was the first arcade game I discovered that was not space themed, pill munching themed, or car themed. It didn't even occur to me that the game universe could be split into any other directions, so dense was the flood of alien battle based coin sucking machines at the time. I can still remember walking up behind a group of people gathered around a cocktail cabinet in the less popular cafe across the street. It was the first day that the game had made an appearance - no one really knew what to expect. It was an experience of discovery. "How high can you get?" asked the screen. A stack of monkeys? What was going on here? One of the great things about New Video Cabinet Day was trying to work out what the gameplay was all about.
I should start here by saying that this new and wild machine was called Crazy
Kong, and there was a lot of hilarity ensuing. The guy playing the machine was much older than me (being eleven years old and awkward I always stood in the background and clutched my 20¢ piece in the vain hope that I would get a turn once the cool guys had finished) and he was singing along with the music between levels: "doo, de doo, de doo doo doo". Every new screen triggered a fresh wave of laughter. There were only four scenes, but that was three more than most other games offered you. Then the sequence repeated, a little more difficult than the last time.
A couple of years later I was quite the Donkey Kong expert. There was a stand up machine outside the local Half-Case supermarket and I would glory in seeing my initials - PDJ - climbing the top ten scores, and curse the store owner if he ever turned off the power. Though he rarely did. There was another name that regularly appeared throughout the top ten, "Steve", though I had never met him. He would sometimes be one rank above me, sometimes one rank below. It came to the point where all of the top ten scores were his and mine. I had no idea who this kid was, but if I was ever sure of one thing in my life, I knew that we were in competition to the death. And I knew that he
knew that we were in competition to the death, too. We continued to play that machine week after week, continually knocking each other off from number one, continually clogging the top ten with our ever larger scores, always wondering who that other guy really was.
Then one day I played a game of doubles with a stranger. It was a common enough thing to do in those days - one machine, two people, let's make a game of it. Pretty good player this guy. Making some verrrry
tasty jumps to be honest. Racking up a decent fucking score too. We had a pretty good barney of a mixed game, played for ages and ages, bashed the shit out of the machine and ended up with two new top scores. The top ten screen beckoned him to enter his name, and I watched as he tapped out the letters S T E V E. My nemesis! In the flesh! He stepped aside and I completed my turn, eclipsing his top score in the process. Sensing the occasion, I triumphantly and slowly typed in my initials: P D ( fucking) J!
We faced each other, smiled, and gave a knowing nod of the head. We then turned on our heels and walked away. I never saw him again. But by christ, I owned you Steve!