Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Steve Wiebe Reclaims Donkey Kong No.1 (Go Watch His Documentary)

Steve Wiebe, the underdog of 2007's skewed documentary King of Kong, has reclaimed his title and beaten Billy Mitchell's world record with a Donkey Kong score of... I don't know, a lot. Like, 1,064,500 a lot.

It stands to reason that retro gaming - and score competition in particular - is very much antithesis to what truly excites me about games; but that's not to say I won't thoroughly enjoy getting the hell beaten from me in SFII, or trundling on through Super Mario Bros. 3 on Virtual Console.

Beyond that, though, King of Kong is well worth a watch. I love games fringe - anything that takes our medium beyond the confines of the specialist press and £300 hardware is good news. The film follows Steve - whose commitment, flare and subsequent failure in most things in life render him impossible to dislike - as he fights adversity and foul play to beat antagonist, Billy Mitchell, to the Donkey Kong world record - a record Mitchell later reclaimed [not a spoiler, it's implicit in the header!] It's very much a character piece, and beyond a little nostalgia and the constant reminder that people who play video games are all weirdos, it may as well be about fly fishing or ultimate frisbee.

It's also a very biased film. It's part of a growing movement over the past decade towards perverting documentary into something closer resembling soap. I wouldn't suggest this was a work of fiction, but I'd be surprised if a few scenes weren't restaged, certain clips carefully edited. It's a little insulting to our intelligence as an audience but - provided you approach it in the right light - it does make for a very engaging little film. I recommend you check it out.

If only Steve would stop thanking god for his success... No Steve, it's all on you, mate.


  1. So, who saw this at the time, what did you think?

    I like to believe Billy Mitchell isn't as much of a prat as he's made to look (though director Seth Gordon claims he's actually far nastier); and I NEED to believe - in order to retain my sanity - that Walter Day isn't hiding in my cupboard late at night with that fucking guitar.

  2. I it was reasonable documentary if taken lightly, since that's about as credible as it gets within the grasp of the director who attempted to trivialise and dramatise the situation at every conceivable turn.