The wild and woolly days of Internet start-ups aren’t completely behind us, but certainly the
dotcom bust of the new millennium brought a lot of dreams crashing to the floor
in a relatively permanent fashion. Still, of course, every one of those
entrepreneurs got a raw deal, and remains the star of their own story. It
wasn’t necessarily their idea (and certainly not them) that failed, so much as the mechanisms around them, right?
Classic Game Room, a title which charts, as its subtitle proclaims,
the rise and fall of the Internet’s greatest videogame review show — a
low-budget, self-produced program which, in tongue-in-cheek fashion, reviewed
arcade classics like Frogger, Duck Hunt, Missile Command, Perfect Dark
and Yars’ Revenge in the shadow of a
burgeoning, increasingly pixilated videogame craze. Hosted by Mark Bussler and
David Crosson, the show was a relaxed, beer-swilling affair that ran from
November 1999 to October 2000 on FromUSALive.com, a start-up that would
eventually succumb to the same cold fate of so many other mismanaged
businesses. While certainly self-celebratory, this title’s advantage lies in its
sardonic nature and wholehearted embrace of its cult/niche status.
Helmed by Bussler, the director of nonfiction titles Expo: Magic of the White City and Johnstown Flood, this movie is mostly a
fawning glimpse back in time, with a few modern day, context-providing
interview segments interspersed around plenty of footage from seven years ago.
The two hosts’ dry rapport is a real pleasure to watch, even if a little of this
goes a long, long way. Classic Game Room
is essentially a one-note inside joke, aimed at hardcore gamers. While bits
like a mock memorial to giant flying ostriches (part of the show’s Joust review) are amusing, there’s
overall not enough of an objective glimpse of the behind-the-scenes business
considerations related to the show’s demise to give this title any true,
second-rail parallel economic perspective.
Housed in a regular Amray case, Classic Game Room is presented in a 4×3 full-screen aspect ratio,
with a solid Dolby digital 2.0 stereo audio track. The DVD includes a feature-length
audio commentary track from writer-director Bussler, three video blogs on
production (including a bonus review of Berzerk
for Atari 2600) and a collection of trailers for this and other niche titles. All
in all, for those seeking a nostalgic fix of Gen-X ruminations on Dreamcast
titles like SeaMan and Sega GT, this flick is a good time. To
others, it might be a little too narrowly defined in its scope. To purchase the title via Amazon, click here.
B- (Movie) B- (Disc)