On the morning of April 22nd, 2012 it was my joy and privilege to watch a replay of a stream that had been recorded the previous day, which (I will say without a trace of hyperbole) contained the single greatest Donkey Kong game ever played, from the man who is, in my opinion, the best player in the world.
Over the course of three hours and five minutes, MAME champion Dean Saglio managed to achieve a record-shattering Donkey Kong score of 1,167,400, beating his own previous high of 1,153,000 set just over one year ago.
While the officially and publicly-recognized Donkey Kong world record can only be set on an arcade machine, this score nonetheless stands as the highest ever achieved on the game, and represents the "true" record in the minds of many (myself included).
The highlight of the performance came at the best possible time—the end—as Saglio struggled against the penultimate screen 116 in a bitter dogfight against a gang of firefoxes that were truly up to their worst. It was a battle that any other player would have almost certainly lost.
Coming into the final rivets board, the record was already in the bag, but this was a special game, and needed to end in a kill screen. The firefoxes had other intentions, but Saglio simply refused to take "no" for an answer, pulling off two nigh-unbelievable escapes to pop the final rivet and send the ape to his doom.
After the 700-point kill screen cleanup, Saglio let out a few gusty sighs of relief and said simply "that was stressful."
Saglio expressed some self-deprecating disappointment with how the game unfolded, "I lost my 1.2 [million-point pace] right around my second death, I think... all three deaths were really poor... good enough."
It was good enough indeed.
Later, in a congratulatory thread on the Classic Arcade Gaming forums, Saglio discussed his plans for the immediate future:
"I will likely take some time off from the game again for a while and then at some point I will start ramping up for the November competition."
While it doesn't change the MAME leaderboard standings, the performance distances Saglio even further from the competition (whether arcade or MAME) and proves once again that he is truly playing in a class by himself.