Friday 19 November 2021

The Secret History of Mac Gaming: Expanded Edition Review

Bitmap books has done a wonderful job of presenting some beautifully laid out books that show off the look and feel of gaming systems from years gone by and act as quick injections of nostalgia. The Secret History of Mac Gaming is different to the bulk of their output in that this is a much more in-depth and less picture heavy insight into a world that we dare say many gamers will have little to no knowledge of (including ourselves). It’s a good thing then that this hefty hardback can back up the promise of its premise with well researched and fascinating writing from author Richard Moss.

Before we get into that, we should stop to admire the stunning cover design of the book. In all its glory we have an early Apple Mac computer displayed in the same graphical style as the first Apple Mac OS screen displays. Despite never owning one (and rarely playing one), the computer that emerges from the dot based art conjures instant nostalgia and we just knew after seeing the care that has been taken with it that the rest of the book would meet a similar level of quality.

It’s worth noting though that this book really is more of a serious and in-depth look at a key company and time in video game history. It’s not the sort of book that can be just flicked through like so many other of the company’s releases. This really requires sitting and reading for a decent period of time in order to get the most out of it. That’s not particularly difficult though as the stories and interviews within are really well handled which means it remains consistently interesting throughout its four hundred and eighty plus pages.

For those wanting to dive into specific sections of the story there is a very clear layout and chapter separation so that is still very much possible. But most of the bulk of this book is text with only a few screenshots used to highlight certain games being spoken about so you’ll need to read a whole chapter at a time to make much sense of it.

The book is a treasure trove of information though. Our personal favourite of which is the chapter based around Apple’s attempt to break into the console market with Bandai after creating the Pippin. We’ll admit that we had never even heard of this and the story of the chaos and different approaches the two companies had to this is a great insight into the industry at the time. It’s something that is often overlooked in the wider retro gaming community so having a spotlight placed on it here is most welcome and will hopefully get readers looking into more obscure and forgotten systems out there which can only be a good thing.

Overall, Author Richard Moss has done a brilliant job in turning a real passion project, which he clearly holds dear, into something that is both informative and interesting to read. This book is perhaps aimed at a bit more of a niche audience than many of Bitmap Books releases but for anyone who remembers the Apple as a gaming machine or is interested in the history of video games and game development this is an absolutely essential read.

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*picture from Bitmap Books website

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