Video game history has made its way into the pages of books more than just a few times. Steven Kent, Leonard Herman, and J.C. Herz are just a few of the authors to tackle the subject. “High Score” is the first to do it with such style, however. Every page is filled color photos, but it’s a shame they don’t follow the console industry closer, like one would expect.
“High Score” gives fans over 300 pages to flip through, covering games as ancient as “Space War” all the way up to a brief look at the current crop of consoles in stores now. Each section of the book is supposed to follow ten years of history, though it never really seems that way once you begin reading. A second, revised edition is also available which covers imports and adds more information as well.
Co-authors Rusel Demaria and Johnny Wilson hardly hide their love for PC games. They constantly quote themselves on their love for “Dungeons & Dragons” styled games. If it’s some sort of strategy game or one that features orcs and warriors, they like it. Countless pages are devoted to companies who specialize in this style of gameplay.
In fact, starting with page 57, over 200 pages are devoted to computer gaming companies. The 70′s and 90′s combined don’t account for that much. Even more jarring is that most of those pages talk about games that clearly came out later than the 80′s. It makes for very disjointed reading.
Granted, no book has ever so thoroughly looked at the PC industry like this. Almost every book written on the subject focuses on the home consoles and arcades, rarely (if ever) getting involved with the home computer side of things. The main problem with this though is the book’s full title, “High Score: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games.” If you say you’re going to cover it all, do so. Even more saddening is that on the single page they devote to Sega’s ill-fated Saturn, two obvious errors are made (NiGHTS was not a launch title nor did Virtua Fighter 3 get ported to the console).
Not all is lost of course. The pictures of rare documents, hard-to-find games, and game schematics are great. It’s obvious that much time was spent gathering up what they needed. How they even found some of the featured items is even more baffling. The cover price alone is likely worth it just to see some of the great pictures, just don’t take all of the text as fact.
If you spend hundreds (if not thousands) on your PC to enjoy all the latest games, this is certainly something that should be in your home. Die-hard console gamers should also probably pick up a copy, but everyone else can do better elsewhere. Steven Kent’s “The Ultimate History of Videogames” is probably the way to go though a strong case can be made for the latest edition of Leonard Herman’s “Phoenix.”