7.5
452 votes
High Score (2020)

High Score (2020)

Netflix 2020

This docuseries traces the history of classic video games, featuring insights from the innovators who brought these worlds and characters to life.

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The 10 Best Episodes of High Score (2020)

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  • Last updated: jun 14, 2021

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    An easy watch and pretty entertaining, but it felt very basic for me. It's like it was made for people who have never played video games. It focused on all the obvious culprits and had a pixelated bleep-bloop aesthetic that bears no relation to what games have become. Fair enough, this is focusing on the '80s to early '90s, but there's something almost insulting about doing that. And having the focus be on only America and Japan felt like a missed opportunity (it was called the Sega Mega Drive, you monsters! ;) ). One thing I did like was the personal stories that cropped up throughout. Although, I don't know why there was so much focus on people who won gaming tournaments, were three necessary? (In fact, eSports as a whole felt completely inappropriate to what the series was about). In particular, the story of the creation of the first console to use cartridges was lovely. The representation of various minorities in gaming, their stories buried in history, was also very welcome. As someone who grew up as a PC gamer in love with adventure games, I was delighted to see Roberta Williams and her husband were featured, but also sad that there was no dive into _King's Quest_ or how the genre grew and evolved into the '90s. This is good introduction to the history of gaming, but it only scratches the surface. Mostly it succeeded in making me nostalgic for older games.

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    Oh man. they could have talked about WoW :(

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    There's better video game documentaries out there. As a Docu-Series, it's a bit of a chore to watch this. Even Anime like High Score Girl have a better approach and a more realistic view of history, Wreck-It Ralph and Ready Player One have a better approach than this series, even if they are, at best, peripheral and 'recognise' games as a pop culture phenomena. It doesn't document Video Games, it glosses over far too much, and some of the Anecdotal stories derail the episodes rather than bring a perspective or make the episode whole. There's so much potential wasted here that detracts from it being a 7/10 or 8/10 amazing series, below a 6/10 for me. I thought it might have been executive meddling that caused this, but after the half-way point, I realised they made the entire series to tell those anecdotal stories. Perhaps it didn't start that way, but the meddling seems intended, tacked-on and drags down the mood, tone, and pacing of the series. It almost appears to be a favour to someone who's financing the series, because it's so narcissistically integrated interviews with people who happen to be Gay, Trans, Black, and so on. I get that it's not a history of Video Games. or a Retrospective. There's no linear narrative. Events that took place in 2012 are injected into 1982 or 1992 equally. The fumble over Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow is the finest example of this flub I've seen. He's a celebrity for the name alone in Game Dev circles, so it's welcome to have the series introduce him as a way to explain Ludo-Narrative, or at least the engagement of Play and it's psychological roots. The comedic bits, the levity is great. The animated pixel-art intro and explanations are excellent work, let down by the pacing and reversing of gears. If the series didn't have these derailing and sabotaged moments inserted in, i'd give it a 8/10 easily. Even with the cringe moments and "comedy" to give the series character. Every interview should be 101% engaging and fascinating. It has all of the pieces necessary to make a great documentary history, the care and attention taken on finding Japanese creators and directors who are now in their late 60-80s who grew up in the 1970s, versus the quirky Tokyo 'eSports' team they found, is kind of cringy. There was so much potential to make this outstanding. And they fumbled around to try and make Video Games "Human". Maybe you can't tell a 2020 story without blending in diversity elements, but they don't fit in their Episode, and they don't fit into the series that well. There's 3+ eSports clips, but nothing about the Console Wars after Sega, the Nintendo Playstation prototype which led to an entire era of 2000's Video Game Consoles being developed by Sony and Microsoft, and how the industry evolved ... It leaves a lot out in the effort to "find voices". There's moments where they probably intended to talk about various 'celebs' of the industry, but there's a lot of examples they could have used. Alexey Pajitnov, co-creator of Tetris, who also worked for Microsoft's initial development of the Xbox. Mark Kern or Tom Chilton about World of Warcraft and the 90s era of Blizzard Games. Nolan Bushnell and Lord British/Richard Garriot is perhaps the most faithful (yes, he is that eclectic), but a few interviews are melodramatic and bring the whole series down. If it were one or two, i'd not remove any kind of score, not everyone can be Chris Roberts, John Romero or Shigeru Miyamoto in a Documentary series. Most episodes fall into Interviews and Personal Anecdotes to reveal a personal story. Seeing the early days of Nintendo as a Toy Manufacturer, is glossed over so you don't see the Game Watch or early LCD handheld games, etc prior to launching the NES or Famicom in the US to compete with Atari. It works for the story of E.T. for the Atari 2600, but it doesn't work for the eSports team manager, or the African American engineer for the Fairchild Channel F, which didn't survive the 1983 videogame crash. The Channel F being usurped because Fairchild didn't want to compete with Atari VCS or the Magnavox Odyssey in the late 1970s is known in the US, but it's also the same kind of format war that dominated the Tech industry, especially Betamax vs VHS, Sega v Nintendo, Sony v Microsoft, the PC & Mac and the early "portable" PC and gaming systems of the late 80s.

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    An enjoyable journey through the history of video games. Lots of interviews with creators and game champions. I know a lot of people will probably be upset that they ended where they did but I felt it was a journey of "how we got to where we are" so discussing modern games wasn't really necessary because you could easily see their roots.

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    I've been getting into classic games since I moved in with someone who owns an NES Classic. This was the perfect series to bridge the gap between those games, arcade games i'm familiar with, and the past decade or so since i've been playing modern games. Best tidbits are the origins of Kirby and the 1994 Sega World Championships.

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    I really enjoyed watching this series.

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    An extremely well produced documentary series surrounding the video game industry. I used to watch the show "Game Makers" (also known as Icons) on G4 almost obsessively, so I know most of these stories. That's not to say that I haven't learned anything from this show, I didn't know anything about [spoiler]the origin of the game cartridge.[/spoiler] I'm really glad that this show shines a light on that.

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