Kong Off 2 Player Profile: Ben Falls

If you're proud of a world record that you hold, don't brag about it too loudly where Ben Falls can hear you.

He'll learn your game, exceed you in skill within days, then quadruple your score, just to send a message.

Afterwards, while you're massaging your bruised ego, he'll tell you that the biggest challenge he faced was not falling asleep.

True story, from just a few weeks ago.

(Though, it must be said, the message was well-intentioned: don't brag. And play for the right reasons.)

Every sport has its phenoms, those terrifying beasts that make everyone else wonder why they even bother playing at all. In the world of classic gaming, Ben Falls is that guy.

Falls, 38, is best known for smashing the world record on Popeye in December of 2011, nearly tripling a score which had held for almost two decades. News of the marathon-like performance on that very difficult, only semi-patternable game was less shocking than it could have been only because it was Ben who did it. We've come to expect such things from him.

A diverse and accomplished gamer, Falls was inducted into the inaugural class of the International Video Game Hall of Fame in 2010. Among stellar performances at many other games, he is locked in ongoing contention for the record on Moon Patrol, and is the undisputed best in the world at Jeff Kulczycki's (brilliant and insanely difficult) "homebrew" Donkey Kong sequel, D2K: Jumpman Returns.

As for the Kong Off, Falls is actually considered a favorite by none other than Dean Saglio, who told me:

"My dark horse to win is Ben Falls. He is such a solid and consistent all around classic gamer that I believe he will come through with a kill screen score of around 1,050,000 points, so I already consider this to be the score to beat."

Falls' performance at the first Kong Off resulted in a solid but underwhelming finish. He found it easier than expected to adjust to the live venue but felt that he was capable of much better:

"I thought I'd be a little nervous playing in front of that crowd, but I was pretty focused... I just wish I would have had one more day. Because I think I could have done some damage."

Now he has two more days.

Next: Vincent Lemay »

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