Console Wars remains the best book I’ve ever read about the gaming industry. It’s the exciting story of Sega of America taking on Nintendo’s console monopoly in the ’90s. We’ve known that it would become a documentary, and now we have a first trailer.
The documentary will be available on CBS All Access on September 23. If you’re like me, you already have a subscription to CBS All Access so you can watch the new Star Trek shows. This will be the service’s first documentary.
Looking at the trailer, I’m hopeful that this will be a fun watch. It includes interviews with many of the key people of the story, notably Sega of America’s former president Tom Kalinske. He’s the Luke Skywalker of Console Wars‘ story, so doing a documentary without him would be impossible.
The production values also look nice. It looks like we’ll get to see many of the book’s events recreated in pixel form, and we also get archival footage from the old trade shows where people got to see milestones like Sonic the Hedgehog for the first time.
The trailer also included a brief clip from Toejam and Earl in Panic on Funkotron, so that’s amazing.
Big platforms for gaming stories
I’m glad that gaming’s history is getting highlighted on mainstream platforms. Earlier this year, Netflix released its own gaming documentary. High Score tells the story of gaming’s golden age over six episodes. It also goes over the Nintendo/Sega console war.
Netflix and CBS see the value in these stories. I hope that this is just the beginning. The industry has so many stories to tell. Hell, I’d watch an entire documentary just about the Sega Channel, the ambitious 1994 Genesis add-on that let users download games through a cable connection.
For a long time, these stories were inaccessible. Lately, a lot of them are coming to light thanks to the work of YouTube channels focusing on gaming history, like The Gaming Historian. And even with this new interest from big media companies, it is still going to fall on smaller content creators to teach us about about more obscure facets of gaming’s past.
Heck, I sometimes hope to someday become more of a gaming historian than a cover-the-news-of-the-day journalist. In the future, maybe I’ll be done reviewing new games and covering console launches entirely. I’ll retreat to my study (in the future, I’ll have a study, and it’ll be cool as hell) with a glass of scotch and write the magnum opus on the creation of The Secret of Monkey Island or something.
Until then, I’ll enjoy the works of others, like Console Wars.
The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.