Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book Review: Hardcore Gaming 101 Presents

This is some gorgeous cover art

As of this writing, retrogaming popularity is at an all-time high. Products focusing on retrogaming are popping up left and right, from clone consoles to toys to remakes/reboots of classic franchises. With the advent of social media and YouTube, finding information about any retrogaming topic is just a few clicks away. It seems that anyone who is into retrogaming has a YouTube channel or website. Before the surge in popular interest, there were a few websites and channels that seeded the scene with quality content.

Kurt Kalata's Hardcore Gaming 101 website has been a go-to of mine for years. It offers a wealth of reviews, spanning every imaginable system, genre, and game. Articles are continuously being added, whether they are by Kurt himself of affiliates, and chances are, if you are interested in a game or series, they'll have it covered. The depth of the research reaches the esoteric an uncommon, as well as well documented fodder.

A few years ago, HCG-101 started compiling themed volumes of their writings, and publishing them in soft cover, available on Amazon. These books are about the same dimensions of a trade paperback graphic novel, and just as visually appealing. Each book typically contain 75-150 pages, depending. The cover art is routinely  excellent, and the layout is efficiently packed with as much information as possible. Some pictures could be larger, but that is editorial discretion. Each volume generally costs around $15-$25, and often sell out. They can be bought on the secondary market for slight markups if out of print.

Here's a typical page layout
The content offers origins of the game, description of play mechanics, release information, box art, screen shots, fairly objective reviews, and more. Most likely you may find new games that you did not know were related to your favorites. Particularly interesting are the port comparison screen shots for the ports across several systems.

Volumes include compendiums on particular franchises (Contra, Castlevania), developers (Konami, Sega, Data East, Taito), genres (shoot'em ups), and others.


The back of the book has summary capsules of how/where to play the games

While one may ask: "why pay for it when it is free online?", you need to remember who the intended audience is. Retro gamers and collectors like tangible artifacts, and this extends to ephemera such as books and trinkets. Some people like to hold and read a book, and turn pages instead of holding a device and swiping at a screen.

These are really a joy to read. The research is thorough, and the screen shots are extensive. My only gripe is that the paper quality could be better, albeit at a premium price (which not everybody would be willing to pay for).

I highly recommend these to anyone who likes having a solid book in their hands to read. Even if you already read some of the articles on HG101, these are nice compilations to have. I plan on collecting all of the the volumes that cover my favorite games/genres.