The Ultimate History of Video Games

Ultimate History of Video Games© Nintendo Life

'Exhaustive' is a word often used incorrectly to describe books which try and chart the entire history of video gaming, but it certainly applies to gaming historian Steven L. Kent's seminal work. One of the most quoted books on video games, this really does cover everything; from exclusive interviews to detailed research, Kent hits all the right notes to present a full-bodied narrative of video gaming's genesis, referencing companies such as Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Namco, Electronic Arts and many more besides. If you want to learn as much about gaming as possible from a single book, this is a solid choice.

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Console Wars

If you're keen on reading about the epic battle between Sega and Nintendo, then Blake J. Harris' 2014 book Console Wars sits alongside David Sheff's Game Over as an essential look at this amazing period in video game history. Harris speaks to the people who made it happen - most notably Sega CEO Tom Kalinske, who is the focal point of the book's novel-like narrative - to document the stunning rise and fall of Sega. The beginning of the tale sees the company struggling in the shadow of Nintendo, before releasing the Genesis and - thanks to Kalinske's canny leadership and the incredible talent of the team he assembled at Sega of America - beating Nintendo in the US. It's a story of ups and downs which is superbly retold by Harris; Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg plan to make a movie based on it.

Oh, and while we're here, Harris' second book is well worth a look too; it's a detailed account of how VR rose from the dead thanks to the efforts of Oculus, and has all the twists and turns of a spy novel. It's a doozy.

Dark Souls: Beyond the Grave Volume 1

Dark Souls© Nintendo Life

This incredibly detailed breakdown of Demon's Souls, Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 is the perfect companion piece to Dark Souls: Remastered. Not only does it catalogue the creation and development of these cult titles, it also picks apart in painstaking detail the lore, settings and characters which make them so appealing. The lack of imagery is a bit of a disappointment (this isn't an official publication) but the knowledge contained within more than makes up for that.

On The Origin Of Pokémon: Kanto Edition

On The Origin Pokemon© Nintendo Life

Recently funded via Kickstarter, On The Origin: Kanto Edition is an unofficial guide which aims to show the influences and inspirations behind each and every Generation 1 Pokémon. As well as showcasing original artwork, the book links in each 'mon with the myths and legends which inspired them – as well as making the connection with real-world beasts. It's a fascinating look at some of the gaming world's most recognisable characters and feels every inch like an official publication – which is about the highest praise we could possibly offer.

Undisputed Street Fighter

Undisputed Street Fighter© Nintendo Life

Released to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Capcom's world-conquering video game series, this bold and bulky hardback leaves no stone unturned when it comes to celebrating all things Street Fighter. As well as loads of lovely written content - which covers the full story of what has to be the planet's most famous one-on-one fighter - Undisputed Street Fighter is bursting with artwork, screenshots and much more besides. Written with an assured tone and full of interesting info (you'll learn something even if you consider yourself to be an expert on the franchise), this is the perfect way to see in Ryu and company's 30th birthday - alongside Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection on Switch, of course.

Street Fighter Compendium

Street Fighter Compendium© Nintendo Life

While we're on the topic of Street Fighter, we recommend Trevor Esposito's totally unofficial but astonishingly exhaustive Street Fighter Compendium, which goes into a stunning amount of detail. This book leaves absolutely no stone unturned when it comes to uncovering the complete history of the franchise, even going as far as to pick apart the many home conversions for formats like the Amiga, Spectrum and C64. While it's perhaps not as polished as Undisputed Street Fighter, it more than makes up for it when it comes to the sheer weight of content. There's stuff mentioned in here that will be new to even the most dedicated Street Fighter fan (and that exclusive Rusty Shackles cover art is pretty nice, too).