Angry Robot

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

You know that feeling when you’re watching a documentary and you just can’t believe what’s going on? When real-life events seem so unbelievably dramatic, they must be made up?

Well, maybe they are. Or, maybe not. Who knows?

King of Kong is about the battle for the title of World Champion, Donkey Kong. It follows nice family guy Steve Wiebe as he challenges sleazy hot sauce magnate Billy Mitchell’s 1982 high score, wrestling with the corruption of the officiating body Twin Galaxies, which is in league with Mitchell and refuses to honour Wiebe’s scores. It’s a fast-moving, entertaining film full of larger-than-life characters such as Wiebe and Mitchell and the guys who run Twin Galaxies. It would be a great documentary. If it were true. Unfortunately, it stands accused of innacuracies that dwarf anything Michael Moore has ever done. Read this and then this and Walter Day’s other criticisms.

Now, I don’t know which side is right, and I think it’s totally worth watching regardless, as long as you keep in mind this controversy. If, as Twin Galaxies states, Wiebe had the world record for three years, the film is brutally misleading – it presents his score as being quickly disqualified and the title reverting to Mitchell. Twin Galaxies states that what happened is that Steve’s million-plus score was indeed disqualified, but then the title reverted to Steve himself since his 947,000 score had not been invalidated. Confused yet? Since you can’t trust any of Walter Hill’s statements at face value, we would need more sources and details to know what actually happened with regards to Twin Galaxies’ scorekeeping or any of this shit.

UPDATE: As it turns out, MTV’s Stephen Tolito has turned in quite a number of articles about the controversy: one two three four. They don’t necessarily get beyond ‘he said / she said’ disputes, but they at least present both sides and contain this headscratcher of a quote, from Mitchell’s best friend, Steve Sanders:

“Is the movie accurate?” Sanders asked. “I would say yes. Is the movie fair? I would say no.”

2 comments on "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters"

  1. beaver says:

    I have to say that while watching the trailer for this a few weeks back there was a definite sensation of the no-feeling creeping into my tum tum.

    I appreciate your use of the term “sleazy”

    Thank you for speaking to this and providing links to interesting criticism(s) (mmm links = sausages)

    Of course we all know that when you are really the best a certain game its true purpose is revealed to you as a tool to ascertain the perfect hero for the applicable cause or effort and you are sped off on a great adventure somewhere out there in space and time and that you only return for the purpose of collecting your hot trailer park love and not to do a cheesy doc about your efforts.


  2. Nadine says:

    This kinda makes me mad, but on the other hand I don’t care but still. The idea of one guy challenging another to beat out his precious high score is so cool. Even if it was just at the local arcade it would still be interesting, or having two online masters meet in person for the Fischer show off of the century. But to take an idea and then actually have to cheat ir or lie to make it more dramatic, or even make it happen at all? I just think that is the highest echelon of lame. In this world where so much is happening you don’t have to do that kinda thing. Either say it’s fiction, or non-fiction and then stick to it. It’ll be good either way, but when you confuse the two the whole end product is becomes a bastard child in the and no one will want it at all.

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