DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
4K UHD
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show
Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show
Inecom // Unrated // August 28, 2007
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted August 19, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

As a fan of documentaries and old-school video games, it makes sense that something like Classic Game Room (2007) would be right up my alley. Directed by Mark Bussler, this feature-length documentary---subtitled "the rise and fall of the Internet's greatest video game review show"---takes us back to 1999, when the Internet was a little less crowded, DVD Talk was just getting started and download speeds were a lot slower. This was also the year that Bussler and David Crosson created Game Room, one of the first online shows of its kind...if not the first. Dedicated to reviewing a mixture of classic and contemporary games (from the Atari 2600 to the fledgling Sega Dreamcast), Game Room was shot on a shoestring budget by two enthusiastic friends who met in film school. In other words, it was fun while it lasted.

Along the way, we're treated to their original reviews of "Duck Hunt" (for the NES, seen above), "X-Men" (Sega Genesis), "Frogger" (Atari 2600), "Perfect Dark" (Nintendo 64) and several others, all of which feature sarcastic comments, a few bottles of beer and plenty of bleeped-out cursing. They show plenty of love for classic games like Duck Hunt despite their primitive appearances, reminding us that polished graphics aren't a substitute for simple, fun gameplay.

Roughly 80 episodes were completed before the show was scrapped in Fall 2000, so the bulk of Classic Game Room's 100-minute runtime is devoted to the series' most infamous moments. The rest is devoted to Bussler's retrospective comments, from early production stories to a few hints about the show's possible return if enough planets align correctly. Such a simple format works well in this case: facts are spelled out up front, yet the story unfolds in a natural and entertaining way. Game Room was obviously a labor of love for Bussler and Crosson---and though a few jokes don't land and the shoestring budget is always evident, it's easy to see how the series garnered a cult following.

If there's one mistake that Bussler's documentary makes early on, it's the continuous tongue-in-cheek remarks touting the show's "huge influence" and "millions of fans". You know those movie trailers that advertise "a hero for the ages" in a booming voice, but the camera eventually pans up to Underdog or Stuart Little? That's pretty much the first 10 minutes of Classic Game Room...but once that's out of the way, the documentary rolls along nicely. Bussler and Crosson's enthusiasm for the games they love, hate and parody is pretty darn infectious the whole way through, leaving us with a tinge of disappointment when we realize the show didn't last all that long.

As for the DVD itself, it's a satisfying effort that should please new and old fans alike. The technical presentation is about as good as we're going to get, while a few choice bonus features help to sweeten the pot a bit. All things considered, it's a nicely packed disc for a reasonable price, making Classic Game Room a decent blind buy for interested parties of all skill levels. Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Quality Control Department

Video & Audio Quality

Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, Classic Game Room looks good for a low-budget documentary. Vintage clips are obviously a bit on the rough side (due to the source material's even smaller budget, no doubt), though newer footage is generally clean and problem-free. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is perfectly fine, boasting clean dialogue and strong music cues. Surprisingly enough, optional English subtitles have been included during the main feature only. Kudos for the extra effort!

Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging

Seen above, the eclectic menu designs are basic and easy to navigate. The 100-minute main feature has been divided into 12 chapters, while no obvious layer change was detected during playback. This one-disc release is housed in a standard black keepcase and includes a one-sided chapter insert.

Bonus Features

There isn't a boatload of extra material included, but what's here is mostly satisfying. The main attraction is a feature-length Audio Commentary with director Mark Bussler, who provides a solid track loaded with plenty of fond memories and trivial tidbits. It's a shame his partner-in-crime couldn't join the party, but Bussler does a fine job of keeping things moving from start to finish.

Also here are four brief Weblogs: "Editing System" (3:56) details the sophisticated equipment used for post-production, "Berzerk Review" (4:19) takes a look back at the classic Atari 2600 game, "Sharks" (2:58) continues the saga of the divers from the main menu, and "Termination" (3:45) tells the sad tale of Edit-System 1, Grandaddy-style.

Closing things out is a Trailer Gallery featuring the original previews for Classic Game Room and three of Bussler's recent historical documentaries. All are presented in anamorphic widescreen, while the weblogs are shown in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. No subtitles are included during the bonus features. A few bonus episodes or deleted scenes would've hit the spot, but it's tough to complain overall.

Final Thoughts

It starts out a bit slow, but Classic Game Room develops into a worthwhile, entertaining documentary as the story unfolds. Director Mark Bussler obviously has a knack for the genre, balancing vintage clips and retrospective comments with ease, style and humor---and though it's disappointing that co-host David Crosson didn't make the party, Bussler does a fine job of keeping things organized and entertaining. Overall, those who enjoy classic video games (but don't take them too seriously, of course) should find Inecom's DVD package enjoyable, which boasts a solid technical presentation and a handful of fitting bonus features. All things considered, this saga of beer and joysticks comes firmly Recommended. Insert coin(s)!

Related Link: The official website of Classic Game Room


Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in a local gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, second-guessing himself and writing things in third person.
Popular Reviews
1. The Lodger - A Story of the London Fog: Criterion Collection
2. Joe Versus the Volcano
3. The Apple
4. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
5. The Great Wall
6. Life
7. Wonder Woman (2009): Commemorative Edition -- Target Exclusive Steelbook
8. One, Two, Three
9. Ugetsu: Criterion Collection
10. Breast Milk


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2017 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use