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Throughout the history of the video game industry there have
been hundreds upon hundreds of games developed to be enjoyed by gamers. Many
people have debated and will continue to debate and discuss the most impactful
games to rock the industry. Though categorizing all of the influential games
ever to grace our systems may seem impossible, Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton
have done a commendable job at doing just that. Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto,
Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time (which will
henceforth for this piece be referred to as Vintage
Games, for sanity's sake) is a wonderfully informative work about the most influential video games, from the progenitors of genres, to those that brought
the industry to the next level.
presents the reader with a plethora of information on the video game industry.
Some may think that taking in an entire history of the most influential games
would a daunting task, as it would. However, Loguidice and Barton have
categorized and pieced together the information nearly perfectly and made it a
breeze to take in and even enjoy. Though not discussing the games in a chronological
order, and instead discussing them in alphabetical order (game wise) can be a
little confusing at times, especially when you are jumping from the 70s to the
90s, and then back into 1985 and what not, it's never a deal breaker and after
a few chapters it is hardly noticeable.
In Vintage Games,
each chapter is filled with information on the specific game and the influential
properties of it, without overloading the reader with too much useless
information. The early chapters mostly consist of how certain genres were
established and what games played the biggest part in that, such as "Chapter 1 Alone in the Dark (1992): The Polygons
of Fear" discussing how the classic Alone
in the Dark was responsible for establishing the survival/horror genre well
before other classics such as Konami's Silent
Hill or Capcom's Resident Evil,
or "Chapter 4 Diablo (1996): The
Rogue Goes to Hell" presenting that Blizzard's Diablo, though not the first action role playing game (RPG), firmly
established the genre as what it remains today.
Later chapters move away from simple genre and onto grander
subjects such as games that affected the industry at large. "Chapter 7 Final Fantasy VII (1997): It's Never
Final in the World of Fantasy" not only discusses the early impact of the Final
Fantasy series, but also the groundbreaking influence Final Fantasy VII had and how responsible it was for its
generations take off, helping establish not only the Playstation system but
JRPGs in America as a whole. Like Chapter 7, "Chapter 18 Super Mario 64/Tomb Raider (1996): The Third Dimension" shows the
impact these games had on video games at large as both games "established
paradigms that are still guiding the industry today," talking about the
introduction to 3D as a main property in video games, which would change the
industry and gaming forever.
Every chapter is careful to not only discuss the game the
chapter is named for, but for other games that came before that may have paved
the way. "Chapter 6 Dune II: The Building
of a Dynasty (1992): Spicing up Strategy in Real Time" discusses Dune II as establishing the "modern
real-time strategy (RTS) game," but also references classics like Civilization and Cytron Masters as being especially influential in that genre as
well, setting the foundation for Dune II
to build the genre to where it is today. This helps to not only give background
to help better understand the genre in question, but to also let the reader
understand that this is not a book of the authors' favorite games, but a book
of information on the games themselves.
Footnotes also litter the bottoms of pages, giving you URLs,
book titles, and other information so as not to get lost by what Loguidice and
Barton discuss. Sometimes, however, the information seems like it is just there
to take up space. Details consisting of companies sales and developers other
unrelated project seems useless to know and a little boring to read. Thankfully
this type of information doesn't clutter the pages and only pops its head up
every so often.
The information, specifically the games and companies
mentions, are made easier to take in. When any game is mentioned for the first
time, it is cited with its release year and systems released on, usually
following the company/developer. Also, if a game is the main subject of another
chapter, then that chapter is also cited after the game, letting the reader now
that more information is available on another page. Though the citations are
very useful, they can sometimes make statements or sentences seem crowded or
Needless to say after what I've mentioned, Vintage Games is an impressive and
entertaining read if you are interested in the video game industry. Reading
about how such an interesting industry came to where it is today is very fun,
and seeing how it got here on such specific levels such as genre and mechanics
is even better. The easy to read categorization of the information works.
Whether you're a new gamer yearning for a history lesson on your favorite hobby
or a veteran wanting to read up on your favorite classics, Vintage Games has what you're looking for.