Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Guinness World Records: Gamers’ Edition 2008 Impression

When I was younger, back in elementary school I loved when the new Guinness Book of World Records would come out. Seeing all the tall, short, heavy and just odd records with background information was great. This was well before you could find similar data on the internet so it really was a treat. Learning about the tallest man ever to live with old black and white photos, or the longest someone jumped on a pogo-stick, never earth shattering but fun to see, and to see who was setting new records year-in and year-out. Now I have a new book to look forward too, from Guinness of course, but all about gaming. Say hello to Guinness World Records: Gamers’ Edition 2008.

There have been collections of games in the past, but I've yet to see one that hits the mark. Give me a history of RPG's book and within 6 months it's outdated due to the latest WoW expansion or Final Fantasy release. Guinness solves this problem due to its unique content layout. Let’s take a look.

Since this is a yearly publication there is no need to capture everything there is to know about games or even their records, Guinness can take their time and they have. Readers get a rundown of how and why this book was put together, it's vision along with a look at the history of gaming, of video gaming, that is not too much, not too little, just right. There is some speculation about the future of gaming tacked onto the back of our current systems. Learn about Sega's systems as well as the current big three and more. This look at the current hardware and the future will be great to revisit in the 2009 addition, see what came to pass. So a good introduction touching on all the systems someone like me in their 30's has played.

Before getting into the content, into the sub-sections I wanted to mention the four interviews spread throughout the book. Learn about LiL Poison, the youngest record setting gamer along with interviews of Walter Day, Tommy Tallarico (composer) and Jonathan Smith. Each has a contribution to gaming and it's a nice touch to the overall book.

Game Genre and Records
Ok, my heading may not be accurate but that is what the meat of this book is about and why I really enjoy and will purchase this series in the future. Guinness takes an overall look at each major genre including Action Adventure, Fighting, Shooting, Platform, Sports, Racing, Role-playing, MMORPG, Strategy, Simulation, Music and Puzzle & Maze. When you go to a section, say Fighting games you get two page spreads of anywhere from 2-3 to 5-6 of the major titles in that category, so Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Tekken, Virtua Fighter each has their own two-page spread with facts about the franchise and records with a recap of the genre at the end. This pattern is repeated with titles, franchises such as Zelda, Super Mario, Sonic, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Quake, Metal Gear Solid and more each getting their own pages with a genre recap. Lots of details on each series, lots of fun facts and of course existing records.

Index & Top 100 Arcade Games
Index, good times, yeah you can check that out yourself but what you need to see if the Top 100 Arcade Games and Record-braking high scores sections. Fun to see just how insane some of these scores are especially with the arcade dying in the US.

Final Impression
The recap of hardware is interesting, interviews passable and Top 100 Arcade Games fun to digest, but it's the layout of the genre sections that impressed me. Where so many of these gaming books have failed Guinness excels. If there is a franchise missing from this 2008 edition, a two-page spread its potential content for future years. If a new hot game comes along it can be touched on in the future, you can even add an anime game section, or dating simulation down the road. You are not limited to one volume of a book where you have an insane need to cram in every ounce of info, just let it wait till next year. It makes sense that a book about gaming records and information comes out each year when so many gaming franchises are annual or if they have any success they will get a sequel. Competitive gaming is also on the rise, so you can bring these guys in with records and whatnot. If you're a gamer like me, old enough to have played Atari, but not the original Space Invaders then this book is a great purchase. Lots of nostalgia on old games and systems and fun quick reads. For younger gamers a great purchase also to see what records you can target and to 'Know Your Roots' to quote a Nintendo t-shirt. I have a hard time finding fault with this book as they did not over do the content and have left a lot of flexibility for next year ... and pictures, they have lots of pictures.

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