Netflix UK TV review: High Score
Mike Williams | On 04, Oct 2020
A once-reviled pastime by many a parent, video gaming has rightly become a socially accepted form of entertainment and education and a staple of modern life. The multi-billion-pound industry is accessible to virtually anyone with a compatible device or wi-fi connection, which is why High Score is such a timely reminder of the origins of some of the titles we now refer to as legendary, grew up with, or are yet to experience.
Over six manageable episodes, we’re taken on a comprehensively jaunty journey of not only nostalgia but also knowledge. Sure, we may think we’re the biggest fans of Street Fighter or Sonic the Hedgehog but these compact and detailed history lessons will shine new light on a number of fascinating and key developments in the gaming industry’s life.
Starting at the beginning, we’re introduced to the creator of Space Invaders at a time where the notion of gaming was met head on with eye-rolling criticism and often dismissal. With Atari kicking off what’s commonly referred to as the video games industry back in the 1970s, each episode walks us through how some of the major industry players started out, innovators stumbled upon new ideas, or start-ups sought ways to bolster and revolutionise the world of gaming.
From the show’s slick opening title credits, any fan will be transported back to their childhood as we’re taken through conceptual ideas for mass gaming and the birth of the arcade machine to Nintendo’s console creation, SEGA’s war with Nintendo, the influence of Dungeons & Dragons, ideas of inclusivity and the origins of the beat-em-up to first-person 3D shooters – while also balancing a really fun series with a shedload of stuff you didn’t know.
What’s more, each part’s ending sets up the next, much like the cliffhangers we see in our favourite fictional shows, which emphasises the eventful narrative. High Score not only injects a plethora of neatly packaged gaming info and history into a digestible portion of engaging entertainment; it also actively invites you to pursue watching and, for the most part, succeeds.
Whether the focus is on groundbreaking designs from the 1980s or world gaming tournaments during the 1990s, High Score showcases interviews with some well-known and not so well-known titans of gaming. Each all equally as valid as the next in constructing a picture of how the gaming world got to where it is today – and frankly it’s a much more pleasant, informative, and exciting journey than you could anticipate.
For anyone growing up in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s, this is without doubt a glorious chance to revisit some of the most cherished moments from your childhood, teen or adult life. The archive footage, spliced with old and more recent contextual interviews and insight, is meticulously edited to offer a comprehensive look at all aspects of the history of gaming without once making it dull or boring. And for those born in more recent years, it’s an eye-opening view of how things started before the luxuries of YouTube walkthroughs and limitless gaming options at our fingertips.
High Score is bursting with passion and it’s clear how connected its creators are to the world they explore so thoroughly. That warm and fuzzy wave of nostalgia will stick with you throughout, offering more in-depth dives into the beginnings of more companies, titles, characters, and genres than you can shake a DualShock controller at.
High Score is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.