Thanks to McFarland for the review copy
Title: Classic Home Video Games 1989-1990
Release Date: 9/21/2016
One of several video game encyclopedias released by Brett Weiss, CHVG 1989-1990 advertises itself as a definitive guide to Sega Genesis, Neo Geo and Turbografx 16 games. With the Turbografx 16 being my all time favorite gaming system, there was no way I’d pass up a book that contains more information on it! Especially considering how difficult it is to collect for the Turbo and Neo Geo, this book appears to be a handy guide for if you don’t have internet, but is it as in-depth as I hoped? Let’s find out together.
Upon opening the book you’re greaten with a well written foreword from someone named Leonard Herman, followed by a preface from the author that goes over the point of the book while also sharing some memories with the audience. This is a neat little way to start off the book as it introduces you to the series in a more personal manner, rather than having it dump you into the game list out of the blue.
Each section starts off with several paragraphs going over the state of the gaming industry during the period of time the console came out, along with a black and white image of the system. Overall, it feels like a nice introduction to the console, even if the info given isn’t much more than you could easily find online. After the console introductions, you’re then presented with a big, big list of every North American game for each of the three systems, each with their own description going over how the game played. They all start off with a short header containing info on the publisher, developer, how many players are supported, genre and the launch year that the game originally released. Some games have longer descriptions than others, while a few of the “key titles” for each system include a black and white picture of the box art for good measure. Overall, these descriptions get the job done of explaining info on each of the titles in all three of the main sections, including the very long Sega Genesis section (which takes up around half of the entire book)
If there’s one major weak point to this book, it would be how they handled the CD add-ons, as info for exclusive games released for those add-ons are thrown at the very end of the book in the appendix section, offering little information on each of those titles despite them being a major part of the console libraries. (especially in the case of the TurboGrafx CD/Neo Geo CD which don’t have many North American titles to begin with) While I can understand the Sega CD/32X being subjected to short descriptions due to how many mediocre games launched for those add-ons in North America, having the Neo-Geo and Turbo CD games get horribly short descriptions in comparison to their cart counterparts feels wrong. There’s also Game Boy and Atari Lynx titles in this section, which honestly feel like a teaser for a future book focusing on the handheld libraries. At least, I really hope so.
In conclusion, Classic Video Games 1989-1990 succeeds in being an informative encyclopedia on the three consoles it advertises. Despite the sheer amount of games in the Sega Genesis section, the author managed to pull off writing a description for every one of them, and while it’s no replacement for an internet search if you’re going after specific titles, this does end up as a book that covers three console libraries in a successful manner. However if you’re a fan of the CD expansions for the three systems, you’ll be pretty disappointed at the lack of info in comparison to the standard carts. Still, for $25 this is a good book, and I think if you’re a fan of encyclopedias or reading about books in general then you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. I give Classic Video Games: 1989-1990 a solid recommendation.