Book Review: Guinness World Records 2009: Gamer’s Edition

GuinnessWorldRecords2009GamersEdition.JPG The Guinness World Records 2009: Gamer’s Edition hits bookstores across the country today priced at $21.95. I’ve been reading an early press copy for a few days now — under embargo of course — and now that the book is out I am finally able to share my thoughts about it with you. So let’s get to it!

Let me first start by saying that I’ve always been a big fan of the Guinness World Record books. My family used to collect them when I was growing up — I actually spot four old editions from the late 1980’s/early 1990’s amongst the library bookshelves in my home office as I type this — and we always used to have a whale of a time skimming through the pages together reading, discussing and laughing about all the bizarre feats people had accomplished. The Guinness World Records 2009: Gamer’s Edition delivered similar moments as I flipped through its 216 brightly-colored pages of gaming history, interviews, trivia, fun facts, pictures and record-breaking achievements — though obviously gaming records are much less bizarre than what is found in a standard Guinness World Records book.

Although not particularly long compared to the main line of GWR books, the ’09 Gamer’s Edition does a great job compiling data from the entire history of gaming into one small package. Console gaming is the main focus, but PC gaming topics get plenty of page time as well. The book is divided into four main sections, beginning with an intro about how to become a GWR record breaker and a preview of the upcoming GWR videogame for DS and Wii before moving on to a timeline chronicling the history of gaming, from 1889 when Nintendo Koppai was established as a hanafuda playing card maker before becoming the Nintendo videogame company gamers all over the world know and love today all the way through the end of 2008, ending with “Best of” sections for each of today’s modern console platforms (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS and PSP).

Then after these introductory chapters you get to the meat and potatoes of any GWR book: the records. Gaming acheivements are categorized by genres — War Games, Point ‘n’ Click Adventure Games, Superhero Games, Space Games, Wheels & Thrills, Genre Busters, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gadgets & Gizmos, and “At a Glance” pages for smaller genres like Internet casual games and mobile gaming — and then within each genre chapter the records for individual games are listed. Call of Duty and Metal Gear records are listed under War Games, Grand Theft Auto and Gran Turismo under Wheels & Thrills, Guitar Hero and Rock Band under Gadgets & Gizmos, and so on.

And finally, the book culminates with a Top 50 Console Games of All-Time list ranked by “initial impact and lasting legacy” and a 14-page leaderboard containing the current record high scores and speed-run times for hundreds of games. I do take issue with some of the game choices on the Top 50 list — mainly GTA IV coming out as the best console game ever and LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga even making the list (LEGO Star Wars developer TT Games is making the GWR game, so I’d say there’s some bias going on with that selection…) — but all-time game lists differ from gamer to gamer so it’d be silly for me to get too worked up over it. The list highlights some fantastic games, and that’s all that matters.

Overall, the ’09 Gamer’s Edition is loaded with unbelievable records and interesting factoids, many of which even surprised me quite a bit. Like how NES hit Super Mario Bros. is still the best-selling videogame ever at 40+ million copies sold, or how Sean “Phr34k” Feica of Canada set the record for longest marathon Rock Band drumming session at 26 hours and 40 minutes straight (that’s crazy!). I also found it interesting that the PS3 has actually sold at a faster pace than the PS2 did in its early lifespan. That’s something I would never have guessed given how negative coverage of PS3 sales often is.

Recommending the Guinness World Records 2009: Gamer’s Edition couldn’t be any easier. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a casual dabbler in the gaming arena, this book deserves shelf space in your home library.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!