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The best gaming documentaries to make you nostalgic in 2020 – CNET


Select a documentary to go back to the start of the video games phenomenon…

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The PS5 and Xbox Series X are gearing up for a whole new console war. Before the next-gen consoles arrive, a number of recent gaming movies delve into the fascinating history of video games, meeting the visionaries behind iconic games and consoles from the heady days of Sega vs Nintendo right up to now.

As many movies and TV shows have been delayed recently, one of the few good things about 2020 is the extra time to get lost in a good video game like Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the Final Fantasy 7 Remake or Fall Guys. With this increased focus on video games, it’s a heap of fun to revisit the industry’s early days through recent documentaries.

To discover the intriguing story behind your favorite games and consoles, give your thumbs a rest and check out these games-related movies.

Console Wars

Based on Blake J. Harris’ insightful 2014 book, this feature-length documentary dives into the hair-raising face-off of the early ’90s when Sega challenged Nintendo’s grip on the gaming market. Sonic the Hedgehog squared off against Mario, obnoxious advertising battles fought for your attention and things got bloody over censored versus uncensored Mortal Kombat. They’re stirring memories for anyone who was there, or the makings of an extraordinary tale for anyone who wasn’t.

Console Wars introduces you to a host of colorful figures from the video game industry of yesteryear. A particularly notable presence is former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske, who also masterminded He-Man and Barbie’s revival for Mattel.

Console Wars hits CBS All-Access streaming service on Sep. 23. (Disclosure: CNET is a part of ViacomCBS.)

High Score

If you’re looking to dive into video gaming history more generally, six-part Netflix documentary High Score is the way to go. Each episode covers a specific element of the industry, like Atari’s downfall, the rise of Nintendo and Street Fighter 2’s influence on esports. The segment on Sega’s challenge has some crossover with Console Wars, providing a more rounded perspective on the story if you watch both.

High Score feels a bit unfocused at times, but gives you a satisfying overall look at how gaming has developed since the ’70s. All six episodes are available now on Netflix.

The PlayStation Revolution

This feature-length documentary focuses on Sony’s 1994 entry to the video game market with its little gray PlayStation, one of the first consoles with widespread appeal for adults. Big names from the brand’s 25-year history — like current PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima, lead PS5 architect Mark Cerny and Resident Evil co-creator Shinji Mikami — weigh in what a big deal 3D gaming was, and marketing execs reveal how they make Sony’s console cool.

The segments on PS2, PS3 and PS4 are much shorter, but offer a nice overview as we approach the PS5. It’s available now on streaming, Blu-ray and DVD.

For more video gaming excitement, check out button-bashing buddies over at GameSpot.com.


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