Review of High Score: The story of Netflix’s “golden age” of gaming is honestly solid.


in great shape / The title of the series is silly, but it’s actually such a good series that we found ourselves tackling its flaws rather than feeling completely embarrassed. In the gaming-media world, we would call that progress.

We’re flattering the gaming section of Ars Technica high scoreThe latest film series to be launched on August 19 on Netflix. The easiest way to describe this gaming-focused interview series, divided into six 40-minute episodes, is to give a shout out to our own War Stories video series.

For a few years, War Stories has been asking the developers of the beloved game series to explain how they overcame problems and gave their favorite PCs and consoles their ultimate classics. Netflix’s new series does something similar: It asks game industry members to stitch together a narrative of gaming’s so-called “Golden Era”, which begins in their eyes space Invaders In the arcade and ends with Apocalypse On pc.

All in all i’m happy high score Present. If you want to see it as unethical, especially with people who don’t necessarily play video games, then you mix the intriguing and all-too-familiar classic-gaming stories told through high production values ​​and clear storylines Can wait for For the most part, the series is dignified, not embarrassing – a fact that pleases my inner 12-year-old who still puts a chip on his shoulder about being a gamer “outcast” for most of my youth is.

Parchment, magic hat, and “consolation and peace”

Maybe it’s a War Stories bias on me, but the series’ biggest weakness is to stitch all its interviews into a cohesive “sports history” story.

In privacy, high score These are some of the best interviews with sports-industry publishers I’ve ever seen. The absolute attraction is an interview with Roberta and Ken Williams, the co-founders and architects behind Sierra Entertainment. Together, they tell the most detailed story I’ve ever seen on camera about their work on the 1980 Apple II game Mystery House. This involves Roberta drawing a sheet of parchment and preparing a replica of its original Mystery House Design Document for Netflix Camera Crew. I have probably never seen a more beautiful “how it was made” performance of a game’s original story.

Similarly, the six-episode span of the discreet interview series and play on high score Taito tells the story of its creation, with mastermind Tomohiro Nishikodo hitting the ground running space Invaders. We see him playing with an ancient electric “magic hat” machine; We see him passing Tokyo with massive robot spider creatures; We see him pulling the pages of the original concept art, explaining the driving decisions that look like the characters in the final episode. As the first story from the very first episode, it definitely sets a tone.

This was followed by a fresh conversation with veteran industrialist Rebecca Heineman about her origins in the game industry: as a contestant in one of the world’s earliest examples of a formal gaming championship. The section is rich with archival footage and Heinemann’s insights, along with her Frank admission that the games were a significant escape during her childhood struggle with gender dysphoria: “[Gaming] Allowed me to play as a woman. I have always identified myself as a woman. Unfortunately, my anatomy did not agree. So when I played video games, I was in this virtual world, where I was missing rows of aliens and ignoring the world around me. It was the only place where I could find solitude and peace. ”
Other early ’80s dots have been added to the remainder of this pilot episode, including a stunning story by engineer Jerry Lawson’s children. He is credited with developing cartridge-based gaming while producing an otherwise largely unsuccessful Fairchild Channel F console. Some stories in this episode – in particular Ms. Pac-ManOriginals as a “speed-up kit”, which will not be news to sports-history fans. But he is touted in minimalist polished, humorous fashion, and the pixelated art of his montage scenes is a clever touch.

Join the Nintendo Fun Club today!

But bring Heyman back – his experience in the sports industry, as far as high score Worried, one is charged for his victory in space Invaders Tournament. No mention of series Story of the bard, barren, Or even Heinemann is being hired as a 16-year-old game-studio programmer. And as the series rolls on, the game-history story gets more and more lacking.
the point is that high score Some formal interviews land on its quest to tell a definite history of the industry. But if the crew did not give an exclusive interview, the story in question barely exists. We only hear about Shigeru Miyamoto’s game design when there are English speaking members star Fox The team (Giles Goddard, Dylan Cutbert) is interviewed about that project. Otherwise, Nintendo’s history is almost exclusively told by an American PR lead, who tells the story of the formation of Nintendo Power as a magazine. The story is well told high scoreThe format is, but it leaves publishers of Nintendo design like Satoru Iwata in the shadows (and, strangely, the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter never existed).

Trip Hawkins and John Madden appear as pixelated characters in one of several montage scenes.
in great shape / Trip Hawkins and John Madden appear as pixelated characters in one of several montage scenes.

Netflix

And we only hear about one electronic arts series, John madden footballBecause it is so high score The game tries to explain Sega’s console-wise dominance in the genre. This game sequence drove me particularly crazy. to annoy Super was launched almost simultaneously on Nintendo and Sega Genesis, so it was a terrific example hinging on this anecdote. Furthermore, there has not been a thorough knowledge of how self-published sports games by Sega typically engage athletes. At the time, Sega marketed aggressively Sports Talk Football with Joe Montana As a rival to Madden, but Netflix eschews that and other major Sega sports games.

high score A story of famous failure is included: ET For the Atari 2600, as reported by lead designer Howard Scott Warshaw (talent behind) Yers revenge). Still Trip Hawkins, guests high score to talk about to annoyVikas, does not get an opportunity to talk about his own console-launch failure, 3DO. Other notable gaming industry failures are similarly uncomplicated.
If Netflix wasn’t stuck after the early ’80s winners and the’ 90s sports tournaments, then some of the series’ omissions would be more excusable. The story of Heinemann is a gem. The same cannot be said for segments of other episodes devoted to the Nintendo World Championship and the Sega Rock the Rock Championship. If it had been a long series, an entire episode about the early game championship could be cute. But here, these stories have to suffer because they only interview one participant, pull too far, and the location away They are arguably worth more than the cultural import in the tournament. (I know, the Nintendo World Championship was massive for my generation, but high scoreThe version of that story is not told with many participants, with Nintendo organizers, or even with the mention of a tie-in film The magician.)

Don’t spoil things for gaming beginners

Again, I must emphasize: the “think I’ll check my phone for a few minutes” section, if you want to inadvertently enjoy the series and deal with the mix of storytelling delights and slowness. high score Good enough material to sit through. It is greatly enhanced by Charles Martnett as a narrator; You can recognize his voice as Super Mario and other famous Nintendo characters, and he handles his comic-enough script with a gentle rhythm. (No, he never speaks “It’s-a Me!” In the series. Super Mario The palate receives lip service through high score, with honesty.)

Just be warned that some uneven interview choices and important past events of game-history will leave, leaving anyone knowledgeable about gaming history on their TV. Your favorite console, arcade, portable, or PC game from the era in question is, in all likelihood, No Netflix filmmakers gave enough time or coverage. (I, for example, could not believe how little was said about Tetris. Tetris!)

With this in mind, if one does not have a pleasant time, keep in mind the minimum, to know better and not to see the whole series in your favor. Once you’re done with Netflix, our War Stories series will keep feeding you game-history stuff.