Mark Kiehl was tangling with Billy Mitchell 20 years before Steve Wiebe even knew Mitchell's name.
Kiehl, a registered nurse who served in the United States Air Force, is an old-school original, a classic arcader from the era when high scores were first being contested.
He hit 279,000 on Donkey Kong Jr. soon after the game's release in 1982, the highest documented score at the time, which led the arcade owner to submit it to a video game magazine.
But Kiehl's record would be beaten, significantly, before the score could be published. It fell under the long shadow of none other than the Mulleted One himself.
Kiehl didn't have time to fight back before the arcade sold the machine, leaving Mitchell the champion for over 20 years.
In 2009, the owners of the 1984 Arcade in Springfield Missouri—Kiehl's home away from home—caught wind of his skills and urged him to make a comeback, donating a Jr. machine toward the effort.
With renewed motivation (and indeed an obligation), Kiehl came out of retirement, blew past his old score, and ultimately claimed the record.
He spent the next year and a half wrestling for the title with Mitchell and Wiebe, and has now held it since 2010, topping it off just recently for good measure.
Having secured the record at Jr., Kiehl then turned his attention to papa. He proved a strong enough player to be invited to the first Kong Off, but relative inexperience at the game kept him from making as much of a splash as some of his competitors.
It was in the year and a half that followed that Kiehl truly asserted himself. He became the fifth verified million-point player in January, and in October grabbed 4th place—right beneath his Jr. rivals Wiebe and Mitchell—just in time for the Kong Off 2.
Kiehl, always a fun presence in live-streamed games for the deadpan wit with which he seasons the chat, is ready to sit down alongside both his contemporaries and the whipper-snappers to put up a good fight and a good show.
"This is what it's all about... friendly competition on a tough classic title, everyone pushing each others gameplay to their limits in a wonderful social setting."
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