what do you get when you combine the 1980s, video arcades, the guinness book of world records, human drama, sabotage, corruption, power, cheating, trash-talking, genius, ego, and insanity?
why, you get ‘the king of kong: a fistful of quarters’ of course. one of my all-time favorite documentaries. this eccentric film, released in 2007, features ‘self-proclaimed legend’ in the world of video arcade games, billy mitchell, florida hot sauce magnate and the holder of the ‘donkey kong champion of the world high scoring’ record for 25 years, and the first perfect game scorer in the history of pac-man, as he is challenged by quiet and brilliant unemployed aerospace engineer/now science teacher from washington, steve wiebe, who has never won a thing in his life.
in this film, their long distance rivalry and ultimate challenge is played out right before our eyes and under the careful watch of walter day, creator of twin galaxies, and online gaming website gatekeeper. what follows is a classic tale of good vs. evil, davy and goliath, sheer will and karma, and the suspense never stops right up until the very last second.
watching this, i spent 79 fascinating minutes glued to the screen, laughing, crying, cheering and yelling, right along with it. and most of all, i love that it was categorized under ‘sports’ in the documentary world.
Walter Day: This rivalry is among the greatest: the Yankees and Red Sox… Hekyll and Jekyll.
“I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted the glory, I wanted the fame. I wanted the pretty girls to come up and say, “Hi, I see that you’re good at Centipede.”
Jillian Wiebe (Steve’s wife) : Work is for people who can’t play video games.
image credit: picturehouse/dendy cinema