The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Volume 3 is the final book in a stunning series detailing a subject most of us know very little about, the Japanese games industry. The previously reviewed Volume One & Volume Two were an insightful read as is this Volume, revealing information you won’t get anywhere else on the history of Japanese video games as it comes straight from the source: The people who designed the games.
Like Volume One & Two this Volume is not typical of books about video games that we tend to see released, these books are all about the content, if you’re looking eye-popping visuals that you see in some of the compendium gaming books you won’t find that here, however if you have a thirst for knowledge you’ll be sure to find it between these covers. What I must mention before I continue this review is Johns brutally honest foreword, it is possibly one of hardest introductions I’ve ever read. Sadly the author is totally disgruntled with the book publishing world, they consumed 5 years of his life with very little monetary compensation. He even goes on to say he loathes the books, I must say after having a brief chat with him I do understand why he feels that way, it’s just a real shame things ended this way because books really are a jewel in his crown, glorifying a long and successful writing career.
The Japanese gaming market used to appear closed gaming entity to many of us due to the language barrier. There are a few of us out there who would use the grey import market to get Japanese only games, it was only in the later part of the 16-Bit era I procured games this way. This book opens up that world to us gamers, a world we knew very little about and now at last we can bask in their glory through these books. Essentially this Volume (like the previous two) is one interview after another, detailing the complete history of the Japanese gaming industry. There is some fascinating reading within the covers of this book like the fantastic interview with Masahiro Fukuda who worked on the Cotton series of games, if you’re a Shoot ’em’ up fan you will know all about these, I really had no idea there was so many games in the series or the fact there was a Genesis version of Tetris produced but due to licensing it was never released.
In conclusion, if you are remotely interested in the Japanese games industry, you must own these books. No matter what genre interests you, it will probably be in one of the three volumes. John has retired from writing now which is a shame because these books are what he envisaged, real gaming history books, buy these books for the sheer amount of content we are unlikely to witness in book form again.