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The King of Kong or A Fistful of Quarters

(Ape of the Week: Donkey Kong)

The King of Kong

I hate it when movies give me two titles to choose from. I hate that kind of nonsense! Just pick one! I know. I know. The King of Kong or A Fistful of Quarters is a documentary, so I should forgive such excesses. In fact, this is the first documentary to be given any attention here at The Museum of Schlock. This is also the final movie of Ape Month. Yay!

I can’t say I was a huge Donkey Kong player when I was a child. I owned a handful of games for our Atari 800 computer back when I was a child: Mountain KingDig DugPitfallDeluxe Invaders (Space Invaders Deluxe), and Demon Attack.

Atari 800

Those games were hard! I never made it to the top of the mountain with my crown in Mountain King because of those stupid bats. I hated those stupid bats! And then there was that scary spider that lived in the pit below the mountain. Why was she scary? Because she ate you alive!

Anyway, what I didn’t know at the time was that there was this whole slew of older boys that were part of what was known as “Competitive Gaming.” Chief among these was Billy Mitchell, Pac-Man champion of the world and “Gamer of the Century.” According to him, he was able to transfer the skills he learned from competitive gaming into other areas of his life. For instance, he owns Rickey’s World Famous Restaurant chain and produces a brand of hot sauces under the same name.

Kong juice

Hey, I’m impressed. Billy Mitchell is a renaissance man, and I’m not just saying that because he terrifies me. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had a death ray hidden somewhere in house. If Billy Mitchell makes a play for world domination, we’re in trouble. For now, we can rest easy knowing that he’s satisfied enough to own a world-class mullet, to be the Pac-Man Champion of the World, and also to be the Donkey Kong Champion of the World. Oh wait.

Enter the dragon. I mean, enter Steve Dweebie–I mean, Steve Wiebe, an all-around good guy that we can’t help but root for! I mean he’s a high school teacher, loving husband and father, and the Donkey Junior World Record holder.

King of Kong detail

And then a video circulates of Steve Wiebe beating the Donkey Kong high score. Guess who used to be record holder for Donkey Kong? Were you reading the previous paragraph?

Billy Mitchell cries foul because Steve Wiebe got a replacement Donkey Kong board from Roy Shidlt. Shidlt is a self-proclaimed Missile Command champion whose score had been discredited by Billy Mitchell. Who’s telling the truth? I don’t care–I mean, who knows? Will Steve Wiebe be able to defend his honor at a supervised play session at Funspot Arcade in Laconia, New Hampshire? Is there anything more boring than watching someone else playing a video game? You’ll have to watch the documentary to find out.

By the way, below is a Youtube video for Mountain King from YouTuber Tork110. This should give you a glimpse into my painful childhood.

Five Things I Learned From The King of Kong or A Fistful of Quarters

  1. Arkanoid belongs in every arcade for the sound alone.
  2. Wear a custom glove when playing with a trackball.
  3. Funspot does look like a fun spot.
  4. It’s okay to cry if you lose to Billy Mitchell.
  5. This is the first movie I’ve ever watched where I found myself screaming Neeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrddddddddddd at the screen at every opportunity.

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Photo by Leslie Salas

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102) is an MFA candidate and instructor at the University of Central Florida.

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