Book Reviews

The Story of U.S.Gold Book Review.

The Story of U.S.Gold Book Review.

Welcome to another Retro Video Gamer book review. Fusion Retro Books has been creating a long series of retro gaming books for the last 4 years during which they have created a great selection of retro gaming publications, covering many classic home computers and British Software houses to name but a few.

The Story of U.S.Gold is the second such book to cover one of these iconic software house's covering the people who worked for the company all brilliantly mashed up with antidotes and memoirs. So after the success of their previous book “The history of Ocean Software,” which you can read my review HERE, this was extremely fitting as the follow-up book to cover the history of British software companies because of the direct connections between both Ocean Software and U.S.Gold accompanied with lots of information possible unheard of previously. The book for those of you who grew up in the 80's I am sure you'll be aware of U.S. Gold, U.S. Gold was founded in Birmingham by Geoff and Anne Brown in 1984 as the publishing division of their software distribution company Centresoft. Its primary purpose was to republish popular American computer games at a much cheaper price than you would expect to pay at full retail cost at the time in Europe, U.S.Gold set out to change all of that and boy did they do just that.

 Starting at the very beginning the book details Geoff Brown's failed attempt to become a 1960’s rock star onto becoming one of the most powerful people in the British gaming scene to deal with.  In the 1980’s he spotted an opportunity in the software marketplace to introduce what was back then the impossible, rather than setting up expensive software team and having to pay programmers and musicians and artist a regular wage, his brain wave to import software fully developed elsewhere in the world and bring it to the masses in Europe at a great price, this was a master stroke and a fascinating read within the book, it delivers the mechanics of operation, the bluffing and the lengths U.S.Gold took in order to be a success during the period they dominated the computer software industry in the United Kingdom and most of Europe, Fusion Retro book left no stone un-turned with this book. If you’re a fan of this type of thing, then this is pretty much a done deal for you. The book uses a great timeline of  the history of the company like never before and dares I say it, found it to be more evolutionary than “The History of Ocean Software” book, it’s a lot more polished and I feel better presented this time around which is only a good thing.

The book covers dealings with the likes of Datasoft, a software house I personally hold dear to myself, Access, who brought the world the wonderful military arcade action game “Beach-Head” as seen above here. How Geoff Brown convinced them to supply the software on tap and taking care of the logistics for these American companies which at the time had no idea what the software industry in Europe was all about. But not only did U.S.Gold supply the United Kingdom, they were also on the look out for games closer to home too, one which went on to be a huge hit on all 8-bit computer, the game, of course, I speak of is the wonderful Archer Mclean game “Dropzone” from his company at the time “Arena Graphics” a defender clone with a difference, super slick scrolling and lightening fast gameplay found on the likes of the Atari 8-bit computer really showed the level of quality U.S.Gold were striving for, bringing brand new and original games to the market quickly increased the attention of computer magazines like Zap64 and many others.


 As mentioned above the antidotes within this book are nothing short of awesome, there is one, in particular, I wouldn’t write about fully here, but one that covers a classic Atari 8-bit shooter “Galactic Chase” to say the antic's of which this game made it into the shops was a superb read for me, it’s things like this that brings a smile to your face as you progress through the book. The U.S.Gold book also delivers the downside of the company, the responsibilities and pressure from shareholders bringing a great balance within the book making it more enjoyable. Done in the same fashion, the layout and design as the History of Ocean book, I did find some text alignment issues again this time around but nothing to really criticise the book over and really iis the only thing I found, it’s so minor it won’t ruin the experience of the book even to the trained eye. You get original documents never seen before from Geoff Brown personal archive, the history between them and Ocean Software which I was amazed to read about, the people which made it all work and some great flashbacks of vintage magazine advertisements are also included, in fact there is so much in here that you will probably need to read the over a few times to take it all in.


So my final thoughts on the U.S.Gold book? Well upon reading the books Kickstarter campaign I was immediately struck with interest as  my past within home computer video games back then as a kid I was only ever interested in the games themselves, but now as an adult this piece of the jigsaw has been finally pieced together and now I have the full complete story of the company behind many of these great game releases and Fusion Retro Books has delivered on their promise, I can highly recommend this book as both a part of a software companies history and one for those who lived through this fascinating era. U.S.Gold defined the pinnacle of software marketing and revolutionised the home computer compilation concept to make millions of pounds which is well documented within this book. So what are you waiting for? Hop over to the Fusion retro Bookstore and grab a copy now at a brand new reduced price of only £19.99 you won’t regret this.



Writer Info
Author: greyfox
Creator of forth coming Coin-Op:Arcade Guide and creator of the Atari Gamer Magazine and the Atari ST Gamer Magazines. Retro gaming expert & fact finder.
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