Hello and welcome to another RVG book review! When I was asked by RVG to do another fabulous Retro Gaming related publication review, it brought a massive smile to my face. With the phenomenal number of books coming out based on retro computers/consoles, the level of expectation grows with each new publication hitting the market. This, by the way, is a great thing.
I indicated that should Jerry Ellis’s “The Book of the Game of the Film” become available for reviewing, I would love to get my hands on it since it looked right up my alley. This book had an incredible print run of only 250 copies, with only the limited amount of 93 left available at the time of my writing this review. You’ll see why this is later on as you read this review.
“The book consists of 300 pages of content for you to read through which is huge”
During the unpacking of the book, I did not know what to expect! My initial thought was that the book is tiny because of its A5 size. I was then trying to justify the hefty price tag for a book of this size compared to far bigger retro gaming books that are out there, but I realized that this book is available in limited supply and that Jerry is a one man operation. I do feel that given the physical size of the book, it doesn’t really fit with the pricing of the product as this can hit the £30 pound mark. I am left wondering why Jerry never took the crowd funding route like many others have. Read more about that later on. This would be one of the reasons to put me off a book like this. Though I know some people may find it cute and quirky, I feel that as a professional publication, the size doesn’t fit the criteria here especially if an author is to include a wealth of imagery along with the body of the written content. I have to admit that it was easy to look beyond that as soon as I opened the book.
The Book jumps right into a personal homage to the people that Jerry portrays as “all time heroes” which I thought was a nice personal touch to the “The Book” jumps right into a personal homage to the people that Jerry portrays as the “all time heroes,” which I thought was a nice touch for the start of the book. Some names you may know and some you may not. For me there were a few people I’ve never heard of before and I’m assuming these are people who created some of the games covered in the book! And boy, is there a fair number of games covered! “The Book” consists of 300 pages of content for you to read, which is huge and again makes me wonder why the author chose the A5 landscape brochure size! Was it to complement his first book “The 8bit Book 1981 to 199x”? At least a 9” x 6” size would have suited the content perfectly here. For me at least, the A5 size was a major downside to my overall reading experience. There’s the usual content index to the left and to the right the introduction written by the author where he talks about how he wished to undertake a project like this. In this introduction, he includes some anecdotes which was a nice touch and not monotonous. “The Book” is broken up into Four Sections: Part One: “From the Big Screen to the Games Machine,” Part Two: “Programme Programs,” Part Three: “Bands, Brands and Grandstands;” and, Part Four: “The Part of the book of the Game of the Film about Games about Books, Games about comic Books and Games about Games and Gamebooks” (Phew!). “Jerry has taken the time, effort, and research to include this during your reading experience and is delightful too to have included in each title covered”
Each chapter is introduced with some clever reworks of loading screens or artwork for each of the games covered in “The Book” to emphasize each in its own right. This is something that I love tremendously. This was a huge plus and I loved the header title for each game, which is also a lovely touch to me as I love Easter eggs included in books like this. In my opinion, not enough of that is done these days. The book then continues to go directly into its first title and you’re given a brief history lesson in the first paragraph and then somewhat of the background story on the home computer versions followed by his opinion on the overall gaming experience. Again, all this works brilliantly and I find it difficult to find fault if I’m being very honest here.
I found the content is very well researched with something like 120 games covered in the first chapter. This in itself offers some insight into what to expect for the rest of the book which is all fantastic reading, especially classic movie video game conversions you’d long forgotten about and even some you may have tried to forget about. All have been resurrected for inclusion inside Jerry’s book with so much content you’ll be reading this for some time if you are to take in all of what’s covered. I have to say that the education you’re being given by the author is simply brilliant and, in all honesty, I didn’t realize there were that many home computer and console movie tie-ins.
The next Chapter focuses on the other side of the coin, like “Programme Programs.” This chapter covers a selection of vintage 1980’s TV Shows that were either fortunate or, in the eyes of many, unfortunate to grace their computers back in the day. There’s no denying, however, there were some great ideas for games like Datasoft’s “Dallas Quest” and complete turkeys like Ocean Software’s debacle “Street Hawk.” Regardless of the quality of the games, this was just a fantastic read and I was truly struggling to find anything wrong with the content and I couldn’t find anything! Damn you, Jerry Ellis!! But wait! There are some drawbacks here, harping back to the size of the book, I tested this myself by shifting to all different sitting positions with the book (yes, I know this is sad, but hear me out) while handling the book for the ease of the reading experience and found the best way was lying down on your stomach, flicking through the pages like that of a magazine, as well as the upright standard sitting position using both hands. Lying down on your back, though, created hassles while turning the pages because of the shallow height of the book which made index-finger and thumb page turning a nuisance if in one hand and didn’t sit right in the lying down position. The same thing happened while lying on your side.
The page layouts are simple and do the job. I’m assuming that, due to the size of the book, font sizes were also reduced on the pages which I suspect will force some readers to use their reading glasses to read the small print thanks to the A5 book size. The layout design for each game is very basic and could have been a lot better as you can see from the page spread previews I created for this book review. I would also have loved to have seen company profiles included for each game covered as a reference for each game, rather than having to scout through the reviews themselves to see this or draw information from (Company release dates, programmers, musicians and so on). I would have also personally loved to have seen at least two to three interviews or memoirs covered in the book. This would have broken up the content wonderfully, but was not to be and a real shame that there are none as a lot of interviews and this type of thing are present in lots of retro gaming related publications these days. Overall, for me, my main issues was the book’s physical size, pricing, which I think is a little exaggerated for what you are getting. The huge saving grace, though, is the quality of the writing. Had this book being in a larger format, I would have given it 10/10 but, as it is not, I have deducted 2 points for this. My scoring is also based on layout and design, which I hope will be set right in the future. “The Book of the Game of the Film” is a great book and I would highly recommend it if you can get past the high asking price. You’re in for a rare treat here.
This way for the Golem Books website —> HERE £24.99 (plus p&p @ £3.90) UK mainland only, overseas charges must be asked during purchase to avoid disappointment.