Book Review: Power-Up


Power-Up book cover

Title: Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life

Author: Chris Kohler

I had this 2005 book forgotten in a bookshelf and decided to read it during some vacations. Counting around 300 pages, it makes for an interesting and easy read if the topic of (mostly) retro japanese videogames interests you.

From an evolution of Arcades and consoles to videogames themselves, more than half of the book covers what we could say it's the core: how games evolved, the author's opinion on why they were so important and influential, and how they fit into 2003-2004. The remainder are less common but very interesting topics: game music, translations, interactions and collaborations between american and japanese game development studios and of them with Nintendo. I specially liked the music and translation chapters because were areas I know almost nothing about and I was surprised of how relevant they are, both to Japanese people and for example why we had those horrible translations of arcades and early console games.

If I had to criticise something about the book, the only two minor things I can come up with are the following:

  • The chapter about Akihabara felt too detailed to me. I don't want a retro shopping guide so just an anecdotal comment or two would have been better.
  • The book has a certain bias towards focusing more on Nintendo than SEGA, which back then was also very relevant. While I concur that Nintendo is so special and that it almost "saved" the american video-consoles market after people burned out of Atari and the like, I miss more details about them.

As mentioned, just minor things, it is a delightful read and you can clearly feel how the author enjoys videogames, Japan cultural differences (at least applied to games) and in general researched nicely for the book.

Tags: Reviews

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