While Steve Wiebe’s most famous rival might reside in Florida, perhaps his most persistent competitor at Twin Galaxies is coming from the 1984 Arcade in Springfield, MO in the form of Mark Kiehl.
Wiebe made headlines when he defeated Ike Hall for the Donkey Kong Junior World Record in the spring of 2009, but lost the record to Kiehl last fall. Wiebe regained the record quickly, with 1,190,400 points verified by Twin Galaxies in February, for the title to now go back to Kiehl, with a 1,253,000 point record score posted by Twin Galaxies on Monday, April 19.
As this back and forth battle swings back to Mark Kiehl, he was kind enough to sit down with this columnist and give his thoughts on once again toppling Wiebe’s Donkey Kong Junior score, his other gaming plans, and advice to those who might want to chase down an video gaming record of their own.
Q – Congrats on regaining the Donkey Kong Junior record. How does it feel to have your name on top of a classic with such talented former champs in the rankings list?
A – It’s especially satisfying for me. Recently an old friend of mine reminded me that shortly after the game’s release in 1982 I had put up a score of 279k which, at the time, was higher than any of the scores documented in any of the video game magazines. This score was submitted by the arcade owner to a prominent video game magazine (JoyStik, I believe), but by the time the score could be reconized the record had already been significantly increased by a notable Florida-based gamer. Soon thereafter, the arcade had sold the machine so that was the end of playing the game on a regular basis. So, it is nice to have the record now some 28 years later.
Q – When did you first begin playing DK Junior in the modern day?
A – I took the game up again May of last year, upon encouragement from the 1984 Arcade staff after talking with them about what I was able to score in the remote past.
Q – You’ve been trading this title back and forth with famed gamer Steve Wiebe. How does it feel to be doing that?
A – In the beginning, it was not my intention to challenge the record in any way. All of the top scores seemed so astronomical, but suprisingly my scores improved quickly and upon finding myself within striking distance I decided to go for it! At that point, regardless whether it was Steve or anyone else at the top, I was taking my shot. Certainly taking the title from such a well known and talented player like Steve brings more recognition to the score, and the back and forth between us only pushes the scores up higher, which is always a good thing.
Q – Do you think there is room for this score to be pushed higher?
A – Well, anything is possible I suppose. Given the game I had, I again failed to reach the game’s final board, so an additional 10k or so could have been added to my score. But on the other hand, I had some very fortunate scenarios go my way scoring-wise in this game, so it’s hard to say for sure.
Q – What is the biggest obstacle you’ve run in to in your attempts to push this game to the limit?
A – I would say time and access. I don’t own a machine, but the guys at 1984 Arcade have been kind enough to let me use theirs on days they are open, provided my work schedule and other stuff doesn’t get in the way.
Q – Any thoughts on taking aim at the original Donkey Kong record, currently held by Hank Chien?
A – I have been playing DK lately for fun. There is a lot yet to learn, but I wouldn’t be against giving it a shot. Given the number of talented players battling for this title, I doubt if I’d be much of a threat, though.
Q – Gaming goals for the future?
A – None really right at the moment, just having some fun. I do plan on attending the IVGHOF festivities in Ottumwa, IA come this August, which should be a good time. I would also like to make it to a classic video game tourney someday soon.
Q – Any advice to gamers who might be thinking of taking a shot at records for the first time?
A – Perfect practice makes perfect. If you find yourself getting frustrated and trying too hard, take a break. Be mindful that we all start playing these games because they are fun, and I feel the best games happen when you are enjoying what you are doing. Watch and learn from more experienced players when you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Good luck!
(Note: This is the first article regarding this story on the internet, published at 6:45am on Monday, April 19. Any media reporting on this story, please credit and/or link this column back as the original source. Thank you.)