Attention retro-gaming fans — The loading times are finally over! Netflix has premiered their latest pop-culture docu-series, High Score, which showcasing the technological advancements made in video game history. Each of High Score’s six episodes (which are now streaming on Netflix) serve as an account of a specific period or genre in early gaming culture, told through a series of interlocking character profiles. Chock full of 1980s and ’90s nostalgia, it’s a fascinating and informative trip down memory lane. Check out the synopsis and episodic breakdown below!
Synopsis: High Score is a documentary series about the golden age of video games, when legends – from Pac-Man to Doom – were brought to life. Through ingenuity and sheer force of will, computer pioneers and visionary artists from around the globe spawned the iconic worlds of Space Invaders, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat, Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden NFL, and beyond. Without rules or roadmaps, players and innovators alike pushed the limits of money to be made, rivals to be crushed, and hearts to be won. This is the story of the brains behind the pixels and how their unmatched innovation built a multi-billion dollar industry – almost by accident.
Episode 1 / Boom & Bust:
Video games burst into the mainstream in the early 80s, with kids spending quarters faster than PacMan could eat fruit. But the nascent industry wasn’t without its share of lemons. After a few bad ideas and a lot of bad press, everyone was saying that video games were done.
Episode 2 / Comeback Kid:
Just when everyone thought video games were toast, Nintendo led a comeback. It took a fight in the courtroom, some tears in the boardroom, and a team of teens ready to sacrifice their mullets for the brand to find success. By the end of the decade, they’d be on top of the entire industry.
Episode 3 / Role Players:
Nintendo and Atari may have been household names, but lesser-known visionaries were revolutionizing the way we played. In the shadows of giants, these developers would open us up to new worlds and identities and transform the home computer into the world’s next gaming device.
Episode 4 / This is War:
Throughout the 1980s, video games found their artistic, narrative and technical strides. By the early 90s, no one could call them the provenance of dorks. The suits started to realize that video games were big business—the kind that warranted marketing campaigns, cut-throat tactics and all out [console] war.
Episode 5 / Fight!:
Nintendo’s Mario vs. Sega’s Sonic raged on, but it wasn’t the only battle going. A new fighting game had hit the market—one so epic, it sparked an arcade renaissance and established a whole new genre. Rival games followed, becoming so convincingly violent, they threatened to topple an entire industry.
Episode 6 / Level Up:
By 1993, the big-money industry built by rule breakers and risk takers was about to enter another dimension, thanks to a new generation of rogue nerds. Combining new technology and a burgeoning platform called “the web,” gaming would never be the same.