BFI Screen Guides: 100 Videogames

Authors: James Newman & Iain Simons

small, but still rather weighty book gives you a list, well of 100 videogames. Anyone who has picked up a console pad, joystick, driving wheel, or plastic buttoned guitar will be home with this book – which seems largely worth the purchase so that you can go down memory lane and remember old titles as well as disagree passionately with what else may be listed here. Either way you are in for a decent catch up with things old and new in the gaming world.

The book sets out to provide a list or 100 worthy games.  Not the 100 best, or even the 100 worst, or even the 100 most successful. Yes all of these games were of note at some point in their history – but quite exactly what 100 this 100 happens to be is never clearly deciphered. It is clearly stated in the long introduction exactly what it isn’t – and hints as to what it can be – but beyond that after several pages of talking about it you just wish they’d stop talking like they are making excuses and get on with it. If it is criticism for their choices they are trying to avoid, then tough luck – because that’s gonna happen anyway. But before we start to complain we can say upfront it is by and large a decent list.

I did chuckle reading about Jet Set Willy – and then frantically went leafing through to see if they had listed Chucky Egg (or even Chucky Egg 2!). Each title has up to a few pages of text giving the quick background to the title, platform and developer. But it does go beyond just plainly stating the facts and keeps it on an interesting level as to why the title is so fondly thought of. Still, it would be nice to have a couple more images slotted in. Especially on the entries that allow for half of their pages being blank. Helps to recognise the more obscure titles on a visceral level.

While the title does hit most of the milestones of gaming – it too often doesn’t always pick the title from franchises that actually advanced gaming.  Perhaps it is arguable if Final Fantasy VII is the one to put in the book. Reality says it is the go to game – despite part VII being a huge improvement. So we’ll give them that. And whilst they get the right Grand Theft Auto game (Vice City) – we can also nitpick that Gran Turismo 2 was the milestone of that series and not the first game. Bit we should be thankful that they are listing these important franchises. So yes you can expect to see Resident Evil; Sonic The Hedgehog; Pac-man; Super Mario; Asteroids; Jet Set Willy; Wipeout; Space Invaders;  Guitar Hero; Lemmings; Doom; Pokemon; World of Warcraft and of course Street Fighter II (Sorry  no Mortal kombat!).  But there is the odd listing here that makes me wonder if I missed something when it came out (Was Peter Jackson’s King Kong really that big a title???). But then again the first words that proceeded the contents say LISTS ARE RUBBISH.

Arguing aside this is a great pocket edition (well it almost fits in your pocket) of game titles and will do until someone puts in the man hours to really dig deep into the history of gaming and produce a beautifully illustrated mega-guide to gaming! I will be there when I find it!  until then, this is great for memories sake.

Steven Hurst

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