Game On!
From Pong to Oblivion - the 50 Greatest Video Games of All Time

Author: Simon Byron, Ste Curran and David McCarthy
RRP: 14.99
ISBN-13: 978 0 7553 1570 3
ISBN-10: 0 7553 1570 7
Available 23 October 2006

The games industry is bigger than Hollywood and 2004 saw the total sales of video games far exceeding sales of cinema tickets and DVD sales combined. This book focuses on the fifty greatest games of all time, vividly recreating what made each title so great and giving key information on the development and success of each title, but above all it tells the reader where to find and play it now...

Game On! is a bit of difficult book to review. Firstly there are plenty of online sites that list the industry's best loved games, so why do we need a book on the subject? And secondly it's all so subjective really isn't it?

There are many omissions from this collection, but the biggest crime is the fact that Tekken is not listed in the top 50 games. Tekken 2, along with Tomb Raider, was the title that ensured that the take up of the Playstation 2 was as successful as it was. Also, as this collection also lists arcade games, what happened to Donkey Kong, Gauntlet or Rampage?

In their introduction the authors admit that this is more a "patchwork tapestry of videogaming brilliance, picking out the fifty highest points from across gaming's beautiful spectrum." Ah, so that explains why Super Monkey Ball is included. Sure, it's a good game but I'd never dream of putting it in my top 50.

While a lot of the inclusions in this book deserve their place, there are a few too many that seem to have been added because of their quirkiness. The authors have tried to include at least one game from each genre - hence the bizarre inclusion of EyeToy: Play. Would anyone really put that in their top 50 games? It's not a bad example of a party game, but why then is Bust a Move not included?

It's odd choices like this that let this book down heavily. And while old personal computer games, like Elite, are represented what about classics like Manic Miner? or Jet Pac?

There are plenty of games that I would have chosen as worthy additions to this collection (although worry not as they are not included) because, on a personal level, they are games that I still revisit from time to time, but I doubt many people would agree with me. These include Worms, Hogs of War (sorry!); and Wipeout. Having said that, I bet more people would stick those three games above Guitar Hero or Virtua Tennis.

This book also tells you where you can buy versions of some of the old arcade games, as well as the still in circulation console games. But a warning would have been helpful too. For example on the OutRun listing they tell you about the new PC or console versions, including the latest OutRun 2006: Coast to Coast, but fail to mention that these new updated versions don't always live up to the expectations of the original.

At the end of the day this is really designed to be a Christmas stocking filler - a last minute gift for that gaming fanatic you know. Although I'd think long and hard before you part with your money.

Nick Smithson

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