Review: Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, by Stuart Ashen

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Regrettably this book is non-fiction.  As utterly preposterous and nonsensical as it seems, SQIJ! For the ZX Spectrum is an actual thing that actually happened and manages to beat out even Barbie Dreamhouse Party in sheer WTFery.

I was introduced to Ashen’s YouTube channel quite recently. Basically about the same time I started showing people my own tat and then heard there was a guy on YouTube who makes videos about it.  Ashens is someone who is, to quote the book ‘obsessed with old video games and things that aren’t quite good enough for their intended purpose’.  On his channel he reviews old video game systems, rubbish from Poundland (like Dollar stores in the USA), and all kinds of junk basically. And somehow he manages to just talk about these things and makes them weirdly entertaining.

Then I found out that he’d written a book, ‘Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Of’, and I do like it when a title tells you exactly what to expect inside.  These are all games that were commercially released for home computers between 1980 and 1995, so chances are most of you won’t have ever heard of them, and they are all terrible.  These were the days when a commercial game could be written by just one or two people in an office or at home and were often just rushed out in shameless cash grabs. Modern games of course typically require a team of people to work on them, so that’s changed at least.

Ashens discusses each terrible game and the histories behind each title with his usual dry humour, accompanied by colour screenshots (when the games actually had colours in them), and contributions from other Youtubers and industry insiders.  (Autocorrect is trying to tell me that ‘youtubers’ isn’t a word, but I think it is so f*** you Word; I’m adding it to your dictionary).  My only complaint is that it felt short, as I’d read the whole book in just a few hours.

Other than the games themselves, the main thing I took away from it is that I want to write a Choose Your Own Adventure Book.

Anyway, this title is available in Hardcover and on Kindle.

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