The encyclopedia of Game Machines,
consoles, handheld & home computers
Book Written by Winnie Forster; English
Edition by Rafael Dyll (translation) and David McCarthy (localization).
Review By Mitch Gerson
I’m sure like me, once you’ve discovered
things like MAME and other emulators you’ve most likely branched
out your retro gaming fix as over time to learning a bit more about the
companies that created these games and the hardware that we used to play
Over the last few years I have been steadily collecting
various books on arcade history, building, price guides etc.; and have
found quite a few good ones (many of which are reviewed here right on
RetroBlast! already) but until I came across Game.Machines I never realized
just how many console machines that have been created globally since the
First let me tell you a little about Game.Machines.Game.Machines has been
designed as part of a series of books of which Game.Machines 1 covers
virtually every single videogame systems released globally (yes globally!....and
includes the US, Japan and Europe) from 1972 to the present, in addition
to, screen shots of classic gaming software.
The amount of detail such as technical data, facts and
little known information is truly exhaustive. The original version of
the book was conceived and produced in Germany and as a result it was
written in the German language.
As per the author’s bio on the back cover—“The
author Winnie Forster is a publisher and expert in digital media and has
worked in the computer and video game industry since 1990. He was co-founder
and editor of the legendary German game magazines PowerPlay, VideoGames
Some the consoles included are (this is only a partial
1972 Magnavox Odyssey
1977 Apple II
1977 Atari VCS
1979 Atari 800
1979 Mattel Intellivision
1981 Sinclair ZX81
1981 Texas Instruments TI99/4
1981 Commodore VC 20
1982 CBS Colecovision
1982 Commodore C 64
1982 Atari 5200
1983 Sega SG-1000 & Master System
1983 Nintendo Famicom & NES
1984 Atari 7800
1984 IBM PC-AT
1985 Commodore Amiga
1987 NEC PC-Engine
1988 Sega Mega Drive
1989 Nintendo Game Boy
1989 Atari Lynx
1990 SNK Neo Geo
1990 Sega Game Gear
1990 Super Nintendo
1991 Philips CDi
1993 Atari Jaguar
1993 Panasonic 3DO
1994 Sega Saturn
1994 Sony PlayStation
1994 NEC PC-FX
1995 Nintendo Virtual Boy
1996 Nintendo 64
1998 Sega Dreamcast
1998 Neo Geo Pocket
1999 Bandai Wonderswan
2000 Sony PlayStation 2
2001 Nintendo Game Boy Advance
2001 Microsoft Xbox
2001 Nintendo Gamecube
2002 Gamepark GP32
2003 Nokia N-Gage
2004 Nintendo DS
2004 Sony PSP
As per the publisher’s site--
Game.Machines has been recognized as a `suitable reference´ and
`recommended reading´ (by Germany's premier micro monthly C’t),
as `very entertaining´ (Gamestar) and `compulsory reading´
(PlayZone) or simply as `Ace´ (ComputerBILD). Two years in the making,
this greatly enhanced and revised edition invites you to a time journey
across the video game era: From the 4-bit beginnings to the broadband
Thankfully, over the last year or so the book was completely
re-written, expanded, and translated into English and is now being printed
in Canada for the US marketplace.
From the high-resolution photos to very high quality
printing the book “feels” substantial.
The book layout is formatted well and includes such
information as- number of units sold, worldwide number of games produced,
a star system (Gameplan’s own rating convention) for quality and
quantity of available software; and the “official” date that
game production was ceased for the various consoles/pcs listed.
There is also a neat section on the types of game media
produced over the years such as Tapes, Cartridges, Flash Cards, Cards,
CDs, DVDs and more. The section also goes into the specific benefits and
downsides to those media used. There are even quite a few we’ve
never seen in the US such as 64 DD disk for the N64 (did you know that
they were essentially custom zip disks?).
VARIANTS OF CONSOLES
Another fun feature is to see some of the unique and
rare console variants that came out in other countries. For example have
you ever seen the extremely rare Dreamcast built into a futuristic TV
called the CX-1 before?
Or have you ever seen or tried out the failed but ambitious
Nuon enhanced DVD players here in the US?
It’s all here!.....details, photos and histories.
PC LOVERS ARE COVERED
Were you more of a PC guy (or gal?)….then you’ll
want to tab directly to the back of the book where the author has listed
many of the influential early PCs including many you most likely have
never heard of as they only came out in Europe and Japan such as the Dragon
32 and the NEC PC-98.
At the very tail end of the book are some neat stats
pages that dive into the specifics of every one of the consoles &
PCs listed in the book including comparisons of such specs as CPU, Memory,
Controls, Physical Case Size and much more.
I found this section in particular to be one of the
most enjoyable parts of the book. Did you know, for example, that the
good old IBM PC had a RAM module of only 640K? In comparison the Sony
PSP has 32 Megs of built in RAM. It’s really amazing when you really
think about how far gaming and computing in general has come in such a
short number of years.
WHAT’S NEXT IN THE SERIES?
As I mentioned, Gameplan is a scheduled series of books.
Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming up--
Game.Machines 2 (coming soon to the US) is designed
to dive very deeply into the world of joysticks. Yep. Every last one including
peripherals. This book, not yet available (unless you can read German)
covers every joystick, light gun and related peripheral accessory created
to date. As with the original Game.Machines it will be fully updated to
include all of the latest information and statistics. The publishing date
in the U.S. has not yet been set.
Game.Machines 3 (the final book in the series) will
focus on game software and graphics. This book presently is in progress.
With a U.S. retail price of approximately $30.00 (plus
shipping) this is a book to own and truly treasure if you’re into
retro gaming…..and since you’re a RetroBlast reader….I
think that’s most likely a given!
WHERE TO BUY?
The book is out in fairly wide release through most
video game retro vendors, but I’ve provided links to the publisher
and a related link to a gaming importer that has the original books as
well in their native language of German.
TO BUY GAMEPLAN IN THE US
I recommend going directly to the publisher. You can
score your copy here-- www.gameplan-books.com
CAN’T WAIT FOR GAMEPLAN 2?
Ok, if you absolutely can’t wait, (and you can
read German!), check out the Gameplan bundle pack over at the importer--Lik
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mitch Gerson, 37 years old, resides in Manhattan with
his wife of 4 years. He discovered the magic of MAME™ around November
of 2002. Two years and two complete arcade cabinets (one stand up and
one cocktail, both built by the author) later he’s still going strong
coming up with various custom peripherals for his arcade cabs with no
end in sight. His, home arcade has now expanded into Pachislo machines
and now includes Metal Slug, Jet Set Radio and Tekken as his favorite
Do you have a comment or question? Click here to send
me an email at MameMaster
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