Pros: A story about the process of creating classic video games from the lips of legendary game designers of the 70-90s. last century; some interesting but little-known stories; funny animated inserts Cons: Not all classic games made it into the first season; most of the stories are well known to those who enjoy video games; some scenes look too staged High Score / “Highest score”
Genre documentary series
Creator Franz Kostrel
The film stars Tomohiro Nishikado, Rebecca Heineman, Nolan Bushnell, Toru Iwatani, Howard Scott Warshaw, Gale Tilden, John Kirby, Roberta and Ken Williams, Richard Garriott, Hirokazu Yasuhara, Trip Hawkins, Akira Nishitani, John Tobias, John Romero and others.
Year of release 2020
It’s even surprising that the series High Score was not directed by Brian Volk-Weiss and it is not called The Games That Made Us. After all, the history of the creation of classic video games simply fits perfectly with the series The Toys That Made Us and The Movies That Made Us, directed by Volk-Weiss, about toys and films of the 70-90s. last century. But no, the director missed his chance, and a series about video games similar in structure and idea was shot by Franz Kostrel and the media company Great Big Story. It is based on the Emmy-nominated short film series 8 Bit Legacy: The Curious History of Video Games. Some stories in High Score directly repeat plots from 8 Bit Legacy, however, this only applies to little-known or well-forgotten facts about video games. The main part is more traditional and is generally well known to older generation gamers, because stories about the creation of classic gaming hits have been published more than once both in specialized publications and in the form of separate books.
So the authors of the series asked Roberta and Ken Williams to once again talk about their work on Mystery House, and John Romero about the creation of Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM. Tomohiro Nishikado talked about Space Invaders, and Toru Iwatani talked about his Pac-Man. Richard “Lord British” Garriott talked himself about RPGs, Akalabeth: World of Doom and Ultima, and Trip Hawkins about sports simulations, Madden NFL and collaboration with John Madden (yes, it turns out that this is a living person). Etc. However, although most of these stories are well known, it is very nice to hear them again from the lips of your favorite game designers. All of them, of course, have aged a lot, after all, 30-40 years have passed since the times in question, and Nintendo lawyer John Kirby, who gave the name to the legendary Kirby character, died some time after the end of filming.
The list of games included in the six High Score episodes is more than traditional: Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Colossal Cave Adventure, Mystery House, Ultima, Final Fantasy, Mario Bros., Mystery House, Final Fantasy, Sonic the Hedgehog, John Madden Football, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Star Fox, Doom, Pong and Spacewar! Just a classic classic. Yes, many of your favorite games probably didn’t make it to this list (WHERE IS ALL SID MEYER, ALL RTS AND MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR, AFTER ALL!!!111) and this probably upsets you a lot. But it’s impossible to grasp the immensity, let’s hope that the series will be renewed for a second season and its creators will continue to explore the world of video games.
However, some of the stories told in High Score are really little-known and interesting. For example, how Nintendo of America marketing director Gail Tilden took part in the adaptation of Nintendo Power magazine for the American market, the first issue of which sold an incredible 3.2 million copies. Or the story of the game Night Trap, which, together with Mortal Kombat, exploded American politics, leading to hearings in the US Congress in 1993 and the creation of the ESRB age rating used today. Another interesting story concerns the creation of the worst game of all time – ET the Extra-Terrestrial, which buried the American gaming industry in 1983. Now the author of ET the Extra-Terrestrial talks about what happened with irony and humor, because now it is already History. It was interesting to hear about one of the first LGBT games, GayBlade, which was lost by its developer.
In addition, the authors of the series talk about video game championships of the 80s and 90s, those competitions that paved the way for modern e-sports. About the first All-American Space Invaders championship in 1980, about the Nintendo World Championships in 1990, about the legendary MTV Sega: Rock the Rock championship in 1994, about the Japanese championship in 1993 in Street Fighter II Turbo. Interestingly, that very first Space Invaders tournament is told by its winner Rebecca Heineman (in 1980, still Bill Heineman), who in 1983, along with Brian Fargo, James Patel and Troy Worrell, became one of the creators of the legendary Interplay and had a hand in to games such as The Bard’s Tale, Neuromancer, Wasteland, Out of This World, etc. Another interesting story from High Score was that of Nintendo Game Play Counselors, Nintendo’s support service that helped players through difficult parts of their games over the phone.
Undoubtedly, it is worth watching High Score in English, especially since there is no Russian audio track for this series on Netflix. Moreover, the narrator here is Charles Martinet, a voice actor who has been the permanent voice of Mario since 1995. It’s really worth a lot.
Perhaps the only big complaint about High Score, besides the well-known nature of many of the stories, would be some artificiality in some of the scenes. So the authors had Roberta Williams re-draw his famous giant game flowcharts, Richard Garriott plays D&D with three other copies of himself in one episode, and John Romero, of course, runs around his yard with a chainsaw. It’s funny, of course, but a little stupid. But the animated screensavers for some stories and the introductory video with references to a dozen video games turned out to be really cool.
If you love video games, and especially the classics of the last century, you simply must watch this series. An indescribable feeling of nostalgia and the return of childhood is guaranteed.
A series that will delight older generation gamers. This is the story of how it all began 40 years ago