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Customer Review

on 14 June 2014
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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