This might be the understatement of the century, but it still must be said – a lot goes into making a video game. Masterful designers, artists, musicians and a host of other creatives based in the area of interactive entertainment work hard to deliver the games you remember fondly. Documenting the history of said games in literary form is a regular occurrence these days and there are a lot of exceptional examples that come to mind.
With all that being said, we’ve put together a list of the finest coffee table books that are perfect for gamers and even non-gamers alike. These visual tomes document the history of gaming in the most visually pleasing way possible.
The Game Console: A Photographic History From Atari to Xbox
This cool little journey through time takes a look at mostly every video game console ever created. Not only does it cover the gaming machines we’ve spent countless hours on, but it also details those lesser-known consoles that you’ve probably never heard of. Video game console enthusiasts will truly appreciate this one.
The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect
What was once a Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibit has now been transformed into an incredible book. The curator behind that exhibition is also responsible for putting this book together, which takes a look at the most influential video games of all time. Plenty of gaming generations are represented here, which gives this book an all-encompassing feel for gamers of any age.
The History of Sonic the Hedgehog
Sega’s globally recognized icon has been around for a very long time. Through all his up’s and down’s, the “Blue Blur” has maintained his relevance and made an appearance across a bevy of consoles. This history-spanning book details his many games, character designs, and the individuals that helped shape Sonic the Hedgehog into who he is today.
Undisputed Street Fighter: A 30th Anniversary Retrospective
Capcom’s groundbreaking fighting game franchise got the book it so richly deserved with this entry. Its artwork is breathtaking and the information it delivers to readers is fascinating. Street Fighter’s humongous roster is covered in detail, plus there’s plenty of backstory details that explain the magic that went into helping the series thrive till this day.
Darkstalkers: Official Complete Works
If you’re more of a Night Warriors fanatic, then this pick should definitely be on your radar. Capcom’s colorful crew of horror-movie inspired brawlers is wonderfully represented within this gorgeous book. The game’s eye-popping stages, eccentric roster, and elegant promotional art all come packed in this tribute to Darkstalkers.
NEOGEO: A Visual History
SNK’s historic rise to arcade stardom was a joy to follow in the 90s. The NEOGEO brand has always been associated with quality arcade hardware/software, as well as expensive home console entertainment. This visual history hardcover is jam packed with expressive cover art for the biggest games in the SNK library, plus informative interviews and stories surrounding the company’s storied ascension.
Metal Slug: The Ultimate History
Speaking of SNK, one of their most popular games centered on chaotic running and gunning. The game we’re alluding to is Metal Slug, a popular franchise that’s still beloved in this current age of gaming. If you’re looking for bits of info on how the series came to be and what went into crafting the lovable cast of characters and military machines, this book is your go-to source.
The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia and Art & Artifacts
Nintendo’s green tunic adorned hero saves the world time and time again. His many adventures put him across from a collection of fan favorite characters. Plus he’s always obtaining new gear and a host of other items that impact his latest journey. With these two books in your possession, you’ll discover the official chronology of the series. Plus you’ll get a primer on all the art styles and essential items featured within The Legend of Zelda series.
Super SNES/Super Famicom: A Visual Compendium
The 16-bit age of gaming was mainly contested between two gaming giants. Nintendo’s reign of excellence during this generation is due in part to the Super SNES, a console that was home to some of the greatest games of all time. The titles that defined the system are covered in detail here, plus there’s plenty of pixel art to ogle at while you’re reading about them all.