We’re not just obsessed with retro gaming here at Retro Dodo; we’re mad about retro gaming books as well. When the batteries run out or our eyes turn square, we reach for our favourite books to get our gaming fix.
One of the things that we love about the retro gaming community is their attention to detail and their willingness to help others learn more about ‘the good old days’ of gaming. Just like books on the Vikings, the Romans, and that other business with the Trojan Horse, retro gaming books are important for understanding important and historic gaming events.
And let’s be honest, they’re great fun to read and make us look brainier for having books up on a shelf.
We’ve made a list of the 10 best retro gaming books that you can add to your own collection. We’ve covered everything from fan favourites to books on how to mod your favourite handheld. Feed your gaming obsession with some tasty facts and well-crafted literature.
It would be rude not to!
Table of Contents
1. A Handheld History
And finally, it’s time to introduce the best retro gaming book on the block, A Handheld History!
That’s right, the Retro Dodo community have helped our newest book become the hottest retro gaming tome in town, reaching our initial month-long target in less than 24 hours and ensuring that A Handheld History will be on shelves the world over.
Covering everything from the initial ideas of Gunpei Yokoi to the chats with influential members of the gaming community, this book is a one-stop-shop to the world of handheld gaming.
Reminisce about Tetris, relive your first ever Game & Watch, and find out some sneaky facts about the handhelds that you cherished as a child.
Alongside incredible written content from some of the leading experts in the field, readers can delve into impressive illustrations and discover artists who live and breath retro gaming at the same time too!
Once again, we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has bought a copy so far and supported the project! Head over to Lost in Cult to grab a copy if you’re late to the party!
2. Game Boy: The Box Art Collection
It’s back to Bitmap Books for the next entry in our list of the best retro gaming books. Game Boy: The Box Art collection which dropped back in November 2020.
A sequel to the incredible ‘Super Famicom – A Box Art Collection’, this book comes in a slide-out tray just like the Game Boy carts of old. It features life size photographs of the stunning artwork and packaging that made these games so exciting to buy and hold, praising the innovative design elements that drew us in and made us part with our hard-earned cash.
Just look at that front cover artwork by ex-Rare concept artist Wil Overton! Each game feature will include an in-depth critique of the artwork, as well as interesting interviews with game collectors who are mad about all things Game Boy.
The book will draw games from Europe. North America, and Japan into one coffee-table-friendly hardback book. This is certainly going to be on my Christmas list this year!
3. SEGA Master System Compendium
If you’re a fan of all things SEGA, then you’ll be a massive fan of this extensive visual compendium from Bitmap Books. This is the first book dedicated to the SEGA Master System and is officially licensed by Sonic’s parents themselves.
If you’re reading this in Brazil and are wondering why there’s a book about the brand-new SEGA console that you’ve just bought, then treat this as a catalogue of all the best Master System games that you can look forward to playing in the future.
This book is a visual feast of the 8-bit pixel art that made this console such an iconic system. It features some of the most iconic scenes from all of your favourite games married with some interesting soundbites to whet your thirst for gaming knowledge.
At 424-pages long and holding information on over 200 games, this book is a must for SEGA fans. There are also in-depth interviews with developers and larger features inside too.
And for you true collectors, it comes with a dust jacket, slip case, and 3D glasses! Bitmap Books are by far, one of the best retro gaming book makers around. The quality is beyond superb.
4. [lock-on] Gaming Journal
Each magazine and book is crowdfunded and only made possible thanks to the lovely gaming community. Their most infamous product is the [lock-on] series which dives deep into old retro gaming stores and new modern day ever couple of months.
They work closely with some of the gaming industry’s most talented artists, they feature interviews with developers and talk closely with influencers to make this an all-round enjoyable magazine.
I personally know the creators behind the book, and i can honestly say they are incredible passionate, hard working individuals that are doing great things in the space.
They are soon to be launching a “presents” series that’s going to be focused on other subjects within the gaming industry and I think this will be the creation of the best retro gaming books of the year.
Keep an eye on Lost In Cult, seriously.
5. SNES Pixel Book
Sticking with Bitmap Books and the Nintendo theme, the next title in our retro gaming books compendium is a SNES fanatic’s dream. It features 272-pages of glorious 16-bit gaming history, featuring in-depth articles and thousands upon thousands of specially taken screenshots of your favourite games.
The SNES had a huge games list, and this unofficial catalogue explores the best-loved genres and titles it had to offer. Peruse game maps and soak up gaming knowledge as you take a trip down memory lane, all accompanied by some of the most iconic characters in retro gaming history.
This SNES Pixel Book covers both classic and obscure games from the consoles repertoire. Learn more about elusive rare SNES games, and place it alongside your most treasured and best SNES accessories!
Each of the lithographically printed pictures stand out superbly, and the 3mm slipcase that accompanies the book will keep it pristine for many years to come.
6. Retro Gaming – A Byte-Sized History Of Video Games
This next entry in our list of the best retro gaming books is certainly a contender for winning the award for ‘best title’. Retro Gaming: A Byte-sized History Of Video Games covers the complete A to Z of video gaming through the ages.
In this instance, that’s Atari to Zelda.
This self-described ‘compact, comprehensive compendium’ is a one-stop-shop for all of your retro gaming facts. Relive the highs, laugh at the lows, and discover some hidden gems along the way.
‘Retro Gaming’ is a book for serious gamers. It covers over forty-years worth of gaming, from arcade titles right through to the home console games that we still can’t put down.
Expect lots of cameos from Mario, Sonic, Link, and some unnamed Tetris blocks. Prepare to also say ‘ah yeah’ out loud when you come across old favourites that have fallen by the wayside over the years.
This book is informative, fun, and filled with facts that you can impress your friends with the next time you sign in to online play.
7. Micro But Many
Of course, the best retro gaming books don’t necessarily have to be about video games. One of my favourite childhood memories was playing with Micro Machines, and ‘Micro But Many’ has a whopping 400-pages dedicated to the entire collection.
Put together by avid collectors and the original designers of the brand, Micro But Many is an unofficial guide to what many still perceive to be one of the best 80s toys and the best 90s toys ever made.
It’s like a miniature showroom for some of the greatest micro planes, cars, boats, and tanks ever made!
Each entry provides detailed stats and information, as well as a high-quality colour photograph for you to drool over. You’ll find out all about how your favourite toys were created and pick up interesting anecdotes from the people who made them.
In true 90s collectors style, this book comes with an animated lenticular cover and features holographic, foil-backed pages throughout. You’ll also get four colourful bookmark ribbons and a shiny sticker to stick on your favourite gadget.
8. Go Straight
When our Go Straight book arrived, we were suprised to see it being delivered by a small crane. This book feels like a brick, is as thick as a brick, and weighs the same as a brick.
With over 456 pages, this is by far the biggest retro gaming book on the list, and one that if dropped could flatten toes with ease.
Go Straight is a retro gaming book made by Bitmap Books dedicated to side-scrolling beat-em-ups. Think of like an encyclopaedia. Every side-scrolling game is featured in this book an you scan through it alphabetically to find new games, or research old ones that you have played in the past.
We’ll admit the art layout gets a bit repetitive, they haven’t collaborated with any artsits and it seems they have simply taken screenshots of games to fill the book but the information contained is where the quality of this book comes to life.
It takes a deep dive into well known beat-em-ups such as Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Final Fight and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as diving into some more obscure fighters like Denjin Makai, Shadow Force and more.
If you want to learn about incredible enemies, unknown facts and guides to some of the most popular levels, then this is a book to pick up. Actually, it’s hard to pick up, so we recommend getting the crane to place it where you need it upon delivery.
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.