Why are video games and gamers are alike? They both get better with age of course.
For most of us here on 2old2play we started playing games during the late 70’s and early 80’s. This was an era when gameplay really did trump fancy graphics and music. Without your imagination it’s hard to get excited about your knight/spaceman/hero when in reality they’re represented by a pixelated block. Much like reading a good book, our imaginations filled in the gaps.
The enduring nature of video games from this period is explored in a new book by Brett Weiss called “The Best 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987”. It’s clear that classic video games are a passion for Weiss and the knowledge he possesses of the subject shines through in this beautifully produced hard back volume. The book consists of a rundown of the “best” games of this decade as selected by Weiss himself. As you’d expect the usual suspects are there such as Pac Man, Legend of Zelda and Metroid, but there are also some gems that you most likely have never heard of before such as Killer Bees! and Escape from the Mindmaster. All video games consoles are covered (no computer games sorry) including Atari 2600, Odyssey2, Intellivision, Vectrex, ColecoVision, Atari 5200 and NES. The attention to detail is quite remarkable. Each game gets 2-3 pages during which Weiss presents a brief description of the game, some of his own opinions as to the merit of the game and a justification as to why it should be included in the list (if your particular favourite isn’t included, don’t worry it most likely made the 100 “next best” list Weiss includes as an appendix). Rounding out each chapter is a recap of review scores the game received on its release, a list of any reissues and remakes, and in many cases quotes and anecdotes from some of the programmers and people involved in making the game.
Weiss has done a remarkable job in putting all of this together and his love for the games shines through. It’s also clear that he has played each game - there are no fillers here. The graphical presentation is top class and each page has at least a couple of game-associated images. One could be critical of the lack of screenshots for the games; I can only assume related to copyright issues. Instead we get box art, cart art (if there is such a thing) and also my own personal favourite, original print advertisements from the era.
For anyone interested in the collecting aspect of older games, Weiss includes a commentary on the rarity and value of a particular game, when relevant, as well as a rough price guide. It’ll be interesting to the see the impact the digital download era has on classic game collecting in the next few years.
Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough, especially for gamers reared during the emerging years of video games. It would make a really great Christmas gift and who knows, waking up Christmas morning this year you may just be able to justify to your kids exactly why Joust is better than Destiny.
Now join us over at the 2old2retro forum to continue the conversation………..