Review Fix chats with â€œThe 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977 to 1987â€ author Brett Weiss who discusses the book and why itâ€™s a must-read for any hardcore gamer.
For more on the book, click here.
Review Fix: What inspired this book?
Brett Weiss: I was reading Bill Warrenâ€™s masterful Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties, and it occurred to me that a similar book should be written about video games from a crucial decade. Since the Atari 2600 was released in 1977, and since taking the book through 1987 would include the first few years of the NES, it seemed like the perfect decade to cover. People have asked why I didnâ€™t write a book about the greatest 100 games of all time, regardless of the era, but that would have eliminated too many classics, including some fairly obscure, but awesome titles that deserve recognition and that people should discover and play.
Review Fix: How difficult was it to nail down 100 games?
Weiss: It was excruciating. As the author of the â€œClassic Home Video Gamesâ€ series, and as a gamer since the mid-1970s, I had a pretty good idea of what 70 or 80 games to include, but selecting those final 20 to 30 titles and leaving others by the wayside was a painful process. There are some truly excellent games that didnâ€™t quite make the cut, such as Smithereens! for the Odyssey2, Astroblast for the Atari 2600, Venture for the ColecoVision, and Excitebike for the NES. I absolutely hated leaving them out. To remedy this situation somewhat, I included an appendix at the back of the book called â€œThe Next 100,â€ which is a listing of â€œhonorable mentionsâ€ that most gamers should enjoy.
Review Fix: What’s a game that would have been 101?
Weiss: Probably Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! for the NES. This is a great game that many people enjoy, but itâ€™s not in my top 100, much to the chagrin of several people Iâ€™ve spoken to who call it a top-10 title. Ultimately, the list of games was my decision, but I did quote other reviewers, publications, websites, etc. when writing each chapter to give the reviews more depth and a broader array of opinions than just my own. (I quote programmers, historians, and other industry experts as well, plus there are anecdotes in the book.) The primary factor for the inclusion of each game was that it had to still be fun to play today. Historical importance, graphical brilliance, and other factors played a role, but playability today was the main thing. Punch-Out!! is certainly an enjoyable gameâ€”it almost made it.
Review Fix: What game almost didn’t make the list?
Weiss: Video Olympics for the Atari 2600. It is a simple collection of Pong variations, and a couple of the gamesâ€”Basketball and Volleyballâ€”arenâ€™t very good. However, the basic, uncluttered, mano a mano action of Pong remains one of the greatest two-player experiences you can have with a video game, so I made an 11th-hour decision to include the game when I almost dismissed it as too primitive.
Review Fix: How important do you believe the Atari 2600 and the systems before the NES were to the development of the gaming industry?
Weiss: Absolutely crucial. Without them, there would be no NES. As remarkable as the NES is, the developers were expanding upon concepts established by Ralph â€œThe Father of Video Gamesâ€ Baer with the original Odyssey, Jerry Lawson with the Fairchild Channel F, and Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell with the Atari 2600.
Review Fix: Favorite 2600 game? Why?
Weiss: Favorite one-player game: Jr. Pac-Man. Itâ€™s an excellent port of a tough maze title, and I love maze games.
Favorite multi-player game: Warlords. It makes perfect use of Atariâ€™s indispensable paddle controllers, and itâ€™s one of the best party games of all time. You canâ€™t help but laugh, trash talk, and have a blast with four-player Warlords. Think of it as the ultimate extension of the Pong concept.
Review Fix: Why must a gamer read this book?
Weiss: Retro gaming is huge, and The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977 to 1987 spotlights, highlights, and goes into detail regarding the best of the best games from the decade that brought such beloved consoles as the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, ColecoVision, Intellivision, Odyssey2, Sega Master System, and Vectrex. The book will point you to some dark horse picks you may have never played before (such as Worm Whomper for the Intellivison and Jawbreaker and Turmoil for the Atari 2600) as well as expand your knowledge of such favorites as Centipede, Donkey Kong, and Space Invaders. Plus, Iâ€™ve been told that the book, which includes more than 400 full color photos, is a lot of fun to read. Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Weiss: Whether youâ€™re a casual gamer or a hardcore collector, the bottom line with video games, like the key criterion for the inclusion of games in the book, is fun. Video games can be a lot of thingsâ€”intense, interesting, historical, technically advanced, beautiful, complex, educationalâ€”but they should first and foremost be fun. The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977 to 1987 will show you exactly which vintage games are the most fun to play. At least in my humble opinion.