The only thing more fun than playing video games is reading about them, and in the past few years, we've seen the number of game-specific books explode as players seek to learn more about the industry and writers strive to catalogue and analyse what has become one of the world's most popular forms of entertainment. It has gotten to the stage where we've amassed so many tomes at Nintendo Life Towers that we've decided to put together a handy guide to all of the very best books about games money can buy.
As a few of these books are part of wider (and ongoing) series, we've lumped some together in categories based on publisher or author – rest assured, however, we only do this when we're totally sure that each and every book in that range is worth a look. We've also updated this guide for 2019 with some new entries from the likes of Geeks Line, Bitmap Books and Read-Only Memory.
With that out of the way, let's turn the page, shall we?
The NES Encyclopedia
Penned by highly-respected UK games journalist and Nintendo Life contributor Chris Scullion, The NES Encyclopedia aims to catalogue every single game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Yes, Chris really is that crazy. But you know what? He's absolutely pulled it off and this book is the ultimate resource for anyone even the slightest bit interested in the massive NES library of games. Scullion knows when to lay on the knowledge and when to crack a joke, so it's a real joy to read, too.
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Super Famicom: The Box Art Collection
This delightful release from Bitmap Books is a compendium of gorgeous cover artwork, all taken from Japanese Super Famicom releases. Each game's cover is shown via high-quality photography and is accompanied by a short description. This is the perfect coffee table book and a must for all Nintendo fans - especially those who grew up importing weird and wonderful games based purely on their covers alone.
Retro Gaming: A Byte-Sized History of Video Games
While there are some pretty weighty tomes available that try to exhaustively chart the entire history of the games industry, there's something to be said for a less-heavy approach – and that's exactly what erstwhile Nintendo Life scribe Mike Diver has done with this superb coffee table book. Packed with enlightening nuggets of info and loads and loads of lovely images, Retro Gaming: A Byte-Sized History of Video Games is the ideal way to quickly get yourself (or a loved one) up to speed on decades of games, systems and much, much more.
The Visual Compendium Collection
Published by Bitmap Books, the Visual Compendium series has covered significant home computers and consoles from gaming history and more recently has focused on the NES and SNES systems. Packed with screenshots, exclusive interviews and in-depth features, the series has become incredibly popular with retro gamers and collectors alike, and the Master System edition is the first to have official approval from a hardware manufacturer, with Sega coming on board to offer exclusive access to key developers.
Hardcore Gaming 101 Series
Hardcore Gaming 101 is one of the longest-running game history websites on the internet and its utterly invaluable analysis of classic games is a real godsend for players who want to brush up on the history of our beloved pastime. A while back the team behind the site decided to repackage some of its web content in the form of physical books, each one packed with text and imagery. The series has covered individual franchises - such as Castlevania - as well as genres, publishers and consoles, and each and every book is worth the asking price several times over. Exceptionally researched yet totally accessible, each and every volume is worthy of a place in your collection. Digital versions are also available.