Short Takes: Retro Documentary Reviews

By Andrew Ayres

Charting the rise of Nolan Bushnell’s Atari from its humble beginnings building arcade game, to a Warner owned company that turned over billions of dollars in sales. The Atari story is a lesson in the incredible growth of a new technology, and the subsequent fall when that technology is superseded. It is a tale of riding a wave of creativity, and the crash when you cease to innovate. Much of the way Atari was run went on to inform how Silicon Valley companies are run to this day.

From the incredible success or Pong, to the birth of licensed games, this is the journey of the birth of video gaming in the home, all the way through to the disastrous released of the ET game which heralded the beginning of the end for Atari. It is a tale told through the eyes those that were there, highlighting the hidden conflicts and the decisions that ultimately led to the failure of the company in 1984.

Available from Amazon and Google Play.

A look at the arcade gaming culture that grew up around Chinatown Fair,  an arcade in New York City, through the eyes of those who played there and those who worked there.

It explores what it means to have a community to belong to, and looks at what happened after Chinatown Fair closed, showcasing the changing world of gaming, to the birth of Next Level, which aimed to capture much of the old feel of Chinatown Fair, with streaming competitions and a space for people to be together.

It also looks at the re-invention of Chinatown Fair as a more family orientated venue, and how the community that had built up viewed the efforts of the new operator. The story of the lost arcade is one of a community looking to survive beyond the loss of the last arcade.

Available from and Amazon.

This is the story of the company created by Jack Tramiel, from it’s beginnings selling office calculators, through its revolutionizing of the concept of a personal computer, told through the eyes of Jacks son Leonard, and the people who worked at Commodore

it tells the story of the development of the Commodore range of computers, the development of the Amiga project which was acquired by Commodore from under the nose of Atari, and the ultimate bankruptcy that claimed the company. It highlights the stories of those who were there and the impact this classic computer company still has to this day through the various Commodore and Amiga clubs around the world.

Available from

What happens when your adult self chooses to act on the dream of your eight year old self? This is the question Joe Granato asks himself as he sets out to realise the idea he and a childhood friend had as at age eight to make a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

The film takes a look at the culture that has built up around old 8 bit consoles, and the people who devote themselves to preserving the NES to understand why they should attempt to develop a new game for the NES, and the pitfalls to avoid.

It focuses on the process of developing a game, and coming to terms with the limitations of developing a game for the technology that existed in the late eighties and early nineties. From the limited storage for the game code, to the methods required to produce audio that sounds compelling as part of the game.

The New 8 Bit Heroes is available on Amazon.

From its star studded launch in July 1985 where Andy Warhol painted Debbie Harry using the Amiga computer, the Amiga was a revolutionary computer with for the time incredible graphics and exceptional sound.

From the costly development which almost saw the company owned by Jack Tramiel at Atari, to its salvation via the buyout from Commodore, this movie tells the story of the rise of Amiga through the eyes of those who worked to bring the project to the world.

The Amiga was the first consumer grade computer that had the capability of producing multimedia content, including the development of NewTechs “Video Toaster” expansion that allowed for professional grade video production using the Amiga computer.

From the highest of highs followed the lowest of lows went Commodore went bankrupt, and those that were there and the reasons for the eventual fall of the Amiga. The legacy left by the Amiga includes the chip music scene that lives on today, as a new generation embraces the capabilities of the Amiga from 35 years ago.

Available from

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