I would call myself an amateur video game historian. I love watching videos on YouTube about the subject as well as going to Retro Video Game conventions and playing older systems. It was this past Retro City Festival in Pomona CA where I played a Coleco Vision for the first time (and fun fact, was also introduced to Old School Gamer Magazine at the same event). Yet even with my knowledge of video games there is still a whole bunch I don’t know. That’s where this book comes in. The Game Console: A Photographic History from Atari to Xbox by Evan Amos is a book I would recommend to any game collector and historian. This book is chock full of information about nearly every home video game system ever made. I thought I knew about some obscure systems but there are some in there that I never knew existed. Systems like the Bally Professional Arcade, the Commodore CDTV, and the Apple Pippin to name a few. The book doesn’t just go into when the systems released but also their price points, specs, and even cross sections of the systems to show their motherboards and all of their parts on the inside. Of course the more famous systems (and some of their add ons) get some more pages than others, like the NES, SEGA and the PlayStation, but every system that is in the book gets its due. At the end the author even acknowledges that not EVERY system is in the book and includes a list of systems that he just couldn’t find. Granted one system I was surprised that WASN’T there was the SEGA Nomad. The handheld Genesis system that SEGA put out in the mid-ninteis. Even though thats really the only system I counted missing, the rest of the book made me forget that the Nomad even existed at all.
Really the only criticism I have about the book is that it doesn’t include screenshots or talks in detail about the games the system used. I would have loved to see some screen shots of games that where played on the Amiga CD32. Even with this slight gripe I know what the book is about and so does the author, its about the game systems, not the games. If it was about the games then the book would be a whole lot thicker than it is. Yet thats what I love about it. It talks about the systems, what went in them, how they were received when they came out, and it even has a few blurbs on the video game crash of 1983. It doesn’t just talk about systems released here in the United States but all over the world, and the farthest it goes is this current generation. It leaves no stone unturned when it comes to game consoles, granted it doesn’t really touch anything outside of the base console themselves, but I feel the knowledge that IS in this book can be invaluable to up and coming console collectors like me and for those who want to flip through a book and brush up on the history of a nearly forgotten system.
Source: The Game Console: A Photographic History from Atari to Xbox by Evan Amos. No Starch Press Publishing.