The 8-Bit Book – 1981 to 199X: Book Review.

The 8-Bit Book – 1981 to 199X book has 250 pages filled with nice reviews of 8-bit games from throughout the 80s (and a bit beyond). Each page contains a few screenshots, a couple of captions and a *lot* of text. What is nice is that the text is not entirely a review about each game, but it also contains lots of info about the company, the background of the title and more. So it’s quite evident there’s been a lot of research put into it, which is nice. It had me constantly making notes for things to check later online! 🙂

It’s pretty well edited, too – none of the usual typos and mistakes (as far as I could discern) to be found in similar books, so that’s a plus, too.

The selection of the titles is a bit strange: definitely not the best games overall, though lots of classics crop up of course, but this is a welcome change from reading about the same old titles. This is a bit weird, though, because the author states “…and selected what my research indicated were the most highly-regarded titles for each chosen platform”. Erm… World Cup Carnival anyone? 😀

The platform choice leaves something to be desired, too. Here’s a breakdown of the games covered per platform:

C64 36
BBC MICRO 33
ATARI 400/800 25
ZX SPECTRUM 24
AMSTRAD CPC 24
MSX/MSX2 16
APPLE II 15
ZX81 10
VIC-20 10
COMMODORE 16 / PLUS/4 8
TI99/4A 6
TRS-80 6
ELECTRON 6
ORIC-1/ATMOS 6
DRAGON 32 3
SAM COUPE 3
C128 2
PSION SERIES 3 1

So you can see there’s some clear bias in there – never had I realised the BBC ranked at the top of gaming platforms in the 80s, but maybe that’s just me. Also, given that the book is really euro-centric (which is a good thing in my book), so many titles from the Atari 400/800 or the Apple Ii seem a bit strange, too.

The titles by year:

1981 13
1982 21
1983 34
1984 31
1985 33
1986 35
1987 17
1988 22
1989 11
199X 12

This was a bit unfortunate, as there’s a skew towards the beginning of the decade, which necessarily left out lots and lots of later, amazing titles.

But, in the end, no matter what you do, with a book of this nature there’ll always be something to moan about.

One final note on the layout: each page has a full-page screen shot at the background. However, these screenshots have been faded almost to black to make the text visible, so that you rarely note they’re even there. That’s a shame.

Overall: really enjoyable and diverse.

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Gryzor

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