Recommended Documentaries About Arcade Games

Recommended Documentaries About Arcade Games

There has been an influx of arcade documentaries released in the last several years. I have been watching some of these documentaries over the last couple of weeks and decided to share some of my thoughts about them. While most of us think of documentaries (in general) as boring, I found all of these to be quite interesting and entertaining.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2008): This documentary covers the controversy over the Donkey Kong high score between Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell. This is by far my favorite arcade related documentary. Even though it is a little bias in it’s portrayal of the individuals involved, it is still a great story and very entertaining. A must watch for anyone who is even remotely interested in arcade games. - Buy Now! Buy The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters from now!

Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007): I look at Chasing Ghosts as a prequel of sorts to The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. This documentary gives you insight on the early days of arcade games and high scores. It talks heavily about Twin Galaxies and the Life Magazine article from the 1980s. In the article, a picture was taken of each high score champion in front of their respective arcade game. You will recognize the picture from the article if you’ve seen the The King of Kong. Overall, I found it very interesting and well worth watching. - Buy Now! Buy Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade from now!

High Score (2006): High Score, much like The King of Kong, follows the accomplishments of a gamer at a particular game. In this case, Bill Carlton attempts to topple the twenty year-old record on the Atari classic Missile Command. In order to get the 80 million points required, he must play the game for over two days straight on one quarter. A very fascinating look at what it takes to achieve a high score on an arcade game.

Watch High Score for free on Hulu now! - Buy Now! Buy High Score from now!

TILT: The Battle to Save Pinball (2007): This is one of the most interesting documentaries I’ve seen in a while. TILT tells the story of the final days leading up to the demise of the pinball division at Williams. It focuses heavily on the Pinball 2000 brand which was developed as their last ditch effort to make pinball profitable again. A great documentary that discusses an exciting piece of pinball history. Highly recommended. - Buy Now! Buy TILT: The Battle to Save Pinball from now!

Pinball Passion (2008): As the description for Pinball Passion states, this documentary takes you to the heart of pinball. You will see interviews with pinball designers and programmers as well as the collections of many pinball enthusiasts. It also takes you on a behind the scenes look inside Stern Pinball Inc. This documentary is kind of a shorter version of Special When Lit but has some items that are unique to it as well. Recommended for pinball enthusiasts. - Buy Now! Buy Pinball Passion from now!

Special When Lit – A Pinball Documentary (2010): Special When Lit really focuses on the rise and fall of pinball. Just like in Pinball Passion, you will see interviews with collectors, designers and champion players from across the globe. This film features some of the more extreme pinball collectors out there along with some recognizable characters from the pinball scene. Good documentary but has some parts that seem to drag at bit. Definitely recommended for pinball fans.

Watch Special When Lit – A Pinball Documentary for free on Hulu now! - Buy Now! Buy Special When Lit – A Pinball Documentary from now!

I Got Next (2008): I Got Next discusses the details of the competitive fighting game scene in North America. While the lingo may be a little foreign to those of you who are not into these games, it is still a very enthralling documentary. I Got Next is different from the others in that it is freely available from their website. Definitely worth watching for anyone who has at least some knowledge of fighting games.

Watch I Got Next for free on Hulu now!

Well, those are some of our recommended documentaries about arcade games. Are there any documentaries that we left out? Please leave some comments below and let us know.

  1. Avatar

    Chasing Ghosts is by far my favorite of these. Last I heard they were still trying to find a distributor for the DVD/Bluray. Hard to believe that after the popularity of King of Kong wasn’t enough for someone to pick it up.

    Peter Hirschberg did the 3D/CG recreations of the arcade games for the movie. He used to have an arcade that I could only dream of one day owning. Sounds like he got divorced last year and had to sell it off. What a shame!!!

  2. Avatar
    Christopher Paine

    I enjoyed “The Video Craze: Where Were You in ’82?”; they sell a DVD, but you can also watch it on Vimeo at their channel:

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