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The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 Review


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On 10/30/2014 at 12:00 PM by Travis Hawks

Time to hook up the Starpath Supercharger
RECOMMENDATION:

If the title of the book appeals to you, you’ll enjoy the whole thing.

It should be obvious from the title that The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 is a very specific book that will appeal to a very specific audience. Brett Weiss, who writes many books with a narrow, historical focus, branches out slightly and tries to give his readers a huge swallow of his opinion about the first full decade of console gaming. If you have an interest – or strong opinions – about this era of gaming, you’ll be pretty pleased reading through Weiss’s descriptions and critiques.

There’s a good chance you’ll disagree with the choices Weiss has made, but he welcomes that right in the intro and wants you to read what he has picked and argue with him and other gamers about his list. That’s right, this is strictly the author’s choices, and not from an editorial staff of a magazine or some sort of think tank. Weiss has apparently played enough of these classic games to make him qualified to rank the top 100 of a decade, and reading what he has to say about each won’t leave you doubting his knowledge – even if you do disagree with his opinions.

Each game is presented alphabetically, and described in detail. If two console iterations are worthy of inclusion, he lumps those together into a single entry and explains why both are quality titles. Even more intriguing, he’ll relay why other console versions were left out. Remember, this was a time when consoles were flooded with their best attempts at arcade conversions, so differences between each release were important. It’s also worth noting that if you have no interest in arcade game conversions, you’ll tire of Weiss’s list quickly since a hearty chunk of it is filled with arcade titles.

What I found most interesting was reading about games I haven’t played or even heard of. The decade covered here is largely dominated by Atari, Coleco, and Intellivision consoles, which I have rarely returned to on a search for unplayed gems. Unfortunately, since I had no recollection of some of these titles, the lack of screen shots for most entries left me questioning if I was actually picturing the right game at all.

Actually, the graphic design is probably the only downside to the book. Typically the pages are laid out with a nice opening graphic and then a straight line of instruction books, fliers, box art, and other rectangular items across the top of the next page. I like to see some of these things, but at times they are pretty dull, especially when the box and instructions are right next to each other and are nigh identical. There are some striking pages where a piece of character art creeps in from the margins, which just makes the straight-laced layout everywhere else feel all the more procedural and dry.

The overall presentation of the book is nice, though, and it might work well set out on your nerdy coffee table. It’s got a sturdy cover and glossy pages, much like a text book for a college class you wish you could take.

A history book this isn’t, but it certainly deserves a read. It’s a nice stroll through video games’ formative era.  If nothing else, it helps build appreciation for games that don’t get much mainstream coverage any longer – even from retro-minded individuals. If you fancy yourself a historian or a fan of classic games, Weiss’s book is probably going to be a helpful guide to touch up your flea market watch list.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Nick DiMola Director

10/30/2014 at 02:45 PM

I love historical video game books, especially from this era because it's the one part of video game history I didn't experience first hand. Any chance this is available in digital form? Wouldn't mind reading it on my tablet.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

10/30/2014 at 09:19 PM

Doesn't seem like it. Although I mention it might work well on your coffee table, it would also be a good bathroom read if you are OK with tainting a book forever.

KnightDriver

11/01/2014 at 04:13 PM

Ok. Barnes & Noble are putting this on an end-cap in all their stores (http://www.brettweisswords.com/ ). I'm gone. I'll report back when I've gobbled it up.

KnightDriver

11/02/2014 at 01:36 AM

And here it is. I can't wait to get started on it.

100

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

11/02/2014 at 11:06 AM

Hope you like it!

KnightDriver

11/03/2014 at 12:16 AM

I tried to read the back while driving. Bad idea. I had to stop myself.

Super Step Contributing Writer

11/02/2014 at 11:19 PM

I disagree. Communist Mutants from Space is what Super Mario Bros. should have been.

KnightDriver

11/04/2014 at 04:47 PM

So far I've learned about a game I never knew about for the Colecovision, Artillery Duel. It's a turn-based strategy game. Makes me want to go find a Colecovision again.

I think the graphic design is fine, but I noticed some games don't have a screen shot. All the games should have a screenshot! What does Artillery Duel look like? I'd like to know while reading the book.

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

11/04/2014 at 09:24 PM

Yeah, that's my only significant issue with the book in general. He describes them really well, but we need at least one screen of each to go off of.

leeradical42

11/07/2014 at 07:39 PM

Here ya go in its all hd glory lol!!!

KnightDriver

11/08/2014 at 04:42 AM

That looks cool. I just saw a Colecovision Flashback console at Toys R Us today. I'm going to pick it up tomorrow. Hope this game is on it.

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