Despite erring on the drier side this documentary covers many aspects of gaming history from its text-adventure roots to graphical games like Mystery House and RPGs like Final Fantasy. It also outlines how difficult it is for smaller teams to develop a game from scratch.
The King of Kong is a riveting story about a fascinating subculture of arcade gamers and the lengths people will go to in order to protect their world record. It’s funny, baffling and heartwarming.
Atari: Game Over
Director Zak Penn (screenwriter of X-Men and The Incredible Hulk, the film Incident at Loch Ness with Werner Herzog) has a knack for modern mythmaking and he’s not far off with this snappy documentary about the search for Atari’s notorious ET cartridges. The film works as both a whimsical summary of the event and a deeper look into the company’s decline, with a good helping of interesting interviews.
The movie shines when Howard Scott Warshaw (who programmed the Atari 2600 version of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and also worked on Raiders of the Lost Ark) takes a good dig at the game that has become something of a modern Holy Grail, with people making pilgrimages to a landfill in New Mexico to excavate them. However, the film could have delved a little deeper into the complexities of the video game industry at the time that led to Atari’s collapse.
Also, while all the interviewees are interesting, it would have been nice to have seen a more diverse cast of characters represented here, given that there are so many women and minorities involved in modern video game culture. Still, it’s an entertaining and informative film that should be required viewing for anyone who grew up playing video games.
David: This is where Nintendo really starts to flex their advantage over Sega and other competitors in the 16-bit console generation. They’re starting to roll out the DS, with backwards compatibility and other features that are great.
But they also do some pretty dumb stuff, like suing Blockbuster for renting games, which is just kind of silly. And then they’re fighting off a competitor who is called Sega, which is funny because it was originally a portmanteau for Service Games. They were basically gambling or thinly-disguised gambling games that morphed into arcade games for US military services worldwide.
It’s a bit of an era of arrogance bordering on stupidity for Nintendo, but they still have this massive advantage. They just need to find a way to make their systems work for developers. Microsoft figured this out 20 years ago with the Xbox, and it’s working pretty well for them right now. And it’s a model that Nintendo should consider, too.
Get Lamp is an excellent documentary by Jason Scott, who previously made a movie about the rise of computer bulletin board systems. It features interviews with a variety of game developers and players, from a group of Infocom “old-timers” to modern IF authors.
The DVD contains a wealth of information, including two hours of interview excerpts that were cut from the main feature. They don’t feel like the dregs of the cutting room floor, with many fascinating tales about the history of text adventures. For example, the filmmakers explain why a brass lantern is used as the icon for the genre (it’s actually equipment a real caver would use) and the origin of “invisible ink” hint books.
The disc also includes a music video for MC Frontalot’s catchy nerdcore anthem “It’s Pitch Dark,” and a section that contains a collection of modern-day free, interactive fiction games. The set also includes a numbered collectible coin, reminiscent of the feelies that were included with early game packages to add a tactile element.
Rarity is a studious pony with an obsession for beauty and detail. She’s a skilled seamstress, and she can telekinetically reattach her sheared tail hair to Steven Magnet’s mustache in Lesson Zero and trim tree branches into topiaries in Suited For Success. She also has a talent for repairing objects using magic.
She’s very particular about cleanliness, and she panics at the sight of mud on her shoes in Look Before You Sleep and tries to avoid getting wet in Inspiration Manifestation. Her prim ways and aversion to dirt clash with Applejack’s brashness, leading to their frequent arguments.
She has a sensitive side as well, and she stands up for Spike when Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash pick on him in Dragon Quest. She also designs dresses for her friends, including the wedding dress of Princess Cadance in A Canterlot Wedding – Part 1 and the bridal party dresses in A Canterlot Wedding – Part 2. She takes first place at the fashion show hosted by Hoity Toity in Rarity Takes Manehattan.