On Donkey Kong Junior, Phil Tudose Breaks Through

Jason Bennett,

October 24, 2021 7:03 PM

After watching a 7 year old record fall last year, the 1.5 million point barrier on the Nintendo arcade classic was next

Don't let Phil's demeanor fool you. Although one might ascribe his disposition to his Canadian background, Phil's quiet but forceful presence in the classic arcade gaming commmunity doesn't go unnoticed.

One might trace Phil's emphatic arrival on the competitive Donkey Kong scene to August 2013 when he put up million point scores in two Wildcard qualifiers for the annual Donkey Kong tournament known as Kong Off 3 held in Denver later that year. While he ultimately decided not to attend the tournament, he also surprised his fellow gamers when he announced his retirement from competitive Donkey Kong action. Fortunately for his gaming compatriots and the recordbooks, that retirement turned out to be premature.

Since that time, Phil has been an active but deliberate member of the competitive scene, posting new personal bests on Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior at the MAME Action Replay Leaderboard and then taking breaks before jumping back in as his scores were passed by other players, solidifying his reputation as a top tier gamer.

Last year, Phil made an emphatic statement on Donkey Kong Junior, a game where Mario puts in a rare turn as the bad guy by kidnapping Donkey Kong, setting up a rescue from his son. In late July, he turned in a crushing performance featuring a final score of 1,478,000 points, eclipsing the previous record of 1,412,200 set by Mark Kiehl 7 years earlier. Then fast forward to this summer, where Phil achieved a 1.17 million point game in Donkey Kong, securing a coveted top ten score on the Donkey Kong Forum leaderboard at 9th place.

Where to go from there?

On October 22, Phil bested his own record and set the community buzzing with a score like no other on Donkey Kong Junior - a killscreen game ending at 1,506,800 points and the first to breach the 1.5 million threshold. In doing so, Phil was able to put in a game for the ages that fired on all cylinders.

A new benchmark and world record - 1,506,800 points (1 million digit not displayed) [Image source: Donkey Kong Forum]

"Overall, I would say that this game was the best execution of the new strategies developed by newer Donkey Kong Junior players in the last two to three years," said Jeremy Young, administrator and moderator of the high score site Donkey Kong Forum. "If you look at any high level score from [that period], every player does one, or some, or all of those things. But Phil put all the pieces together in the best way."

Those pieces included a score with a higher level of "death points," or those points that players accumulate when they deliberately sacrifice or "sac" their extra lives before the game-ending killscreen, which Phil pushed from 67,700 points in his 1.478 million point game to 93,000 points in his latest outing. As well, Phil employed new gameplay tactics that he helped develop with other Donkey Kong Junior players like Andrew Barrow, Dallas Taylor, and Shannon Hamill, such as a delayed apple drop on the sparks board, more efficient patterns for clearing the spring and chain boards, delaying certain fruit drops on the jungle board to smash larger groupings of red snappers as well as more aggressive snapper leaching.

With Phil's path-breaking score it would seem safe to assume that, like with every other milestone over the game's 39 year history, fellow competitors will look to cross the same threshold and head further into new high score territory to push the competition forward.

But as the congratulations roll in, it's perhaps inevitable to wonder - what can the CAG community expect from Phil next?

Only time will tell, but you can be sure that whatever he does, people will continue to take notice.


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