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Netflix’s “Hi Score Girl” is a Love Letter to Retrogamers

No, you didn’t somehow end up on Kotaku I assure you that this is still RetroRGB. “So, why is there an anime post here?” you may ask. It’s because Hi Score Girl waxes nostalgic for 90’s games, consoles, and even the arcade experience from that era.  NEVER have I seen a show that heavily references the Turbografx-16 (PC Engine in Japan) and Turbo Express as a major (or any) part of its story line. Later episodes give a spotlight to the Sega Saturn, Darkstalkers, and other cult classics that you rarely hear about in mainstream media. Move over Scott Pilgrim, this is how you cater to the gamer crowd.

Of course, just as in Scott Pilgrim, there is a semi-strange love triangle sprinkled throughout the 12 episodes between the main character Haruo, Akira, & Hidaka. I can already hear the groans, but hear me out. This is a good thing if you’re trying to get your significant other into games as this sub-plot might keep them interested while you watch actual game play footage from Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Splatter House, Gradius, Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter Alpha, Kizuna Encounter, ect.  

Obscure characters such as Neinhalt Sieger regularly make an appearance.

On that note, if you have kids, this may be the gateway to get them interested in classic gaming and all it has to offer.  After watching this, they’ll have a clear idea of what arcade gaming was like back then. Techniques such as “turtling” are both referenced and explained in the show in a way that won’t alienate viewers. Hi Score Girl is absolutely 100% family friendly fare, and even through its slow moments, watching Street Fighter 2’s Guile act as a sensei throughout the episodes is a treat in itself.  

Virtua Cop, anyone?

In keeping this recommendation as spoiler-free as possible, my suggestion is to at least watch the first two episodes. The gorgeous game play captures are perfectly inserted for an amazingly well-constructed visual narrative. Classic consoles and controllers are beautifully rendered, and for others, there is a rom-com of sorts. It’s the perfect trojan horse.

Series: Netflix