The concept of video game high scores might seem evergreen, but the truth is that hardcore, sleep-deprived gamers could only log their record-setting achievement on gaming cabinets beginning in 1976.
The practice started with Midway’s first-person shooter, Sea Wolf. However, that early experiment offered little incentive to outperform your gaming rivals, as the machine only retained one high score at a time and wiped it out between sessions.
It wouldn’t be until the release of Space Invaders in 1978 that you could go head-to-head with your friends. You might say that RAM and internal memory revolutionized the way we game. It also transformed what was possible in the world of arcade games, leading to mind-blowing, record-setting high scores across the globe.
When was the last time you took the top spot on the credits screen?
We’ve compiled this list of impressive video game records, beginning with the advent of the high score up until the present. We hope these over-the-top gamers will inspire you to stop by your local arcade bar and make an attempt.
Read on to explore the ten most legendary high scores in video game history (then come down to Emporium Arcade Bar and beat them yourself).
1. A Perfect Game of Pac-Man?
The legendary Pac-Man video game debuted in 1980 and rapidly became one of the most popular battlegrounds for high-score seekers. Despite the cabinet’s popularity, it would take twenty years for Floridian gamer Billy Mitchell to play a “perfect” game.
Mitchell scored 3,333,360 by playing through 256 boards in six hours, never losing a life. While this may seem like an exciting feat, the champion claimed that it was an exceedingly dull process.
Some records suggest that, prior to Mitchell’s paradigm-shifting attempt, other gamers played Pac-Man ten billion times. You can attempt a perfect game at Emporium’s Wicker Park, Logan Square, or Fulton Market locations.
2. Smashing an Asteroids Record
The longest-standing video game high score in history was set by a teenage boy in 1982. His 41,336,440 Asteroids score stood for twenty-seven years. The record required three full days of gameplay, as it’s ultimately a game of both skill and pure endurance.
John McAllister of Portland, Oregon, smashed that record in 2010, achieving a score of 41,338,740. It also took him three sleepless days and nights (and one treacherous bathroom break). If you think you can do it faster, stop by Emporium’s Wicker Park or Logan Square location and set up shop.
3. An Indefectible Game of Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong has been a mainstay in the world of retro games since 1981. In 2016, gamer Wes Copeland blew minds when he played a perfect game, achieving a score of 1,218,000. It took him three hours to play through the entire platformer from start to finish without losing a life.
This wasn’t Copeland’s first Donkey Kong high score. He had the title ripped away several times on his journey to the top. While you can’t beat a perfect game, you can attempt to emulate his technique at our Logan Square location.
4. Record-Breaking Pop-A-Shot Basketball Moves
Just because arcade basketball games like Pop-a-Shot aren’t technically sports doesn’t mean you can’t earn bragging rights when you claim a high score. The world record for most shots in a minute is 139, held by arcade athlete Jay Kletecka. He holds the official title in the Guinness Book of World Records, so if you beat his score, you get bragging rights and a nifty plaque!
5. The Greatest Galaga Gamer
Galaga is another arcade favorite that hit the scene in 1981. One man earned the high score on this popular cabinet during the peak of the pandemic ennui in early 2020.
Jordan Domingon achieved a score of 20,980,450 after fourteen solid hours of gameplay. After all, he had nothing better to do! If you’re bored, take on his high score at Emporium’s Wicker Park, Logan Square, Fulton Market, or San Francisco locations.
6. Mario Brothers Marathon
The Galaga high score wasn’t the only accomplishment motivated by mid-pandemic boredom. Stephen Boyer and Steven Kleisath remotely achieved a score of 1,280,550 in Mario Brothers in 2020. They used an emulator, but if you want to try to beat their score on a cabinet, our Oakland location is ready to make your (pipe) dreams come true.
7. Spectacular Space Invaders Scores
The older the video game, the less reliable the scoring mechanism. That’s why achieving a high score in 1978’s Space Invaders is such a feat. It tends to glitch out when you approach record-setting numbers.
Even so, Richie Knucklez managed to earn a score of 110,510 before hitting a kill screen.
8. Mega Man, Mega Score
For some contemporary gamers, achieving a mind-blowing score is a matter of pride. An online player known only as agwawaf managed to achieve 100% completion on all three Mega Man video games simultaneously in under 44 minutes. For comparison, it takes most elite players about an hour to complete a single title in the franchise.
9. A Revolution in Dance, Dance Revolution
Unlike some games, DDR has a maximum high score per song. Instead of a high score, most elite dancers aim to dance a perfect game. The youngest gamer to achieve this feat was nine-year-old Ryota Wada, who danced his way to perfection on an adult-sized machine like the one at our San Francisco location.
10. NES Tetris Triumph
Tetris is one of the most popular games of all time. The highest score possible is 999,999, which denotes a perfect game. Harry Hong became the first perfect player back in 2009.
If you want to attempt perfection on a Tetris cabinet, stop by Emporium locations in Wicker Park, or San Francisco.
Beat These Video Game High Scores at Emporium
Beating these video game high scores can take time, so having a bite to eat and a drink on hand will ensure you have the energy you need to achieve gaming dominance. We invite you to make your attempt here at the Emporium Arcade Bar. All our locations are ready and willing to cheer you on as you steer your pixelated avatar to success!
While our staff makes great cheerleaders don’t you want your crew on hand as you enter your initials on that high score screen? Why not book a party and invite the whole gang to watch you dominate? You handle the invites, and we’ll make sure your favorite cabinet is available for your record-breaking mission.