Commodore Amiga: a visual Commpendium - Book review


So after what seems like an eternity waiting since the end of the kickstarter campaign, The book Commodore Amiga: a visual Commpendium has finally been shipped to backers (it actually wasn't that long in comparison to other kickstarters I've funded but this was highly anticipated.) But does it stack up to the pre-launch hype? Read on to find out. (warning, image content heavy)



The Amiga book (as I shall call it for the rest of the article) is the second in a series of books by Sam Dyer AKA @MrSidC64 on many forums and twitter and is the followup to the C64 book of the same name (Commodore 64: a visual compendium) which we loved and has been highly regarded as a wonderful piece of work, bringing back many memories for the C64 crowd (including me!) Well the amiga book is just like that but better, so just read that review and imagine everything better.

What? you need more than that? Ok, here you go!

For me, the more important computer in my personal computing history has to be the Amiga so this one was always going to be more special to me... And does it live up to that? YOU BETCHA! The outcome of the kickstarter campaign was a whopping £129K out of a requested 25K, totally smashing all the stretch goals (more on those further down) demonstrating the dedication of the Amiga community in the retro gaming/computing landscape.


The biggest outcome of the stretch goals for people who didn't back the campaign and want to buy the book now it's out are the improvements to the book itself over the the C64 book. The binding has been improved so that it's now thread sewn meaning it's "fold flat". One of the only niggles with the C64 book was that due to the binding, if you wanted to see any of the artwork that crossed a full 2-page spread properly, you had to stretch the book out, which either creases the pages or creases the spine. Not so with the second book. You can see the issues I had taking photos in my review so quality++ here.

The second thing is the length. It is significantly longer than book 1 at nearly 420 pages of content over the ~230 pages in the C64 book.

Thirdly is a slipcase that comes as standard from the first print run (it's unclear if the slipcase will feature in any subsequent runs)

So what's in it?


Well, just like the C64 book, there is the same combination of game screenshots with paragraphs containing facts or quotes from people involved, title screens and original artwork, interspersed with individual profiles and close up macro photos of actual hardware (AKA hardware porn ;) ). However over and above this, there is more in-depth material, including a feature on the pre-history of the Amiga 1000, multi page features on selected developers, a section on the Amiga demoscene, artist interviews and several pages of game box art. all this on top of nearly 150 game features, many of which are now double page spreads!

Pinball Fantasies double page

Let that sink in a moment. Nearly 150 games featured. Now this is only the tip of the iceberg of all amiga games made but certainly if you were to ask someone what their own top 20 were to be, there's a very strong chance that virtually all of them would be covered in this book.

Birth of the Amiga feature
In the run up of the KS campaign and and subsequent wait for release and eventual release, one of the biggest recurring criticisms I saw online of these books was "...well that's a bit expensive for a bunch of screenshots I could take myself on UAE..." but this book is much more than just 150 screenshots. There are also 12 beautifully shot photos of amiga hardware from A1000 to CD32. There are interviews with Dan Malone, Andrew Morris, Henk Nieborg, Tobias Richter and Jim Sachs plus a full page foreword by Stoo Cambridge. Company Profiles of Cinemaware, DMA Design, Factor 5, Sensible Software, System 3, and Team 17. Concept Drawings from the design of the Amiga 1000 with quotes from the designers and people are also included.

Artist interviews

Factor 5 company feature

Box art
Demoscene feature
This is one incredibly well researched book and far more than the sum of its parts and certainly more than a reference book of random screenshots. All in all, I'm super excited to have backed this book and the result far outweighs the price, especially considering the bundle of kickstarter stretch goal perks:



  • Amiga logo printed pen
  • Amiga logo etched metal bookmark
  • I <3 C= Amiga sticker
  • Another World A3 size poster (Another World text printed in metallic gold font)
  • Tim Wright 2015 remixed Shadow of the Beast soundtrack CD
  • Limited run of Putty Squad physical boxed release (above £60 and limited to 100 made)
  • Optional hardcover

Now obviously the above perks were only available to kickstarter backers but collectors will be happy to root out some of these on ebay in the coming years. The 100 copies of Putty Squad likely to be pretty sought after for a long time to come, and the Tim Wright remixes of SotB is well worth trying to find a copy of to listen to.

So the final word has to be that the C64 book may have been a knockout practice run for what has ended up a much superior product with some of the most beautiful amiga related content I've had the fortune to see for a long time. An absolute must for any amiga fan out there and bodes well that Sam can get a hat trick and hit it out of the park with the upcoming Spectrum compendium book release (announcement coming on May 15th.)


The Commodore Amiga: a visual Compendium is available for £29.99 from

Bitmap books homepage
-Alistair
@ABrugsch

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