The King of Stampede

The thing about goals, they must be measurable, and they must be achievable. That's how I justify going after some low hanging fruit - beating Steve Wiebe's score on an Atari 2600 classic.

Click to viewYou may remember Steve Wiebe, the protagonist of "The King of Kong" (and with a cameo in the more recent "Four Christmases"). He has three scores listed at Twin Galaxies, the sanctioning body for all video game records. Of course, there's his 1,050,200 on Donkey Kong, the subject of that documentary. He also has more than 1,000,000 on a Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong Jr. double arcade board.

But the third? 2,193 points, good for 19th place on Stampede, an Atari 2600 game made by Activision way, way waaaaaay back in 1981, and whose sound effects open our video (no, you are not having sound card difficulties.)

So having no job, no prospects and no motivation, I set out for myself to beat Wiebe's mark, to raise my morale and give myself a purpose in this time of uncertainty. It asked more of me as a gamer than anything I've ever undertaken, and pushed me to the limits of exhaustion and beyond. Because, of course, getting a registered high score isn't as simple as beating a game, as I find out. And yes, the Early Times from Grand Theft Auto:DUI makes its triumphant return. (Note: that concoction I pour tastes like pure tobacco. I'm never doing that again).

I'd like to extend warm and sincere thanks to Walter Day, of Twin Galaxies, and Steve Wiebe himself, for their participation in this project. Thanks also to Seth Killian of Capcom, who pinch-hit as a cameraman for the in-car footage. And, of course, big thanks to Adam Barenblat for his editing and directing of this feature.

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