Retro Gaming Australia

Review: The History of Nintendo Vol. Two – The Game & Watch Games

by on Apr.22, 2012, under Book Reviews, Reviews

A couple of months ago, we wrote a review of The History of Nintendo Vol. One – 1889-1980 – and we loved it. That book is the best researched and fleshed out investigation of Nintendo’s pre video game history available.

So you can imagine that we were feverishly anticipating the release of the other books in the series. The History of Nintendo Vol. Two – The Game & Watch Games, has just been released in English by Pix’n Love Publishing, and it’s damn good, too.

The second book picks up where the first left off by venturing into the development of the Game & Watch. The book is split into four segments, the first chapter details the development of the Game & Watch technology, the games and its impact on the market, the second is a detailed breakdown of every Game & Watch game (of which there were more than 50) and variant ever released, the third is an examination of clones and variants inspired by the Game & Watch, while the last segment focuses on post-Game & Watch LCD games released by Nintendo.

Learning about the conception and development of the Game & Watch is quite fascinating. While the story of how Gunpei Yokoi conceived the project (watching a man tinker with his calculator on the train) is well known, the challenges that he faced, both technologically and in the market are not. The author does an excellent job of capturing exactly what happened and turning it into an interesting read.

The other three quarters of the book focus mostly on product information, with each game in the Game & Watch series getting a detailed breakdown and analysis, along with pictures of the game itself, the hardware and the outer boxes. A rarity rating and a couple of dot points of trivia are thrown in for good measure.

One cannot help but be thoroughly impressed with the depth of research in the book when it comes to the descriptions of each game and the sheer amount of information presented about each one. It’s particularly nice to have information about variants – not just games that were released in different styles, but the various regional differences too. You probably won’t get as much out of it if you’re really into the Game & Watch, but for those who are just learning about the system, it’s an invaluable resource.

The book’s production values are particularly impressive, just like the first. It’s around 200 pages and packed with full colour pictures and high quality page stock. There is even a nice reinforced plastic cover to prevent damage to the cover.

The History of Nintendo Vol. Two has one distinct problem – the translation. The book was originally written in French then translated into English. As a result, there appears to be a lot of errors with regards to tense and word selection. It’s only a minor annoyance, but it does stick out.

Setting that one problem aside, The History of Nintendo Vol. Two is an amazing publication – a must have for fans of Nintendo or anyone looking to know more about the history of video games. We can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

The History of Nintendo Vol. Two: Game & Watch can be purchased from the Pix’n Love Publishing website for £24.99

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