Thursday, October 1, 2020

Movie Review: CONSOLE WARS (2020)

Reviewed by: Joshua Raynor

When I was a young kid, the very first gaming system I ever played with was the Nintendo Entertainment System. My grandmother bought it for us kids for when we would come over to visit. It was amazing. My sister and I would spend hours playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt together. But as I got older, my tastes shifted toward a more mature type of gaming experience, one provided by the Sega Genesis. These two systems were a huge part of my childhood, so when I was offered the chance to screen the new documentary, Console Wars, I couldn’t pass it up.

Console Wars is a documentary based on the 2014 book of the same name, written by one of the directors of the film, Blake J. Harris. It follows businessman Tom Kalinske in his venture as CEO of video game company Sega of America, and details the history of the fierce business competition between Sega and Nintendo throughout the 1990s as well as the internal conflicts that took place between Sega of America and Sega of Japan. 

When it comes to documentaries, I tend to be a little picky about the ones I watch. It usually has to be about something I have an interest in, or else it really needs to grab my interest from the description. Console Wars is definitely the former in this case as video games have been a part of my life for almost three decades. I have such distinct memories of playing both of these systems, but to be completely honest, I was oblivious back then to all of the deep seeded competition taking place, as I’m sure most kids were. That is why this film intrigued me so much. Getting to hear about all the behind-the-scenes happenings is something I love.

As I said before, this was based on a book by Blake J. Harris. He teamed up with fellow director Jonah Tulis to write and direct this amazing look behind the curtain of what went on from both sides of this culture changing battle. And boy, did they do an incredible job. From the always moving pace, to the highly informative testimonials, Console Wars goes deep into this topic, while keeping the audience interested and engaged throughout. The use of custom cut scenes done in the style of classic video games and the inclusion of old commercials (some with faces I recognized, like Ethan Suplee and Paul Rudd) made for a far more entertaining experience.

Overall, this was a fantastic documentary and a must-watch for any video game fan or even just for fans of pop culture and its history. If you get the chance to watch this (it’s available right now on CBS All Access), I highly recommend you do.


The Merc's Score: 9/10

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