Before personal computers and game consoles, video arcades hosted cutting-edge software consumers couldn’t play anywhere else.
As companies like Atari, Commodore, and Nintendo disrupted the status quo, publishers charged their developers with an impossible task: Cram the world’s most successful coin-op games into microchips with a fraction of the computing power of arcade hardware.
From the first Pong machine through the dystopian raceways of San Francisco Rush 2049, Arcade Perfect: How Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, and Other Coin-Op Classics Invaded the Living Room takes readers on an unprecedented behind-the-scenes tour of the decline of arcades and the rise of the multibillion-dollar home games industry.
I loved reading David Craddock’s Arcade Perfect. I had forgotten how hard it was for developers to convert an arcade game to the SNES or Sega Genesis home consoles, and David captures that era in vivid detail.
–Tom Kalinske, former CEO of Sega of America
A crucial yet overlooked part of our industry’s past is the art of the arcade port to console. David’s book sheds light on the stories of some of the biggest games that made that transition and a must-read for anyone looking to understand the process.
–John Tobias, “ko-kreator” of Mortal Kombat
If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite arcade game made it home, read this book. It’s full of great stories from the people who made the magic happen, sometimes by bending the rules and using obscure hardware tricks. I don’t know of another book like this one that focuses on arcade ports—it’s unique and I had a blast reading it!
–John Romero, co-founder of id Software (Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake)
David L. Craddock continues to brilliantly document the fascinating arcana of video game history. In Arcade Perfect, he lets us inside the unique, insanely difficult world of video game porting—getting an awesome original game to work on a console with much less power, colors, screen resolution. I learned a lot, and I’ve been making games professionally for 32 years. You like video games? READ THIS NOW.
–Tom Hall, Sr. Creative Director, Glu Mobile; co-founder of id Software (Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom)
Craddock’s game histories shine spotlights on parts of the record-breaking entertainment media of the early 21st century that others miss. Rather than copy press releases designed to turn business executives into heroes of contemporary culture, he steps into the trenches to share the stories of the people who brought our favorite games into being.
-Jennell Jaquays, director of game design at Coleco Industries (1982-’85), designer on Quake II and Quake III: Arena, Hall of Fame member: Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design
Arcades played a huge part in my introduction to video games, an industry I’ve built a 15-plus-year career on. The sections on Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam almost had me in tears, because those two cabinets were at a pizza place near my house growing up. When I smell pepperoni pizza, I can hear “GET OVER HERE!” and “BOOM-SHAKKA-LAKKA!” vividly. It was wonderful to read about the work that went into those games, and it’s something I never considered until Arcade Perfect.
–Adam Bromell, co-founder of System Era Softworks and co-creator of Astroneer
Home versions of arcade hits drove the growth of the video game industry. Arcade Perfectbrings to light how this was done. From first-hand accounts you learn how small teams—sometimes one programmer—overcame enormous technical challenges and worked out the essence of a game’s design: what to leave in, leave out, and add, often in isolation and on tight deadlines.
–David Bamberger, former senior brand manager of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment America (Final Fantasy VII), marketing manager at Tencent (PUBG Mobile)
Arcade Perfect is a great look into the work our industry pioneers had to put into bringing games home before technology should have allowed it to be possible. It’s beyond important that these stories get told, and I hope every young game historian will keep this book handy.
–Patrick Scott Patterson, historian and Guinness World Record-holding pro gamer
The history of the creation of great arcade games has been exhaustively covered, but adding in how they were converted to home consoles and computers? That’s a fascinating, under-explored angle, and kudos to Craddock for dredging up all kinds of great behind-the-scenes information on both the original title and the—often more-played!—conversions.
–Simon Carless, co-runner of GDC (Game Developers Conference)
Arcade Perfect is a deep exploration of one of the most overlooked aspects of game development, and a celebration of the creativity found in the limitations developers face when porting games from powerful arcade cabinets to the inferior hardware of consoles. Whether fans meet those ports with rage (Pac-Man) or delight (NBA Jam), these stories offer new insight into the brainpower, sweat, and magic that goes into attempting a console game “perfect” enough to meet mighty expectations.
–Gabe Durham, founding editor of Boss Fight Books
Arcade Perfect is a fantastic, informative, and entertaining look at a criminally underappreciated chapter in the history of video games. The book is a must-read for any gamer old enough to have hoisted a controller in the 1980s and ‘90s—and should be required reading for today’s budding designers.
–Doug Walsh, Author of The Walkthrough: Insider Tales From a Life in Strategy Guides
David Craddock builds a time machine out of thoughtful storytelling and attention to detail that puts you right in the room with game developers. Read this, and never see home ports the same way again.
–Jesse Schell, author of The Art of Game Design, Distinguished Professor of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon University
Arcade Perfect opens the reader’s eyes to the technical limitations of classic video games, and in the process helped me to finally understand why none of my Game Boy games were as cool as their console counterparts. Craddock’s DiMaggio-like streak for providing readers with compelling video game history is still going strong.
-Wes Locher, author of Braving Britannia: Tales of Life, Love, and Adventure in Ultima Online
Arcade Perfect was a real joy to read. I loved learning about some of the most important ports that helped bring the arcades to our homes, an area in gaming that hasn’t been explored as much as it deserves.
–Adrian Wallett, co-host of the Arcade Attack podcast
From the arcade classics of yesteryear to the Arcade1Up movement of today, Craddock tells the behind-the-scenes stories of some of your favorite games—the ones that played so well, and the ones that did not, on the consoles they got so much more exposure on.
-Patrick Hickey, Jr., author of The Minds Behind the Games series