DVD Review: Classic Game Room: "The Rise And Fall Of The Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show"
Before there was YouTube, there was Classic Game Room.
Nowadays, the Internet is clogged with off-beat, low-budget videos the pontificate on every topic known to man. But in the latter part of the 20th century, video on the Internet was a rarer animal. Classic Game Room: The Rise and Fall of the Internet's Greatest Video Game Review Show, is a tongue-in-cheek documentary that revisits this not so long ago era, chronicling the story of one early web video series that met its unfortunate end when the dot com bubble burst.
Early on in the documentary, narrator Mark Bussler describes The Game Room, the videogame review show he co-hosted with film school buddy David Crosson, as "two nerds making fools of ourselves online." And it's an apt description. The two 23-year-olds are more concerned with creating parodies and poking fun at the gameplay, graphics, and even concepts behind the games rather than giving them a GamePro-style analysis. One needs only to look at their review of X-Men: The Videogame, in which Bussler and Crosson become their alter-egos, "The Lush" and "Pottymouth" and team up to attack the evil Magneto. Crosson curses like a sailor until his enemy submits. Bussler's superpower? The ability to throw empty beer bottles at people. At least until he runs out of bottles.
The doc takes us through some of the duo's most notable shows. A review of Duck Hunt becomes a look at Nintendo's "unreleased version," called "People Hunt." A review of "Alien" for Atari turns into a Real World parody. While some of their reviews can skew towards the blue end of the comedy spectrum-- a review of the Sega Dreamcast game, "Seaman," leads to the predictable bodily fluid double entendres-- Bussler and Crosson's odd sense of humor makes them endearing characters. You're watching two kids having fun.
Additional commentary by Bussler (Crosson is mysteriously absent) does its best to put the show in context and describe what happened behind the scenes. Interspersed throughout, and overused, is some strange, seemingly random stock footage (including an unfortunately-timed video of a bridge collapsing).
While a classic video game novice will learn very little about the games these two review, video game aficionados will certainly be able to identify with Bussler and Crosson's misadventures in videogaming.
In October 2000, unable to secure advertisers (Nintendo dropped out after a not-so-positive review of Perfect Dark), the show, along with the Internet site that featured it went under. Bussler went on to become a documentary filmmaker, and one of his first projects was Classic Game Room. Sure, the film makes The Game Room out to be a bigger part of Internet history than it was, but that simply reflects the love its creators had for their creation. Today's YouTubers take note.
"Had we kept going, I think we would have been more popular than Seinfeld," Bussler deadpans in the epilogue.
After a beat, though, he admits, "No, we wouldn't."