Monday 20 May 2024

PC Engine: The Box Art Collection Review


We’ve covered a number of Bitmap Books visual compendiums before but this the first time we’ve had the chance to look at one of the box art collections. There’s a couple more of these available as at present with both the Gameboy and Super Famicom represented but with the PC Engine not widely available over here it seemed like a far more interesting place to start.

The physical book itself is of unsurprisingly excellent quality. This is always the case with the Bitmap books we’ve looked at and it’s pleasing to see it continue. Paper is heavy and the front and back hard covers are manufactured well. The colours throughout the book are consistent and printed well, meaning each page looks as good as the last. The colour selection is also excellent and well thought out so that it complements the box art on each page.

Across 372 pages you get a well written foreword, a detailed history of the console and an interview with collector Lee Thacker. After that it’s pages and pages of glorious box art, screen shots and descriptions of the games. What is particularly interesting about this book is that it’s not likely to be as nostalgic for most who lived through the SNES Vs. Mega Drive days but if anything, it makes the games even more interesting.

Each page of box art follows the same layout. You get the cover shot of the game, a selection of smaller screen shots underneath and then an explanation of the game followed by a short breakdown of how the artwork is set out. You also get information such as the year the game released, developer and the type of PC Engine game it was such as CD or card. It’s everything you need to set you off on a journey looking for hundreds of games you’ve probably not played before. There’s a very handy index at back which helpfully lists every title covered as well to aid in this process.

As most of the book is full of the box art you aren’t getting the level of history and analysis present in some of Bitmaps other books but then it’s pretty clear from the title what the aim is. What is clear though is that every single game has been given the respect and care it deserves. With books like this it’s vital to spark a curiosity in the reader and in that respect, it can’t really do anything more. Just try to keep off eBay for a few days after reading it at least.

Overall, the PC Engine: Box Art Collection is a great new addition to Bitmap Books already impressive lineup. In many ways it’s the perfect console to pick as it will draw in a crowd who will likely be looking to discover something new. The start of the book gives enough background to give you an understanding of the systems place and the presentation of everything else is consistently excellent. In terms of the box art and visual compendium releases from Bitmap, this is undoubtedly one of the best and highly recommended.


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*Picture from Bitmap Books website.

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