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.
Vintage Games 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 breaking 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 jumbled.
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.