While interest in competing for the top score on Nintendo’s Donkey Kong arcade game has existed well before the documentary The King of Kong came along, after that found success interest in competing for the score has only increased. Last year in March, a special competition was held called the Kong Off that brought together the top Donkey Kong players to the Richie Knuckles Arcade in New Jersey where they duked it out, virtually speaking, for top score they could get in a live competitive atmosphere.
Well that was popular enough that it has warranted a follow-up competition, the Kong Off II: The Rumble In The Rockies which will be held from Nov. 16th-18th. This time it will be taking place at the 1-up Arcade in Denver, CO. Once again the top players will be there including Hank Chien, Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Mark Kiehl, and Benjamin Falls. The prize money has gone up to $2000 and with it being a three day event, other records are going to be attempting, including Frogger, Q*Bert and Dig Dug. For more details, check out the press release below, as well as these websites: [The Kong Off II] [1-Up Arcade]
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DENVER, CO (October 25, 2012) – Every competitor wants to win their sport’s premier event. In football, baseball and NASCAR it’s the Super Bowl, World Series and Daytona 500 respectively. Win one of those events and you are known as the best of the best. In the sport of competitive classic arcade gaming, players dream of winning The Kong Off. To say it’s on like Donkey Kong for this event is an understatement.
The Kong Off brings together the world’s greatest classic arcade gamers to battle it out head-to-head for the title and $2,000 prize. The competitors will play the arcade classic Donkey Kong during a three-day competition with the highest scorer taking the victory.
The year’s event, The Kong Off II, is being held November 16-18 at The 1up Arcade/Bar in Denver. It features 12 players including last year’s winner and world record holder Hank Chien a.k.a. The Dr. of Kong, former world record holder Steve Wiebe, player of the century Billy Mitchell, Donkey Kong Junior world record holder Mark Kiehl and Popeye world record holder Benjamin Falls.
The event is free to the public but space is limited. To ensure entry and avoid lines, VIP wristbands for the three days are available for $45 at thekongoff.eventbrite.com.
Those who want to try their hand at competing against the best players in the world can enter in the Wild Card division for $30.
“It’s amazing that a conversation with Steve Wiebe at a Colorado Rockies game could turn into The 1up hosting The Kong Off II,” said Jourdan Adler, Owner of The 1up. “He suggested I reach out to Richie Knucklez, who just hosted the first Kong Off. I did and the rest is history. This event has become the most high profile arcade event not hosted by a game manufacturer ever. The whole thing is surreal.”
In addition, $250 prizes will be awarded to any player who sets a world record on one of the more than 20 classic arcade games at The 1up during the competition.
Former Frogger world record holder Pat Laffaye will be on hand to try to reclaim his record, George Luetz will be aiming for the Q*Bert world record, William Carlton will be shooting for the Missile Command world record and Donald Hayes will be vying for the Dig Dug world record.
“Although the primary focus is the competition, this event has become more than just about Donkey Kong,” explained Chien.”I’ve gotten to know many of the players on a personal level and this event is a reunion of sorts. It’s also a chance to meet many of the fans who make events like this possible. I know win or lose, I’ll be sure to have a good time.”
The event will be officiated by Twin Galaxies International, the official supplier of verified gaming world records to the Guinness World Records since 1983. Walter Day, Twin Galaxies founder, will sever as the head official.
“Donkey Kong was one of the top games back during the golden age of video game arcades (1979-1986) that inspired the birth of competitive video gaming as a bona fide sport,” said Day. “Many long time gamers who have seen both the classic titles of yesteryear, as well as the new hits of today’s modern consoles, consider Donkey Kong to be the hardest game of all time to master.”
The roots of classic arcade games can be traced to 1966 with Sega’s release of Periscope, the first arcade game to cost a quarter. In 1978, Taito released Space Invaders and started the arcade video game craze. Large arcades sprang up in shopping malls, while small arcades appeared in restaurants, grocery stores, bars and movie theaters all over the world. In 1981, the arcade video game industry was worth $8 billion but by the late 1980’s, the arcade video game rage faded due to advances in home video game console technology.
In 2007, The King Of Kong was released and immediately rose to cult status. The documentary follows Wiebe as he attempts to claim the Donkey Kong high score from Mitchell, the reigning champion. Not only did the film spark controversy, creating a bitter rivalry between the two competitors, it also sparked the rebirth of arcade culture and inspired a new crop of Donkey Kong players.
“Donkey Kong has always played a pivotal role in arcade culture, both historically and in modern times,” said Chien. “Historically, it was the grandfather of all Mario games and the reason why Nintendo exists today. It has always held a mystical status because of its ‘kill screen’ which was only known to have been achieved by one player for nearly 20 years.
“When The King Of Kong was released, Donkey Kong experienced a rebirth. The film brought forward a new generation of players and along with it a renewed interest in arcade gaming. Donkey Kong is the most contended arcade title. In many ways, it’s also the ideal game for a live competition. It’s random enough so that the best player won’t always win. There’s no pattern, so it’s always interesting to watch. The strategy is more complex than just trying to score as high as possible.”
With competitive Donkey Kong on the rise, Richie Knucklez organized the inaugural Kong Off event. It was held at Richie Knucklez Arcade Games in 2011 in Flemington, NJ and featured the world’s top 10 competitors. They played live and head-to-head to determine the true king of kong. Knucklez will serve as the host of The Kong Off II.
“Surprisingly, even though Donkey Kong was one of history’s greatest games, no official World Championship was ever created,” said Day. “It wasn’t until The Kong Off was created by Richie Knucklez that the video game industry finally had a true Donkey Kong World Championship.”
The 1up, located at 1925 Blake St. is open 360 days a year and features more than 45 classic arcade games, 15 Pinball Machines, three lanes of classic Skee-Ball and multiple sets of giant Jenga. With 14 beers on tap, full bar and delicious fare, The 1up has something for everyone.
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