The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels by Chris Wilkins – review

Previous publications from Fusion Retro Book’s ‘in Pixels’ range may have been dedicated to our old stripy friend the ZX Spectrum but now it is time to turn our attention to it’s arch-rival (in the UK anyway) – the mighty Commodore 64, the highest selling single computer model of all time.

The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels comes in soft and hardback form and at 268 pages is the largest ‘in Pixels’ book to date. However this will also be the only volume unlike the ZX Spectrum in Pixels books which numbered three in total. The book I have for review is the hardback version which has a beautiful ‘C64 screen’ matt blue cover, designed by Steven Day with the “C64” logo and “in pixels” text spot varnished. The spine mimicks the beige of the original C64 itself and is emblasoned with the Commodore 64 ‘stripes’ logo. The overall effect is one of a luxury book which looks and feels fantastic.

Inside the book

The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels follows the tried and trusted format of the previous ‘in Pixels’ range with a fascinating Foreword by Bil Herd, former Commodore engineer responsible for the C128 amongst others, giving it an opening with considerable pedigree. Following on from this grand opening piece we have an equally enthralling history of Commodore told by former Newsfield owner and Zzap! 64 editor Roger Kean and an article on Commodore games cartridges by Mat Allen.

The one thing you will notice about this book compared to previous ‘in Pixels’ books is the extra input from people connected with the C64 in some way. All in all there are over 30 memoirs and articles by C64 dignatories, way more than in any previous single ‘in Pixels’ volume. This has caused the ‘games’ section – consisting of double page spreads with in-game graphics and a short synopsis – to be cut down to just 35. However, with a one-volume book on such a prolific machine, something had to give – and in retrospect think the book’s game to memoir ratio is balanced very well.

Memoirs appear to include almost everyone who was anyone during the Commodore 64’s long lifetime with the likes of Matt Gray, Andrew Hewson, Ben Daglish, Jon Hare, Karen Davies and Archer Maclean (to mention but a few) all giving great insight into those heady days. Throughout the entire book is a scattering of Commodore ads and some great photography of Commodore 64 hardware and peripherals, adding more interest to what is already an exceptionally jam-packed book.

In keeping with all of Fusion Retro Books publications, print quality is excellent with the double-page games graphics in particular looking sharp and true to their pixellated original selves.

In summary

It is hard to imagine how Chris Wilkins could have crammed more information into The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels. That most of the information is written by people that were actually there – and told in an insightful way – is just the icing on the cake. An amazing piece of literature on Commodore’s greatest achievement and one that no retro gamer or video game archeologist should go without. The best ‘in Pixels’ book yet? Possibly.

5-out-of-5

Pre-order your copy of The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels here

Author: Ant Harper

Father, Husband, website developer, avid gamer since the mid-70s and collector of just about anything video game related. 8-Bit microcomputer and Sinclair specialist with a huge Sinclair related collection of his own. Blogs about retro gaming here but occasionally elsewhere when people ask. Bored of Mario and never much liked Zelda. Performs quirkafleegs for cold hard cash. Often found destroying ice crowns in the Lands of Midnight. Remembers: Lunar Lander. Plays: Steel Battalion, Gears of War

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