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Steve Wiebe on The King of Kong

Published August 17, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Picturehouse.
The King of Kong Poster The King of Kong
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters chronicles Steve Wiebe’s attempts to set the high score on Donkey Kong. Practicing with an arcade console in his garage, Wiebe video tapes his marathon session to over one million points. Even though Donkey Kong exists on every video game system, the competition required the arcade game.

Steve Wiebe Attempts to be King of Kong


“It had to be the original platform so NES, any emulator games or other consoles, it could be categorized as another record on that platform,” said Wiebe. “The original arcade, if you want the classic arcade record you have to play it on the original game. Coleco does a better job than Atari’s version but it doesn’t have all the same boards. Even if it did, they could never truly know if it was going to play the exactly same. Even if it appears that it does, if it’s not on the original hardware, the original program, they’re going to reclassify it because they don’t want that unknown to be a factor. Someone might say, ‘It’s off by this little bit.’ They want to make sure it’s pure. They want to separate those so it stands alone.”

The arcade console was not enough defense for Wiebe though. After his video tape was accepted by Twin Galaxies’ record keepers, former champion Billy Mitchell contested that Wiebe had a manipulated Donkey Kong chip. Even when Wiebe set a high score live at Funspot arcade, Mitchell released a video tape of himself scoring over one million points. At least after that incident, Twin Galaxies’ Walter Day sent Wiebe a nice e-mail.

“It felt good that he recognized that it wasn’t really a cool thing to do when I’m there. It felt better to hear his apologies. It definitely was a step in the right direction.”



The competition continues today with Mitchell releasing new champion tapes, so it is no spoiler to reveal that the film ends with a new record set by Wiebe. After filming of the competition was complete, Wiebe tried again on video tape.

“Oh, that was May that we stopped shooting. I think it was just a mere couple months. It was that same summer, so it was a few months in early August last year is when I got the 1,049, 100. so it was a few months after that, Guinness, the Hollywood Florida Guinness event is when I go, ‘I gotta get this record still’ so I went back and played that summer still for a month and finally came up with that score.”

With the film wrapped and opening soon, Wiebe is still ready to defend the title live. “There hasn’t been any challenges to me but yeah, I’ll go play in public for sure. During the school year, I’m busy teaching and all that so I don’t have time to play. And this summer, since I played all last summer, my wife has cracked the whip and I’m painting my house and doing all the chores. So there’s no time this summer to do it really.”

Wiebe has also gotten excited about the feature film version of his story in development at New Line. His personal casting choices fall in line with the documentary’s ‘80s sports movie tone. “I often just joked about Mark Hammill or Ralph Macchio. They’ve been talking. Steve Carell was a name that’s come up. They want to keep it humorous but not slapstick. Another name was Greg Kinnear but they haven’t necessarily pinpointed a character for me yet.”

The King of Kong opens to theaters today, August 17th.

For the trailer, poster and more movie info, go to The King of Kong Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Picturehouse.
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