June 25th, 2015 - Honoring the tradition set by former champions Steve Wiebe (who did it in front of the King of Kong cameras in 2005), followed by Hank Chien in 2011, Robbie Lakeman sat down yesterday morning at the fabled "possessed" Donkey Kong machine at Funspot in New Hampshire and broke the Donkey Kong world record.
|Lakeman (right) during the attempt, with none other than the legendary Brian Kuh|
Lakeman's final score of 1,158,400, pushes the record 13,600 points higher than his previous mark, set in December of last year, which, in turn, came after Lakeman first became champion in September.
That makes three in a row, with Lakeman's reign beginning to take on a Chien-like tone: he beats himself... and then he beats himself again.
Here, in a chart that only a Donkey Kong player could love, Jeremy Young, following along diligently during the replay streamed tonight on Twitch TV, breaks down the action board-by-board (click to enlarge, if you dare):
Are There Any Points Left?
In a word, yes. But not many.
While Dean Saglio essentially buried "keyboard DK" using the MAME emulator almost two years ago with his immaculate 1,206,800 performance (a virtually perfect game of total mastery), and while Lakeman's score today is going to be an ornery one to top with an arcade-style control panel, nobody is ready to formally call off the hunt on the original, "official" arcade machine record.
Hank Chien seems to have moved on from Donkey Kong after abdicating the title last year, but Lakeman still has close rivals with an active interest, namely Wes Copeland (pictured right) and Ethan Daniels, who are today's hardest-working Donkey Kong grinders.
Copeland finally cracked the "1.1" barrier in January, but is still working on improving his scoring pace. Even after Lakeman's imposing fortification today, Copeland has pledged to continue undaunted in his quest to beat him.
Daniels, meanwhile, was poised to crack into the top 10 with his own 1.1 million-plus score just a couple of weeks ago, when a passing thunderstorm asserted itself with a kill screen of its own. Just 8 boards away from Donkey Kong's famous game-ending programming bug (and with Daniels on the live stream audibly coaching himself not to think about the flashing and rumbling outside), his worst fears were realized when a power-cycle kicked him in the teeth and the game was suddenly, horribly over. Daniels took it in stride, and will, no doubt, soon push one of his high-pace runs to the end. This particular game would not have beaten the record (it would only have been a personal best) but Daniels has shown himself to be capable of a run that could.
It was only a few months ago that Lakeman was in considerable jeopardy of losing the position that he shored up today.
As reported previously, Dean Saglio travelled to Ethan Daniels' home in January to try for an unprecedented $3,000 world record bounty offered during the 6th and final Donkey Kong Online Open tournament.
Over a grueling four days of play, Saglio came agonizingly close in not one, not two, but three close but ill-fated attempts. Nerves, fatigue, and bad luck stopped him painfully short, over 90% of the way to the target in each case. Not a heart was left unbroken among the fans watching online, many of them believing Saglio to be the true King of Kong since late last decade, based on his emulator scores, and seeing this as his chance to make it undisputable on original arcade hardware. It was not to be.
One might wonder after Saglio's close-call torture and Daniels' power outage, compared to today's relatively smooth victory by Lakeman, if perhaps the demon haunting the Funspot Donkey Kong might have moved to the Daniels residence?
There was, at any rate, no cash prize for Lakeman in the context of today's attempt, nor even a single spectator to be found in that same corridor where Wiebe and Chien preceded him in making history. The prize was simply to raise the bar. But for a classic arcade competitor, that's quite enough. Anything else is a bonus.
Kong Off 4 Next Month
The new world record stands as the perfect prelude to the Kong Off 4, which will take place at the ReplayFX Arcade and Gaming Festival next month in Pittsburgh (note the Steelers-themed color scheme).
More information on the event (which will feature a high score contest, followed by an exciting bracket-style competition on its final day) can be found at kongoff.com.
Congratulations once again to Robbie Lakeman! If the record is never broken again—and I must admit to having my doubts, with the score now so close to the ceiling—we could not have hoped for a more fitting way for it to come to rest: live and in person, on the same machine that two previous records were set, in one of the last great classic arcades in the world.