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Florida arcade gamer jumps into 'Mario Bros.' high score contention

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After more than three decades, the original Mario Bros. arcade game might just have a new champion coming down the pipe.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida arcade gamer Steven Kleisath has smashed enough POW blocks and jumped enough Shellcreepers to rack up 1,352,020 points on the 1983 arcade classic, enough to crack the all-time top ten.

"First video game I ever played was Pac-Man on one of those mini hand-held cabs you could get out of the Sears catalog many moons ago," he recalled. "After playing that, I discovered arcades as I got a little older. I remember playing the original Mario Bros. a little bit before Super Mario Bros. came out as an arcade cab."

Kleisath walked away from video games for a while to pursue a music career. Eventually, modern video game consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation would become a past time while on tour. After viewing several video game documentary films in recent years, Steven says he was inspired to go back and rediscover some of his old favorites.

"Mario Bros. was one of those games that I could just naturally play and survive for a while on," he said. "Even though it is not an easy game, it just came easy to me initially. I just started getting further and further on it."

While Kleisath's 1.3 million point score already ranks among the best ever recorded, it is still a distance from the world record, held by champion retrogamer Tom Votava with 4,678,440 points. Steven says that his biggest challenge toward chasing the record aren't the numbers on the screen so much as the numbers on the clock.

"My biggest challenge is finding the time to play it consistently enough to progress on it," he said. "It's amazing how much you have to catch up on the game if you don't play for a while and then get a game in."

Still, the Florida arcade gamer states that he'll keep jumping turtles and slipping across ice in the arcade classic until he reaches his goal.

"I believe Mario Bros. should have a rightful place right next to Donkey Kong as one of the greatest games ever created," he added. "It may take a lifetime to get past Tom's score, but the game is great enough to warrant playing the rest of my life as long as I am physically and mentally able to."

Kleisath's attempts can be viewed on Twitch at www.twitch.tv/maximumsteve.

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