Streaming Pick: ‘Nintendo Quest,’ One Hardcore Gamer’s Adventure Collecting all 678(!) Nintendo Games Released in North America


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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Without being able to venture outside or go anywhere these days due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have found myself aimlessly staring at the television screen, searching for something to stream — or at least add to my queue of stuff to watch, an out-of-control collection that I really should do something about. A few days ago, however, my endless searching landed on a documentary with the title Nintendo Quest.

As one who came of age in the 1990s, I know all about the Nintendo Entertainment System, the groundbreaking video game console that revolutionized the concept of video games and paved the way for decades of innovation to come.

I wasn’t necessarily devoted to the NES, though — in the mid ’90s I received a Sega Genesis and, later, a Nintendo 64 and relegated my dusty old NES to a box in a cabinet — but I still appreciated it, and definitely understand its importance in pop culture history.

So, back to Nintendo Quest. Released in 2015, it tells the tale of Jay Bartlett, a video game store manager and devout Nintendo aficionado with a Foo Fighters tattoo on his wrist and a lifelong affinity for Dave Grohl. The film’s premise sounds rather insane upon first hearing it: Bartlett, his buddy/director Rob McCallum and a select few others were to head out on the road on a journey seeking every Nintendo game that was officially released in North America.

There were 678 of those, and he has to accumulate every single one in 30 days, without the use of the internet.

What unfolds over the course of the film is a series of trips to video game stores in various cities from Canada to the Midwest and back, Bartlett trying to track down some truly valuable and hard-to-find NES classics like Little Samson (marking the first time I’d heard of this title), Stadium Events and other near-mythical titles.

Along the way, we’re treated to a significant attention to the legacy of the Nintendo Entertainment System, its cultural significance and the ins and outs of the video game collector world.

If I had to nitpick one thing about the film, it would be that it would have been helpful to see how much these games were going for throughout Bartlett’s quest. We see a budget bar — stylized like a health meter in a video game, naturally — that depletes according to the bagful of game cartridges he picks up from a shop, but it might have helped illustrate just how rare or valuable a given game was to know this title cost $10, this other one was $30, whether Stadium Events went into four-digit territory (as it almost assuredly did), and so on.

But hey — that’s the filmmakers’ choice, and that’s totally understandable. It doesn’t take anything away from the film overall, as Nintendo Quest is a great way for any Nintendo fan (of any level of devotion, really) to spend an hour and a half and learn more about Nintendo culture in the process.

It’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi.

And for their next adventure, Bartlett and McCallum set their sights on action figures:


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