by Matt Fox
$55.00; 376 pages
I think this is one of my favorite books I've received for review. I end up with a lot of stinkers, but this book is pure joy for me. For a videogame nerd, this is an outstanding reference work. I can easily open it up to a random page and lose myself in memories by reading the brief description of one of my favorite games. I find lots of reviews by Fox that I disagree with, but that is all part of the fun. Unlike a fan-contributed sites like MobyGames, which is probably more comprehensive, every review here is the work of one mind, with a particular and interesting point of view. You just don't get as much out of a collection of disparate reviews. Even if there is some kind of wiki-style crowd-editing process, it cannot produce a work as interesting as this one.
The book is primarily composed of short reviews of videogames. The middle of the book contains color images of the best and most popular games. There are several appendices listing other interesting information: a chronology of videogames including many not reviewed in this volume, a capsule history of consoles, a listing of prominent videogame designers, and a glossary. This is the best one-volume videogame reference work I have ever seen. It is also the only one-volume videogame reference work I have ever seen. Don't let that deter you, this is a fine work.
The most complete and comprehensive history of consoles that I know of is Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames by Leonard Herman. This work focuses on the games themselves. The sheer quantity of games the author has played staggers my mind. I thought I played a lot! What really impresses is the overall quality of the work. Sure, you can find a mistake here and there, but there are hundreds of reviews, and I appreciate the yeoman's work done here to collate all this information into one handy volume. I know I'll be leafing through this often.