Coming to VOD tomorrow, Friday, June 24: MAN VS SNAKE: THE LONG AND TWISTED TALE OF NIBBLER
Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy’s story of persistence debuted at Fantastic Fest last year. Other screenings have included Florida, Calgary Underground, Portland, Glasgow, Tallgrass, and Twin Cities. FilmBuff now releases the doc on various VOD platforms.
In the early ’80s, after more than two days of continual game play, teenager Tim McVey became a minor celebrity in the then-nascent world of gaming when he became the first player to ever score over a billion points in the arcade game Nibbler, which sees players navigating an ever-growing snake around a maze. Unsurprisingly, McVey soon faded into obscurity, eventually marrying and becoming an average working stiff in Iowa. When Seklir and Kinzy’s story opens, it’s been 25 years since his record – still standing, though disputed by an unverified higher score from a teenager in Italy less than a year after it was set – McVey is challenged to reach a billion on Nibbler again by Dwayne Richard, the Canadian “bad boy” of retro gaming. This sets off a series of yearly attempts by McVey to prove to himself that he can reclaim his past glory. The filmmakers assemble a number of subjects, some familiar from other gaming docs – notably the undisputed champion of the subgenre, KING OF KONG – and generally borrow much from that earlier film’s playbook, making for a serviceable, if generally derivative, entry in the field. Nibbler itself, and watching the gamers make their attempts, don’t make for the most compelling visuals, so some supplemental animation helps to liven things up a bit.