By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

In the 1980s, video game companies Bally/Midway and Williams competed fiercely for the big money generated by coin operated games. The two companies merged in 1988 when Williams took over Bally/Midway after mother company Bally decided to diversify into other ventures. This blend of brains, talent, and ingenuity would usher in a golden era for the game company as the 80s concluded and the 90s began.

Writer Andrew Hayward and director Joshua Y. Tsui have made a fascinating and wonderfully enjoyable documentary titled Insert Coin. The film shares the back stories and behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the guys who made Midway an economic titan when it came to arcade, coin operated games. The film also serves as a nostalgic trip down memory lane for gamers who grew up playing the games they created. Tsui presents their stories and interviews, along with archival footage with much zeal, enthusiasm, and love.

It certainly helps that most of these video game designers and engineers have vibrant, colorful personalities that keep the film exciting and amusing. This is a documentary that is tailor-made for gamers and people who were gamers during Midway’s 90s extravaganza. The film probably won’t interest anyone who has never been into playing video games, but it is somewhat possible that it could convert some people in the process.

As for me, I grew up playing video games since the 1980s. I actually started college in the 90s, but did spend some free time playing Midway’s games such as Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam. It gave me great pleasure to hear the stories about how these games were conceived and created, as told by the guys responsible. Insert Coin will be available for your enjoyment via Alamo On Demand and other Virtual Cinemas on November 25, 2020.

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