August 21st, 2014 - There is an old superstition among Ms. Pac Man players that bananas placed atop the machine can act as an offering to the gods of the random-number generator, who will look favorably upon the pious and bestow good fortune.
Robbie Lakeman echoed that tradition a few weeks ago. Having reached a point of desperation in his quest to finally dethrone Hank Chien for the Donkey Kong world record, he seems willing to try just about anything:
"Took all the money I had that was laying around the apartment and put it on my cab. Hopefully this will be enough to buy the DK record."
If Ms. Pac Man responds to bananas, perhaps DK will accept cash?
On July 29th, Lakeman pulled off the seemingly impossible by somehow managing to get even closer to Hank Chien's top score than past attempts by Vincent Lemay and Ross Benziger, who also barely missed bringing the record home.
Lakeman now sits a very tight second in the all-time arcade machine standings (third overall if including Dean Saglio's MAME emulator record). It's a three-way gridlock where only 600 points separate Lakeman from Benziger, who, in turn, is only 600 points above Lemay. Chien still has them all held back by an inch.
Lakeman's biggest game yet came to an agonizing finish with not quite enough gas in the tank, ending with a kill screen 1,500 points away from first place. It came one month after another attempt that fell short by 7,100 points.
"This is not over, Hank!" Lakeman said during a frustrated monologue after the game.
The community has begun to speak—perhaps only half-jokingly—of a mystical force field that seems to be surrounding Chien's title, protecting it from would-be usurpers. So many extraordinarily close calls... and Dr. Kong is still on top.
DK Open #4 This Weekend: Bounty-Hunting Time
Weeks have turned into months for Lakeman's tireless world record attempts. He puts hours into the effort almost every single day. Part of the reason is that Lakeman knows the clock is ticking—the next Donkey Kong Open takes place this Friday through Sunday, and with a tournament-only world record bounty that has risen to $1,700, several world record-caliber players are expected to bring their A-games this weekend.
Ross Benziger, who normally plays on MAME, will be making his way to an arcade machine, and rumor has it that back-to-back Kong Off champion Jeff Willms might be going for the title as well. Both are, needless to say, extreme threats to Lakeman's bid at ever wearing the DK crown. A new top score will be that much harder for Lakeman to beat... and evidently it's quite hard enough already.
If you are interested in playing in the tournament (everyone is welcome, with many cash prizes up for grabs), or just want to follow along, please visit Donkey Kong Forum. You can review the rules, enter here, or watch the multi-stream.