Being a late 80s/early 90s child, my place for videogame nostalgia is in a slightly smaller camp than most’s. I was too young for the eight bit computer explosion, and while I had friends devoted to C64 and Spectrum, they were on the way out by the time I played my first games on them in 1988 and ’89. Many of my friends were of the console era that swept into Britain by the early 90s. I wasn’t, and while Megadrive and SNES were talk of the playground, I felt high and mighty with the intellectually superior Amiga.

The Amiga was the last of the micros; before PC gaming, as Windows ’95 ousted DOS, took hold, and computers had the reliable fixed parameters of consoles but still had potential for expandability and were capable creative machines. Had Commodore US not badly mismanaged future plans in the late 1980s, and if the Amiga brand adapted to new innovations sooner, it may still have been a factor in the second half of the decade. Amiga might even have threatened Apple’s recovery and subsequent tech domination.

Amiga: a Visual Compendium doesn’t spend much time pondering the ‘might have been’s of the computer line, and in general refrains from being critical, or exploring the label’s demise. It, like its preceding Commodore 64 compendium, is a tribute to the Amiga’s standout titles, for the most part consisting of large screenshots accompanied by a brief blurb by critics or developers.

This approach was to the detriment of the C64 compendium, where the low fidelity of the source material meant for unflattering two page spreads, and the text content was too light to articulate the system’s appeal. The Amiga book is a good deal more handsome, and segments of the book given over to the demo scene, Deluxe Paint work, and game cover art, make the case for Visual Compendium a lot more clearly.

There’s also more text here; brief platitudes and anecdotes surrounding each game are joined by fuller features on key devs like Cinemaware and Team 17, along with interviews with the system’s forgotten heroes. These interludes are hit and miss; interviews are strong, if driven by nostalgia rather than anything more hard hitting. They do drive home the Amiga’s lasting significance as a creative powerhouse; as someone be only dimly aware of its productive powers as I sat down to Cannon Fodder, it was interesting to read just how much impact EA’s Deluxe Paint had as a package that heavily influences the Photoshops of today.

Developer/publisher profiles leave a good bit to be desired though. Despite quotations and comments being sourced from so many current and former industry luminaries, these voices are missing from the features. Content light, these amount to little more than chronological lists of company output, accompanied by brief soundbites from contemporary magazine reviews. It would have been great to see more developer voices incorporated into these sections, as quotes accompanying screenshots give hints to broader and fascinating stories that are cut brutally short by limited word count.

The Amiga Compendium is a step up from the C64 book, but it still seems like a work in progress. Read Only Memory’s output has shown how striking visuals can be accompanied by illuminating text, and while the visual aspect is almost on point here, it would be good to have a few thousand higher quality words to accompany those pictures.

About The Author

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