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The King of Kong
Entered on: October 1, 2007 11:37 PM by Ross

doucheWhile Swerb was in town visiting this morning, he mentioned this movie, The King of Kong, that I had forgotten that I wanted to see.  You might have heard about it - it's about the world record in Donkey Kong.  Sounds silly and boring, right?  Silly it may be, but boring it is not.  I took in a showing today and I'm here to tell you that this movie is great.

Without giving anything away, it's about the long-held world champion, Billy Mitchell (the douchebag in the pic) and a challenger to the record, Steve Weibe.  What's incredible about this movie is the glimpse into how petty and vindictive subcultures can be.  As this chump's hairdo indicates, most of these avid classic arcade game afficianados are still stuck in the 80s and they appear to have the mentalities that they had back then as well.

There is a website called Twin Galaxies that is the self-proclaimed record keepers for the high scores in various arcade games.   Since this guy holds a few records (including Pac-Man), he's big business for a site whose subject matter has mostly left public consciousness.  And that's where the movie exposes these guys for the rotten scoundrels that they are. 

It's incredible the lengths that not only Billy and his sycophants will go to, but the record keepers will go to, to let him keep his crown and call into question Steve's attempts to dethrone him.  I was literally on the edge of my seat watching this movie, constantly cursing at the sons of bitches, incredulous that such petty and mean spirited people could really exist.  I'm sure that the Twin Galaxies people feel that they were edited poorly for dramatic effect, and I'm sure they could have been to some extent, but you can't fake the things that were coming out of their mouths or the looks on their faces. 

This all reminds me of something I've said for years: people who have this incredible nostalgia for old school arcade games and disdain for modern games are, quite simply, retarded.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a game of Joust or Rush N' Attack as much as the next guy, but modern gaming is so much more interesting.  Those old games were simply a lesson in memorization, and to a lesser extent, hand-eye coordination (with a large dose of frustration).  Modern games have the hand-eye factor, but also incredible sound, visuals, and often great narratives that the old school designers couldn't even begin to dream about.   There's definitely something cool about having an original arcade cabinet in your basement, but you'd never catch me logging hours on that like I would with Halo.  

NEWS 443 - 25 Comments
From: Jackzilla Entered on: October 2, 2007 9:54 AM

I'll have to check that movie out, Bert.

I love the modern games too, but let's not put down the classics.  It's been close to 30 years that people have been playing Pac-Man because of its gameplay.  Do we really think people will be playing Halo 3 30 years from now?  If not, what's the "better" game?

From: Ross Entered on: October 2, 2007 10:38 AM

I think that's a unfair comparison - they don't make games like Pac-Man anymore - not even vastly improved versions.  In 30 years, the evolution of Halo 3 (hard to speculate on what that will be, but some form of virtual reality seems likely to me) will still be developed and played, making it unnecessary to play the cruder versions, except for nostalgic purposes. 

However, I do think that some of the best games of our time will continue to be played for many years to come, but not as a competition for high score, obviously - more like re-watching a favorite movie (aha!  Now I see why this might be hard for you to swallow, Zilla!).  Halo might fall into this camp, but I'd bet more that the Half-Life series will - even Doom and Quake are already reaching a cultlike status.  

Don't get me wrong:  the old school arcade classics definitely have a (dwindling) place in my heart.  Sometimes you want to play something simpler.  But to claim they are superior (as the dipshit 'referee' in the movie does) is crazy talk.

I think it would also be instructive to ask a developer what they'd rather create.  If you had a guy who had never seen a video game before, but somehow had the skills to write great software, and you gave him a thorough overview of videogame history, what are the odds he'd want to create something like a Pac-Man?

The point is that games from this time on will always have elements that the old arcade games lacked:  cohesive story, plot, music, dramatic tension, etc.  This is, in my opinion, an unequivocably welcome addition to the artform.

From: Jackzilla Entered on: October 2, 2007 11:00 AM

Actually, they do still make games like Pac-Man.  That's what Xbox Live Arcade is all about.  Pac-Man Championship Edition is a new Live Arcade version that came out this summer.  Also, aren't newer games like Zuma and Space Giraffe basically old school games?  My main point is  basically that new games aren't necessarily better than old school.   They have more of everything (graphics, sound, plot) but aren't necessarily "better."  I've had a riot playing Bomberman with Rad & crew yet that's hardly state of the art in games.

Let's look at BioShock.  An awesome game for sure --  a "work of art" even.  Yet I've already sold my copy.  But I bet I'll be playing Pac-Man CE within the week... 

What's the better game?  :) 


From: Ross Entered on: October 2, 2007 11:39 AM

Your Bioshock anecdote hardly constitutes evidence of anything more than your own opinion, Zilla.  I, for one, would greatly enjoy the replay value of Bioshock over Pac-Man.  

My main argument isn't that just because modern games have new features, it automatically makes them better, but that all else being equal, it does.  If you were to argue that games of yore somehow tend to have superior design, I call bullshit on that.  There are classics to be sure, but I contend no moreso than are being produced today - in fact quite likely the opposite given that the industry has grown so much and can attract better talent.  

So I don't think we're saying anything terribly different (other than your dubious-at-best insinuation that Pac-Man is a better game than Bioshock, even though it's kind of apples and oranges) - I'm not saying that newer automatically equals better.  My original assertion is that games, on the whole, are better than they used to be, and that less reliance on memorization as a gameplay mechanic is a huge improvement.  

From: NickNick Entered on: October 2, 2007 11:47 AM

The only reason any of us think that these "classic" games are better are purely nostalgia reasons.  Though we might not think it, we enjoy these games more because they bring us back to our childhood.  Try to plop Timmy down in front of Pac-Man and see if he likes it more than the games on the Wii or x-box.

It's a generational thing mostly.  I do like to play the older games, but I quickly lose interest because of the repetiveness of everything.  There's only so many pills you can eat.  Even Zuma get's boring after a while. 

I think the most important thing that the newer games offer is the extra dimensions in the game design, storytelling and game play.  It provides an opportunity for more variety and less staleness.

From: Radmobile Entered on: October 2, 2007 11:52 AM
The flaw in this entire argument is that "better" is such a subjective term. In the same way a person's opinion can't be wrong, you can't say anything is better than anything else, unless judging it in specific aspects. As for me, new games definitely engross me much more than old ones do, but Xbox live arcade does still get my attention from time to time. People can have their own opinions about what they like better, but I imagine (without seeing the film, mind you) that the people advocating the older games so much and dissing newer ones are just putting on blinders and not wanting to enjoy anything new. They probably refuse to listen to anything but vinyl and other self induced punishments.
From: Ross Entered on: October 2, 2007 12:00 PM

Of course you're right, Rad.  I was basically offering my opinion (in my customary authoritative manner) in disagreement with the guy in the movie's.  

Once again, though:  I'm not completely dissing old arcade style games.  I just think that it's definitely a good thing that we've largely moved on.  Don't you?

From: BigFatty Entered on: October 2, 2007 12:12 PM

Hmmmm - I think you found a good topic Ross, especially for us JA nerds.  This will take me a while to noodle about.  But, I would say that newer games are better than older games on the perspective that they evolved (in the general sense, not scientific) from these original ones.  Meaning, the games were constantly being improved with new technology, memory, sound, abilities, etc.  Also, different genres of games became possible, like the FPS.  It is very much comparing apples to oranges though.  You have to take the game type first to do a better comparison - Puzzle, FPS, Racing, etc.  For example - who would say that Night Driver was better than Burnout? (or any of the older race games)  Burnout is better on all comparisons except simplicity.

But the older games have something a lot of the newer games lack - repeat playability.  Well, I guess I am talking about the classics here - we all know there are thousands of older games that are pure garbage.  They are better because of their simplicity and ease of play.  Aggggh!  but again, you have to compare similar games... which I got off track!  Ok Zuma is a newer game that is on par with similar older games, but would I say it was better?  Now it is a matter of opinion!

I need more time to think about this..... 

From: Radmobile Entered on: October 2, 2007 12:21 PM
To be sure, if I had to choose whether to return permanently to the old arcade style games or keep moving forward into what feels more like interactive cinema these days...I'd have to choose the latter.  There's a reason we call it "progress" when newer things take over the older things.  Of course, not all newer things are better, so take that for what you will.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: October 2, 2007 12:24 PM

I think we just blew Fatty's mind.

Just one clarification:  When I asked "which game is better" I was just illustrating how silly the question was to begin with.  I wasn't claiming either was better.  I'm just defending the old school!

Mr. Do kicks BioShock's ass, by the way. 

From: Ross Entered on: October 2, 2007 12:26 PM
Jackzilla said:

Mr. Do kicks BioShock's ass, by the way.

You're fucking dead, man.

From: Ross Entered on: October 2, 2007 12:57 PM

Here's the clip in question.  Now that I look at it, it's not as annoying as I remember it, I was definitely putting some of my own spin on it. However, I will note that the fact that these guys are so impressed by memorization is super turdy in my opinion.  But the referee is going too far in saying that they challenge thinking and coordination in a way that modern games don't.  

King of Kong clip (5.5MB)  

From: BigFatty Entered on: October 3, 2007 4:27 AM
I just watched a clip and story on 'Fracture' Ooohhh, I think Ross is going to like what it is going to bring to gaming! Terrain Deformation... The gamer can change his environment when he chooses and as he chooses. It is a FPS future civil war game.... From what I've seen, it looks pretty sweet. Take a look on yahoo videos:
From: NickNick Entered on: October 3, 2007 7:42 AM
Holy crap.  The physics engine on that must take up half of the games memory.
From: Ross Entered on: October 3, 2007 8:49 AM

Looks like a fun concept, but I'm not convinced it's anything more than a gimmick at this point.  I have played games where you can actually blast through walls, and to me, even though it's much simpler, that's a more compelling concept because it's realistic.  No one can create a hill in real life by throwing a grenade.  It looks sweet, but it seems more akin to the upcoming Half-Life Portal game where you can do things with physics that you can't do in real life, and create puzzles around that concept.  

From: Radmobile Entered on: October 3, 2007 10:02 AM
Yeah, I'm not too impressed. It could be fun for 5 minutes or so, but I have a feeling I'd get bored. Portal seems like a lot more fun for some reason. Now I do like the notion that grenades and such can make holes in the ground and walls. That sort of thing should be in more games just as a standard. But elevation raising grenades??? I dont need those in my games. Just give me a ladder or a jump/jet pack.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: October 3, 2007 10:51 AM
Sorry Fatty.  I'm not even going to look at your link because it's getting pooped on so much.  Mr. Do will kick its ass anyway.

From: BigFatty Entered on: October 3, 2007 3:12 PM
Hey - its the concept that is sweet (plus the gameplay and chaos look pretty sweet) but I am sure they are going to F this one up. Yes, I thought the grenade to make a mountain was a little over the top. I felt making a crater to jump in for cover would have been sweet. Plus, I saw something akin to an elevator deal. I can easily see them making this with some puzzles... you got to make a mountain to go up there... or make a cave here, then..... that is baloney. Which, I saw in that damn Portal game - Meh! Simpsons did it! Poor you Jack, the game is just what you love - chaos, run and gunning, powerful grenades, shit flying everywhere.... My favorite part was, when a wheel bounced by from an exploding jeep somewhere off-screen. Admit it Jack, you didn't look at it cuz your bandwidth sucks!
From: Radmobile Entered on: October 3, 2007 3:20 PM
Oooohhh!!! Bandwidth burn! That's a sensitive subject for Jack. He got to play Packman last night while Ross and I did some legendary campaign style on Halo. He may never know what it's like to be Charles Bronson, but Ross and I sure do. I guess Jack'll have to settle for being Bronson Pinchot.
From: NickNick Entered on: October 3, 2007 3:41 PM
Charles Bronson? What the hell. He isn't even close to Chuck Norris.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: October 3, 2007 4:03 PM
From: Swerb Entered on: October 4, 2007 11:51 PM

I'm going to ignore all the nerdy shit-flinging (don't deny this truth: bandwidth burn? References to Mr. Do?) and return discussion to this movie: It's awesome. One of the best I've seen all year. (Grand Rapids dudes: it opens on Oct. 12.)

Billy Mitchell makes a great villain. He's a total, utter spank, a rod, a massive tool - and he's ridiculously arrogant! So much so, it's appalling! If you ask me, the movie is about ego, integrity and credibility more than anything. But what makes it so funny is, it's in the context of events that are painfully, monumentally inconsequential. Drink deep that irony!

From: Ross Entered on: October 5, 2007 12:22 AM
You know, as much as Billy is a spank, I actually dislike him the least if you count his buddy who wrote the book on Donkey Kong, the sycophantic loser Brian Kuh, and the referee guy from Twin Galaxies.  I can almost see how Billy will do anything to be regarded as #1 - but the way all these other asswipes dote on him makes me nearly lose my lunch.  It has to be seen to be believed.
From: NickNick Entered on: October 5, 2007 11:54 AM
So there's a place in GR that will actually show this? I forgot there were places that showed things other than what comes out of Hollywood.
From: Radmobile Entered on: February 4, 2008 9:38 AM

Well some of the GR crew finally took in this movie Saturday night.  I have to say I enjoyed it.  Billy is truly a turd, as are his lackeys.  We had a good time mocking many of the people in the film.  Jack has decided he's a fan of Billy's hairdo and plans to style his own hair that way.

As a side note, I had to reread some of these posts and Swerb was right we did have some truly nerdy shit-flinging going on. 


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