The six episodes, available on Netflix since August 20, look back on the defining moments in video game history, from the 1970s to the mid-1990s.
Even if you don’t know anything about video games, don’t go! High Score, the new documentary series produced by Netflix, offers to tell you their story, from their beginnings in the late 1970s to the mid 1990s. It’s captivating, entertaining, rich in anecdotes, and you would be wrong to do not feel concerned. Because it is above all the story of daring and passionate men and women that is told to us in six parts.
What does it talk about ?
Did you know that the shape of Pac-Man was referring to a pizza that is missing a slice? That the character of Kirby, the little pink ball imagined for Nintendo, is a tribute to John Kirby, the lawyer who defended the Japanese firm in its lawsuit against Universal in the 1980s? Or that Night Trap, an ultra kitsch interactive game-movie that few people remember, almost put the entire video game industry at risk? These are some of the anecdotes that reveal High Score.
Conceived in six episodes of around forty minutes, High Score (subtitled in French The Golden Age of Gaming) looks back at the history of cult titles, such as Street Fighter II or Doom, on Sega’s offensive to counter Nintendo, or on the way RPGs (Role Playing Games or role-playing video games) are directly inspired by the tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons. Each episode is devoted to a theme and gives voice to the actors of the time, mixing interviews, archive images and clever pixelated scenes. All in chronological order.
Why is it worth a look
The great success of this documentary series is to tell us the history of video games through those who made it. The directors give voice to both legendary figures in the industry, such as Nolan Bushnell or Trip Hawkins, respectively founders of Atari and Electronic Arts, as well as to less famous developers who nevertheless have a unique history with the subject. This is the case, for example, of Howard Scott Warshaw, who says he only had five weeks to program the game. AND., released on Atari 2600 in 1982. Unsurprisingly, the game, considered too simplistic, never had the expected success and remains today considered one of the worst titles of all time.
The other interest of the series High Scoreis to give a voice to players with extraordinary backgrounds. Like Rebecca Heineman, the first person to win a video game competition in the United States by winning the National Championship of Space Invaders in 1980. Or Jeff Hansen, who, when he was 10, was encouraged by his parents to spend all his time on Tetris (up to eight hours a day) with the aim of becoming world champion in the discipline. An anecdote that teenagers today, deprived of Fortnite at the slightest misuse.
Carried by a rhythmic and fluid editing, all these testimonies, rich in experiences and funny anecdotes, make High Score a highly bingeable. And if the frame of the episodes can be repetitive, it is nonetheless ultra effective.
The sequence we didn’t see coming
“We thought about the types of games that might appeal to women, says Toru Iwatani, the creator of Pac-Man. We said to ourselves that since eating does not mean killing each other, the fairer sex might appreciate a game like that. “ This is how, starting from such a cliché observation, a game that has become cult was born, where a little yellow ball with a mouth eats cookies, chased by ghosts.
It’s for you if …
No need to be keen on video games to appreciate this remarkable series, since all the technical and specific terms of the discipline are always fully explained. Whether you are passionate about gaming or dumped by the pronounced interest of your children for this kind of leisure, High Score turns out to be informative and entertaining. Now let’s hope that the series will be entitled to a second season to explore the after Doom, At the beginning of the 1990s, barely mentioned at the conclusion of the last section.
High Score: the golden age of gaming, documentary series in six episodes of approximately 40 minutes, to be seen on Netflix.