Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Game.Machines

EncyclopediaOfGameMachinesCover.jpg After reading and finishing up my review on the new Guinness World Records 2009: Gamer’s Edition, I got to thinking about another great history gaming book I read a few years ago titled The Encyclopedia of Game.Machines. I also remembered penning a review for BonusStage back when it came out in early 2005, so I dug through my old article archives to see if I could find it. After a quick search, I was indeed able to find the review saved away and figured I might as well go ahead and post it back up here. Gameplan Publishing currently lists the book being sold out on its own website, but go ahead and Google it and you should be able to find copies for sale at places like Amazon.com. But don’t forget to read my review first!

If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the history of gaming and the myriad of console, handheld and PC hardware inventions that have made this marvelous form of interactive entertainment possible over the years, then Gameplan Publishing has just the book to quench your thirst for video gaming knowledge. Detailing 500 gaming machines in 224 pages of images, historical background information and technical data, The Encyclopedia of Game.Machines chronicles nearly every gaming console, home computer system and portable gaming device released in Japan, USA, UK, France, Germany and Korea between 1972 and 2005.

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Originally published in Germany as ”Spielkonsolen und Heimcomputer”, The Encyclopedia of Game.Machines is a revised and greatly expanded edition of that previously unreleased book, featuring 200 exclusive new hardware images shot by former “Playboy” photographer Christian Boehm specifically for this edition. Two years in the making, this book covers 33 years of gaming hardware with in-depth information and the aforementioned hardware shots. Over the book’s 200-plus pages, author Winnie Forster details five eras of video game hardware, including the birth of home game machines with systems like the Magnavox Odyssey, Apple II, Atari 800 and Mattel’s Intellivision all the way up to the current generation of video game technology including the likes of the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PSP and DS [this book was published prior to the launches of the Xbox 360, Wii and PS3]. The book covers everything else in between too, including, among many others, the NES, Colecovision, Amiga, Neo Geo, Game Gear, SNES, Jaguar, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, PlayStation and GBA.

Accompanying the descriptions of these machines, a small info box heads each piece of hardware detailing the number of games developed for the system, how many units it sold and so on. Each system has also been rated on a 5-star scale determined by the quality and quantity of its software library. In the book’s appendix, detailed technical data about each machine is also listed (CPU, Memory, Storage, Connections, etc.) along with a brief explanation about what the data means so those who aren’t that familiar with the under-the-hood aspects of computers and game machines can understand what’s being explained. There’s a ton of information here and it is accessible to everyone, no matter what your interest level or knowledge of the medium is.

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Gaming history buffs and collectors take notice: The Encyclopedia of Game.Machines is a book you simply must pick up and read. The Encyclopedia of Game.Machines perfectly illuminates how far the gaming industry has come over the years and is an excellent historical accounting of the past 30-plus years of video game technology as it relates to console platforms, home PC’s and handheld devices. If you’re into gaming in any capacity, this is a book you’d be foolish to miss.

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!