Nintendo Quest: Review

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By Louise McLeod Tabouis.

‘Nintendo Quest’ or Indiana Jay on the road to finding the lost hidden, mystical games…

My Nintendo experience is limited to begging my parents to buy me ‘Turtle Bridge’ a hand-held Game and Watch, released in 1982. And there it finished. I received it for my birthday, played it for a time and didn’t ask for another.

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In this film ‘Nintendo Quest’ sets a challenge for a young Canadian man, Jay Bartlett – a likable video game store manager and apparent homebody – to procure, with no help from the internet, all 678 Nintendo games in 30 days, within a certain budget. His best friend Rob McCallum has set the challenge and is also making the film. They have been friends for over 30 years, a friendship cemented in the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) club house, a small wooden tree house still standing in Rob’s backyard.
Jay’s favourite things are Star Wars, rock & roll, and video games. According to his mum it will be good for Jay ‘to get out of the house’. The film uncovers the lives of a group of men (and a few women) who seem to be living the life they want, R2D2 and Star Wars collections decorating their houses, dressing in PacMan and Nintendo-branded T-shirts, with whole rooms, garages and shops dedicated to their gaming passions.
McCallum scatters the film with interesting facts about the video game industry and particularly Nintendo, who began making playing cards in 1889 before introducing family computer games to Japan in the 70s when the industry really took off with coin-operated game cabinets & Donkey Kong, and a multitude of characters that even non-gamers like me are aware of, for example Zelda and Mario. Surprisingly, the Nintendo games were intended not for solo play but for family entertainment.
The film addresses some important questions about the isolation that our now virtual world creates – from shopping to gaming – and the benefits of community, one that is apparent throughout the film. In an era of virtual gaming, the ‘artifact’ is a cart or game, something real, to put in a plastic case and trade with your friends and in the case of Jay’s story, strangers.
Some of the best scenes range from Jay disclosing stories and his own personal anxieties, to gamers singing, humming and playing the soundtracks from games on guitar.  The on-screen graphics mirror the games themselves, and the pace is good.
This film is more than about finding a lot of games.
It’s an authentic, honest and sometimes funny look at a community where people collect, connect and feel like they belong, as well as attaining some ‘collecting karma’ as Jay would say, along the way.
Rob McCallum has managed to find an eclectic and endearing group of gamers, collectors, designers, composers, and through their shared gaming interest he manages to create an affectionate and unexpected film. One in which I cared, not so much whether Jay managed to collect all the games, but what he discovered along the way, about himself and the world.

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