The King of Kong


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is an excellent documentary for the nerd in you. In one corner is Billy Mitchell, the long established high score champ in Donkey Kong. He is the Mohamed Ali of competitive retro gaming. Rising challenger Steve Wiebe submits a video of himself beating the high score and its on!

A back and forth struggle for Wiebe to be recognized begins. Therein lies spies, corruption, duals, defeat, and glory. The beauty of the film plainly lies in a great story, no fancy techniques or editing here. I won’t ruin the ending because you should watch this one. Here’s a clip:


The nerd radar (naydar?) is off the chart with some of the people in this film. My favorite trick they pull is in how they submit taped scores for official judging. All submissions for world records must be recorded in entirety to make sure no funny business goes down. To better fit the aspect of an arcade machine, they film with the camera on it’s side. When a new tape rolls in, they gather ’round and tip the TV up 90 degrees. Hilarious.


Some of the classic arcades can go for a pretty penny. I know because I once went to an arcade machine auction and bought one. I happily dropped a wad of cash (though not too much) on 1988’s Bad Dudes.

Then disaster struck. One the way home I was in a car accident (my fault) with the machine in tow. Something went amiss and the impact damaged the monitor, though you could here the game playing. I couldn’t convince any company to take a look at it for some reason (like the store that fixes arcade machines, asses) and the huge capacitors on the monitor scared the crap out of me. I was going to use the chassis for my own custom MAME box, but school kept me too busy/never got around to it.

How cool would Bad Dudes have been though?


Yes, you read that correctly. It says:

“The President has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the President?”

The above is the first screen to the NES version… my arcade version referred to the President as “President Ronnie.” It’s a Double Dragon style fighter where the Pres has been kidnapped by ninjas and you, as Striker or Blade, are the only hope. Made in Japan of course.

It would have been glorious.



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