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Bitmap Books’ PC Engine: The Box Art Collection is a book gamers and collectors must own. Filled with a large amount of content, knowledge of video games from the late ‘80s and ‘90s is lovingly and carefully preserved here so that they’ll never be forgotten.

Brief History of the Lost Consoles

Bitmap Books - PC Engine: The Box Art Collection (Bonk's Adventure 3 and Air Zonk Spread)

PC Engine: The Box Art Collection with games on top of Analogue’s Duo console. A new way to play PC Engine games for HDMI TVs.

The PC Engine era was a unique system series spanning the late ’80s to mid-’90s that carried interesting arcade-style games. It was sold throughout the world by different means and under different names, such as the TurboGrafx-16 or just the TurboGrafx.

However, the console didn’t bring in the same amount of games compared to Japan’s library and was competing against Nintendo and Sega, the two juggernaut console makers. Because of the lack of resources to bring games over to North America, a lot of games were missed by the audience, and today, they are difficult to own legally. Even though the TurboGrafx-16 mini was released in 2020, it’s still a challenge to find one. Even so, it’s one of the best and cheapest ways to discover lost media of that era. Games like Bonk’s Adventure, Splatterhouse, and popular import titles like Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire are available to play on the mini.

Another way to grab a piece of lost history is Bitmap Books’ PC Engine: The Box Art Collection. With 372 pages of content from the history of the PC Engine consoles to a catalog of its games, it’s one book gamers will want to own. Similar to another Bitmap Books title, “A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games”, it’s laid out in a simple but creative way where you not only have visuals of the game’s original cover art but also a few screenshots of the game underneath. Information about the game’s release date, genre, and console are listed above the synopsis. Each page is a high quality, edge-to-edge lithographic print and shows how much care the creators put into this book. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t images of the North America versions of games for comparison; only the Japanese originals are showcased.

Rich Gaming History

Bitmap Books - PC Engine: The Box Art Collection (Dragon Ball Z)

Dragon Ball Z makes an appearance on the PC Engine library.

One of Hideo Kojima’s early works at Konami, Snatcher, is listed in the book, a game that was released before his popular Metal Gear Solid series. Many of the games in this era carried the cyberpunk and early anime styles, too. Conversely, the artwork for the North American releases was designed to look realistic. To give an example of the differences between the countries’ art, think of the Mega Man games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) versus the more anime styled look in Japan. If these games were to sell today with Japan’s art style, they would have sold more. How times have changed.

Being able to flip through each page to see what was missed is a surprise. Famous anime shows like Dragon Ball, Ranma ½, and Sailor Moon had games released on the PC Engine consoles. Even some American shows like Knight Rider had a game released in Japan. Gamers may also notice a few titles that were released on other consoles. Taito’s prequel to Pocky & Rocky and Falcom’s Ys series are some that were originally released on the PC Engine. 

A Simple, Effective Shell

Bitmap Books - PC Engine: The Box Art Collection (Spine)

PC Engine: The Box Art Collection spine with metallic red lettering.

Bitmap Books are known to have well-designed books inside and out. The book weighs about 5.5 lbs, is 9.8” squared size, and is quite sturdy. Its sewn binding keeps the pages intact, while the hard cover lets owners open the book flat on any page. The cover itself has a soft texture with metallic red foil lettering that really makes the words pop out. The one thing missing is a ribbon bookmark so that readers won’t have to worry about where they left off.

As explained earlier, each game was given a creative but simple layout with a colorful background to make the game cover pop more. Colors were chosen based on the color and design of the cover. For example, Ys I & II used a golden color background to match some of the designs in the game cover. It’s a well put-together book.

The Final Page

Bitmap Books’ PC Engine: The Box Art Collection is a high quality book detailing the rich history of the lost PC Engine era. For those gamers and collectors who want to learn more about video games from that era, this book is the right fit for you.

The book was provided by Bitmap Books for this article and for photography. PC Engine: The Box Art Collection is available on Bitmap Books’ website.

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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