Kickstarter has been a wonderful thing for nostalgia. Not only has it proven to be a chance for the favourite games of our past to be resurrected or receive spiritual sequels, it’s also paid host to a series of books that illuminate and preserve aspects of gaming culture. Chris Wilkins and Roger Kean compiled a thorough history of British publishing house Ocean this year with a U.S. Gold based tome set for arrival in 2015, while Keith Stuart and Read Only Memory’s Genesis/Mega Drive Collected Works was a wonderful visual walk down memory lane looking at an iconic console, alongside essays and interviews to provide a narrative thread.


Commodore 64: A Visual Commpendium (see what they did there?) takes a different approach. Aimed steadfastly at the fans of Commodore’s bread bin with a comfortable amount of foreknowledge, the book skips the history lesson and instead gives a massive dose of retro to your eyes. Loading screens and screenshots of the C64’s finest are the order of the day here, and regardless of your favourite title on the 8 bit powerhouse, it is likely represented here, alongside a very brief blurb from a developer, artist or contemporary journo.

It’s the brevity of these comments that sullies things somewhat. A brief anecdote from an Archer Maclean or Jeff Minter and the like, a little story of how a challenge was overcome, will spark interest as to how the game you’re looking at was made, but any further reading is up to the reader to do research on. I know it’s a visual compendium, but it’s obvious that curator Sam Dyer has gone to some lengths to get comments from developers of the day and I would have loved to read their thoughts in more detail.


The visuals, too, could be more in depth. The range of titles with shots and pixel art on display is impressive, and the book looks good on quality paper stock, but those spoiled by ROM’s glorious collections of sprite charts, design documents and promotional art will leave slightly disappointed.

How much you love this Visual Commpendium then will be directly proportional to how much you love the C64, and while that’s no bad thing, you may be left looking for something more, hopefully to be provided by the forthcoming Amiga based follow-up.

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Gamer, Educator, Writer of Stuff, wrestler of professionals (sometimes)