Long-time followers of Nintendo Life will know that we've tried to keep abreast of the battle for the Donkey Kong high score record for many years now. The obsession began with the excellent movie King of Kong, which focused on the efforts of underdog Steve Wiebe to topple the then-champ Billy Mitchell. Since then, several other names have entered the narrative, including Dr. Hank Chien and Vincent Lemay.
In 2014, we reported that another Kong expert by the name of Robbie Lakeman had successfully won the title from the previous champ Chien. In September 2015, Lakeman lost the title to challenger Wes Copeland for less than six hours before reclaiming it in emphatic fashion. Undeterred, Copeland pledged to take the record again, and it has just been announced that he has done just that.
Copeland's score of 1,190,000 was registered on Twitch last night. Lakeman immediately sprang into action and began his own Twitch stream when informed that his title had been lost, but his attempt failed early on and he issued the following message to his viewers:
I'm not gonna play anymore, at least for a while. I can finally focus on things that should really matter to me at this point... Wes, definitely enjoy it, you'll have it for a while. I had the record longer than I thought I would... I just turned 29, I'm working on getting my life more in order. This was an outlet for a while, but I've gotten where I want to be with it. The torch has now been passed.
Former Kong record holder Mitchell sent Copeland the following message of congratulation:
Your hard work is incredible, it truly is. I see you do what you do, I see Robbie do what he does. It's a true example of hard work and dedication … and it's something you both should be so proud of, the amount of hard work it takes and the amount of character it shows to continue to try forward, it should benefit you in every aspect of your life.
Copeland himself took to the web to explain how much hard work is required to master Donkey Kong, and to praise Lakeman and the other former Kong champs that went before him:
Donkey Kong messes with your mind. It's the only game I've ever played that does. Every player, the 1.2m, the 1.1m, the 1m, the 900k, the first-time kill screener, all the way down to even the player who clears their first 3rd elevator, deserves a tremendous amount of praise and respect for their hard work and dedication. It's one of the few games I've played that truly feels like psychological warfare, and requires a unique blend of dedication, imagination, and strong spirit to survive, improve, and progress.
Robbie, like [former record holders] Dean, Hank, Steve, Billy, Ben Jos, and Tim, wouldn't have achieved what he did without a tremendous show of endurance, perseverance, and character. Robbie has indicated he wants to step away from the game for a little while, but I know in my heart that whatever he pursues in his life, he'll apply the same dedication to it as he did to the world record chase. I know he will be successful.
As amazing as Copeland's score is, it still falls shy of Dean Saglio's 1,206,800 haul, which was achieved using emulation rather than on the original hardware - something isn't permitted in the high-score community.