Oh man, this book is good. If you’re like me, an important part of your childhood revolved around saving princesses and hitting up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A on your controller. This book, CONSOLE WARS, brings it all back. And then some.
Word of warning: this book is hefty. Weighing in at 550 pages, this is a good chunk of verbiage covering half a decade of video gaming history. Is the journey worth it? Hell yeah!
Did you know that the Donkey Kong game was supposed to be a Popeye the Sailorman game? How about Tom Hanks being turned down for the Mario movie? And, are the rumors true: did Michael Jackson write music for Sonic 3? There’s a ton of information packed into the book. Every time I was tempted to skim ahead, something else caught my attention. The author, Blake Harris, weaves the dialogue and happenings that he collected from over 200 interviews into an interesting narrative that comes from all directions of the industry.
My personal story mirrors the boy in 8-BIT CHRISTMAS (if you haven’t read that book, do it). Santa usually stocked my tree with Nintendo-based presents. So, what interested me most in this book was the opposing history of Sega: mainly, how the underdogs took the proverbial bull by the horns and kicked its a**. When everything went wrong—prize fighter losing before game release; power outage at a major press conference; Walmart refusing to carry product—the folks at Sega owned the situation and rose to the top.
I was also especially interested in the nearness of a Sega-Sony merge. Can you imagine the state of video games if Sega released the Playstation with Sony? Nintendo had a chance, spurred Sony, and well…you’ll have to read about it all. Not to mention Sega of Japan’s involvement all along the way.
Marketing, strategy, and all the good insider information are laid out in full. Anyone that’s ever picked up a video game controller will find this book fascinating. Even if you don’t play video games, the approach to marketing and early 90s pop cultural is a blast (e.g., “Bo knows”, “Just Do It”, and Pepsi vs. Coke).
Thanks to It Books and HarperCollins for sending me a review copy of this book. It was awesome going back and reliving, and learning, about those good ol’ days.