They were on the road towards Oklahoma, six hours out, when the van began to sway.
For filmmaker Robert McCallum and his friend Jay Bartlett, who had spent the past 26 days chasing obscure vintage video games across North America, making a schoolboy mistake and running out of fuel on the highway was just the logical next step of a madcap journey that had left them as sleep-deprived as it had exhilarated.
Not that the two men were about to let that stop them.
Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Nintendo Quest; the story of a couple of gamers who hit the open road with a mission to buy all 678 official retail licensed Nintendo NES titles in just 30 days, with no online purchases allowed.
In total they covered more than 10,000 miles, travelling through 18 US States as well as Ontario in Canada, where Rob and Jay hail from.
The result of all this passionate endeavour is a documentary, Nintendo Quest, directed by Rob and acting as both a compelling buddy road movie, and a love-letter to the joys of retro games.
Having run out of fuel on a busy road four days from the end of their task, they were forced to coast the van across three lanes of interstate to an exit, pull off on to a frontage road, and use the momentum of their fading highway speed to trundle to the crest of a small hill. The momentum died, and they had to jump out of both sides of the van, push it over the ridge, and roll it to a gas station at the bottom of the road.
At this point, if none other, did they seriously consider throwing in the towel?
“No. When I set my mind to something, I wanna see it through to the end. This film was just too much fun, too. While it was long and hard days, it never felt like work because I was surrounded by friends talking about something I love every second of the day.”
And Rob really does love NES games.
It’s hard to convince him that anything is better than Ducktales or any of the classic Disney/Capcom team ups such as Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, Talespin, and the Little Mermaid (remember those?).
He even cites the original Final Fantasy as a crucial influence on his approach to filmmaking, noting that “it introduced me to narrative storytelling in a way that no other medium had”.
Can we expect an epic sequel, Super Nintendo Quest, revolving around collecting ever SNES game ever made?
“Well, SNES and Mega Drive are the two most requested follow ups,” teases Rob, “but what we do have planned, and it all hinges on the appeal of Nintendo Quest, is something far bigger, and far crazier.
“I really hope we get to do it.”
Nintendo Quest is available to watch On Demand on Vimeo now, and will be released on all other major digital platforms and DVD in North America on December 1.
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