Experience the Classic Gameplay of Donkey Kong with Wes Copeland’s Speedrun!

Donkey Kong arcade game

Experience the Classic Gameplay of Donkey Kong with Wes Copeland’s Speedrun!

Key Points

  • Wes Copeland’s Donkey Kong speedrun scored an impressive 1,218,000 points, showcasing his precise approach, profound understanding of the game, and excellent decision-making.
  • Speedrunners face challenges such as precise timing, maintaining consistency, and adapting to Random Number Generation (RNG) elements in Donkey Kong.
  • Other notable Donkey Kong speedruns include Robbie Lakeman’s 1,230,100 points, Vincent Lemay’s 1,084,500 points, John McCurdy’s 1,112,800 points, and Dean Saglio’s 1,139,900 points.

If you’re an 80s kid, you must be familiar with the most popular arcade game of that era — Donkey Kong. Released in 1981, this game was the second after “Gorf” to feature numerous levels. A year later, in 1982, a gamer named Billy Mitchell posted a Donkey Kong speedrun that introduced gamers to an entirely new concept. 

Over the years, we have seen many Donkey Kong speedruns becoming the talk of the town in the gamers community. While many people may argue, we consider Wes Copeland’s Donkey Kong speedrun the best. He perfectly analyzed the situations, adapted to the ever-changing scenarios, and implemented the right strategies at the right time.

Wes scored 1,218,000 in his almost three hours long Donkey Kong speedrun. Yes, the record is now broken, but his attempt has remained untouchable regarding the gaming approach and planning. Let’s take a deeper look at his speedrun video to learn why it is so great!

Donkey Kong Speedruns Over the Years

Donkey Kong is one of the classic arcade games released for Nintendo in the 80s. Since its release, gamers have been finding different ways and tricks to complete the hours-long game in the shortest time. In fact, an entire Donkey Kong speedrun community was created in a short span around the late 1990s. 

The members and players began competing with each other to find the best speedrunner, and they succeeded in a year. Billy Mitchell made a world record for the highest-ever Donkey Kong score. It’s important to note that the criteria for Donkey Kong speedrun is not the shortest completion time but the highest score. It means the player tries to make as many points as possible during the speedrun to make a world record.

Billy Mitchell’s first Donkey Kong speedrun was released in 1982. He scored 874,300 and stole the limelight for many years. Many years later, he again recorded a Donkey Kong speedrun in 2005, scoring 1,047,200 points. 

However, things became controversial around 2007 when Mitchell released his third Donkey Kong speedrun. Twin Galaxies recognized him as the first-ever player to make a perfect score of 1,050,200 points. However, in 2018, the organization detected discrepancies in Billy’s speedrun and removed it from the leaderboard. His record even got replaced in the Guinness Book of World Records. 

With the popularity of YouTube and Twitch, many players started discussing their strategies, techniques, tricks, exploits, and helpful glitches for quick Donkey Kong speedruns. These include “pie factory” and “barrel roll,” which significantly minimize the game time. In fact, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” a documentary film released in 2007, further popularized the Donkey Kong speedruns in the community. 

The Best Donkey Kong Speedruns Till Today

Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong the gorilla is one of the most recognizable characters in the Super Mario franchise.

©Logan Bush/Shutterstock.com

Donkey Kong is an iconic game that almost every gamer knows about. While the arcade game seems pretty straightforward, scoring high isn’t as easy as it looks. Honestly, this made the game even more fun. No wonder why many YouTubers have participated in the Donkey Kong speedrun competitions. 

Here are some notable Donkey Kong speedruns you can find on YouTube:

Wes Copeland

The Donkey Kong speedrun by Wes Copeland is the best in terms of performance, precision, and time efficiency. Since the criteria for this game’s videos is the highest score instead of the shortest time, Wes Copeland’s gameplay is more than 3 hours long. However, his score will surely knock you off your feet. It’s 1,218,000!

Robbie Lakeman

Robbie Lakeman’s Donkey Kong speedrun is also exceptional in many aspects. He showed other speedrunners how optimal strategies and precise movements must be used to shorten the time and boost the total score. His YouTube video is longer than Wes Copeland’s try, measuring around 3 hours 30 minutes with a 1,230,100 score. In terms of score, his attempt is undoubtedly better than Wes’s.

Vincent Lemay

Vincent Lemay is a popular figure in the Donkey Kong community for his impressive skills, precision, and understanding of the game. He has participated in many events and tournaments, winning most of them and gathering people’s attention. Vincent scored 1,084,500 in his 3 hours 14 minutes long video, which became a world record.

John McCurdy

You may know John McCurdy as the “Gamer of the Winds.” He is a popular Donkey Kong speedrunner who has impressed the community with his skills and efficient strategies. His particular Donkey Kong speedrun posted on YouTube by “Donkey Kong Forum” is 2 hours 47 minutes long. He scored 1,112,800 points in it.

Dean Saglio

Dean Saglio is another Donkey Kong speedrunner known for high performance, precision, and game dedication. The Donkey Kong Forum published his Donkey Kong gameplay on YouTube, which is 2 hours and 37 minutes long. Dean scored 1,139,900 points in the video, showing his immense talent and skills to the speedrunning community.

These are only some YouTubers who have made remarkable Donkey Kong speedruns. You can find more of such content on the internet, so check them out to experience some great gameplay of Donkey Kong, such as Wes Copeland’s. 

Why Is Wes Copeland’s Donkey Kong Speedrun So Good?

Wes Copeland’s Donkey Kong speedrun is one of its kind — it’s accurate, fast, and one of the highest scoring. If you watch the video closely, you will see that he didn’t choke in any aspect and showed exceptional performance due to his deep understanding of Donkey King’s mechanics. 

Here is why we consider Wes Copeland’s Donkey Kong speedrun the best:

Precise Approach 

Wes Copeland’s gameplay portrays how big of a maestro he is. He jumped at the right moments, took precise steps, and showed just the right amount of control over the main character: Jumpman (Mario). We will give him a 5/5 for his gaming approach and remarkable accuracy.

Profound Understanding of the Game

The speedrun is all about making the right decision at the right time. Wes chose the exact strategy where needed and acted according to each challenge’s requirements. This showed that he is not a newbie but a professional Donkey Kong master who knows all the ins and outs of the entire game. His deep understanding helped him optimize his game plan, increase his score, and tackle obstacles efficiently. 

screenshot of Donkey Kong Atari 2600 game
The classic Donkey Kong arcade game was released in 1981.

©mobygames.com – License

Excellent Decision-Making

With his deep game knowledge and precise plan, Wes made the right decisions to employ his tactics. He quickly analyzed the situations during the speedrun and took the proper steps to eliminate enemies with minimal damage. He even used power-ups and bonus items at the appropriate instances. Evidently, he was under a lot of pressure, but adapting to this quickly-accelerating gameplay only shows his skills. 


Adaptability to ever-evolving situations makes a speedrun successful. Wes displayed quick reflexes in dynamic gameplay, where things change in a blink of an eye. He adapted to the challenges and unexpected situations very quickly and reacted accordingly. In fact, we also saw him adjusting his strategies in multiple instances. He knew what he was doing, no?

High Scoring Speedrun

Wes Copeland’s attempt is one of the highest-scoring Donkey Kong speedruns. Although many gamers have broken his record today, his speedrun was once the highest scoring in the world. We can say that Wes inspired other players to take on the Donkey Kong speedrun challenge and bless us with even greater gameplay. 

The Donkey Kong speedrun by Wes Copeland doesn’t seem like a one-night of work. Instead, he must have practiced the game’s patterns and refined his strategies. Relentless dedication always pays off! Wes is now famous as one of the pioneers of Donkey Kong speedruns due to his extraordinary tactics, strategic decision-making, and adaptability to the game’s mechanics. 

What Challenges Do Speedrunners Face When Playing Donkey Kong?

As a gamer, you know how helpful speedruns are. Whenever you’re stuck at any point in the game, you just search for a speedrun and get your solution in a few seconds. While that’s amazing, have you ever wondered what the speedrunner has to go through to make such videos? Is it easy, or do they face some challenges? 

Speedrunners certainly encounter a lot of holdbacks when playing Donkey Kong, some of which include the following:

Precise Timing

Donkey Kong is a fast-moving game where the player has to make calculated movements at the right time. No matter what obstacle comes their way, they must execute jumps with utmost precision. If you have played Donkey Kong, you’d know how fast the difficulty level increases with each stage. That’s when you need to be even more accurate with your strategies. 


Maintaining consistency is the key to making a successful Donkey Kong speedrun. The player must know how to replicate movements and strategies and implement the exact tactic at the right time. That’s only possible with non-stop practice and intense memorization of the game’s layout and enemy patterns. The player should also know where the obstacles are placed to tackle them like a pro.

Random Number Generation (RNG)

While practice makes a man perfect, it may not be true when making Donkey Kong speedruns. The game incorporates RNG elements, which refer to unexpected or random enemy behavior or barrel placements. So, no matter how hard you practice for a certain level, you may encounter a random game element requiring you to think instantly and quickly adapt to the situation. 

RNGs can disrupt your gaming approach and strategies. Things can even be more challenging when you try to execute different glitches in Donkey Kong. You’d need extensive expertise to make the most of these tactics to get your desired results. 

Wes Copeland’s Donkey Kong speedrun made all of these challenges unnoticeable. We didn’t even feel Wes was struggling with any of the above elements. His relentless practice, perseverance, and firm grip on the game’s mechanics helped him execute his game plan correctly. 

Wrap Up

Donkey Kong is a classic 80s arcade game featuring Jumpman (Mario), who faces many obstacles and enemies to rescue Pauline from a gorilla. The game instantly became a hit among people of all ages, and just a year later, we saw a speedrun video by Billy Mitchell.

The criteria for evaluating the Donkey Kong speedruns is the score, not the time. It means the player who completes the game with the highest score ranks higher than the one who finishes it in less time and low score. Based on it, we found the Donkey Kong speedrun by Wes Copeland the best! He showed ultimate class, expertise, and skills in his attempt, making the speedrun an absolute favorite in the entire gaming community.

Witness the Remarkable Gameplay of Donkey Kong with Wes Copeland’s Speedrun Here!

Experience the Classic Gameplay of Donkey Kong with Wes Copeland’s Speedrun! FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is Donkey Kong 1981 a multi-level game?

Yes, Donkey Kong 1981 was the second arcade game to have multiple levels after Midway Games’ Gorf. It has four levels in total.

How long are Donkey Kong levels?

Donkey Kong has four levels, each featuring 25 meters of gameplay that Mario has to climb to get to the next level. One stage is about 25 meters higher than the other. The final level is 100 meters long.

How long is 100% Donkey Kong 1981?

Donkey Kong 1981 may take hours, considering Wes Copeland took almost 3 hours to complete his gameplay. However, the exact duration depends on your gaming style. You can finish the game within an hour too!

What are the fastest Donkey Kong speedruns?

According to speedrun.com, the fastest Donkey Kong speedrunners are “wflimusic” with a speedrun video of 1h 08m, “bradtech519” with 1h 17m 05s, and “danman123456” with 1h 19m 45s.

Who was the first Donkey Kong speedrunner?

Billy Mitchell was the first Donkey Kong speedrunner who scored 874,300 points in his attempt in 1982.

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