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The Video Games Guide

by Matt Fox

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408563,913 (3.04)1
"The Video Games Guide is the world's most comprehensive reference book on computer and video games. Each game entry includes the year of release, the hardware it was released on, the name of the developer/publisher, a one to five star quality rating, and a descriptive review of the game itself"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was interested in this book because I wanted a source to help me discover new-to-me games after getting into video games later in life than most gamers. I feel that the first thing to do when handed a book of reviews is to look up reviews of things you're familiar with to see how your opinions line up with the reviewer's. Which is when I realized I would not be able to use this guide the way I had hoped: I mostly play JRPGs and handheld games, the former of which does not seem to be Mr. Fox's preferred genre and the latter of which is not included at all. (To be fair, the reviews in this book represent a massive time sink, so the exclusion of handheld games is probably a matter of Mr. Fox needing to draw the line somewhere.)

I looked up Chrono Trigger (arguably responsible for the popularity of JRPGs in the US along with Final Fantasy VII), not there. Earthbound or the Mother series, nope. Secret of Mana, nope. Star Ocean or Phantasy Star, nope and nope. And then I thought, "Surely he had to have reviewed Final Fantasy? You *can't* do something like this and not include Final Fantasy, right?" And I was correct: there is a Final Fantasy review. There is exactly one Final Fantasy review, and it's for Final Fantasy VII.

There are three different reviews for various Grand Theft Auto games.

I know that with an undertaking like this, it's impossible to review every video game ever or even one game from every series ever. I was just disappointed that Mr. Fox's biases are the opposite of my biases, making this book less useful for me personally.

Having said that, once I finally started looking up games that both I and Mr. Fox had played, I found his reviews to be fair, interesting, and unpretentious. I was especially delighted by his review of Gunstar Heroes, one of the very few games I played as a kid. I do wish that there was an alphabetical list somewhere in the back of all the games reviewed for easy scanning rather than flipping to the relevant section and seeing if the game I'm looking up is there or not. And it would also help in finding games in a series when the titles don't all start the same way. (For example, one of the first games I looked up was Katamari Damacy, which is not present. If you want to see Mr. Fox's opinion on the Katamari series, you have to go under "W" for We ♥ Katamari.) ( )
  coprime | Jun 18, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed this book to a certain degree but have a few problems with it. First off, the price it ridiculous. After having seen the book I would never pay the listed retail price for it. It just isn't worth it. Quite a few of the games I looked for were not even mentioned--classic games. The game reviews seemed very biased. I wouldn't buy a game based on the author's review. This book is fun if you're interested in gaming history (minus the handhelds) but otherwise is was a disappointment to me. ( )
  rosagallica | Aug 28, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Now here's a guy who understands video games; someone who gets it. I don't agree with every review of Fox's, but it's evident that he's done his homework. And you'll certainly discover that he left out some childhood favorite of yours, but trust me, for every beloved title not included, there are three more you've never heard of and should look up.

A superior gaming experience is more than just flashy graphics or intuitive gameplay or a compelling story. It's about immersion. All great video games, like great works of art, succeed at drawing you into a unique other-world where the experience is so compelling that you stick around to find out what happens next.

Thanks to The Video Games guide I now have a list of classics that I intend to go back and play myself someday. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Jun 24, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
So...I'm conflicted about this book. The reviews themselves are occasionally enjoyable and I respect the amount of work that went into this. But it has a number of flaws that would have kept me from buying it.

1. As a reviewer the author should establish they are an authority on the subject. For instance. This review that I'm writing shouldn't hold that much weight because I'm just some mope on the internet. For a book of reviews I expect someone with more gravitas. Matt Fox never explains why his opinion matters more than someone else's, he never offers any credentials. I couldn't even find him online...but that is partly because of how many hits the OTHER Matt Fox has.
2. The photos in the book are just random screenshots in a center photo section. They don't seem to serve any purpose.
3. The reviews often go into little asides that I didn't see the value of.
4. The reviews are arranged alphabetically. Not, what I would think would be the more logical method, chronologically.
5. The author doesn't seem to know how to handle series of games. Sometimes it will review the first game in the series and then jump to review the 4th game. Sometimes he reviews all of them. Sometimes he reviews a series under a single title.
6. The book is incomplete and the games that are reviewed seem to be chosen at random.
7. Reviews for all of these games can be found for free on the internet from established sources in a more searchable medium with more detail.
8. Nostalgia and historical significance seems to hold more value than game-play in some of these reviews.

Now, I don't claim to be an authority on the subject. But I have worked for several game review sites as a reviewer in the late 90s early 00s, I personally have a collection of over 75 game systems and several thousand games. Take that as you will.

EDIT: I just found out the list price on this book on Amazon, $55!!!! That is absolute madness! ( )
  AgentN | Jun 21, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I think this is one of my favorite books I've received for review. I end up with a lot of stinkers, but this book is pure joy for me. For a videogame nerd, this is an outstanding reference work. I can easily open it up to a random page and lose myself in memories by reading the brief description of one of my favorite games. I find lots of reviews by Fox that I disagree with, but that is all part of the fun. Unlike a fan-contributed sites like MobyGames, which is probably more comprehensive, every review here is the work of one mind, with a particular and interesting point of view. You just don't get as much out of a collection of disparate reviews. Even if there is some kind of wiki-style crowd-editing process, it cannot produce a work as interesting as this one.

The book is primarily composed of short reviews of videogames. The middle of the book contains color images of the best and most popular games. There are several appendices listing other interesting information: a chronology of videogames including many not reviewed in this volume, a capsule history of consoles, a listing of prominent videogame designers, and a glossary. This is the best one-volume videogame reference work I have ever seen. It is also the only one-volume videogame reference work I have ever seen. Don't let that deter you, this is a fine work.

The most complete and comprehensive history of consoles that I know of is Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames by Leonard Herman. This work focuses on the games themselves. The sheer quantity of games the author has played staggers my mind. I thought I played a lot! What really impresses is the overall quality of the work. Sure, you can find a mistake here and there, but there are hundreds of reviews, and I appreciate the yeoman's work done here to collate all this information into one handy volume. I know I'll be leafing through this often. ( )
  bespen | Jun 16, 2013 |
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"The Video Games Guide is the world's most comprehensive reference book on computer and video games. Each game entry includes the year of release, the hardware it was released on, the name of the developer/publisher, a one to five star quality rating, and a descriptive review of the game itself"--Provided by publisher.

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