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ZAP!: The Rise and Fall of Atari
ZAP!: The Rise and Fall of Atari
by Scott Cohen
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting but limited insight...., 12 Feb. 2004
'Zap!: The Rise and Fall of Atari', written during the early 80's, offers a general insight into the company which kicked started the video gaming craze. Focusing on the time span ranging from the creation of Pong, until the sudden crash in the video gaming market in december 1982, the book give some insight into the mechanics behind Atari.
Although a good general overview of Atari up until 1983 is presented, it lacks the detailed information that one may come to expect from a book focusing specifically on Atari. Moreover the author appears to lack an understanding of video gaming, failing to recapture the passion in retelling the creation of games such as Pong (like Steven Kent does in ‘The ultimate history of video games) and failing to recognize that the sudden market crash could be almost single-handedly be attributed to the array of abysmal games Atari churned out (Pac-man and E.T. anyone?).
In summary, this book offers a very general overview of Atari, from its creation until its demise in 1983 (before it was sold off to Tramiel in 1984). Unfortunately it covers its given topic thinly and lacks the passion of retelling this historic event (in video gaming) in the voice of a true gamer. This is by no means a bad book, however, there are better titles to chose from (as the one mentioned), which offer a greater insight into Atari and are written in a more entertaining manner.


Game over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children
Game over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children
by David Sheff
Edition: Hardcover

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Nintendo bible, 11 Feb. 2004
...Game Over essentially is the definitive profile on Nintendo. Covering a period from its humble beginnings as a Hanafunda playing card manufacturer in the late 19th century, to a point where they've become a multi-billion dollar business and have just announced their collaboration with silicon graphics on the infamous 'project reality' in the autumn of 1993.
With great detail this book covers the various stages of Nintendo, to which the first few chapters are devoted, giving a solid background to the company and the people who ran it. Focusing more on the business side of things rather than technical, in-depth accounts are given on Nintendo’s 'American invasion' and its rise to become a multi-billion dollar company with a stranglehold on the home video gaming market by the late 80's.
Moreover, the book also includes detailed coverage on the various lawsuits against Nintendo from Atari and Tengen, the confusion regarding the Tetris rights and the battle for the 16-bit market with Sega becoming a major player in the United States, to name but a few. The book finishes on the note of Nintendo announcing their ‘project reality’ aka the Nintendo 64, which also makes it very interesting to recapture the hype and hopes for the video games market of that time.
As a book written from a American business standpoint, it is a shame that hardly any games receive a great deal of attention and that neither the European nor the Japanese market are covered in vast detail. Although Sheff does describe some of the technical aspects of Nintendo’s hardware, in particular the NES to some extend, unfortunately it nonetheless is not as extensive as one may wish. It would have also been nice to see more coverage on the wealth of competition trying to steal a slice of Nintendo’s cake.
However these drawbacks are minor in a book which covers Nintendo with such great detail and is a joy to read all the way through.
In summary, Davis Sheff’s ‘Game Over’ is an essential read for anyone interested in the medium. Although written from a business standpoint, it is nonetheless written in such a manner, that it will intrigue any gamer. One gains a great insight into the mechanics behind one of the most influential companies in video gaming and learns the works behind what makes this company tick. The amount of information covered is phenomenal and should become the bible for any ‘Nintendoholic’ and a must for anyone else with interest in video gaming.


Game on: The History and Culture of Video Games
Game on: The History and Culture of Video Games
by Lucien King
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but not extensive...., 7 Feb. 2004
…..Game on: The History and Culture of Video Games contains an interesting array of essays by different authors and their views on various aspects of the medium.
Rather than presenting factual information about the history and culture of video games, the collection of personal essays within the book focus on a broad range of topics which discuss anything from the view of a female gamer, the correlation between film and games, to endless possibilities presented by ever increasing computing power.
Despite being an interesting read, there are some drawbacks to this book.
Unfortunately a few of the essays are somewhat weak; moreover, the essays in general are not as extensive as one may wish them to be. Although some of them are very well written, they cover their given topic very thinly and lack a certain bite.
On the positive side, this book, with its works written by many different authors, offers a wide view on different topics of the medium. As already mentioned, some of the essays make very interesting reads, and the art work within book (there’s a lot of it) is very nice too.
In summary, despite some drawbacks, this book nonetheless offers an intriguing insight on a variety of different topics of the video game medium. As a collection of essays by different authors, do not expect in-depth information on any given topic, but a very general overview of them. If one is interested in this medium, this book is certainly worth a look, plus it has some very nice artwork to accompany everything too.


The Ultimate History of Video Games
The Ultimate History of Video Games
by Steven L. Kent
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.20

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intruiging insight into the origins of the video game..., 25 Jan. 2004
'The Ultimate History of Video Games' offers a great insight into the origins of the video games medium.
With great focus shifted on the early years of the video arcade and home video gaming, this books covers in-depth the emergence of a 'craze that touched our lives and changed the world'.
Covering the time span from the introduction of the mechanical arcades, to the point when Microsoft was about to enter the market with the Xbox, this is an essential read to anyone who vaguely interested in this medium, providing detailed information on the majority of important soft- and hardware developments of the video gaming industry, the effects of video games on culture and factualising less important information such as to whom Mario was named after.
This book is from written from an American standpoint, and as pointed out in other reviews, it is a shame that there was not more detail on either the Japanese or European markets. Also, this book does not include near enough of information on the development of pc gaming (not really surprising given that it is a history of video games, but it would have been nice to see Kent expand a couple of computer related stories). However, these are minor drawbacks in an otherwise well written book, which makes a very entertaining read all the way through (coming from a guy (me) who generally dislikes reading).
In summary, anyone who is either looking to purchase a book on video gaming in general, or requires a vast and detailed pool of information on the birth of the medium and the emergence of a multi-billion industry, should seriously considering purchasing this book. Worth its weight in gold.


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