January 1998

Phoenix, originally reviewed In NG  7, is an encyclopedic reference guide for anyone interested in the history of home videogames. Unlike Steve Kent's forthcoming game history  book, it makes little attempt to get into the minds behind the games. Rather, it's a chronological retelling of the history of home games - who showed what at which CES, who announced which games when, who sued whom, who bought whom, and so on. 

Author Leonard Herman may not win any prizes for his prose - it's workman like, even wooden at times - but the amount of data he's collected means that Phoenix should be considered a must-read for anyone interested in videogames. If you didn't live it, you can read it in Phoenix and be just about as knowledgeable. 

This update to the original (which was first published in late 1994) continues the history to the present day. Herman has also fixed some of the errors of the first edition (mostly spelling mistakes), retypeset the book in a more legible font, and addressed the most common complaint about the first edition by adding photos of the classic systems he covers. Unfortunately, the pictures won't be big or detailed enough for some readers, but it's definitely nice to see shots of old  hardware like Broderbund's U-Force and screenshots from rare games like the infamous Atari 2600 cart, Custer's Revenge. One other change Herman has dropped the word "home" from the title, which is reflected in the greater amount of arcade coverage included this time. 

In short, if you're reading this magazine, you should own this book.