๐Ÿ•น️Coin-Op: The Arcade Guide | Written by Darren Doyle | Greyfox Books | Review๐Ÿ•น️@greyfoxbooks #Retrogaming #Arcade

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Available from - https://www.greyfoxbooks.com/product/coin-op-the-arcade-guide/

The world of arcade machines seems vast and full of undiscovered gold. I’ll regularly be reading books or articles on the subject and come across a handful of games that I didn’t even know existed. Often, they are variations on a theme, but I’m always keen to find out every last morsel of information available – especially if they are side-scrolling brawlers, a genre which I am particularly drawn to for its visceral, button-hammering thrills.

Coin-Op: The Arcade Guide is clearly a book made with a real passion for the subject matter, and whilst there are some rough edges in terms of clunky sentences, typographical errors and a very busy visual design – there’s a compulsive thirst to the way that the author presents the work, this is best captured in the introductory text to each section of the book; a real desire for the reader to share the joy and reverence that Darren Doyle has for these releases and the memories tied to discovering and playing them.

“This book has been in the making for roughly 8 years now, I wanted to create a visual-heavy book dedicated to Coin-Op arcade games, and so this book was born. It features a huge collection of amazing arcade titles in one book for the very first time” – Darren Doyle

Cion-Op: The Arcade Guide is cleanly separated into different chapters – all of which are listed at the front of the book. Following the introductory pages and legal wording, the book kicks off with a section dedicated to beat ‘em ups. It’s here that we can see the layout that will be used for those parts of the book dedicated to highlighting specific games in the genre currently being discussed. 

There will initially be a couple of paragraphs detailing the origins of the game as well as details such as which company developed and released it, and musings on if it is more of a hidden gem or perhaps had a larger cultural impact – this will all be here. These are quite conversationally worded and again are indicative of the overall tone and approach of the writing – that of an enthusiastic individual infectiously imparting knowledge and keenness on to the reader (I did initially take a while to get used to this approach as it is quite anarchic and opinion-driven as opposed to the more measured, factually-driven style adopted by similar books, but as I read through, the breezy tone clicked with me – although some of the proofreadings did really need to be more tightly edited).

Above these paragraphs will be the logo and title in the original arcade font etc. as well as a small box containing specifications of each title – such as year, developer, publisher, genre, and cabinet type. Aside from a flyer or two, the rest of the page – or double-page spread, if the topic at hand is a more seminal release – will be made up of in-game screenshots from different moments of gameplay such as bosses, character selection screens and key images – with the backing of the page usually being taken from an in-game landscape blown up to act as a backdrop for the page itself, ensuring not a pixel of paper is left blank.

In terms of straight arcade genres, the ones covered are:

  • Beat ‘em ups 
  • Arcade racing 
  • Shoot ‘em ups
  • Arcade action 
  • Obscure arcade games
  • Horror games
  • One-on-one fighters

Whilst there tends to be a selection of around 12 titles in each genre that get featured, they may not be the examples that spring to your mind. For example, whilst the author acknowledges the impact of Final Fight in the beat ‘em up pages, it has no section unto itself until later down the line, leaving space for lesser-known games to be discussed such as 64th Street or Violent Storm.

I really did enjoy learning about games that have slipped under my radar but are clearly adored by the author, for instance – some of the brawlers in the horror section (I now know that need to play Night Slashers as soon as possible!). The back-end of the book also has a large number of titles that you may have assumed to be ‘missed’ thus far, covered in smaller articles, ensuring that a myriad of releases is included.

Aside from these areas, there are many more sections to the book, from histories of companies such as Data East to interviews with various arcade-related premises and some double-page spreads that don’t fit elsewhere in the book – at around 300 full-colour glossy pages, there’s a lot of information here.

Presented in a thick hardback that is rich with visual information and tasty trivia titbits as well as a group of pages purely dedicated to the artwork of some titles, Coin-Op: The Arcade Guide may not be perfect in terms of the editing of the text – and the ‘everything on the page’ design approach may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the enthusiasm and knowledge behind the book are clear, and it’s this that shines through.

(Note from the author)

“"I am a 48-year-old Graphic Designer/Motion graphic designer and self-publisher based in Dublin, Ireland, and I was lucky enough to have had the privilege to grow up during the infancy of video games culture stretching back as far as 1979, and at the tender age of 7 was when I experienced my first ever video game journey on the wonderful Atari VCS console (Laser Blast from Activision) and throughout the 1980's I was hooked on the latest video games and hardware technologies.

I was brought up using the Atari 8bit line of computers and eventually migrated into the 16-bit era with the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga in the 1990s and lived through all generations of home consoles from the Megadrive to the Snes, Playstations etc. My passion for old school video games has been so influential for a lot of the work I do today, both as an artist and a digital media designer, so with this design knowledge and experience with e subject matter, I decided to set out and produce and create five digital magazines based on classic video game machines, ranging from the Atari Computer 8bit and 16bit range (Atari Gamer and Atari ST Gamer) magazine series and a Nintendo NES system publication called "NES-BIT" to name but a few.

I am also the creator and producer of my very first book "Atari: a Visual History" which was funded on Kickstarter 2019 and the "Coin-Op: The Arcade Guide" which was funded in 2020 under my book label "Greyfox Books" so I’m extremely passionate about this subject matter and my goal has always been to aspire in creating the most professional publications to core and essence of what I am designing around and writing about in celebration of these video game platforms.

It is incredibly important to me to maintain very high quality on any future publications I work on and produce so that fans of these systems get what they've been screaming out for years.

I'm also the co-owner and partner of a retro gaming software label "Bitmap Soft" which release physical games for old hardware like the C64, Zx Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Amiga, PC, Mac OS, Gameboy and more and was started in 2019 and has received a great reception with vintage gaming collectors with Old new games to play on these wonderful machines."

Darren Doyle


  1. Firstly, I want to thank for covering the Coin-Op:The Arcade Guide and agree that there are elements of the book where rough around the edges and would have loved to refine this further, but as a world-first in cover classic arcade games in this fashion from the wiring to the design created by a single person, it was wonderful and enriching experience for me as it was for those that dreamt of a book like this and believe I have delivered on.

    There will be more in the future with the refinements I wanted to cover in this first opus, but you forgot to mention the wonderful arcade marquee artwork section, lots of people loved to this or the gate folds found in there too, But again thanks to you for reviewing my book, I am as always open to suggestions, improvements and always want to make something very bespoke and bring something fans have been searching for in a video game book like this.

    Kind regards

    P.S. the book comes with an awesome 4"x2" metallic arcade sticker :)

  2. Wow, What a Excellent post. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info.Thanks


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