Summer Reads

Summer Reads

It might be hard to believe, but sometimes I’m just not in the mood for gaming, and instead, I prefer to get lost in a good book. I used to have a summer tradition where I would try and make my way through an entire book, though this often resulted in failure due to other commitments like studying, work and family life.

The last two years have been very different. I have read more books than I have probably read in my entire life. Granted, they are mostly children’s books. But it has rekindled my interest in reading to the degree where I sometimes manage to read a few pages of something before passing out from exhaustion after moving a toy about with a puppet shark in my hand. Children are fun. Anyway, enough about all that. For today’s summer article, I wanted to talk about some reads tied to video games that you may want to consider checking out over the summer, or any time of the year for that matter. These are books I have personally enjoyed myself.

Hyrule Historia

Let’s start off with one for the Zelda fans. You can’t go wrong with the Hyrule Historia. A massive collection of art pieces and information covering most of the Zelda games up to Skyward Sword. One could say the book needs a bit of an update since two very significant Zelda titles came out later, Breath of The Wild and Tears of the Kingdom. However, if you’re a Zelda fan, there is still much to love about this nice bulky hardback title. One of its enticing sections is the timeline. Not sure how the authors’ managed it, but they somehow managed to link (get it) all the titles together. Sure, it requires some use of a split timeline, but the effort is appreciated. This is a must for Zelda fans, plus it looks pretty cool on the bookshelf.

book cover for Hyrule Historia

Blood, Sweat and Pixels

A raw look into video game development from AAA studios to solo indie developers. Each chapter covers the development of individual games, giving you a look behind the curtain at how these ambitious projects come together and the hardships that come with them. This book contains many titles you will likely know, including Stardew Valley and The Witcher 3. At times it’s not always an easy read; the book does tackle hard subjects like crunch and some of the toughest moments in video game development. There are also wonderful stories of overcoming these hardships and moving on from them even when things don’t work out. I highly recommend reading it, if you have ever had the smallest of interests in how video games are made. I read through this in a matter of days; I was so hooked.

book cover for blood sweat and pixels

Powered Up

Powered Up focuses on the rise of Japanese game development and how it left its mark on the game industry, which is still going strong today. The book covers several popular series, including Final Fantasy and Super Mario, to more cult classics like Gitaroo Man. You’ll also read insights from some of the great designers of Japanese video games. Ever wondered about Shigeru Miyamotos’ origins in Nintendo and why he is so lauded as a game designer? Ever wondered who the masterminds behind the Star Fox series’ were? It’s a really good look at the history of the Japanese video game industry from a Western perspective.  

book cover for powered up

Bible Adventures

Boss Fight Books have published several non-fiction titles covering deep dives into specific video games. This includes classic games like Super Mario Bros 3 and Mega Man and more modern games like Shadow of the Colossus and Spelunky. These are written by true-fashioned fans of the games or subject matter. I would highly recommend looking at their entire series and seeing if one of your favourites is in there.

I’ve read several of them, but the one I wanted to highlight was Bible Adventures. Now I had absolutely no prior experience of NES outside of YouTube videos which often covered how bad they were. Just basic platforms that were unlicensed by Nintendo and marketed to a specific crowd. This book is more than just a look at how games like this came about. It covers the author and developers’ own struggles with the process and even their faith in general. A surprising emotional read that is helped by the author’s incredible writing skills. 

book cover for bible adventures

Itchy, Tasty

Those that know me well know I’m a huge Resident Evil fan. I’ve been taken with this series ever since we rented the first game from a Blockbuster all the way back in the 90s. The series is not suitable for this site. However, I don’t see anything wrong with the book, Itchy, Tasty. It gathers together interviews from the developers and masterminds of the series, including Shinji Mikami and Hideki Kamiya. It deep dives into the development of the games all the way up to Resident Evil 4.

The book features an incredible amount of depth behind the scenes. Including why the dialogue in the first game was so cheesy, struggling with tight deadlines and using money in wine investment to fund the games. You will read about fascinating tales in the development of the game. An essential purchase if you are a fan of video games. But, even if you’re not, this is a really interesting look into Japanese video game development and how they market it to the West. Easily my favourite video game read in recent memory.

book cover for itchy tasty

So there you have it. A few recommendations on video game books to consider. If you have any further suggestions be sure to share them in the comments. Otherwise, have a good Summer.

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