There are plenty of us out there who remember video gaming in its infancy – the days of going to the local arcade to play popular titles such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Missile Command are all but hazy memories now, even if they have been seized upon as a result of the current trend in nostalgia fetishism which seems to still be running riot! Those of us who do remember the original arcade machines will also remember chasing high scores – and anyone who has seen the documentary ‘The King of Kong’ will know only too well that chasing the best score on an arcade leaderboard is addictive stuff indeed!
The movie, released in 2007, recounted the ongoing rivalry between Donkey Kong players Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, who both contested to retain their own high scores – Mitchell would end up the victor by the movie’s end, with Wiebe the unlucky everyman in defeat. However, while Mitchell supposedly reigned King of Kong for quite some time – and to the extent where he more or less held the title – arcade high score gurus have ceremoniously discredited Mitchell’s high scores amid accusations of cheating – which appear to have been proven.
The problems with Mitchell’s scores lie in the fact that he appeared to have achieved his scoring through a direct emulation of the game, not an original, unmodified arcade cabinet version of Donkey Kong. Twin Galaxies have finished undertaking a lengthy investigation into claims that Mitchell cheated and are more than satisfied in booting his name from the record sheets, and informing Guinness World Records in the bargain. This means – at last – Steve Wiebe can get some form of legitimate recognition. While his high score may have long been beaten by new contenders, he is officially the first player to legitimately score over 1,000,000 on an authentic Donkey Kong arcade machine. Watching King of Kong now seems all the more satisfying, certainly for those who were rooting for Wiebe from the start. Many, too, will say that Mitchell is more than receiving his just desserts.
High scores are still a very big deal indeed – especially when it comes to seizing world records! Mitchell’s reign is over after his circumvention of the rules were investigated – meaning that if you intend to score big, you’d better hope to do so legitimately!