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Monday, February 27 2017 13:40

Game On: Digging Deep Into Netflix's Video Game-inspired Content...

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Netflix #StreamTeamOver the past year or so, something has changed in our household dynamic here at Rock Father HQ... video games have become a part of daily life. Now, there have always been games present in our house, but aside from LEGO Dimensions and the late Disney Infinity, they weren't really noticed by our girls, The Rock Daughters™.  Oddly enough, despite having some of the newer consoles, it was the classics that really planted the bug. A brief session with the Atari 2600 at a birthday party last year... an infatuation with Super Mario Bros... a curiosity for the dark world of Castlevania. Mirroring my own childhood, Nintendo has become a big deal, with the 3DS XL the platform of choice.  Then, after I took our oldest daughter on a surprise trip to Nintendo's North American Headquarters in Redmond, Washington last November on the launch day for the NES Classic, the world of classic gaming just exploded here, looking toward the past with an eye on the present and future. An interest not only in the games, but also their history and legacy in other facets of pop culture manifested itself, and there's no better place to feed that quest for knowledge and entertainment than Netflix. With the much-anticipated release of the Nintendo Switch upon us, along with the announcement of Castlevania as a Netflix Original Series, here's a look at some video game-based titles to stream right now!

Video Games: The Movie - I was surprised to come downstairs one morning to find our 7½-year-old watching a live-action documentary, but after seeing that it was an overview on the history of gaming as we know it, it made sense. While the film has been criticized for being a very simplistic look at the industry, its simplicity is the very reason why it works so well for a game-curious younger audience eager to look behind the pixels.

Super Mario Bros. Super Show

Super Mario Bros. Super Show - When it comes to Nintendo, Mario and Luigi are the poster boys, with Link and the crew from The Legend of Zelda right behind. I used to watch this after school on WFLD Channel 32 in Chicago during its original syndicated run back in 1989. Originally presented with Super Mario Bros. episodes shown Monday-Thursday with a Zelda story on Fridays, this series featured WWF legend Captain Lou Albano as Mario, with Danny Wells as Luigi in live-action bookends to the animated shorts.  Of all the video game programming on Netflix, this is the one that our girls watch most... and it's adorable. Funny enough, some of the original breaks are intact, so we've actually had the kids tell us "there's a new Zelda on Friday!," not realizing that was only true around 30 years ago. 

Skylander's Academy

Skylanders: Academy - This Netflix Original Series is impressive for both its animation style (feature quality) and storytelling. Activision's Skylanders is such a sprawling franchise, our kids were slow to latch onto it, but last Fall's debut of the series helped to bring things home. Even if you're not a fan of the toys-to-life game series, the show is fantastic.

atarimovie

Atari: Game Over - I've written about his one before, and it's because it hits so close to home for me... the true story of how a video game based on Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial almost killed not only Atari, but the entire video gaming industry.  Millions of unsold copies of the game ended up in a landfill (though it turned out the numbers were exaggerated, as other Atari products were in the mix), and a few years back the legend was fully explained, with the contents of the mysterious dump unearthed. I had the game, and while it was a pain, it's not as bad as some made it out to be.

pacman

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures - There have been quite a few Pac-Man animated series' and specials over the years (I'm partial to the old Hanna-Barbera ones), but the kids really dig this CGI-animated series. In addition to the episodic run, there's also Christmas and Halloween specials available.

Castlevania - NetflixComing Soon - Castlevania: I am so excited for this, and after introducing the girls to the first two Castlevania games thanks to the NES Classic, they might be, too (depending on how scary it is). Inspired by the classic video game series, Castlevania is a dark medieval fantasy following the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan, trying to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hand of Vlad Dracula Tepe himself. The animated series is from Frederator Studios, a Wow! Unlimited Media company, written by best-selling author and comic book icon Warren Ellis and executive produced by Warren Ellis, Kevin Kolde, Fred Seibert and Adi Shankar.

The selection of other video game-related titles available to stream right now includes: Rachet and Clank (2016), Video Game High School, All Work All Play (2015), Indie Game: The Movie (2012), Gaming Show [In My Parents Garage] (2016), Red vs Blue (2015), HALO: The Fall of Reach (2015), Man vs. Snake (2015), The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog, Pokemon, Angry Birds, Resident Evil: Extinction and Wizard Mode.

The Rock Father™ is a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, delivering regular news, features and updates on great streaming content.

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. Current special projects include promotional campaigns for PJ Masks (eOne/Disney Junior) and Beat Bugs (Netflix). 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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