Hello and welcome to another exclusive Retro Video Gamer book review! This time we take a look at a very special newly released book from the wonderful folks at “Zafinn Books”. This is their first outing and I personally have to admit, being a classic Atari fan from days gone by, that “We Love Atari” is one spectacular publication. Written by Irish author “Karl Morris,” this book is a visual feast of love and passion for everything Atari. The closest thing to this book that I have read would have to be Tim Lapetino’s “Art of Atari,” especially when looking at presentation and general content. “We Love Atari” is a complete joy to read and look through, something that, to me, is rare when it comes to books of this type. Never mind that it is not often you see books covering Atari that are such a good visual experience.
The book contains 283 pages of actual Atari content that is spread over five chapters. It measures 21 x 21cm square, which works very well for the content layout and helps prevent any form of distortion of the imagery. The content’s presentation throughout the book also makes it a fun reading experience. The book binding is excellent and comes in a very neat all in one package. I really enjoyed getting my hand on this book which, quite honestly, seemed to literally appear out of nowhere. I don’t recall ever seeing any previous announcements on social media which possibly could have led to much better and deserving awareness about the book.
The book has a wonderful opening introduction, by the author himself, where he documents his Atari past and his love for the company. He talks about the 15 years he spent working on the production of this book, something that I feel shows phenomenal dedication from the author to bring us, Atari fans, this fantastic book. Personally, I’m very grateful for that. The book then starts the daunting task of documenting the beginnings of Atari, its first 12 years under Nolan Bushnell, the takeover by Warner Brothers and what ultimately made Atari a brand to be reckoned with. Chapter one presents Atari Inc.’s first arcade release of “Pong” which, I’m sure, many die-hard Atarians will have already been privy too, but this is done both with a great unfolding of that history accompanied by poster artwork and images to give a better representation of that time. There’s documentation from “Syzygy Co.” including info on variations of Pong I didn’t even know existed! This is a great timeline of a good era for the company.
Another great feature of the book is the “Arcade Arrivals,” a collection of Arcade flyer artwork dating from 1972 to 1974 with a small explanation of the games themselves which adds even more variation to the content of the book. I thought this was a great way to include this information. As you browse further along the pages, you are treated to loads of flyer artwork Atari used to promote their arcade games in the 1970’s and, again, this included materials I’d not seen in any other book before. The amount of content packed into this book is simply incredible! I could spend all day talking about! This is definitely a book to show friends to share about a time frame where anything could be done and to share the wealth of wonderful art and designs presented throughout the book. All Atari fans should have this book in their collection.
Page after page “We Love Atari” illustrates, with great attention to detail, Atari’s incredible history, the end of an era and the dawn of a new hope with the launch of the Atari VCS and the home computer line and the acquisition of the company by Warner Brothers. You can read how Warner mismanaged Atari during those years, from the company’s arcade division to its home computer division.
As good as this book is, though, nothing can be perfect. Of course, with a project of this magnitude and which has had such an incredible will of one person behind it, one has to understand that some things may slip through. I personally found the choice of using a 30-40% gray for the text, instead of a solid black, to make reading the text less than ideal in low-light conditions. I’ll admit this doesn’t take away much from the reading experience with proper light but I do hope this gets addressed in a second print of the book. Another issue I noticed is that the text margins was sometimes too close to the center of the book, making it necessary to stretch the book some to be able to better read the text.
Another issue I found was that a number of the images in the book where of low resolution and had JPG artifacts. Perhaps remastering some of these images before insertion in the book could have prevented this. Of course, this could have been just because of the availability of images and may not have been preventable. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this kind of stuff and thought I’d mention it but I will admit that this does not take way from the book’s production values, particularly given how much information is contained within its pages. Another possible unavoidable issue is the price of the book, weighing in at a hefty €54 euros including shipping within Ireland, €59 including shipping to the UK, €60 to Europe and finally €64 euros to the USA could scare away potentially buyers from a purchase. But, you know what? This book is worth ever cent! If you don’t get it, you’d be missing out on a fantastic piece of work. Remember that we Atari fans need to support products like this as it is hard to find anything that is so enriched with content, heart and soul.
The author promises a second volume that will cover the later years of Atari from the final entry of the 8-bit computer line into the 16-bit era, hand-held console (Atari Lynx) and their final console (the Atari Jaguar) but only if the first volume meets its production costs via sales from the Zafinn Books website and only those that are willing to come along for the ride can make it possible. So I do urge everyone to support this book and its author so we get two books that define the Atari brand we all loved back then. It may appear that I am biased to the brand, but simply look at these preview pages of the book to see what I am talking about!
To purchase this book, please head over to http://www.zafinnbooks.com/ and get yourself a copy today.
A simply stunning book that ultimately lives up to its price tag.
Creator of forth coming Coin-Op:Arcade Guide and creator of the Atari Gamer Magazine and the Atari ST Gamer Magazines. Retro gaming expert & fact finder.