13 October 2014

Commodore 64: a visual Commpendium by Bitmap Books

Oh boy... Before I say anything else, I must admit that there is no way I could be objective enough when it comes to ANYTHING about Commodore 64. It was my first computer, a machine that most probably made me who I am today, a lifelong companion and a true friend! It was 1987 when I first laid my hands on one of those and it was definitely a love at first sight. I was a seven years old kid who lived in a socialist country where not many people had computers at home. My cousin had one and it was probably accidentally in the room when I walked in. Who in the world would let a little cousin near such a treasure, eh? Well, it was there, I was there and my cousin was always good to me so... Jack the Nipper II: In Coconut Capers was officially the first game I've ever played in my life. That was it - a new gamer was born! I was fascinated by the game and what that marvelous machine could do. There was so much...

But I digress. This should be about the book, not my first gaming experiences. Commodore 64: a visual Commpendium by Sam Dyer is a KickStarter funded book about the amazing art of C64 games through years, or as the book itself claims:

"The book has been created to celebrate the visual side of Commodore 64. It features the stunning pixel art created painstakingly by hand (way before the days of Photoshop!), beautiful photography that captures the iconic product design and a selection of Zzap!64 cover artworks by artist Oliver Frey."

Again, I am definitely not objective enough, so that's why I let my wife take a look at the book. And she loved it! She didn't understand much of the art in it ("why are these images so blocky?") but she loved the quality of the book itself. The cover, the paper... absolutely fantastic! The guys over at Bitmap Books (I say guys, but it's just one person as far as I know) did a wonderful job with design and the book itself is simply beautiful! As for the content... do I even have to say it? If you ever owned the magnificent Commodore 64, you know the games that ran on it. Sam Dyer sorted them chronologically and started with Jupiter Lander, followed by Beach Head, Blue Max and so on. It would be impossible to mention ALL the games that made C64 such a legend, but the collection present in the Commpendium is more than enough. Besides, it's the art that was in focus and not all amazing games also featured the amazing art.

Lode Runner, Bruce Lee, Pitstop II, Elite, Mercenary, Karateka, Ghosts 'n Goblins, The Last Ninja, Maniac Mansion, Defender of the Crown... are just some of the games mentioned in the book. As you can see from the images above, there's a small text and some info about each game. The texts are written by guest contributors, artists and programmers that made the games themselves.

I spent 3 hours last night, just shuffling through pages, looking at the images and reliving some of the old memories. Mind you, I still own a Commodore 64 and I am one of those freaks who still use it and yet - this book still got me daydreaming. I just can't make up my mind right now - should I use an emulator and speed things up a bit or turn on my old buddy again and replay some of the games mentioned in the book?

The book has 232 pages and is printed lithographically to the highest possible print standards. It's dimensions are 230 mm x 170 mm and comes with a spot varnished cover and a loose dust jacket.

If you need more info just visit these sites: 

Another thing. And this is very fresh. Sam Dyer started a Commodore Amiga: A Visual Commpendium Kickstarter campaign TODAY! If you are interested in funding it, just click on the link and read what's offered.

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