If you are of a certain age, some of your best video game playing memories will come from playing Midway Games releases of the '90s. Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, there is no doubt that you lost many an afternoon and quarters in those machines if you are like me. What you may not know, however, is the interesting story of Midway Games, which is the focus of the new documentary Insert Coin. Now available through Alamo Drafthouse's Alamo On-Demand Digital Release, the film is directed by Joshua Tsui, who not only worked on Kombat but lent his likeness to Liu Kang. he presents the history of the company through interviews with the people who worked there, along with video game journalists and fans like Ready Player One author Ernest Cline. Check out the trailer below.
Insert Coin Is A Curated History Of Midway Games
"Director Joshua Tsui has crafted Insert Coin as a love letter, time machine, and insider's look at a studio that created pop culture giants that would fundamentally change how we played video games. The early 90s were like the Wild West era of the gaming industry, and no studio represented that ethos more than Midway Games with its wildly controversial (and hugely successful) titles like Mortal Kombat, a game that thrilled players and shocked parental advisory groups across the globe with its over the top violence and colorful cast. Tsui was there when it all went down, having worked on the Mortal Kombat franchise and even lent his face to Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat IV. Insert Coin features interviews with past Midway team members, including Eugene Jarvis (Defender and Robotron: 2084), Mark Turmell (SmashTV, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz), John Tobias (co-creator Mortal Kombat series), George Petro (NARC, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Revolution X) and others. Also prominently featured are industry insiders Carly Kucerek (Coin-Operated Americans) and novelist and screenwriter Ernest Cline (Ready Player One, Armada)."
The documentary is hit or miss. There is a bunch of great interviews on the doc and lots of welcome information that you may or may not know depending on your history with the brand. Where Insert Coin fails is presenting more in-depth information on damaging info. Things like Midway's mistreatment of employees is mentioned but very glossed over. Touchy subject matter is kinda given the "Yeah, that sucked. But How cool is Mortal Kombat!" treatment. They do go more in-depth with the Mortal Kombat controversies we all know about, which is interesting. I just wish that they went all the way with some of the other topics covered and touched upon.
That being said, this is a cool trip down memory lane for 90's kids like us. There is enough meat on the bones in the interviews to hold your attention, but you may wish that they had not held back a bit like me. Insert Coin is available to watch right now on Alamo Drafthouse's Alamo On-Demand Digital Release.