Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, by Chris Kohler
Now available in an all-new expanded edition
My first book, Power-Up, was originally published by BradyGames in 2004. Building off the research I did at Tufts University and a Fulbright scholarship to Japan, it’s an examination of Japanese video games from a variety of different angles. It explores the cinematic nature of games like Donkey Kong and Final Fantasy, and features in-depth, original interviews with industry luminaries like Shigeru Miyamoto (Super Mario Bros.), Fumito Ueda (Shadow of the Colossus), Masaya Matsuura (Parappa the Rapper), Eiji Aonuma (Legend of Zelda), and many more.
Power-Up went out of print many years ago and has been unavailable to purchase ever since, so I’m very excited that an all-new, updated for 2016 edition is now available from Dover Publications. The new edition has a foreword from Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony’s worldwide game development studios and one of the key figures in the Japanese gaming industry. There’s a beautiful new cover by my friend Karen Chu. I’ve written a new essay about Akihabara, Japan’s gaming district. Finally, there’s a massive new chapter all about the life and work of Nintendo’s late president Satoru Iwata.
“Chris Kohler’s Power-Up still has life in 2016… So insightful, so interesting, and so packed with stories I haven’t heard anywhere else.” — Tiny Cartridge
Inside the book, chapter by chapter:
Chapter 1: Super Mario Nation
What made Japanese games so popular all over the world?
Chapter 2: An Early History of Cinematic Elements in Video Games
From Atari’s Missile Command to Pac-Man, a look at the earliest attempts to insert story and characters into video games.
Chapter 3: The Play Control of Power Fantasies: Nintendo, Super Mario, and Shigeru Miyamoto
A look at gaming’s most pivotal individual, the genius who created Mario and Zelda and laid down the grammar of video games for a generation of designers.
Chapter 4: Quests and Fantasies: The Japanese RPG
Dragon Quest, Mother, Final Fantasy, and more–how Japan took the role-playing game and created its own incredibly popular version of it, revolutionizing games in the process.
Chapter 5: Game Music, Music Games
From the beautiful scores of Nobuo Uematsu to addictive games like Gitaroo-Man and Parappa the Rapper, music is a vital part of Japan’s gaming scene.
Chapter 6: A Tale of Two Gaijin
The unlikely story of two teenagers from England who moved to Kyoto to create one of Nintendo’s great classic games, Star Fox.
Chapter 7: Adventures In Akihabara: The Japanese Game Marketplace
Tokyo has its own gaming district, and it’s the Mecca of the world’s nerd population. Includes a special bonus essay for 2016.
Chapter 8: Lost in Transration: This Game Are Sick
Bringing Japan’s games outside of Japan has never been easy. A look at the process of localization, and where it goes right and wrong.
Chapter 9: Pokémon: Shikaku Sedai No Sekai Shôhin
The biggest Japanese game phenomenon of the 1990s was the perfect “global product for the visual generation,” as the title of this chapter argues.
Chapter 10: Future Games
The stories of the games The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Ico, and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
Conclusion: Thank You, Mario [But Our Profits Are In Another Country]
As Japan’s homegrown games business declines, it looks to success in other places.
Bonus 2016 Chapter: Iwata Dreams of Video Games
If Shigeru Miyamoto was the key figure in Japanese games in the last century, Satoru Iwata carries that mantle for the 21st century so far. Nintendo’s late president changed the way we play before his untimely death in 2015. A tribute to a giant of Japanese games.
The 2016 edition of Power-Up is the definitive edition of this classic book, with lots of new material that I hope will please even owners of the original. You can order it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, direct from Dover, and anywhere else you might want to buy books. And yes, it’s available in Kindle, iBooks, and other ebook formats!