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Curious Video Game Machines (Hardback)

A Compendium of Rare and Unusual Consoles, Computers and Coin-Ops

Colour Books Hobbies & Lifestyle > Gaming Photographic Books

By Lewis Packwood
Imprint: White Owl
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781399073776
Published: 2nd November 2023



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The story of video games is often told as the successive rise of computers and consoles from famous names like Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, Sega, Sony and Microsoft. But beyond this familiar tale, there’s a whole world of weird and wonderful gaming machines that seldom get talked about.

Curious Video Game Machines reveals the fascinating stories behind a bevy of rare and unusual consoles, computers and coin-ops – like Kimtanktics, a 1970s wargame computer made out of calculator parts, or the suite of Korea-exclusive consoles made by car manufacturer Daewoo. Then there’s the Casio Loopy, a 1990s console that doubled up as a sticker printer, the RDI Halcyon, a 1985 LaserDisc-based machine that could recognise your voice, and the Interton VC 4000, a German console made by a hearing-aid company, as well as a range of bizarre arcade machines, from early attempts at virtual reality to pedal-powered flying contraptions.

There are tales of missed opportunities, like the astonishingly powerful Enterprise 64 computer, which got caught in development hell and arrived too late to make an impact on the British microcomputer market. And there are tales of little-known triumphs, like the Galaksija DIY computer kit that introduced a whole generation of Yugoslavians to computing before the country became engulfed by war.

Featuring exclusive interviews with creators, developers and collectors, Curious Video Game Machines finally shines a light on the forgotten corners of video-game history.

Author interview on The Gaming Pubcast - listen to the episode here!

The Gaming Pubcast

As seen in 'Curious Video Game Machines with Lewis Packwood | Legends in The Cave'.

Watch the video here!

RMC Retro

Curious Video Game Machines is an incredibly well-researched book, filled with obscure stories, wonderful photos and juicy tidbits. A manna from heaven for any gaming historian and gaming lovers in general. – Damiano Gerli

Read the full review here!

Voxel Smash

Author interview on The Retro Perspective. Watch the video here!

YouTube, The Retro Perspective

As seen in 'A book which deserves your curiosity'.

Pixel Addict

Unboxing by Andrew Fisher - watch the video here!

YouTube, Andrew Fisher

Author interview on The Retro Hour podcast - listen to the episode here!

The Retro Hour, EP412

As featured in 'A Curious Atari Video Game Machine Restoration'.

Watch the video here!

YouTube, ctrl-alt-rees

From the foreword provided by Time Extension's Editor-in-Cheif, to the section on recommended reading and the nine pages of endnotes, Curious Video Game Machines is a highly entertaining read. The author has succeeded brilliantly in shining a light on some of the most obscure gaming machines from the earliest days of the hobby. Some were technical dead ends, others quick money grabs. Yet still more were simply unheard of due to either their country of origin or pure niche appeal. But here, in yet another worthy White Owl publication, you will learn about these, either for the first time or in expanding your understanding of what they achieved. Put simply, if the history of video games interests you in the slightest, you need to pick up a copy of this book.

Read the full review here!

Tantobie Internet Tattler

As featured in

Retro Gamer

As featured in 'THE MAKING OF Virtuality, The 1990s Pioneer That Sold The World On VR'.

Read the article here!

Time Extension

As seen in 'Pushing Buttons: Why Fortnite is suddenly the most popular game in the world once more'

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The Guardian

As featured in

Edge Magazine, #390, December 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed learning about rare and unusual electronics, it was well written and I was invested in what I was reading. Lewis Packwood has everything that I was hoping for and it does a great job in being researched.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Curious Video Games Machines by Lewis Packwood is a fascinating guide to really obscure video systems that never quite made it into the public consciousness. We all know of the Xbox and PlayStation in their many guises. Some may remember fondly Sega and Nintendo, yet in this book you'll find loads of systems that all promised to offer home entertainment but somehow through didn't.

This is extremely well researched and interesting to read for all those out there who love their games. I particularly liked the chapter on the Enterprise 64. I remember the computer being announced and thought it looked a real winner. At the time I had the ZX Spectrum but still coveted the Enterprise, I mean a joystick-built in... Like a lot of UK machines at the time it sort of faded out of the limelight, thanks to this book I now know why. Likewise, I remember the barcode battlers, quite an innovative idea but one that never caught on. Would have loved to see a chapter on the Sam Coupe or the 80's computer that would include a wheel as part of its chassis, but the ones in it were intriguing to read about.

Some of the machines featured were truly innovative and others you wonder what their ideas department were thinking of when they released them. I loved the photos of these machines, but at times would have liked to get an idea of the screenshots. Still, this is about the machines, not the games.

In these pages I learnt about systems I never knew existed or even imagined. A veritable treasure trove of forgotten heroes. A book that is highly recommended to those who have even a passive interest of the obscure video games machines.

NetGalley, AJ Steel

As featured in ''Curious Video Game Machines' Shines A Light On The Most Obscure Hardware Of All Time'.

Read the article here!

Time Extension

I enjoyed ‘Curious Video Game Machines’ it was an interesting read and the information was good, would recommend to anyone interested in the history of video games.

NetGalley, Gemma Fechner

About Lewis Packwood

Lewis Packwood has been writing about video games professionally since 2013, and his work has appeared in The Guardian, Retro Gamer, EDGE, Eurogamer, Wireframe, Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku, PC Gamer and Gamesradar+, among others. He contributed to the AR-enabled book Convergence: How the World Will be Painted with Data by VR evangelist and Forbes columnist Charlie Fink, and he is chief editor of the video-game website A Most Agreeable Pastime.

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