An Interview with the Nintendo Quest Crew – Rob McCallum

nintendo-questJune 2013 was the first time we saw the brand spanking new Kickstarter for The NES Club: One Man • 30 Days • Over 700 Games To FIND!  The Kickstarter sought to raise a minimum of $15,000 to cover the production costs of a documentary that would showcase Jay buying the games with his own money.  The project funded with a total of $16,814.

A little more than 18 months later, the duo launched their second Kickstarter, with the documentary being called Nintendo Quest and providing an opportunity for people to purchase copies of the documentary with the Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter had a low goal of $1,000 and has already raised $35,000 hitting 4 stretch goals.  With a little less than a half a day to go, we stopped to ask the guys a few questions.

The first to answer was Rob McCallum, director, of Nintendo Quest.

Grace:  First question, and sorry if this has been asked somewhere before or I missed it somewhere, why the name change from The NES Club to Nintendo Quest?

Rob: This is a really simple one, actually. First, the world, as a whole, isn’t familiar with the “NES” acronym. It’s very niche and privileged, which goes against so much of what the film is about;  showing the world that this is a massive, growing, and open community. Also, we were legally allowed to use Nintendo in the title thanks to the work of our lawyers. Nintendo is a term, brand, and entity that is widely recognized worldwide. So while there may be some kind of confusion on what kind of Nintendo Quest takes place, we know the trailers, synopses, and marketing will inform our audience rather quickly – and it gave us a cool chance to make a new, kick-ass, awesome poster! Nothing jumps off the page like “Nintendo” in bright yellow font. We know all gamers will recognize it and at least have some passing interest.

Grace:  Without spoiling anything, what is your fondest moment behind the scenes in the creation of the documentary?

Rob:  Honestly, and this sounds simple, but playing and hunting for games for 30 straight days with my best friend while making a film. My two passions combined for such an intense period! When you get the chance to live, breathe, eat, sleep your favorite things in life, it will always be special.

Jay-NES-ClubGrace:  Without spoiling anything, what was the biggest challenge in the creation of this documentary? 

Rob:  Being satisfied with the end product and making sure the film reflects Jay’s journey and story, and does justice to the community, both from inside and from others “on the outside” viewing it. It’s a very difficult thing to do well and still make the film fun and entertaining – but we nailed it, in every way.

Grace:  If you could have done one thing differently, what would that one thing be and why?

Rob:  Announced a trilogy! That actually sounds like a nightmare! Like any project, there’s never enough time, or resources. I think the number one thing that would’ve been an easy upgrade would be a bigger van to drive around while filming. Like a ten person panel van, or some sort of NES Mystery Machine with branded decals. That would’ve been awesome. We were packed in a volkswagon mini van really tight and it wasn’t the most comfy experience at times!

Grace:  The past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the original NES, including but not limited to the value of NES games and systems going up. As a collector, what would you contribute this increase in value to?

Rob:  There are a number of factors that increases value, and I think it’s always in flux too. I think the more attention the media gives to brands and eras can influence cost – which worries me a bit about Nintendo Quest, because the last thing we want is to make it harder for folks to collect the NES stuff. I think gamers are also discovering the roots of gaming nowadays and with so many titles now being digital, they can go back and discover that games existed on tangible objects. There might be some kitsch factor there for new comers, and nostalgia at first for those returning to their own roots but ultimately, when you can hold something in your hand, there is greater value, meaning and importance. That isn’t where the industry might head, and that’s also a discussion point in the film. Collecting games as a whole is still a relatively new thing too; couple that with the American Pickers/Pawn Stars world and you can see why there is a surging interest.

Grace:  Do you remember the first time you played an NES?  Was it at home or at a department store?  What game do you play?  Tell us your memories of your first time on an NES.

Rob:  Christmas morning. Super Mario Bros, with the family, 1986. I’ll never forget sharing that experience with my grandparents, who raised wizards_warriors.cover_.front_me. Mainly because, this was something I was into and they were intrigued enough to try it. I think that relationship is usually reversed with parents and kids, where the kid gets into something that the parent understands or has experience with; it was an important moment.

Grace:  Besides the games that came with the NES, what was the first game you got for the NES?

Rob: I only had Mario and Duck Hunt for the longest time. I think Wizards and Warriors soon followed and became a favorite series of mine –  and yes, I loved Iron Sword, the second in the franchise. I remember getting Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well. Both were, and still are, incredibly hard – but I can rock that TMNT dam level like no tomorrow!

Grace:  What is your favorite NES game?  Why? 

Rob: Ducktales and Final Fantasy always compete for that spot. Final Fantasy showed me games could be more than just running left to right or more than trying to get a highscore. There was a new found narrative element that spoke to me in ways that no media had before. Ducktales is just a timeless platformer that is fun and timeless. The secrets, the humor, the treasure – it’s all very fun, ya know? There isn’t enough fun in games nowadays which is why it was important we made Nintendo Quest as fun as possible to show the world that the NES was fun and that Nintendo makes FUN products.

Grace:  What is your fondest memory revolving around the NES – not related to the documentary itself?

Rob:  Well, I’m gonna cheat here. I showed a rough cut of the film to my two nephews who are very military,  sports fan, guy-guys. Ya know? Not necessarily the prototypical or stereotypical gamer, I’d say – whatever that even is nowadays. They watched the film and the first thing they said was, “can we play your NES?” Of course I obliged and watched them play Super Mario Bros for over an hour, non-stop without any help. The reaction to them finding secrets, and learning the mechanics was a really “wow” moment. I was once that player and that game still has that effect on people today. Then I showed them Nintendo’s Ice Hockey and the rest of the weekend was spent playing that in a quasi tournament-on-paper sort of way. It was an old school vibe that felt welcomed and not out of place. Again, a cool special moment with gamers in a shared space. We were connected, not just plugged in, like so many games nowadays want.

Grace:  Looking to the future, do you see yourself doing something similar for another gaming system?  If so, and you can disclose it, which system and why?

Rob:  Never say, “never.” It’s hard to top any library and console or company like Nintendo and the NES, so anything else would feel like a sequel and lesser than the original by definition. That said, we are always talking and developing different ideas that appeal to the gaming culture but it’s important to keep a universal element to it as well.

nesGrace:  With a little more than half a day to go, what would you say to people who are on the fence about donating to get them over the fence and donating?

Rob: Aside from the amazing value of the film, bonus content from the film, the 8-bit soundtrack and now a game, all for only $50+, you will never see a documentary, or film, on video games, or Nintendo that is legitimately as fun and as entertaining asNintendo Quest. You can watch this with your entire family and they will all enjoy it. We hope this film breaks some of the barriers and preconceived notions about gaming and show folks that they can still have fun whether they’re new to gaming, stopped gaming, or curious about the culture. This film is that good and will be a memorable experience.

Grace:  Tell us more about the game that will be developed to go with the movie?  How are you creating it, etc.

the-nes-clubRob:  We’re lucky enough that we’re working with Joe Granato who’s currently developing his own doc on making an NES game called, “The NEW 8-BIT HEROES.” Joe will be guiding us and I’m sure telling us that things aren’t possible or conceivable given hardware restrictions and other resources, but we’re still gonna ask for everything and anything. The game will be an homage to the Final Fantasy-style, turn-based RPGs of the NES era where you play as a character who’s tasked with collecting and rescuing games before “Digi Corp Unlimited” secures them, digitizes them, and destroys the physical remains. You’ll encounter some colorful characters that may or may not be apart of Jay’s adventure on film plus people that have backed us on Kickstarter. YES! You can be in a NINTENDO GAME for all eternity! It will be a fun but hard game because while you’re traveling around the “world” there will be a constantly ticking clock working against you that will force you to choose between game hunting, side quests, finding new party members, and more. If it comes out the way we plan, it should blend the best of the best RPG elements from all eras of gaming without feeling like a heavy overbearing RPG experience. For more info on what Jay and I would like to see, check out our podcast at where there are three very fun brainstorming sessions. 

Grace:  Do you have a list of events/locations that will be screening the movie that you can share? 


Grace:  Anyone you want to thank? (you are welcomed to thank anyone/everyone however you want to do it).

866730_thank_youRob: It’s really simple, Jay and I would like to thank anyone, everywhere, that has anything to do with this film. From everyone that “liked” a post on social media, told a friend in passing, supported the campaigns, to those that appear in the film, the crew that made it possible, and all the amazing folks in the media that deemed this film, story, and our community worthy of time, and printing. This film might be a labor of me and Jay, but it’s success is because the community chose to embrace and no words will ever adequately justify our appreciation for this opportunity and future opportunities. 

Many thanks to Rob for taking time out of his busy day for this interview.  If you want to own a copy of Nintendo Quest, you can find the Kickstarter here.

Game on!

About Grace "Kayhynn" Snoke

Grace Snoke is a corporate journalist and author who enjoys gaming, reading, writing and jewelry making. Outside of her day job, she writes for a number of sites including: Video Game, Obsolete Gamer, SciTech Nerds and for a couple blogs and sites she owns. You can learn more about her adventures as an author here.


MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2017
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