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  • J.A.

Arcade Gamer: The True Story

In the vibrant arcade era of the early 1980s, Galaga not only stood out as a game but also emerged as a cultural icon. Its influence extended to the heart of the classic 1983 film "War Games," starring Matthew Broderick. Demonstrating the film's dedication to capturing the essence of arcade enthusiasm, the production team went as far as delivering a Galaga machine to Broderick’s home so he could practice for two months before filming the arcade scene, affirming the game's significant place in pop culture.

"Arcade Gamer: The True Story," directed by Tom Garland, delves into the life and arcade legend of Iowa native, Jordan Dorrington. He isn’t just good at Galaga—he broke the world record twice, one of which was achieved through a grueling 14-hour game. Dorrington is the best in the world at Galaga and is obsessed with the game. In fact, I would say he is the Air Jordan of Galaga. Garland's documentary takes us behind the scenes, following Jordan in his day-to-day life, which predominantly revolves around video games, especially Galaga.

However, similar to what happened with Michael Jordan, Jordan Dorrington is ready for a new challenge. As his wife says, "He can’t get any better at Galaga; he's the greatest Galaga player in the world. Let's move onto the next." It's fortunate that his wife, Naomi, is so supportive, especially since the tournament for his next endeavor coincides with their wedding anniversary. Commitment is something Jordan doesn't lack. He explains his mindset: "I wanted it more than anyone else. I wanted to be the best at this game. For me, I’m a firm believer that if you want something more than anything else, you can go out, achieve it, and do it (break the records of Galaga)... I knew I was going to get them. I just didn’t know when or how."

Jordan's best friend, Mat McGill, is a Donkey Kong expert. To give you an idea: Mat McGill plays Donkey Kong Kill Screen, Donkey Kong Jr Kill Screen, Crazy Kong Kill Screen, Donkey Kong Remix Kill Screen, and so on. And as Chicago’s Michael Jordan pursued a new challenge in baseball, Cedar Rapids’ Jordan Dorrington embraces his new challenge with Donkey Kong. He decides to hone his skills for months leading up to the upcoming tournament in Arkansas, at his home arcade in Iowa, where his wife is the manager at the Quarter Barrel. But just as Michael Jordan faced his own set of challenges in Atlantic City at the casinos all night before the big playoff game with the Knicks, Jordan Dorrington’s road trip to the tournament may prove to have similar late-night and early morning challenges.

Garland's directing style, that of the observer, captures honest conversation and the unfolding action, often finding humorous exchanges like Jordan revealing, "We end up playing the arcade games that we have at our homes. There may be 800 machines... but I'm playing Galaga (the arcade machine he has at home)." The documentary is very entertaining and includes cool inserts from games you may remember if you are old enough. The game may be different, but the passion is the same. Jordan Dorrington is the best there is at Galaga.

Will he be able to one-up Michael Jordan and become the best there is at Donkey Kong as well? Find out and enjoy the ride, which includes the Video Game Capital of the world, in Ottumwa, Iowa. Garland's documentary turns in a delightful nostalgic arcade ride and is rated 4 out of 5 Stars


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