How to Win at Video Games (1982 Book)

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scotland
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How to Win at Video Games (1982 Book)

Postby scotland » April 16th, 2015, 6:45 pm

In celebration of the forums being back up to speed, how about a book review.

This is one of those inexpensive Scholastic Books you ordered as a kid from those catalogs. Its 1982, and using a 70s computer font we have "How to Win at Video Games: A Complete Guide" by George Sullivan. George actually wrote a couple of these. Nice work if you can get it.

Its an easy read of course, and it covers more than a dozen arcade games of the day. Most get a few pages, with Pac Man getting about 30 pages given it was 1982. There is some discussion over issues like video game addiction, and the benefits like building confidence. It offers general advice for 'arcaders' like learning to be quiet and watch others play, and leave the whining and excuses for your schoolwork. The games are Berzerk, Gorf, Frogger, Space Invaders, Space Invaders II (or Part II), Missile Command, Donkey Kong, Galaxian, Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, Centipede, Scramble, Tempest and Defender.

Some fun bits:

1) Who Owns Frogger? Frogger in the book is trademarked to “Gremlin Industries, Inc”. Isn't Frogger a Konami game? Sure is, but in 1982 America Konami had sold the US rights to Sega. Sega had done a soft merge with Gremlin Industries. Some games would then be marketed as Sega/Gremlin or just Gremlin. Gremiln would later be sold to Bally and go belly up in the Great Crash. Sega, although they made home console ROM cartridges, decided to sell the ROM cartridge rights to Parker Bros. Sega also then sold the magnetic storage rights to Sierra, who sometimes resold them too. So consoles with both storage abilities, like the Commodore 64 could have both a ROM cart and a floppy diskette with different but official licensed versions of Frogger. I think the Atari VCS has this with the supercharger. Throw in the knockoffs, and we have frogs everywhere.

2) Space Invaders II or Part II: By 1982, Space Invaders was old, and not in a good way. There were successor though, and the one I knew, and written here, is Space Invaders II by Taito. However, it might also be Space Invaders Part II. Its much the same game with some twists. However there is a Midway Space Invaders II that is a cocktail table with *head to head* combat! Like Wizard of Wor, you can help each other, or shoot each other. Cool twist. Check it out at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaQrVcRd1WU

3) Missile Command Wall of Fire: The book advocates using 8 missiles to quickly form a wall of explosions left to right to take out a wave, then repeat in the other direction to take out the next wave. This still leaves the center quick Delta base to pick off stragglers. I've never used this form of zone defense, preferring the man-to-man of just reacting the best I could. What do you do?

4) New Chipsets in Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe: By 1982, the book says both these games could have new chips. For Asteroids, it allowed for an increase in the processing speed and therefore movement of everything in the game. Maybe it addressed the lurking with one asteroid strategy. For Asteroids Deluxe, the original chipset made the game so difficult that the game was not generating enough revenue. The new chipset eased the difficulty.

5) Scramble the Super Cobra: Given the book focuses on the best of the best, why Scramble? Never played it, but I guess we have all played Super Cobra, its successor. I thought Super Cobra was out by 1982.

6) No Defense for Defender: The book offers little help for Defender beyond it ain't for noobs, stay low, shot the Landers. Anyone got better advice?

7) History: The book has some great dates in video game history, mostly focusing on Bushnell, crediting him with the first video game (Computer Space), and then with Pong. Baer gets a mention as sort of achieving ‘Ping Pong’ in parallel to Bushnell for the home, no mention of anyone else associated with Pong. It has 1975 as the year Coleco introduced the Telstar Arcade, calling it the first handheld. As far as I know that is as wrong as wrong can be. The Telstar Arcade was that triangular Pong console, not a handheld, and was not in 1975, and while Coleco made lots of nice handhelds, they were not the first.

8) To 1983 and Beyond! George puts on his Karnak routine and makes some predictions for arcades, including voice commands, three dimensional games, four player last man standing fighting games, and rising prices to 50 cents a play. Not so good really. 50 cent games would come, but they were 3 years away and came with laserdiscs, there were four player games but the biggee was cooperative Gauntlet, and I don't recall any voice command games. Three dimensional may not have been a bad prediction, given Zaxxon was not far off and that may count.

Read any good video game books recently?

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: How to Win at Video Games (1982 Book)

Postby VideoGameCritic » April 16th, 2015, 11:05 pm

Oh wow this brings back some memories. Back in the day my sister got this for me for my birthday!
It's got a blue cover right? I really need to dig through my stuff to see if I still have this.
Thanks for the write up!

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Atariboy
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Re: How to Win at Video Games (1982 Book)

Postby Atariboy » April 17th, 2015, 3:37 am

The Digital Press library has this and many other classic books scanned in and freely available.

http://www.digitpress.com/library/books ... _guide.pdf

About the only worthwhile resource there these days, compared to 15 years ago when it was the go-to place for anything classic gaming related that didn't relate to the Atari platforms or classic computers.

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Rev
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Re: How to Win at Video Games (1982 Book)

Postby Rev » April 17th, 2015, 9:52 am

This is awesome. What a great review. This book looks really interesting and like something I would really enjoy. Thank you for taking the time to review this.

Also thanks Atariboy for the link.

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scotland
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Re: How to Win at Video Games (1982 Book)

Postby scotland » April 17th, 2015, 10:28 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:Oh wow this brings back some memories. Back in the day my sister got this for me for my birthday!
It's got a blue cover right? I really need to dig through my stuff to see if I still have this.
Thanks for the write up!


The book with the blue cover you are thinking of is Michael Blanchet's "How to Beat the Video Games", also from 1982 and covers substantially the same arcade games with some substitutions (like Battlezone). Sullivan's book is the size of a typical US paperback, but Blanchet's is notably larger. Blanchet uses more illustrations, and is probably the better book unless you are into Pac Man where Sullivan gives much more detail. That blue book is a Simon and Schuster book, and set your sister back $4 at a book store. I see it in the library at the Digital Press site Atariboy referenced.

Blanchet also wrote another book with a yellow cover called "How to beat Atari, Intellivision, and Other Home Video Games". I have that one too, so if no one minds the book reviews, I may jot down some notes on those too. That yellow one I did not see at the Digital Press site.


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