There’s been a lot of news as of late about some famous high scores and the shaky stories behind them. While we're on the topic, we thought it might be a good idea to take the headwinds and revisit another famous video game record, perhaps the most famous Nintendo-related scores ever.
In 1990 and 1991, Apple co-founder Steve "Woz" Wozniak submitted several high scores to Nintendo Power magazine for the Game Boy version of Tetris. He was featured three times; once via a letter which included photos and was duly printed in the reader mail section, once with a high score of 507,110 and once again with a score of 546,145 - this time with his name listed as Evets Kainzow (spell it backwards and you’ll get it).
The news of who Evets really was isn’t new. It made the rounds a few years back when Woz did a few interviews and disclosed the whole story. In short, Woz was so good that Nintendo Power only accepted and published his score once, and so to get listed again, he changed his name. Woz also disclosed his love of Tetris, and that he gifted Game Boys (which for many years had Tetris as the pack-in) when he’d meet with famous and influential people, including heads of state.
While that’s a great trip down Memory Lane, the story doesn’t end there. It's very cool that such a well known person is such a passionate gamer with skills to boot, but what of that Tetris high score? Was it ever beaten? If so, when? We combed through Nintendo Power’s high score pages and found that Woz’s submission as Evets for 546,145 points was never actually bested - although someone came close and beat the 507,110 score that Woz submitted under his real name. In the mid-'90s, Nintendo Power changed the high score submission rules and offered challenges on specific games, rather than the chance to openly submit anything - so if anyone beat Woz after that, it was never recorded.
Fast forward to the new millennium and you’ll find that the Evets score actually stood for a long, long time. According to Twin Galaxies, the unquestioned, official, sacrosanct, universal, one and only high score registry, it took until 2005 for someone to beat the score set by Wozniak way back in 1990, which means that the Apple co-founder was world champ for over 15 years.
To be fair to Twin Galaxies, they officially accept Woz’s score of 507,110; Evets Kainzow has no mention on the site. It most likely comes from the photographic evidence shown in Nintendo Power, combined with Woz’s celebrity factor. Steve Wozniak is currently ranked 8th in the world, and the current champion, Alex Holbrook, was crowned in 2017 with 752,668 points, backed up with video evidence of the score played on real hardware.
So, could Woz reach the top of the Tetris mountain again? We don't see why not. As he states in his website post which is already a few years old, his best score was 702,000 and he wants to break the 750,000 marker. While there’s no proof of this score to verify it, 702,000 would move him up to third place, and a lucky handout from the gods of Tetris blocks could give him the top spot.
So we're making the call right now to Steve Wozniak to get back in the game. Challenge the current high score and give game fans a new King of Kong-style battle to enjoy. We hope this little message does make its way to Woz, because whether he could break the current score or not, it would be interesting to see a comeback by someone so well known.
If you’d like to see all of this information played out in video form, check out the video below. It features nostalgic scans of Nintendo Power as well as a few old commercials that showed how Nintendo tried positioning Tetris and the Game Boy as something for adults to enjoy. Among those adults you’ll see playing Tetris are of course Woz, but also Nester’s mother and one former leader of the Free World, who got his Game Boy from Woz personally.