Cannon Arm and the Arcade Mission, Mads Hedegaard’s feature debut, captures the essence of arcades. and the significance of support systems through one man’s quest to marathon a video game for 100 hours, feeling like a cross between The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and The Big Lebowski. The endeavor appears onerous and possibly meaningless to those inexperienced with video games, but Hedegaard’s documentary probes what it means to do anything for personal reasons. Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest feel the role friends play in attaining the aims of other friends to be cathartic and life-enriching in this way.
Kim Cannon Arm often fades into the background everywhere he goes, quiet, unassuming, and complex to discern what is going on in his brain. He is most known for playing the 1983 Konami game Gyruss for 49 hours straight on a single coin when he was 55 years old. Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest follow him as he attempts to beat his own and the world record by running Gyruss for 100 hours. With his buddies at his side, he wants to do something that most people would avoid owing to the physical and mental toll it takes. However, Kim’s pals are on hand to assist, and the video goes into detail on the planning necessary to do such a mammoth job. The real question isn’t whether it’s worth it, but if it can be done.
Rest easy if you’re coming into this film with little to no understanding of video games since. At the same time, there is a history lesson on the competitive side of gaming and arcades in general. Hedegaard doesn’t appear wholly focused on making viewers want to play video games. The community that emerges around Kim and inside the Bip Bip Bar, on the other hand, feels the most fascinating. Even when Kim begins his record-breaking effort with Gyruss, Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest have a soothing air to them. This is because there aren’t many people observing Kim to make sure he’s doing well. Instead, they play games with him, drink beer, and create an atmosphere akin to an arcade.
Capturing the sound of machinery whirring as someone leaps over a barrel in Donkey Kong or shoots an alien in Space Invaders as you try to beat your high score is what makes Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest a great suggestion for people who want to soak in the ambiance of a film. Kim isn’t a naturally intriguing subject, owing to how much he keeps to himself and his relatively narrow interest. Still, his enthusiasm for gaming and the other significant gamers he has surrounded himself demonstrate a camaraderie evident in most arcades that are still surviving. When the film finds itself talking to people in their own homes, playing video games on the sofa, it just underlines the loss of camaraderie that home gaming has produced.
Kim’s pals, on the other hand, are not your average gamers. As previously said, they are all highly talented in one or more games. His friend Carsten excels at Donkey Kong, Dyst holds several world records in Puzzle Bobble 1 and 2, Svavar holds a Tetris world record, and Emil holds a Micro Hexagon world record. However, they all have a life outside of gaming, whether studying music theory, physics, or poetry. They’re all timid outside of their community at Bip Bip Bar and The Shed. Still, seeing them together, you’d never know it since their relationship encourages continual reinforcement of each other.
When Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest eventually begin Kim’s marathon effort, it turns out to be less tense than it appeared to be. Hedegaard captures the mental weariness of playing a game for so long with complementing graphics and music, including Iron Maiden, Kim’s favorite band. Aside from the reminders of how much time is left in his endeavor and the intensity of each break taken, he may be seeking a world record, but the footage doesn’t make it appear so.
Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest’s relaxed and trancelike tone perfectly captures what it’s like to hang out at an arcade. Friends conversing and pints of beer being consumed in front of bright pixels in noisy arcade cabinets – that is an experience that cannot be reproduced at home. Hedegaard’s initial curiosity in Kim’s Gyruss effort eventually gives way to a beautiful study of the significance of community as a love letter to one of the havens for gaming communities to come together.