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 them on.
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 1970’s.
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 and Man!ac.”
Some the consoles included are (this is only a partial list)—
1972 Magnavox Odyssey
As per the publisher’s site--
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 Sang
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 new toys.
Do you have a comment or question? Click here to send
me an email at MameMaster