Book Review: Push Start - The Art of Video Games

Book-Review-Push-Start-The-Art-Of-Video-GamesVideo games as art is a debate that has been raging for decades, but we as gamers know that the conception and creation of such incredible storytelling, iconic music and amazing artwork proves the medium to be just that.  Push Start is a compendium of pixel-perfect screenshots chronicling gaming history - from classics like Space Invaders and Centipede right through to modern-day masterpieces such as the incredible The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite.

We've been fortunate enough to see several frankly wonderful gaming history books released over the past year or so (such as the Commodore 64 Visual Compendium and the recently Kickstarted Commodore Amiga Version), and Push Start is no exception - it immediately screams quality.

From its embossed pixellated front cover to its vinyl record-concealing back, each vividly colourful page recounts a classic title from days gone by.  Each generation of titles is grouped accordingly, and prefaced with a short introduction to that particular segment.  The book seems to focus mostly on the early arcade hits, and the 8bit and 16bit eras (not exclusively, as there are titles from all generations present) - but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as we at RetroCollect HQ will attest. 

Before we even get into the meat of the book itself however, we're given a proper introduction from the authors and a fantastic glossary of every title covered and where to find each of them (so you can easily find Bubble Bobble - i mean, what else would you be looking for?) - and even this invokes a delicious sense of nostalgia as you saunter down memory lane.  I found myself remembering many games i had forgotten even existed, and skipping easily to their place in these annals - and titles that i'd skipped or forgotten to play enticed me all over again.  It's a great book to casually flick through and invoke flashbacks (literally Flashback - page 248), and smiling from cover to cover if you're anything like us.


The team have obviously paid close attention to which games to include (and the titles they've chosen are presented so well that even the simplest art looks stunning) and the comprehension of the modern titles present is pleasantly surprising.  The Last of Us and Infamous Second Son are both very individually stylistic in their aesthetic, and the shots included here really do the all of the games the justice they deserve.  Bleak landscapes are unsettling, neon explosions amazingly vivid, and pixels perfectly placed (El Gigante is still terrifying).

The back cover hides an amazing bonus, too - a 12 inch vinyl record filled with remixes of iconic themes and tunes from some of gaming history's most important and influential titles.  Super Mario and Tetris are present and correct (as is Guile's Theme, as it goes with everything) and the whole thing is remixed lovingly by Big Twice.  It's a lovely addition, and including it on vinyl suits the tone of the publication nicely.

Almost 300 huge pages are exploding with colour and pixels, and the book ends with a lovely (albeit somewhat abridged) photographic history of the consoles that shaped our gaming pasts, as well as a magnificently-written piece respoding to the very debate that began this review - video games are an artform, and this book is testament to that.  You can clearly see the blood, sweat and love that goes into creating these pictures, into these worlds that we inhabit on a daily basis - and you can't deny that the creative process that goes into these masterpieces is art.

Link: Push Start - The Art of Video Games at Funstock


Last Updated ( 15 December 2014 )  

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