The decade between 1977 and 1987 was a very special one for those of us who grew up during those year for it was then that video games became household names. It was during this particular 10 years that we saw the rise of this industry as well as its fall (in North America) followed by its revitalization. Without what happened back then, we would not have video games as we have them today. Back then the name Atari was automatically associated with playing video games but the industry grew bringing us consoles from Magnavox (Odyssey 2), Mattel (Intellivision), Coleco (ColecoVision), and GCE (Vectrex).
When the industry fell in North America, the Video Game Crash, thinks looked a bit grim until Nintendo launched their Entertainment System which revitalized and transformed the gaming industry in that market. There was no crash in other parts of the world but Nintendo still managed to make a name for itself. Clearly this was a remarkable 10 years where companies and programmers had to be very creative in order to develop games with unique gameplay while still staying within the limitations of the technology of the time. Creating a list of the top 100 games of this era is nothing short of a daunting task but that is exactly what Brett Weiss has done in his book, 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987 , and he has done so masterfully.
This book includes games from consoles both well known and rare. Games for early consoles, like the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Odyssey 2 make an appearance as well as games for more advanced consoles like the ColecoVision, Atari 5200 and 7800, Vectrex, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Sega Master System. What this means is that fans of virtually any console of this era will find something represented for their system within the pages of 100 Greatest .
The book itself is hardcover bound and is full of pictures and images that will bring back memories or will introduce younger players to the games of the era. The cover itself has an image of an NES cartridge with the cartridge label including the book’s title and author’s name. Beneath this cartridge, we see artwork from boxes of various titles that will appear within. A total of 244 pages of content can be found, with each game having a well written description, details of its development, quotes from various sources discussing the game, as well as Fun Facts and Why It Made The List. The latter two give interesting tidbits of information as well as an insight as to why Brett chose that particular game for inclusion in the book. As with any top anything list, personal taste plays an important role and this how we understand the author’s perspective.
Many of the games listed in the book are games that anyone would expect to see. Games like Donkey Kong, Berzerk, Scramble, Space Invaders make the list and these represent arcade ports. There are, however, plenty of other games that were original titles for their respective consoles. Some of these include Adventure (Atari 2600), Fortress of Narzod (Vectrex), Shark! Shark! (Intellivision), Escape from the Mind Master (Atari 2600), and Turtles! (Odyssey 2). Since organizing these games in order of preference is next to impossible, Brett has chosen to organize them alphabetically.
100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987 is truly an excellent book that anyone interested in video games should own. Whether you want to read about the details of the games or just admire the tons of images within it’s pages, this book is for you. Will you agree with every game selected? Unlikely, but that’s part of the fun. If you don’t find a game you think should have made it within the main book, be sure to check out the appendix at the end with 100 honorable mentions. That game may have made it there.
Lastly, I’d like to add that I had the pleasure of meeting Brett during Classic Gaming Expo this year (2014). Not only was I able to get the book there but I got it signed and dedicated to me by him. So, I want to say Thank You and say, should you decide to write it, I’m looking forward to the next 100 console games from the next decade.