaken knowledge... examples such as Nintendo going from Hanafuda cards straight to electric console (missing the all important toys) , bizarre statements like Mario was built as a Joust clone, to unforgivable mistakes in the book like Mario Kart was the first game to shock the world with Mode 7... or Rare software chose the ZX Spectrum as it was the most powerful system available.

Reading the above you probably are wondering why I have given it four stars? Well despite its mistakes I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and for the most part the events described are very accurate and bang on (i would say 95% right), and when combined with a writer able to make the story both interesting and compelling.

At its heart its a David and Golliath story, with Sega thwarting the giant that was Nintendo. Treat the book as Hollywood war film blockbuster, that is expect it to have a slant from reality about the importance of America and to be willing to bend the truth and occasionally break it, all to ensure that the central story arc isn't diminished. Accept that as I did and you will find much to enjoy and love with this book.

I just hope Blake Harris considers releasing the transcripts of all his interviews as I would love to be able determine the reality from the Hollywood in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evokes memories of youth, 6 Jun 2014
`Console Wars' by Blake J. Harris is a book that evokes memories of youth, of countless hours spent on video games when even when we were not in front of the screens we thought about how to pass to the next level or get a good grade in school in order to maybe get a new game our friend already had.

The work of Blake J. Harris is quite extensive with its nearly 600 pages, but the story of the struggle of these two fierce competitors those years on the video market is equally interesting to read now, as for those of us who played intensely back then was interesting to follow.

Though it is probably difficult for today kids to imagine how the things in video games industry looked back then, among other things because of this conflict the gaming world looks exactly like it does.

Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Narrow in scope, but entertaining, 27 July 2014
By 
Mr. N. Long "Monquixote" (London) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book because I was very much an 80’s Nintendo kid and there has been quite a bit of buzz about it.

The first thing that must be said about it is that this is a book with a very narrow scope. It’s not a history of the console wars, it’s not even a history of Sega (check out Service Games for a better book on this subject). Instead it is a history of how Tom Kalinske successfully marketed the Mega Drive to become the dominant console in early 90’s America before Sega spectacularly shot themselves in the foot with the Sega CD /32X / Saturn debacle.
Non Americans should be aware that markets outside of the US are largely ignored.

Despite it’s limitations it’s a very detailed and clearly well researched book and even people who’ve read quite a bit on the subject will probably learn something. It’s written in an engaging novel like style and is an enjoyable read (though the imagined dialogue is horrific) For people considering a purchase it’s important to realise that it is at it’s heart a book about marketing not video games, or tech.

Though there is little doubt that Tom Kalinske was a marketing genius and pulled off one of the all time underdog upsets when Sega USA pushed Nintendo in the second place spot, the book is guilty of being a bit of a rose tinted love letter (The author even name checks him as a “Great guy” in the acknowledgements).

Most of the achievements of Sega are attributed to him and his team while seemingly blaming anything bad that happened on Japan. This is especially jarring with the 32X which is portrayed as something that was foisted on him when most sources agree that it was largely Sega USA’s baby and developed by a team under his control.
Perhaps worst of all the book asks the question why Sega Japan was so hard on Sega USA and comes to the conclusion “No one knows, probably jealousy” without acknowledging that Sega USAs overspending and price slashing saddled Sega with large debts that restricted their ability to compete with the Playstation.

Despite all these complaints it’s an entertaining book as long as you take it with a substantial pinch of salt and I’m sure most gamers of the early 90’s will enjoy the warm glow of nostalgia.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening insight into a childhood-defining era, 14 Aug 2014
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A wonderful (if admittedly dramatised) account of the cut-throat reality behind the rivalry that defined early-90s playground debates.

Console Wars paints Sega as the rowdy upstarts and Nintendo as something of a parental tyrant to the industry it helped resurrect. And at its tail-end, the book even delves into the fascinating back-story behind the winner of the next console war, Sony's then-nascent PlayStation.

As a kid from a dead-end town who grew up adoring gaming, became determined to work within it, and eventually found a job as a games reviewer-cum-copywriter, reading this felt like filling in the blanks in my own hazy childhood memories.

And as a Sonic-loving kid, who would later go on to champion the company's Dreamcast as a phoenix from the flames (before the flames sadly burnt out altogether), it offers a perspective and closure to the saga of Sega's fall from grace that I might have otherwise never had.

If you have any interest at all in the history of the videogames industry - as well as in knowing why and how its major players so often fall from their perch - this is an absolute must-read. Magnificent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, 28 Jun 2014
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A really great book. Well written as you don't just get facts thrown at you for 300 pages. Would recommend to any gamer or people that are curious about where this new cycle of gaming began.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Takes you back to the nineties...., 1 Aug 2014
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A really enjoyable read spanning a great rivalry and the creation of some amazing video games. Roll on Xbox vs PlayStation!
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Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation
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