The Sega Arcade Revolution
Given how small the arcade sector is these days, it's easy to forget how influential companies like Sega were during the gold rush of the '80s, where titles like After Burner, OutRun, Space Harrier and Golden Axe guzzled spare change like there was no tomorrow. Ken Horowitz does a fantastic job of charting Sega's arcade history, beginning with its origins as a company shipping mechanical amusement machines to US military bases right up to the bitter end, when the company merged with Sammy and its arcade fortunes took a backseat to third-party publishing. Horowitz focuses on 62 seminal coin-op releases from Sega's history which outline how the industry evolved; if you've recently enjoyed the amazing Sega 3D Classics line on the 3DS, this will certainly be of interest.
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The Pac-Man Principle
Perhaps the deepest and most intellectually stimulating book in this list is Alex Wade's intriguing Pac-Man Principle, which takes one of gaming's oldest and most famous icons and looks for hidden meaning and unexpected connections in its deceptively simple premise. Wade compares the setting of Namco's pill-popping mascot to modern-day capitalism, where the need to consume food, media and products has overtaken all other desires in the everyday lives of most people. It's a relatively short read but one that you'll find surprisingly hard to put down; Wade's observations cover everything from tricky social issues to the wild world of politics, and it's compelling to see how these apparently disconnected themes are reflected in Pac-Man's visually humble game world.
The Art Of Point-And-Click Adventure Games
Another generous offering from the guys at Bitmap Books, this time focusing on point-and-click adventure titles through the ages. Sure, that's not a genre that has too much to do with consoles, but the likes of Monkey Island, King's Quest, Simon the Sorcerer, Sam & Max and Maniac Mansion - the latter being particularly noted for its NES port - are sure to be of interest to gamers from all walks of life. Packed with gorgeous artwork and exclusive interviews with the people who made these amazing games happen (Al Lowe, Brian Moriarty, Charles Cecil, Dave Gibbons, Éric Chahi, Gary Winnick, Hal Barwood, Jim Walls, Louis Castle, Robyn Miller and Ron Gilbert, to name but a few), this is a fantastic mix of gaming history and art.
Jeremy Parish's 'Works' Series
When highly respected video game journalist Jeremy Parish talks, you should listen – and when he publishes a series of books which aim to catalogue every single piece of software for a particular console, you should buy them. So far, Parish has covered the NES and Game Boy respective libraries in painstaking detail (he's having to do the former year-by-year), making these essential purchases for any self-respecting Nintendo fan.
Even though we can't read the text, we're big fans of Japanese video game books here at Nintendo Life - like small children, we can still appreciate the pretty pictures, right? Below are a selection of our favourite Japanese books, including an amazing look at some of the Super Famicom's worst games, a fantastic Street Fighter artbook and a comprehensive history of the Mega Drive in Japan.
So there you have it; a pretty massive list of lovely paper-based things to buy and read. Let us know if you're a fan of any of these books, or if you think we've missed one off. We'll aim to keep this page updated over time and add new books.