What was the first game you ever played on a television screen? When was that very first time you realized you were able to move images around on a TV screen and manipulate them just like you could at your local mall arcade? For me, it was when we first booted up our brand new Atari 2600 and played "Pinball" on our gigantic Magnavox (remember the big tube TVs in the wooden case sitting on the floor?) television. It was amazing! Not the graphics or the music so much, but the fact that i was sitting on my living room floor as a kid playing video games on my television! This and so many other thoughts and emotions came flooding back as I recently read a wonderful new book by my friend and noted video game author/historian Brett Weiss entitled The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987".
When Brett first told me about his new book and asked me to read it, I dont mind saying I was very excited. Brett has written several very well received video game books over the years, and this looked to be his best yet. And this particular decade was not only pivotal in the gaming industry as a whole, but in my own personal experiences with gaming. So obviously, I had some pretty high expectations for this book.......and it doesn't disappoint.
This is a beautifully-made hardback book with over 230 full color pages of game background info, photos, and even the author's personal anecdotes that really bring these games to life. What a treat it is to read about the background and development of such games as Missile Command, Asteroids, Adventure, and Brett's all-time personal favorite, Mr. Do. Anyone that loves gaming, whether you grew up during this era or are a more recent convert to the cult of gaming will truly enjoy this book.
Now obviously, all opinions are his own, and he openly admits that. When putting together any "top" list, there will be debate about which games made it and which ones didn't. This is the beauty of books like this: They encourage discussion and debate. And I feel Brett makes a very smart decision in listing the 100 games in alphabetical order instead of trying to number them 1-100. What an impossible task THAT would be! Another smart choice he makes is including an Appendix at the end of the book with his "Next 100: Honorable Mentions". These are all the games that, in his opinion, couldn't quite crack the top 100 but still deserved some love. Some of my favorites from the past make this secondary list like Commando and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out (we might need to talk about why this wasn't in the top 100, Brett!
). I mean, few things in life have EVER given me the immense satisfaction of learning Mike Tyson's moves and combos and finally putting him on his butt after 2 weeks of trying!!! Come on, Brett? But I digress.....
Whether you agree or not with every game on Brett's list, this is an incredibly well-written and researched collection. And we can certainly all agree that the lasting influence of many of these games can still be felt in the console games of this new generation. The time and energy that must have gone into the writing of this great tome is truly staggering.