The Game Console 2.0 is an extraordinary journey through the history of video game hardware.
You might not know the name Evan Amos, but you’ll almost certainly know his work. Amos is the photographer behind many of the marvellous high-resolution game console images on Wikipedia. His work is seen by millions of users, both on Wikipedia and the numerous other websites and publications that use his copyright-free pictures.
In 2018, some of Amos’ best images were collected and published in The Game Console, a photographic history book from No Starch Press. A second revised and expanded edition – The Game Console 2.0 – was released last year, adding a host of new consoles and images.
The beautifully produced hardback includes over 120 video game systems across nine generations, all pictured in exquisite detail with accompanying text. There’s a chapter for each console generation, starting with the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972 and concluding with 2021’s Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.
The text for each entry includes basic information about each system – its release year, price, processor, sales figures, etc. – and a brief description of its history. It’s well written and informative but doesn’t yield any tidbits that will surprise the most committed hardware enthusiasts.
It’s the photography that shines here. Each entry includes at least one image, and often more that detail a console’s regional variants and special editions. The most fascinating entries are those where Amos has disassembled a system to reveal the circuits, transistors, and chips inside.
Highlights include the remarkably empty innards of a Magnavox Odyssey 2 and the mess of spaghetti to be found inside a Casio PV-1000, a rare foray into the games market from the famous calculator company.
The book is a reminder that for every success story, there are many many failures. For every Sony PlayStation, there’s a 3DO. For every Game Boy, there’s a TapWave Zodiac. And for every Nintendo Wii, there’s a Wii U.
The consistency of the images makes it easy to see each system’s design choices laid bare. (Why did anyone think the Atari Jaguar had potential?) But regardless of commercial performance, each console and controller image is a delight to pore over.
Evan Amos found his way into photography by wanting to improve the quality of Wikipedia’s console images. This book is a testament to his obsession, and his work is now of genuine historical importance to the games industry.
As a photographic history of video game hardware, The Game Console 2.0 is peerless. The book is an easy recommendation for video game fans, fanboys, and product design enthusiasts. However, for something so overtly technical and detailed it’s also accessible, perfectly pitched even for readers who don’t sleep with an Atari Lynx under their pillow.
The Game Console 2.0 review
Publisher: No Starch Press
Release Date: Out now
The Game Console 2.0 is an illuminating visual history covering 50 years of video game hardware. The book is the perfect introduction for newcomers, but it’s also an essential document of video game history. An essential purchase.
We have a favour to ask
Thumbsticks has a couple of main aims. We want to write interesting articles and cover games that most outlets won't, and we want to give opportunities to new writers and new voices. But it's hard to do that in the current financial climate. If you'd like to help us fund these aims, you could always buy the team a cup of coffee.
Latest from Thumbsticks
PlayStation’s massive annual Days of Play sale is now on
There are big savings to be had on first- and third-party PlayStation games, and the PS5's DualSense controllers receive a...
Homebody is a new horror from the developer of Dream Daddy
Things are taking a weird turn at Game Grumps, developer of 2017's surprise hit Dream Daddy. This is Homebody.
This week’s PlayStation releases (May 23-27, 2022)
Sniper Elite 5 and Roller Champions headline this week's lineup of new PlayStation releases.
This week’s Nintendo Switch releases (May 23-27, 2022)
Kao the Kangaroo and Pac-Man are among the lineup of new Nintendo Switch releases this week.
This week’s Xbox releases (May 23-27, 2022)
My Little Pony, Kao the Kangaroo, and Pac-Man headline this week's new Xbox releases. Oh, and Sniper Elite 5.
The May 2022 Epic Games Store Mega Sale is now live
There are big savings (and also those discount coupons) available in the May 2022 Epic Games Store Mega Sale.
Latest Kao the Kangaroo trailer shows off the game’s enemies
Kao the Kangaroo's release is just around the corner, so here's a closer look at the character platformer's enemies and...
Release date revealed for Roller Champions
Roller Champions, Ubisoft's free-to-play roller derby game, releases next week.