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A Former Member
07-14-2014 at 02:02 PM
Rating: 9 votes, 5.00 average.

The King of Arcades: Review

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Genre: Documentary 100 minutes
Director: F. Sean Tiedeman
Producer: Kyrstal-Dawn Willing
Cast: Richie Knucklez, Walter Day, Billy Mitchell, Joel West, Eugene Jarvis, Ben Gold, Jerry Buckner

Official Trailer:

Official Website: http://www.thekingofarcades.com
The Making of Pac-Man Fever:

The classic arcade scene has no shortage of movies these days. In fact, it seems that just about every year another appears, seeking to carve their name into the list of descendants inspired by the successes of The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters (2007) and Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade (2007).

But not this one.
Different motive. Different method.

The King of Arcades details the life and times of punk rock musician and classic arcade collector, Richie Knucklez, on his journey to cultural prominence when he takes his passion for collecting to new heights by opening an arcade business, in Flemington, New Jersey, only to watch it fall in the wake of economic hardship.

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At the heart of the film is the tale of how a working class man rises above traditional limitations and ideals to recreate a classic gaming scene based out of his neighborhood arcade, thus creating the launching pad of one the most competitive arcade leagues in America.

Beginning with a montage of the technological history behind video games, followed by footage of the craze that gripped America in the early 80s, the film lands you smack down in the present with a grim look at the reality of what happens to classic arcade machines if people, like Richie, don’t exist. From the dark and filthy interior of a warehouse, we see Richie combing through the rows of lost and forsaken machines covered in decades of dust, to extract forgotten friends he hopes will live again. A highly skilled craftsman and electrician, we then watch as he painstakingly restores them to their former glory and assembles them anew in his arcade. This is the moment fate and destiny manifests.

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Armed with a charismatic charm, like a magnet he draws others, one by one, to his arcade to marvel at the time capsule he has created; an arcade that emanates the old school spirit of the neighborhood arcade and not the sanitized, corporate feel of mall arcades of The 80s. Instead of Top 40 Pop cooing from trebly speakers and without peripheral images of a Hot Dog on a Stick stand glaring at you from a food court, we hear the boom of punk rock and see an assembly of people –a network of friends- more interested in the living room-community of yore than adhering to any corporate “get in and get out” example found more often than not in arcades across America today. For in resurrecting these games, as the film clearly shows, Richie Knucklez resurrected something else, too: the standards of a real arcade as an entire generation from The 80s remembers it.

But homage to the past is definitely played. Not only are Billy Mitchell -the most well-known competitive gamer from The 80s- and Walter Day, the man who created Twin Galaxies, present but Eugene Jarvis, creator of Defender and Jerry Buckner of Pac-Man Fever fame also appear in the film as well a slew of competitive gamers. A rendition of Pac-Man Fever appears in the film in full MTV-esque glory, performed by Richie Knucklez’ band, Knuckle Sandwich, where a guitar wielding Billy Mitchell rips a macho solo in front of a backdrop of the American flag, his trademark mullet standing tall in campy tribute to amber waves of grain. A true highlight to the film.

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As documentary scene films often go, there are moments in the film where someone not privy to the inside social network of classic gaming may lose their way in the storyline; but the passionate content therein makes up for it by providing the viewer with an intimate look into an arcade operator’s struggles to keep an arcade open and his family life in check. After all, you cannot recreate the past without it inhibiting the present. Knucklez’ poignant journey from collector to operator to cultural scene phenomena is moving and at times heartbreakingly familiar to anyone who has ever dared do anything risky in business. Yet there’s a profound empowerment to be gleaned from the story which will speak to anyone who has ever dreamed of doing the impossible and made it work in spite of facing insurmountable odds.

As the subtitle suggests, an arcade will fall and a hero will rise. But the question left lingering towards the end of them film is, “Who is that hero?” to which the film answers “All of the above” by showing a montage of collectors and fans of classic arcades from around the world who, like, Knucklez, followed his example of lending support to the vestiges of a long past era and keep “the network of friends” alive. The film may initially hint that Richie Knucklez is the hero but the message it leaves is loud and clear: The hero is “Friendship”.

The King of Arcades places a crown on the heads of everyone.

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Likes~Elle, TT, OzSteve, Megamatt79 liked this post
  1. TT's Avatar
    That was a good read - enjoyed that. I thought the doc shone a light on the pressures of doing anything for a community like ours. We see the Knucklez swan bringing us beautiful machines and good times.... Under the water, the same swan is kicking like crazy to keep up the graceful exterior visible above the water.

    Richie has paid a price to bring us what he does - emotionally and financially, and the same is true of other flagstones of the arcade community. TG to name but one.

    King of Arcades I hope will make players stop and think about their sense of entitlement from the enablers of the scene whose primary motivator is the love of the hobby.
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    Updated 07-14-2014 at 03:34 PM by TT
  2. OzSteve's Avatar
    Great write up, loved being part of the Kickstarter and seeing it all come together. Richie has done a lot for the hobby.

    Great post Cat
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  3. datagod's Avatar
    This seems less of a review and more of attempt to curry favor. Billy Mitchell does not have a mullet, f.y.i. Patrick Scott Patterson posted a very honest review of the movie. As an associate producer, I am obviously biased. I am one of the insiders who gets the references and enjoyed the movie immensely. It is not all sunshine and rainbows however. Saying that we are all winners and that "friendship" is the real hero makes me think maybe you were reviewing a care bear movie instead.
    Updated 07-15-2014 at 05:09 PM by datagod
  4. creech's Avatar
    I'm always happy to watch a movie where video games are involved, and the king of arcades didn't let me down, I thought it was a cool mix of the classic arcade background, mixed in with Knucklez passion that can be substituted in with any ones passion in life.
    Updated 07-14-2015 at 04:55 PM by creech
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