Before Mario Book Review
Before Mario is about the toys and electronics Nintendo created before the launch of the Famicom in 1983, hence the title. The book contains 224 full coloured pages, featuring 52 different product descriptions with a number of high quality pictures and artwork from the items. This isn’t a history, and it isn’t all encompassing, it’s simply a selection of perhaps the most interesting, to give a flavour of Nintendo’s progression and the variety of products that it used to produce before it started making consoles. The book is broken down into five sections, Family Games, Toys, Electro-Mechanical Games, Portable Electronic Games and Home Consoles. This is followed by Bonus Sections, Disney Board Games, Licensed Toys, Arcade Games, a Game and Watch overview, the Bassmate Computer and Nintendo’s Logo’s throughout history.
The book makes a very good impression, with a foreword by Satoru Okada. It’s quite a heart-warming little sentiment, with him recapping his early years at Nintendo, and the memories it brought back when he browsed the pages of the book himself. It’s a nice way to start a book which is essentially one of two things depending on who you are and your personal experiences, a book full of nostalgia or a curiosity of a time long gone.
If you’re one of these types, it’s definitely worth showing it to the other. I showed it to my Mum, who recognised many of the toys from her childhood, especially the Game and Watches, which where big over here as well as in Japan. For me, it’s a very interesting coffee table style book, I like looking through it, checking out these crazy and random toys, such as a ‘Love Tester’ and an ‘Ultra Hand’ and the little summaries and synopsis that accompanies each toy is usually quite well written and interesting.
One little titbit is that every page has descriptions in both English and French, right next to one another. It doesn’t really make a difference in a book like this in which the main attraction are the photos, however do be warned that if you are expecting a certain amount of text, just half your vision. I suppose publishing a book this way makes sense for a smaller company, and indeed that leads on to the only problem with the book. I do think it is a tad expensive at £30. I fully understand the amount of work that must have gone into it, and it is an incredible niche that it is targeted towards making the potential audience small, but I still can’t help feeling it is a little bit dear.
Ultimately, you will know if you would like this book or not. It’s a nice thing to look through, especially with other people, and it brings up a lot of stories and discussion if you are in the right company. I don’t think I’m going to do scores anymore for Book Reviews as I don’t think they work quite right, but overall I would recommend Before Mario to anyone interested in the subject matter, Nintendo in general, or classic toys and electronics.