Commodore Amiga: A Visual Compendium Review.

If like me, you spent your teenage years huddled day and night in front of your Amiga computer, then whenever anybody talks about Commodore’s outstanding machine, or popular software houses like Ocean or Psygnosis, you feel a warm wave of nostalgia wash over you, then this book is for you.

Commodore Amiga: A Visual Compendium is the result of a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, and also a book containing a mammoth amount of work and dedication. Whether you used your Amiga for games or graphics, this book offers something for everyone, gleaming with pixelated memories on every page.

The book itself – which comes in a nifty slipcase – is a handy size, despite being a hefty, thick publication. With a great layout/design and high-quality printing, you certainly get a feeling for the passion and enthusiasm of the project on every spread. Before delving into the vast world of classic games, the book gives an informative insight into the Amiga’s development, along with original concept art, a look at the Workbench operating system and being a visual compendium, it wouldn’t be complete without a look at Deluxe Paint – the precursor to Photoshop, that defined a generation of CG artists, including myself.


The seeds of my career as a graphic designer and digital artist were sown way back in 1990, at the formative age of 12. Up until that point, I had got by just fine with pencils and paper, without the addiction or distraction of a home computer. Of course, all that was about to change.

Having been blown away at school by my Art teacher’s demonstration of a paint package on an Acorn Archimedes, I was convinced I’d seen the future! My constant pestering to my parents for one of these mysterious machines went seemingly ignored, until one day when my Dad went out one morning to Gordon Harwood Computers in Alfreton, and came back with this exciting new computer – not an Acorn, but a Commodore Amiga A500.
I still remember the squeak of the polystyrene packing as we extracted the Amiga from its box and that new computer aroma! Of course, the computer coming with the 10-Star Games Pack, would lead to a whole other distraction, but also in the bundle was this exciting looking software package entitled Deluxe Paint II… I’m not sure I really saw much daylight over the years that followed.

Being a Mac man these days, it’s been a long time since I last used my Amiga A1200, which now resides in the loft. But there’s barely a day goes by without thinking back to that great computer and how it changed everything for me. So for those, like me, who don’t have the time to try and find all the old cables and plug the Amiga back in, Commodore Amiga: A Visual Compendium is just the turn of a page away from being able to revel in delight at the history of this superb machine.

The main focus of this book is the vibrant games scene, which was arguably the Amiga’s strong point, thanks to its superior graphics and music capabilities. While it obviously isn’t possible to cover every game ever released, this book does look at what you might consider the most popular and iconic titles. You will probably find most, if not all of the games you loved covered in this book. Commodore Amiga: A Visual Compendium really is a labour of love from all involved, featuring new interviews and quotes from the original artists and software developers.

My only minor gripe is that many of the games or features on game developers would have benefited from more screenshots from the actual games – in many cases there’s only one double-page shot from the game or just the loading screen, with no in-game graphics shown at all. Part of me wanted to see just that little bit more, but at the same time, I appreciate just how much has been crammed into the book! There is also a nice, if short, feature on the artwork from game boxes.

Overall, Commodore Amiga: A Visual Compendium feels like my teenage years in print, and a wonderful souvenir of a genre-defining computer. If you had an Amiga, you need this top quality book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Science Fiction artist & cover illustrator. Electronic musician and occasional writer.

Visit me at http://www.thelightdream.net

or on Twitter at:

AlexS

Science Fiction artist & cover illustrator. Electronic musician and occasional writer. Visit me at http://www.thelightdream.net or on Twitter at:

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