Back in January I wrote a review for the Commodore 64 book, ‘Commodore 64: A Visual Commpendium’ by Sam Dyer. The book was a massive success and Sam decided to launch another Kickstarter project for an Amiga version. This was funded within a day of the Kickstarter being live, again another huge success and now everyone should have received their copy. This is where we come in, we have this book in our hands and this is the review for it, so hold on tight to your joystick, this is gonna be one hell of a ride!
My very first computer was a Commodore Plus/4, I have very fond childhood memories playing Treasure Island, Fire Ant, Exorcist and Icicle Works with my dad. As a family we used this computer for a long time, but I was far too young to learn anything such as programming so for me personally it ended up as something to play games on. Then the best Christmas ever happened. I was seven years old, my dad asked us all (me and my brothers) what we wanted for Christmas and we all agreed we wanted a new computer.
Christmas morning we rushed downstairs and set up in the living room was the Commodore Amiga 500 Batman pack. The Batman pack consisted of an Amiga 500 computer with three games which were Batman the Movie, New Zealand Story, Interceptor, and also a paint program called Deluxe Paint 2. My dad had a lot of friends that were into computers and he ‘acquired’ some other games so to speak, you know what I mean ;) Next to the Amiga was a double disk box full of more games! Best Christmas ever!
The Amiga 500 continued to be a computer I used for gaming and also my school homework, and in time, my dad (so impressed with the Amiga) ended up purchasing an Amiga 4000 that he used for work. To this day I still own an Amiga 1200, albeit very modified compared to a basic stock vanilla A1200. (3.1 Kick/030/CF/CWB/WHDLoad) loaded with all the classic games I used to play on my Amiga 500, so it’s never too far away if I need to fire up a game of Turrican :)
So you heard a little of my ramblings about the Amiga and why this computer holds such a special place in my heart and this leads onto why this book is one of the best things to come along since slice bread!
The final outcome of the Kickstarter campaign was £129,866!
The actual goal set was £25,000, so you all totally smashed it and also all the stretch goals too! Proving that even today the love for the Amiga is still there.There are two versions of the book, the regular version and the collectors edition. The binding has been improved with thread sewn binding. This special type of binding allows the book to be opened perfectly flat. The previous book was made with glue binding, and was very difficult to keep the pages open. When I was taking review photos, I was having to push down on the inside centre of the spine, which isn’t really a good thing, and over time could put stress on the spine.
The book is much thicker than the previous one. Commodore 64: a visual Commpendium has 230 pages, the Amiga visual commpendium has 424! Measuring in at 230mm x 170mm, complete with a spot varnished cover, a loose dust jacket and a cardboard slipcase, Sam really put his all into making sure this is a quality product that will last for years to come. If you look on the inside of the dust jacket you will see a neat little surprise! The signatures that were embossed into the original Amiga 1000! Nice touch Sam, love the attention to detail :)
Whats inside then? 140+ classic games by: Activision, Bullfrog, Cinemaware, Core Design, Gremlin Graphics, Ocean and so on, I won’t list them all here but you get the general idea. Now I hear you saying ‘that isn’t every Amiga game‘, of ‘course not, but you can bet your bottom dollar that nearly every game you played as a child is there. If this book was to contain every Amiga game ever made, you wouldn’t be able to lift it off the ground!, and who knows, maybe after Sam has released his Spectrum book, there might be a possibility of a Volume 2 of lesser known Amiga titles. There certainly are some hidden gems out there that need to be unearthed.
So let’s recap, 140+ classic games – Let’s find a few names from the book that you may remember. How about Blood Money, Pang, Monkey Island 2 and Nitro? Looking over the games index page, they are all here – Turrican II, Xeno
n 2, Marble Madness and so on. Any Amiga fan will be in their element! This isn’t just a book about games though, oh no, there’s a lot more here, ‘The Birth of the Amiga’, Demo’s & Utilities, Box Art, Hardware, Artists Interviews, Company Profiles and Unreleased Amiga games.
Let’s go back to ‘Demo’s & Utilities’ for a moment. If you’re like me, a real die hard Amiga fan, you will know that the Amiga was not only the most popular games computer of it’s time, it also had one of the biggest scene followings with literally thousands of demos released by various groups, showing off the machines hardware capabilities and amazing graphical power. For me, the demos were (and still are) a big thing, almost as important as the games themselves. Bare in mind I was still too young to actually go to any of these gatherings, but these demos always managed to find their way back to the general public somehow. Originally they would be swapped or sold at gatherings and computer shows. The average Joe managed to get them other ways. Friends with Amiga’s, car boot sales and swapping them on the school playground. Big scene groups such as Red Sector Inc., LSD, Budbrain, Wild Copper, Rebels, Crionics and Kefrens, were the most common demos that most people had. I fondly remember loading them up on my A500, and watching in amazement.
The book contains ten colourful pages about the Amiga demo scene. It would be hard to feature every demo in the book as there are literally thousands (with groups still making more even in 2015! Check the website http://www.pouet.net) but I think considering this is a book more about the ‘Best Games‘, this is still a nice little addition and covers the most well known names in the scene. Sam has also featured probably one of the most well known and most used Utilities for the Commodore Amiga. X-Copy. The Amiga was plagued with piracy, as I mentioned further up in this review, my dad managed to get hold of a double disk box of pirated games, before he even bought the computer! Ask any Amiga owner what games they had back in the day and they will most always reply, they had loads of games but only a few original titles, as it was much easier to get hold of them by other means.X-Copy was a utility that nearly every Amiga owner used at some point. It’s a lot less used these days though (due to emulation and ease of downloading Amiga adf files) and I personally think that Amiga fans and Retro Gamers of today are more inclined to buy and collect original games.
Just like the previous C64 book, the visuals are where this compendium shows it’s true colours. Beautiful screenshots, some spread over two pages, with short paragraphs about each game and important game information. Year of release, game genre, publisher and who developed the game. There’s also original box artwork and even macro images of Amiga hardware that pop up now and then in-between the game pages.
The book also features, loading screens, game maps, history of the Amiga, information about well known publishers and developers such as System 3, The Bitmap Brothers, Bullfrog Productions, Team 17, Cinemaware and Sensible Software. This is all just the tip of the iceberg though, there is so much more to this book, I couldn’t possibly fit all of it into one review, the only real way to fully appreciate it, is to (if you haven’t already) head over to http://www.funstock.co.uk and buy it!
So what’s the difference between purchasing the original version and the collectors edition? The regular book version (Just the book) is £29.99, and you get five nice demoscene postcards. The Collectors edition is £49.99, for this you get the book, an Amiga bookmark, some cool Amiga fridge magnets, some stickers, an awesome Guru Meditation error mouse mat! and also the five demoscene postcards!
If you was lucky enough to be one of the backers during the Kickstarter, then you may have received one of the stretch perks such as, an Amiga logo printed pen, a remixed version of the Shadow of the Beast soundtrack by Tim Wright, Another World A3 size poster, an optional hardcover and one of the best stretch goals was a Limited Edition physical boxed version of Putty Squad. Only 100 of these were made!
Sam will be releasing another book soon titled ‘ZX Spectrum: a visual compendium‘
The Kickstarter is still live right now with 18 days left, and has already surpassed it’s goal of £20,000! Currently the Kickstarter has reached a whopping £48,630! Head over to www.kickstarter.com and secure your copy and also check out the awesome stretch goals too!
Sam Dyer: https://twitter.com/mrsidc64
Buy the book: http://www.funstock.co.uk
Affiliates: http://www.gamesyouloved.com, http://www.funstock.co.uk
Many thanks to http://www.funstock.co.uk
Review by CommodoreBlog