Presented for your information and adulation: the official top 20 Donkey Kong scores, as tracked/verified by Twin Galaxies International (from 1982-present), with other scores adjudicated by the community of experts and top players at Donkey Kong Forum (since 2013).
If you're coming in "off the street"—perhaps from a Google search after a viewing of The King of Kong—the first thing to know is that a great deal has changed since the movie, which was shot a full decade ago, and whose release ushered in a new and extremely competitive playing field.
Neither Steve Wiebe nor Billy Mitchell hold the Donkey Kong world record anymore, though both are still highly revered. Wiebe remains active and a serious force to be reckoned with, particularly in live events like the recent Kong Offs. While he has not had the time or inclination to pursue a new high score since 2010, most of today's top players agree that Wiebe has the potential to increase his score significantly. Mitchell, on the other hand, is no longer competing.
In 2010, the world record was taken by Dr. Hank Chien, a plastic surgeon from New York City. Mitchell reclaimed it that year, with Wiebe then taking it from Mitchell, but Chien soon beat both and held the record for almost four years (and through a couple of very close calls) until he was finally dethroned by Robbie Lakeman in September 2014.
The "Billy vs. Steve" era is now history. The movie brought hundreds of new competitors to the game from all over the world (even Eminem!). Brilliant, talented "next generation" players like Chien, Dean Saglio, Ross Benziger, Vincent Lemay, Robbie Lakeman, Jeff Willms, and Wes Copeland have risen to the top.
This list is only the top 20 out of hundreds of players ranked on the Donkey Kong Forum High Score List. Click to see the whole list, if you would like to submit a score, or to join us in one of our regular online tournaments.
This leaderboard was last maintained on May 7th, 2016.
|Arcade Machine World Record*|
|MAME Emulator World Record*|
3rd Through 20th
A note on world records: The Donkey Kong world record as it is known and recognized by Twin Galaxies, Guinness, other score-trackers, the media, the general public, and purists/traditionalists can only be set on a 1981 arcade machine with a (four-way) joystick. Hence, Wes Copeland is and will remain the reigning world champion unless and until he is beaten on the original hardware. This will be the case even if another player pushes the MAME Arcade Machine Emulator score higher than Copeland's arcade score.
Some maintain an alternate view that since the game is emulated 100% accurately on MAME, the record should be whatever the highest score is, irrespective of platform. From 2009 until 2016, Dean Saglio held a MAME score that was higher than the arcade score, and many considered him the champ.
Without delving into the particulars of the debate, let it be sufficient to note that there are strong cases for both positions. For neutrality's sake, the two records are treated here as self-contained entities, with neither being ranked as "1st" or "2nd", and the rankings from there on starting at 3rd place.
This solution honors the traditional perception of the world record being necessarily tied to the original arcade hardware (and Copeland's publicly-recognized status as the Donkey Kong champion), while also respecting the fact that, on MAME, another player could technically achieve the highest score.