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Total Kong-quest

March 12th, 2010 | 2 comments | Posted by Diana

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that most people who saw Seth Gordon’s fantastic 2007 documentary, King of Kong (a film about two middle-aged men–a middle school teacher and a condiment magnate–duking it out for the Guinness World Record on Donkey Kong), were not quickly inspired to follow in the principal characters’ footsteps. Though respectfully portrayed, most of the people featured in the film are lovable losers, aging dorks, gamer geeks–and the addiction itself so all-consuming that it alienates even our hero from family, home and daily life.

But of course, someone did. Hank Chien, a 35-year-old plastic surgeon from New York, started playing the game after seeing the film. He recently broke the standing record, held by longtime recordholder Billy Mitchell, with 1,061,700 points in two and a half hours. The score was 10,000 higher than Mitchell’s.

The Kong-querer

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Damn You, Donkey Kong

August 17th, 2007 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Donkey Kong was released in 1981 and designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, a legend in his field who still works for Nintendo. It was never my game, but not for lack of trying. My parents used to drop me and my brother off at the arcade when we were little and arm us each with a roll of quarters. It seemed like hours before they returned, unless you lost your quarters quickly, which I would when I played Donkey Kong, because it was so freakin’ hard, then it seemed like an eternity, scored with music of the modern age–pinging and dinging and bleeping noises that were maddening if you weren’t jockeying the joy stick. I turned to Pac-Man, and later Ms. Pac-Man, to help lick my Kong wounds. (Which may explain why I once wrote a Pac-Man family history from the perspective of “Grandma Pac,” why I declared myself the President, Founder and Inventor of the Pac-Man Hall of Fame, and why I own a stand-up arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man today.)

Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, stars of the doc “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” which opens today, do not have my problem and are both world-class Donkey Kong players. My friend Josh first wrote about Billy Mitchell, who is also the only person to have played a perfect Pac-Man game, four years ago for the LA Weekly. Josh also worked on the film, which looks amazing.

Go see it this weekend!


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