It may come as no surprise to anyone that’s had a quick nose around this blog to learn that I’ve ignored English language gaming books for a long time; their superior Japanese counterparts generally having the sort of heft that could concuss a bull elephant thanks to being stuffed full of exclusive interviews, short stories, design sketches and other interesting tidbits that you just can’t get access to anywhere else. So I greeted the news of an English book dedicated to Sega’s glorious Mega Drive with polite acknowledgement and filed it away in my mind as the sort of thing that would no doubt be filled with fluff questions asked to “easy” interviewees (think English ex-Sega ex-marketing types) and the usual official artwork incorporated here and there to fill up the space.
As it turns out the exclusive content in this book is of such a high standard that unless you happened to work in an internal Sega development team during the late 80’s/early 90’s then you have absolutely not seen the wonders contained within these pages before.
The book is neatly divided into eight major chapters, covering everything from design documents to character illustrations. I was expecting the section showcasing photographs of various console variants and accessories to feel pretty redundant – there’s nothing in there that Google’s image search feature can’t show you after all - but having clear, crisp images from sensible angles without any background clutter does give you the chance to appreciate the beautiful black lines of these things in a way that standard fan photography doesn’t quite get across. The pixel art sections have a pleasing selection of pieced-together maps from a selection of classic games (the Shining Force map is my particular favourite) as well as extensive “galleries” of player characters and enemies from Dynamite Headdy, The Revenge of Shinobi, Ecco the Dolphin and more.
I haven’t even mentioned the beautiful gatefold images yet! There’s beautiful panoramic art from Space Harrier II, Alien Storm and as for the Mega Drive production drawings? If they don’t set your retro gamer heart aflutter then I don’t know what will!
So much to my continued astonishment this is an English-language book for “real” Mega Drive fans, offering not only an extraordinary array of quality images but also new and interesting information for the sort of gamer that already knows what a Yamaha YM2612 is and can list exactly which gaming hardware used Motorola’s 68000 processor. Far, far, more than the typical nostalgic cash-in these things can sometimes end up as; Sega Mega Drive/Genesis Collected Works is an enjoyable and informative love letter to Sega’s 16-bit console that you can dip into for a quick gawp at some stunning artwork or sit down and read in depth. You really do need this book, even if you’re an Ultimania-purchasing Japan-only snobby bookworm like myself.
Want a copy for yourself? The official Read-Only Memory store page is over here - click!
Disclaimer (?): I’ve been given a review copy of this book as thanks for helping take some of the screenshots that grace its pages, which apparently makes me incredibly biased and/or part of some secret game writer Illuminati or whatever. Disregard any/all of this post as you please, or alternatively be the kind of reasonable and awesome gamer I respect and draw your own conclusions on the quality of the book from the images and text above.