donkeykong Good documentaries about little-known subcultures often seem to be about more than just the subculture. The King of Kong is one such documentary. On its surface, it’s a fascinating look into the world of competitive Donkey Kong. Yeah, I had no idea that actual adult humans still cared about who has the highest score on a classic arcade game. I guess that makes as much sense as anything else. But the real focus is on timeless universal themes of good and evil, integrity, hypocrisy, one man’s longing to succeed at something…

The protagonist who drives the movie is a sincere, likeable, borderline sad-sack guy: Steve Wiebe from Redmond, WA. Despite having what seems like a supportive, decent family and network of friends, he is haunted by feelings of inferiority and failures from his past. To cheer himself up after losing his job, he throws himself into Donkey Kong and sets his sights on the longstanding high score from 1982.

And break it he does, early in the movie, out in his garage. He sends in the videotape to the central authority in Iowa that certifies these things (again, who knew?). But Steve’s an unknown in the insular circle-jerk world of competitive video gamers, which has seen countless cheaters and debunked high scores…

Steve’s quest to be recognized as Donkey Kong champ has to be seen to be believed. The reigning champ and villain of the story is such a self-adoring pompous egomaniac asshole, he too has to be seen to be believed. I was amazed at how invested in the outcome I became. See The King of Kong ASAP!

Advertisements