Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Family Computer 1983 – 2004 History Book

I wanted to mention something special for the blog over the Xmas break and by chance I managed to get my hands on the Family Computer History Book a few weeks beforehand. Consisting of 200 pages it reveals every Famicom title ever created with a brief description for most and a picture of each game from cart to Disk. Every title revealed is shot before a black background giving a full view of what each game actually looks like and I don’t think anyone could place even an approximate value of what the collection would cost. Produced by the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography the books aim is to celebrate the 20th active year of the Famicom phenomenon.

Some of you might be confused by that statement but in Japan Nintendo has a policy of providing spare parts/support for a system up to 20 years after its initial release so this book was produced to provide a good look at that 20 year history as well as some publicity for the Museums Level X Video Game Exhibition that ran from December 2003 to February 2004. Sadly despite mentioning the exhibit we are only treated to a brief mention and the pictures included are only of the games.

A shame perhaps but the overall content included more than makes up for it. Usually in this sort of Japanese book the only text provided is in the home territories language but thankfully they decided to branch out and provide full English translations throughout. As can be seen in the pictures the blue text is Japanese and the pink is English. I should probably warn those of you reading that the English isn’t by far perfect and some of the sentences can be a little confusing often making me wonder why they didn’t pay for someone with a greater knowledge of English translations. However you can usually figure out what point is being made and each short paragraph actually provides a small insight to each of the games. In fact I used this a few times to pick some Famicom games which should be coming to the blog sometime in the future.

Starting with a foreword by Hiroshi Yamauchi (Director Executive Advisor for Nintendo) the book is littered with several small interviews from famous Famicom staff/designers over the years. The most prominent being Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima with the likes of Shigesato Itoi (creator of Mother which will be appearing the blog soon) each providing their own views on what the Famicom made to gaming also making several points of what programming/design was like for the system.

It makes for some interesting reading and one thing I did find fascinating was the similarity between the 80’s British programming scene and the Japanese one. With a handy bit of kit called the Family Basic cartridge plus keyboard just about anybody could learn how to program for the console and several of the programmers interviewed actually admit to starting out this way. Though it may have been much harder to have a game actually released by a company the likes of games like Quinty showed that the home programming scene had its successes.

I can’t recommend this book enough it’s a wonderful look back at the life of the Famicom and includes lots of information that I’m sure even the most ardent fans won’t know. The translations might be a little off in someplaces and the pages of several game pictures without pointers to the text below can cause a bit of confusion but the fact is theres a wealth of facts worth anyones time.


Famicom Freak said...

I always wanted one of these! Congrats!

Lorfarius said...

If you see one on eBay I'd snap it up especially if you want to collect Famicom games. Very handy when you are unsure of what a title might be.

Anonymous said...

It's a great book! Do you know there's also an accompanying DVD from the same people? It's not as good though, and is all in Japanese. Also, there is another book, in 2 volumes, bound in red, much like this one. It contains a more photos of the hardware, and also has reviews of all the games, except with screenshots instead of hardware photos. Sadly I forget its name. Being all-Japanese though, it's not as good as this one.