I wanted to like Nintendo Quest - the Kickstarter documentary about a man traveling through North America in order to collect every NES game - I really did. Unfortunately, it is crippled by an inherently unlikable subject/lead (Jay) and seemingly arbitrary rules and decisions that make the majority of the film an utterly confusing and aggravating experience. Jay is a man of indiscernible character who, with the help of his friend Rob (the writer/editor/director of the documentary), decides to pay tribute to his lifelong passion of 8-bit gaming by setting out on a road trip and collecting the entire NES library from scratch. The two friends decide that Jay will have 30 days and a set budget to meet this goal, and he will be unable to use Internet sites such as eBay to purchase any game. Overall, the idea is promising, although if this is truly a passion project, then it seems silly to discount the games that Jay already owns in his personal collection, which is only briefly mentioned at the beginning of the film. Early on, Nintendo Quest's sizable cracks begin to form. Jay coerces kind and enthusiastic independent game store owners into selling rare games for far lower prices than they were originally asking for, with an obnoxious "it's for the cause" plea. I think it's important to get across the idea of haggling with store owners to get a bargain, but it's obvious that many of the sellers shown in Nintendo Quest don't want to look bad within the documentary, and are therefore willing to part with more expensive games at a far lower than average price. Such "haggling" situations are often capped with Jay mumbling about feeling bad for taking advantage of the owners' kindness - which he should. On the flip side, Jay rants and raves about the rigidity of store employees and owners who refuge to budge on the price of a game, "punishing" them by not buying other, more reasonably-priced games within the same store. Jay shows zero empathy for people trying to make a living by selling the games he claims to be so passionate about, as well as for private collectors who are willing to go out on a limb to help him out. So much for being relatable! Jay's character, or lack thereof, really is the biggest problem with Nintendo Quest. At one point, we are forced to watch as Jay, adorned in one of his many Halloween costume-like "nostalgia" outfits, negotiates over the phone with a private seller over the price of an incredibly rare NES game while standing between two human-sized Star Wars figures in his home. It's infuriating to watch this spoiled man-child deal with people who are bending over backward to help him, whining about how he needs each purchase to be a memorable story. There is some validity to Jay's point, but the film does a poor job of showing any joy associated with 99% of the purchases shown, which calls into question the entire purpose of the documentary. Ultimately, Jay does not even meet his goal, and ends up buying the remaining games on eBay months later. Not that this matters much since the rules of "Nintendo Quest" were so arbitrary to begin with, and there is absolutely nothing at stake. How are viewers supposed to relate to this guy? It would have been nice to know what his NES collection was like prior to the road trip, or the actual amount of his budget. Being given more than a glimpse into his actual life and how he earns a living would have made this better as well. At one point, Jay talks about the spirit of the true collector, and how sacrifice plays a part in completing a collection. He is absolutely correct, but no sacrifice or compromise is shown in this movie whatsoever. The possibility of Jay having to sell, for example, some of his coveted Star Wars merchandise in order to get enough money to buy Stadium Events would have been compelling, but nothing like this ever happens. As it is, we are left to view Jay as a spoiled and immature man with too much time and money on his hands. I feel bad for people who donated money to this documentary on Kickstarter, but I feel even worse for the private collectors who seem to be unaware of the nature of Jay's "quest." While I disliked Nintendo Quest as a whole, there are some worthwhile moments sprinkled in. These scenes highlight other collectors, competitive gamers, and fans with actual passion, whose stories are quite touching. Perhaps the filmmaker should have focused entirely on these stories instead of helping his friend get a bunch of games. Judging by the content of this documentary, the only way to truly help Jay is to take him to a professional therapist.
Adventure / Documentary / Family
Adventure / Documentary / Family
In this all-encompassing documentary on Nintendo, gaming enthusiast Jay Bartlett hits the open road with best friend Rob McCallum in hopes of buying the 678 official retail-licensed ...
December 28, 2020