Since the release of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, one event has come along to really capitalize on the resurgent interest behind Nintendo’s original arcade classic Donkey Kong and competitive classic gaming. That event known as the Kong Off provided a venue where the top Donkey Kong players in the world could come together to both compete and show off their skills at the game. The first time this event took place was at the Richie Knucklez Arcade in NJ, then it moved to The 1up in Denver, CO. The upcoming Kong Off, Kong Off 3 is being held again at the 1up, from November 15th-17th.
According to a schedule sent with the press release, there will actually be a TRON Marathon game starting on Thursday the 14th; open practice begins the next day at 11AM. Throughout the day, qualifier events will be held so some wildcard players can get a chance to compete against the Top 12 DK players who will be there. That includes the Big Three players who have gained fame through DK – Billy Mitchell, Steve Wiebe and Hank Chien but also several other players who have come along to make their mark as they fight for World Champion status. The real Kong Off begins the next day and is anticipated to last through the day, then the competition continues on Sunday the 17th with the awards ceremony at the end of the day. Up for grabs is a $4500 purse and of course all the personal glory one can handle for being the Top Kong player, at least until the Kong Off 4.
I did realize while putting this post together that this will take place around the same time as another live competition, The Big Buck HD World Championships, qualifiers for those ends this Sunday. That is also bound to make some news given the $63,000 purse that will be split there. With IAAPA the week after the Kong Off 3 (there are usually some smaller tournaments held there, particularly with pinball), November is turning out to be the month for high profile live arcade competition.
Here is the press release for those interested:
Donkey Kong World Championship Returns to Denver
Kong Off 3 to be Held at The 1up
DENVER, CO (August 29, 2013) – World championship events are notorious for riveting action,
dramatic outcomes and the biggest names no matter whether the event is held on the gridiron,
baseball diamond or in front of a classic arcade game. For the competitors, the goal is the same – to
win and be crowned world champion. The Kong Off 3, the Donkey Kong world championship, is no
Considered to be the world’s most prestigious live arcade competition, the Kong Off 3 returns
to Denver in 2013. For the second consecutive year, the event is being held at The 1up Arcade/Bar
from November 15-17. Last year’s event attracted more than 20 of the world’s best players as well as
a capacity crowd.
The Kong Off 3 brings together the world’s greatest classic arcade gamers to battle it out for
the title and their share of the $4,500 purse. The competitors will play the arcade classic Donkey
Kong during a three-day competition with the highest scorer taking the victory.
“It’s such an honor to be able to host the Kong Off 3,” said Jourdan Adler, owner of The 1up.
“The 1up has grown over the past year and so has this incredible championship. Every year the
competition gets stronger as more and more players enter. With 12 players having a top score of
1,000,000+, we know its going to be an amazing event for both the competitors and fans.”
This year’s format has been altered to allow additional competitors the opportunity to qualify
for the event. The world’s top 12 Donkey Kong scorers automatically qualify for the 22 player field
with the final 10 spots determined through four Wild Card Division Qualifier tournaments.
The championship is sanctioned by Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard, the foremost
adjudicating authority on International Video Game World Record Scores. Walter Day, the company’s founder, will serve as the head official. Twin Galaxies is also responsible for verifying the world’s top 12 Donkey Kong scorers. Those players and their scores can be found at TwinGalaxies.com.
Included in the top 12 is last year’s champion Jeff Willms from Waterloo, ON, who stunned the
competitive gaming world with his victory, Kong Off 1 champion and current world record holder Hank Chien from New York, NY, Donkey Kong legends and stars of The King Of Kong Steve Wiebe of
Redmond, WA and Billy Mitchell of Hollywood, FL.
“This year’s Kong Off will be the most competitive yet,” said Chien. “ Every year the event
seems to get bigger and better. All the players have improved their game over the last year so it’ll be
exciting to see who comes up top.”
Perennial challengers Vincent Lemay of Sainte-Croix, Quebec, Dean Saglio of Kingston, RI
and Donkey Kong Junior world record holder Mark Kiehl of Edmond, OK are also among the top 12.
“The competition in the Kong Off 3 has grown so much,” said Lemay. “Scores are now
ridiculously high and you need to be dedicated to push the game to its limit. Personally, I will go all in and play at a high score pace, which will make it very hard to make it to the end of the game. If I do, there is a good chance that I will finish first. Still, there is a lot of randomness in Donkey Kong, and luck can be a big part of a three-day competition,” continued Lemay. “Whatever happens, I will be happy since a big part of the Kong Off 3 is spending time with my Donkey Kong friends.”
The Kong Off 3 is free for spectators on a first come, first serve basis. Space is limited. When
capacity has been reached, especially in the evening hours, a ‘1-in, 1-out’ policy will be in effect. All
ages are welcome until 7:00 p.m. After 7:00 p.m. the event is open to those 21 and over.
The highlight of the Kong Off 3 is the Donkey Kong world championship but it is not the only
happening. The largest number of arcade game world record attempts, a 24-hour marathon game of
Tron by a single player as well as multiple attempts at completing perfect games on Pac-Man will
take place during the three-day event.
The roots of classic arcade games can be traced to 1966 with games like Sega’s release of Periscope,
the first arcade game to cost a quarter. In 1978, Taito released Space Invaders which fueled the
arcade video game craze. Large arcades sprang up in shopping malls, while smaller ones appeared
in restaurants, grocery stores, bars and movie theaters all over the world. In 1981, the industry was
worth $8 billion but by the late 1980’s, the arcade video game rage faded due to advances in home
video game 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
“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, arcade wizard Richie Knucklez organized the
inaugural world championship and The Kong Off was born. It was held at Richie Knucklez Arcade
Games in 2011 in Flemington, NJ and featured the world’s top 10 competitors who played live to
determine the true king of kong. Knucklez will serve as the host of The Kong Off 3.
The 1up, located at 1925 Blake St. is open 360 days a year and features more than 45 classic
arcade games, 16 Pinball Machines, three lanes of classic Skee-Ball and multiple sets of giant
Jenga. With 14 beers on tap, a Hall-of-Fame of vintage cans, a solid selection of 40 oz. bottles of
malt liquor, full bar and delicious fare, The 1up has something for everyone.The 1up is easily accessed by public transportation (Light rail or Bus). Parking is available in
the numerous public parking lots nearby. Further information can be found at The-1up.com.
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