Indistinguishable from its Netflix clones, “Console Wars” keeps scratching at the same story beats from the early days of Sega’s war waged against Nintendo but skips through the best part. At this point, almost anyone who’s going to watch a video game documentary about the history of gaming knows what happened with the 2D era. The gaming community has had its fair dose of YouTube channels like “The Gaming Historian” to give us all the information contained in a nutshell with “High Score.” To go for a real boss fight, try making a movie that explores something different.
The message of “Mario was gigantic, Nintendo was unstoppable” is repeated to death. Did the directors not know anything about the subject’s history to think of a further avenue to take their story, perhaps flesh it out a bit beyond the predicable Sega underdog angle? What of the events in which Sega continually dumped money towards useless consoles and ad ons that tanked in sales? By the time the Genesis was through with its lifecycle, it had looked like the Elephant Man with all of its deformed gadgets attached to it. The film ends precisely where its middle act should be, the rise of Sony leading to Sega’s downfall, and Nintendo’s loss of dominance. And it all happened because Nintendo betrayed Sony in the first place.
It would have already tied wonderfully towards the movie’s entire perspective of Nintendo being the bully of the gaming industry. I would love to hear Nintendo talk about how they may have taken things a bit too far with Sony. I want to listen to what Sony has to say about Nintendo regarding what went down when they stabbed them in the back. There’s too much missing story to tell anything memorable. Also, where’s the Dreamcast??? Making it equally bland is its replication of the style of any Netflix nostalgia documentary. “Console Wars” uses that whole “The Toys That Made Us” bits of animation recreating scenes that are explained from an interview or a piece of light-hearted music playing with silly sound effects in the background. “I guess I was wrong,” DOINK!
With its limited hour thirty-time marc, “Console Wars” rushes through every story beat trying to cover something another documentary journaled. A bit like Sonic racing to the finish line, filmmakers Blake J. Harris and Johan Tulis didn’t stop to think what they could do that would make their story appealing beyond its fanbase. A movie like “The King of Kong A Fistful of Quarters” was fantastic because it wasn’t really about video games, nor was “Indie Gamer.” They were about something more that could appeal to anyone, gamer, or nongamer. I understand that’s not what the directors were going here for, but where can they go that the audience hasn’t thought of regarding a historical gaming documentary? If you want to focus only on the part of the story that’s been beaten to death, your film doesn’t have a purpose unless you take it in a radically different direction. Focussing on the old era of gaming feel a bit two-dimensional to me.