Story: Video game scholar Brett Weiss nominates his picks for the hundred best console games from the heyday of the age of cartridges – from the earliest days of interchangeable cartridges in 1977 to the ascendancy of the Nintendo Entertainment System a decade later. Across a wide variety of game systems and genres, covering killer app originals and ports of popular arcade games alike, the picks represent a wide spectrum of both hardware and software. If that’s not enough for you, an appendix nominates a hundred additional contenders.
Review: In the interests of full disclosure (a dying art these days, isn’t it?), I’ll tell you that I’m quoted in several places in this book, though I didn’t know which quotes from past articles of mine would pop up, so The 100 Greatest Console Video Games was still a nice surprise for me.
The “Top [insert number here] List” format is a mainstay of pop culture retrospectives, but often falls victim to the “received wisdom” of a particular age group or other demographic. Weiss tries to touch on many genres and numerous systems here, encouraging his readers to discover gems that they may have overlooked in the past. Does this mean that Adventure and The Legend Of Zelda are eschewed in favor of more obscure titles? No – the ones everyone remembers are represented too, and rightly so, because everyone remembers them for a reason.
Especially nice is the fair distribution of hardware platforms seen among the 100 titles covered. Second string consoles that didn’t quite become household names get their shot at the limelight, from the Emerson Arcadia 2001 to the Odyssey2. (Actually, the author is more than generous in including titles from the latter and does this old Odyssey fan proud.)
All of this is punctuated at regular intervals by a healthy selection of photos of box art, advertising art, cartridges, front covers of instruction manuals, and other oddities, all worked into an unobtrusive design that makes the book easy to open up to nearly any page and plunge right in. There are plenty of video game books with either no illustrations, or black & white/halftone illustrations; this isn’t one of them. It’s as colorful and bold as the decade of games it celebrates.
Now I wonder what the author’s top 100 arcade or home computer games are…or maybe console games from another decade of home video gaming…and I find myself hoping this book has done well enough for him to get a shot to tell us. My gaming bookshelf could happily do with another book or two like this one.
Author: Brett Weiss
Released: August 28, 2014