“The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987” Book Review

You would not be hard-pressed to find a top 10 list online of best games for Nintendo or Sega Genesis or so forth, and we will certainly be adding to that pile soon enough. However, one author decided to take that idea and expand it into something with more credibility and information. Thanks to Schiffer Publishing, “The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987” has become a definitive countdown and textbook for old school gaming.

Written by Brett Weiss, a gaming journalist who has spent 15 years covering the video game industry (and spent another 40 years playing them), the book is the first of its kind. Transforming what could have been your average internet article into a fully-fleshed out book, it focuses on an era rather than a console, and is far from being a clickbait gimmick that you would find online. This particular period of gaming that the author has focused on was a decade of growth and expansion for video games, the spark before the explosion of video games. For those curious, Weiss also includes an appendix for the next 100 games which could not make the list, so this book is technically the 200 greatest console video games from that time period.

This book covers games for the original NES, the Atari 2600 and 5200, Sega Master System, the ColecoVision, the Vectrex, Odyssey2 and Intellivision, many names that would be foreign to the majority of gamers today. It also includes prices for the various elements of the games, including the cartridge, box, overlays (when applicable), and even the instruction manuals, a nice bonus for collectors. Every entry also includes some fun bonus facts that did not fit into each entry, along with the authors’ explanation for why that game made his top 100 list.

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If you want a sneak peek at some of the games that made it, you can expect to see NES classics like The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Super Mario Bros among other older titles that have been forgotten over the years like Mr.Do, Frenzy, Escape from the Mindmaster, and Communist Mutants from Outer Space. How has that game not had a remake yet? There are far more lesser known titles, along with a few surprises for which system the author chose best represented many of the games that were on multiple consoles.

A top 10 is a daunting article to write, so I can not imagine the difficulty of making a top 100 list, but somehow Weiss pulled it off after what must have been months of replaying these classics. Many of these games were new to me, and the way Weiss reminisces and discusses them makes me want to play them to see if I really agree with his rankings or not. There is loads of research involved in this book that make these entries more than a vapid opinion piece, but add historical context to each game along with why they were fun and/or challenging to play.

“The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987” is a highly informative and very fun to read countdown of the best in console gaming history from a pivotal time in the industry. These games helped cement the foundations to transform a new type of recreation into a multi-billion dollar industry that thrives today with gamers of all ages. The best part is most of these games stand up to the test of time, and the ones that don’t are still pretty amusing.

If you are a hardcore gamer, I recommend this book, moreso if you are into old school video game history. You can order “The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987” on Amazon.com for around $25. It’s money well spent, and I challenge my readers who buy this to try and play some of these games – really play and not just dick around for a few minutes – and see if you think they survived three decades of next-gen games to remain entertaining and fun.

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