Worst Amiga Book Ever: The A-Z of Commodore Amiga Games by Kieren Hawken (Book Review)
Kieren Hawken's book The A-Z of Commodore Amiga Games is the worst Amiga book I have ever read. It's a rambling collection of game "reviews" by an extremely biased and Atari ST obsessed trouble-maker, and the majority of the reviews seem to have been copied and pasted from his other "books". The "reviews" are full of spelling mistakes, poor grammar, incorrect facts, and downright lies. No proof-reading seems to have taken place. The writing is at a level comparable to a child, still learning basic writing at primary school. I suspect the author has never even played these games on the Amiga, and simply stole screenshots from YouTube for his Amiga "reviews".
I'll briefly go through some of the worst reviews I noticed in this book to explain why it's a waste of your time and money.
Thankfully most of Kieren's terrible PDF pamphlets have been removed from Amazon, so it should be harder for Kieren to take money from gullible retrogamers.
The first review in the book, and Kieren made a pretty bold claim that Roger Dean and Psygnosis stole the box-artwork:
According to Kieren, Psygnosis stole the old ZX Spectrum artwork, re-created the parts that were drawn over, added sections that were missing, re-coloured it, then put their title over the top. The truth is Psygnosis licensed the original artwork themselves, and were then free to add their own logo.
Kieren then questioned if the owl's name is Psygnosis.
A few seconds research would have shown Kieren that it definitely isn't. From graphic artist Franck Sauer's wonderful Agony entry on his website:
The ridiculous A-Z template Kieren sticks to in his books where he picks 3 games from each letter of the alphabet means he constantly has to shoe-horn games into unpopular letters to pad out the book, Rather than putting Another World under the letter 'A', he included it in the 'O' section for the USA-only title Out of This World — but never bothered to explain this. He confused himself through the review, switching between the names. The grammar was absolutely terrible in this review, such as this sentence:
Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior
Another casualty of Kieren's stupid maximum-three-games-per-letter idea, Barbarian had to be shifted to the letter 'U'. The status panel even shows 'Barbarian' at the top, not "Ultimate Warrior (The)". There is also no mention of the USA release called Death Sword, something any games journalist should have known.
Kieren contradicted himself in his Body Blows review. Much later in the book he claimed that nobody had heard of Team 17, yet he wrote that Team 17 were "much loved" in this Body Blows review:
Kieren's lack of Amiga knowledge showed when he summed up the game with this awful sentence:
I'd wager that he's never played Shadow Fighter, Fightin' Spirit, Mortal Kombat or Mortal Kombat 2 on the Amiga — titles that are all much better versus fighting games than Body Blows.
Bubble Bobble is yet another copy and paste review from many of Kieren's other books, complete with all the same mistakes. The game was released in 1988, not 1987 as Kieren wrote at the top. The main characters Bub and Bob were turned into dragons, yet Kieren wrote:
Kieren's been pulled up multiple times that Bubble Bobble features bonus letters in the bubbles that spell out "EXTEND", not "EXTRA". In the Amiga version, collecting these six letters awards a bonus life and completes the current level, yet Kieren's reviews all seem to include this load of nonsense:
The screenshot included in the book even shows EXT--- down the left, and E-TEND on the right, so maybe he needs to get his eyes checked out!
Many others have suggested that Kieren doesn't even play the games he reviews, and simply steals screenshots from YouTube videos. I managed to confirm this, and matched his screenshot to a longplay video by bethelarmerfisch at 44:58.
LynxGod has already ripped apart Kieren's Commodore 64 review of Bubble Bobble and most of it applies to this Amiga "review".
The Empire Strikes Back
The Empire Strikes Back review seems to be a copy and paste review from his earlier books, complete with horrendous blunders like this:
According to Kieren, Star Wars was released first, followed by Return of the Jedi, and the trilogy reached its conclusion with The Empire Strikes Back! Youtuber Lynx God has done a full tear-down of Kieren's Empire Strikes Back review, and most of the mistakes apply to this Amiga "review".
James Pond: Underwater Agent
In the James Pond review, Kieren spelt the name of the publisher (Millennium) incorrectly. His hate for platform games shined through as he awarded the game a measly 4 out of 10, despite admitting the game was extremely popular with gamers:
Kick Off 2
It's painfully obvious that this review was copied from his Atari ST book. Whenever Kieren compares soccer games, he brings up Sensible Soccer — possibly the best football game on the Atari ST — but not the best on the Amiga.
Because Sensible World of Soccer (SWOS) was never released on the Atari ST and Kieren is unfamiliar with it, he always includes Atari ST games for comparison. Amiga owners will always compare soccer games to SWOS and Kick Off 2, never Sensible Soccer. You are usually in the SWOS camp, or the Kick Off 2 camp.
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge
Definitely one of the worst review in the book, Kieren gets so much wrong in this review it's hard to know where to begin. Kieren is in desperate need of a proof-reader, when he writes sentences like this:
The Alaska course is located in Prudhoe Bay, one of many "famous circuits" according to Kieren. In reality, Prudhoe Bay is a small place in Alaska with a permanent population of approximately 2000 people and no racing track. Kieren didn't seem to realise that the circuits in the game are fictional.
Kieren has a bad habit of writing "also" and "too" in the same sentence in his reviews. He also regularly mixes up "it's" and "its". Both errors are contained in the Lotus review.
Kieren also claimed that Ben Daglish wrote the Amiga soundtrack. This is wrong, as Ben Daglish (RIP) himself confirmed before his passing, in addition to the programmer Shaun Southern, who has been incorrectly credited as the Amiga musician on many internet websites.
Publisher Team 17 went from releasing titles such as Alien Breed in 1991, to being "much loved" in 1993 with the release of Body Blows, to being "unheard of" when they released Worms (also in "1993" according to Kieren):
Worms was actually released in 1995, not 1993 as Kieren incorrectly stated in this book. Team 17 remained extremely popular on the Amiga throughout their lifetime, and there would be very few Amiga owners that had never heard of them. The majority of their games required 1Mb of RAM, which helped convince many stubborn Amiga owners to upgrade their memory from the base 512k machine.
This book is a complete disaster. Kieren Hawken has no love for the Amiga, and it really shows. There's hardly any Amiga-specific games featured, and he name-drops Atari over and over in the reviews. Everything seems to be a rip-off of some "amazing" Atari game, or was done earlier and better by Atari. The book's been churned out by copying and pasting reviews from his other books, and is nothing but a quick cash-grab. If you really want to see how bad this book is, check out the free samples on the internet, or download a PDF of it. Don't waste your money buying this utter trash.
Codetapper's rating: 1 out of 10.
I'm aware that Kieren Hawken issues takedown notices to Amazon, YouTube and Facebook for negative reviews of his books. If you've ever had any of your comments removed in the past, feel free to post your honest comments below. If you'd like more detailed information about these reviews, I recommend the following videos where the creators have delved much deeper into the Kizza review cesspit.
You may enjoy these articles...
If you look inside many Amiga games, secret messages have been hidden by the programmers. Richard Aplin was the king of hiding messages in the startup-sequence file, and his Line of Fire and Final Fight startup-sequences have become legendary! The Sensible Software team were also prolific at hiding messages in their games.
A collection of technical interviews with Amiga programmers that worked on commercial software in the glory days of the Amiga (late 1980s to early 1990s!)
The Ultimate Amiga Graphics, Level and Map Ripper!
A random assortment of rants relating to the Amiga!
An explanation of how many famous Amiga games utilised sprites in weird and interesting ways