From trading card company to multi-generational video game developer, Nintendo is known by every person on the planet. In Jeremy Snead‘s five part documentary series, which will be available to watch for free March 1 exclusively on Crackle, we take a look at the iconic Japanese company’s bumpy ride throughout the decades.

Every one hour episode discusses an important part in Nintendo’s history as a company. Narrator Sean Astin‘s calm voice takes us on a journey that feels rather nostalgic at times, by showcasing a wide range of products and its original commercials, all while guests share their very own experiences with the house hold name. Not only people attached to the company itself, such as the co-founders of Nintendo of America and former employees, but also competitors in the billion dollar video game industry get to share their stories, without shying away from dissing and praising the house of Super Mario Bros.

It all started in the 1880’s and wasn’t always as successful as most people think. Nintendo struggled with its very own identity mid 20th century, so after dabbling in the world of hospitality, television and the food-industry, the Nintendo Toy Company was created, quickly becoming Atari’s biggest competitor in local arcades. Historians, authors, collectors and influencers’ visceral memories connected to experiences in arcades make way for investigative reporting and a ton of news clips. Don’t worry, if you get through the drag that is the first episode, you’ll sort of enjoy the next couple of revealing episodes more.

Director, writer and producer Jeremy Snead is clearly passionate about the subject of his docu-series, and that often works. But the first and last episode could’ve been cut significantly shorter to look less like a fanmade film and more like a cohesively paced nostalgic ride through video game history. It’s also interesting to see so much insider info on the rivaling SEGA and PlayStation, and how they are connected to Nintendo.

The beauty of ‘The Nintendo Story‘ lies within the heart of this series: Mario and company. The games and its evolving graphics, recognizable tunes and the coming out of nerds all around the world, is often the cause of goosebumps and big smiles. The exciting revolution within the industry and the company itself, by introducing and discovering new and exciting brands, such as Pokémon, was necessary to reinvent themselves in order to compete with the competition.

What’s so frustrating about ‘Playing with Power‘ is how it never really digs deeper than things you could easily find on Google or Wikipedia. When something interesting gets shared by the interviewees, Snead often just stays with that quote or story, and just moves on to its next subject. There’s a lot of praise, even when it covers a darker patch of Nintendo’s history. Besides the problems with the pacing, the series has an insufferable repetitive score that’s a constant throughout.

Just like Netflix’s ‘The Toys That Made Us‘, ‘Playing with Power: The Nintendo Story‘ relies heavily on nostalgia, but lacks any humour. Everything stays very much on the surface and gets stretched out heavily over the course of a whopping five hour documentary. This not only makes it a chore to watch in one sitting, it also doesn’t pull you in enough to make it a one-episode-a-night kinda show.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

5-Part Crackle Original Series Premieres Worldwide on March 1, 2021
Available to Watch for Free Exclusively on Crackle

Review – ‘Playing with Power: The Nintendo Story’

Reviewed online (screener provided by publisher), February 27, 2021. Rating: TBC. Running time: 5 x 60 min.

PRODUCTION: A Crackle release of a Mediajuice Studios, production. Producer: Jeremy Snead. Executive producers: Sean Astin.

CREW: Director/screenplay: Jeremy Snead. Cinematography: Michael Kang. Editing: Kenny Price, Patrick Riley, Cory Mathiesen, Cate Hauder, Zach Felder, Trey Patton.

CAST: (narrator) Sean Astin.

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