Nintendo Quest was a film released summer 2015 – I had discovered the film when it was looking for backers on Kickstarter.  I was personally not yet back into collecting retro games like I am today but the flick seemed interesting.  It promised “An adventure-filled documentary on Nintendo that follows two gaming enthusiasts, as they hit the open road in hopes of buying all the 678 official retail-licensed Nintendo games in 30 days… with NO online purchases.”

At the time I really had no clue what that really meant.  Or what that really entailed.  I mean how hard was it really to go out and find these NES games that people had?  I would say it is quite harder if you can’t just go to eBay and press BUY IT NOW.  But these are old carts that no one wants anymore, right?

The film itself is about Rob McCallum (director and exec producer on the project) challenging his friend Jay Bartlett to buy every single licensed NES game ever released.  The lone rule is he can’t go online to buy any games.  So only in his spare time (the man still has responsibilities to take care of) Jay, with Rob filming, travels Canada and the U.S. to find all of the games.  They go to friends.  They go to stores.  They do trades.  They get hooked up.  They barter.  And soon enough the days start ticking away as there’s more games to buy but not enough days to purchase them.

I’m going to add this is now and for good reason: I love this movie.  I say this now because I’m going to explain the bad before I explain the good.

When the Kickstarter DVD arrived I immediately opened the package, put the DVD in, and pressed play.  As I watched I grew a bit…bored.  I didn’t get it.  The reason it is hard to get 678 official games is because some games are harder to find then others.  There is a great graphic they show of the rarer games (that basically get checked off when Jay acquires them) telling us these are harder to find.

So Bubble Bobble 2?  Hard to find.  Panic Restaurant?  Hard to find.  Little Samson?  Hard to find.  Snow Bros?  Hard to find.  I sat there and thought, “What the fuck is a Snow Bros?  And why the fuck would that game be hard to find?”

My first time watching the film I just wasn’t that impressed.  I turned it off and said, “Well – that is probably something I’ll never watch again.”

My kid is the one who got me into watching YouTube and as I watched more and more channels and videos on retrogames I became to realize why NES collecting today is so hard.  While these games were worthless 20 years ago the market has completely opened up now.  Not just for NES but or most retro consoles.  Why?  Probably because people like me.  Who am I?  I grew up on retro games but as I got newer systems I got rid of older ones.  Now I have XBox One, XBox 360, PS2, PS3, PS4, Wii, WiiU, etc and…..I NEVER PLAY THEM.  I may play Wii and WiiU with my kid but basically my PS4 is an expensive Blu-Ray player and my XBox One is basically a table for my collection of Seinfeld DVDs at the moment.

I get more of a thrill from retro games.  And as I collect more and play more I get so much more of a thrill.  If I had to choose The Last of Us or Super Metroid I’m pretty much picking Samus Aran.  No offense to Super Mario 3D World or Super Mario Bros WiiU but I’d much rather play SMB3 or Super Mario World any day.  The games felt fresh back then, they feel timeless now, and they don’t feel so much like a rehash.

As I started watching YouTube and started reacquiring games on my own I learned just how rare and expensive these games are.  There were some games that came very later in the NES life that were phenomenal games that were printed in limited supply.  By this time the Super Nintendo was out and who wanted to buy some game called Panic Restaurant when you could go buy some new awesome 16-bit game?  As the retrogaming market became huge games like these became the hard ones to find for collectors.

Going on eBay right now and I’ll find some pricing.  Snow Bros?  $320.  Panic Restaurant? $409.  Bubble Bobble 2? $425.  Little Samson? $1,300.

And a game called Stadium Events?  The game was released but pulled from shelves when Nintendo bought the game and the power pad used in conjunction.  Nintendo re-released Stadium Events as World Class Track Meet.  The price these days for World Class?  5 bucks.  But for the pulled Stadium Events?  Copies seem to range these days from $14,000 to $100,000.  FOR A NINTENDO GAME.

Learning all this and having a better grasp on the collecting market I started thinking about Nintendo Quest again.  I couldn’t remember how Jay had found these games and how much he paid for him.  The thing about the film is Jay has a budget.  He doesn’t have unlimited money to buy these games.  So he has to trade and barter to get things in his price range.  How do you barter for Little Samson?  Bubble Bobble 2?  HOW DO YOU BARTER FOR A $100,000 game!?!??!?!!?

Watching the film the second time was a total delight.  Armed with the knowledge that I now know it was so interesting having Jay meet these people, go to these stores, and find these private collectors with multitudes of these games.  One of the best parts is Jay getting basically ‘cock-blocked’ by a dude in a store trying to snag the same game.  The situation is quite humorous and they edit this part in such a way that it is enthralling.

The movie does delve into some history of the Nintendo, how video games have come along, and why these Nintendo games mean so much to them.  They also have some great guests intertwined in the footage like Ben Gold, Walter Day, Billy Mitchell, Richie Knucklez, Isaiah Triforce Johnson, and Tommy Tallarico talking about these games and why they mean so much to so many people.

As I watched this second time it was like my mind was completely wiped from my first viewing.  I was enthralled – especially when I saw how much time was left for Jay to accomplish his mission and the games he still needed to find.  After watching this the second time I thought to myself, “Self, I can’t wait to watch this movie again!!!”

In writing this up I went to the Amazon page where the film is sold.  I saw some horrid reviews for the film.  Some didn’t like how Jay used connections to find games.  Some said that things seemed staged.  Some didn’t like Jay talking about his father (HOW DARE HE!??!?!?!!?).  The one gripe I found legitimate was one that said no prices were revealed.  I think this is a good point – I would have liked to see how much these games were being purchased for.  Maybe it is part of the deal – especially since collectors were basically hooking Jay up just so he can complete his quest.  I don’t see this as being backhanded.  I see this as being RESOURCEFUL.  Still – seeing what he spent and how that affected his overall budget would have been nice.

So it this documentary for everyone?  I’m not sure.  But as I said I had a much better enjoyment of the film knowing more about the rarity of the game.  I’m sure any retrogamer out there will have a wonderful time watching this.  And these days there are a shit-ton of retrogamers.  If you don’t have a clue about these retrogames and just watch the movie out right you may be a bit lost.  You may be a bit bored.  But you also may not be as daft as I am and you’ll just have a great time.

There was one GLARING omission I noticed while watching the movie.  Missing from the games Jay was trying to buy was a BIG one – The Flintstones: Surprise At Dinosaur Peak.  It’s a game that goes for upwards of $1000.  Not satisfied with not knowing I contacted Rob McCallum to ask why the exclusion.  Rob replied back that since there is some controversy amongst collectors about the game’s release a decision needed to be made.  There are many who say that the game was a Blockbuster Video exclusive and therefore was never released and sold in stores.  Some dispute.  Some say it is completely true.  Not knowing which was which the production team decided it best to not include the game as one of the “official releases.”  Of course this means they also didn’t have to try and find another $1,000 game but I can totally see their rationale.

Lastly I asked Rob if they would ever do a sequel?  I mean COME ON!  Super Nintendo Quest!  There’s only roughly 800 games for the SNES to that would totally be awesome to see Jay in a super frenzy trying to find copies of Rocky Rodent and Home Improvement.  Rob said there are no plans for a sequel…for now.  I’m sure after what Jay spent in this movie he may need a couple years to reacquire some capital.

All in all Nintendo Quest is a wonderful film perfect for any gamer who loves collecting and gaming.  If you know how rare these games and wondering if Jay is able to pull off buying EVERY game on his budget (including Stadium Events) then you’ll enjoy the crap out of this film.  If you aren’t a gamer?  I wouldn’t blame you for not watching.  But if you’ve ever loved videogames, especially those from the Nintendo Entertainment System, it is really an easy choice to watch this film.

The best part?  If you are a member of Amazon Prime you can login and watch this movie FREE.  Nothing beats free!  I mean…I guess if Rob McCallum came over, gave you a copy of the film, and 10 bucks that would be better.  But that’s not happening.  So if you have Amazon Prime go login and watch right now!  If not you can click here right here to purchase at Amazon.  And click here to check out Nintendo Quest’s official website!

As for a postscript it looks like Rob has some upcoming documentaries – one on videogame box art (cool!) and one on He-Man (FUCKING AWESOME).  I can’t wait to hear more about these projects in the future.