Has anyone here read any of the Boss Fight Books? I’ve heard much praise for Derek Yu’s Spelunky entry (I have a copy being sent as we speak), but I’m curious to hear how some of those other ones worked out for you! Also, I’m looking forward to Laura E. Hall’s entry on Katamari Damacy! One of my favorite games being coupled with one of my favorite voices in design is Ideal.
I’m reading Spelunky now and it’s a good read. I’m a big fan of the game, so it’s cool to hear Derek talk about its inspirations and pretty specific design decisions, as well as some autobiographical detail about his history as a dev and the process of building out the game for XBLA.
Also really enjoyed what I’ve read of Anna Anthropy’s ZZT – it’s a really interesting dive into the early internet communities around the game.
ZZT is essential reading, highly recommended.
I also enjoyed Bible Games, which is a really neat window into how a bunch of atheists and agnostics supported a whole market of unlicensed software using faith-based games.
I’m interested in reading the Shadow of the Colossus one - has anyone read / have thoughts on that one?
I have it but haven’t gotten around to actually reading it. I do like the author, though.
I read the Earthbound one first, and it’s honestly one of the best pieces of media criticism I’ve read. Astonishingly well done, especially in how the author tied the game into his own life. The rest…are very uneven. The Chrono Trigger one is fine. The Galaga and SMB3 are so clearly phoned in that it turned me off of trying to read all of them, like I originally wanted to. They’re just regurgitations of wiki-type facts with no analysis or real critical lense to speak of.
I second all the praise you’ve heard on the Spelunky one. I would like to read more of them, but I also wouldn’t buy any I didn’t have a recommendation on, if that makes sense.
I figured there were gonna be some phoned-in entries (I’ve read a handful of 33 & 1/3rd books and they can get REALLY plain), which is why I even thought of this thread. I’m glad to hear the EB one is worth checking out!! I know talking about Earthbound is like… “games crit meme” territory, but it still deserves something comprehensive if only because it’s so enigmatic.
I only read the Earthbound one and thought it was more of an autobiography with tiny bits vaguely related to the game rather than a deep analysis of the game like I was hoping it was.
For whatever reason I was under the assumption that the series was going to be more like Pat Hollerman’s Reverse Design series, and it wasn’t. I wanted more graphs and less personal stories that had nothing to do with the game.
Perhaps the others are different but that was not really what I was looking for at the time.
I’ve read most of them, and the best three are Spelunky, Jagged Alliance 2, and ZZT.
There’s a Shovel Knight one out today, looks like: https://kotaku.com/how-shovel-knights-developers-modernized-nes-game-desig-1829767941
The focus in kotaku’s excerpt on how the game works mechanically reminds me of Jeremy Parish’s game books, if anyone’s read those
Earthbound was enjoyable but very personal, Jagged Alliance 2 was very good, Spelunky also very good, and the Burch’s Metal Gear Solid book manages to be a love letter to a series that they’re also very willing to call out for being bad.