Thursday, April 8, 2010

The best knight in the world, bested!

Excalibur? Anybody? OK moving on... What is the longest-standing arcade game high score record of all-time? Well, last week it was 41,336,440 on Asteroids set by 15-year-old Scott Safran back in 1982. But it’s something else now because on Monday night in Portland, Oregon, John McAllister banged out a couple thousand more points than that to capture the new Asteroids crown at 41,338,740 points. It took him 58 straight hours to hit that score – with just the occasional bathroom break where he had to just dash off and let his extra ships die while he was takin' care of business.

Twin Galaxies, the reigning authority on video game records, has to authenticate the score (which somehow takes 2 months) before it officially goes in the books but since he apparently broadcast the entire thing live over the internet it seems likely to be legit.

Here is John on a local news broadcast.

I assume every human being knows what Asteroids is but just in case you are something else it is a vector arcade game released by Atari in 1979 where you are a spaceship flying around inside an asteroid field trying to blow them to bits before they crash into you. Flying saucers also periodically make an appearance and shoot at you. In addition to your thrusters you also have a hyperspace button whose sole purpose is to make you disappear from one marginally dangerous location and reappear at a much more highly dangerous location where you explode shortly after materializing = HYPERSPACE SUCKS!

I was never all that great at Asteroids - my high score is literally about a 1000 times lower than the record - but I’ve always liked the game. It is controlled entirely by buttons, which has always held a fascination for me for some reason. Plus there are so few vector games it remains unique even with such basic gameplay. And it is excellently emulated in MAME so you don’t have to have one at your local arcade (remember those?) you can download the ROM and give it a whirl. The only regret I have with the MAME version is that it cannot properly emulate the brightness of your spacehip’s bullets – or photon torpedos - or whatever. I always liked shooting those bright blips across the screen on the real game. I definitely still bring it up on the cab every now and then for a go. I rate it an 8.8.

Twin Galaxies STILL hasn't called me to confirm my high score of 45,650!

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Fallguy40 said...

Wow! 58 hours is ridiculous! The bad news is that I wouldn't trust
Twin Galaxies to get this right unless the old record holder isn't one of their boys like Billy Mitchell was.

They went out of their way to authenticate Mitchell's taped DK "record" and discredit that other guy's mark when Mitchell's tape was far more suspicious.

I would like to try "Extra Life" at least once though. For those of you not familiar, Extra Life is a fundraiser for Texas Children's Hospital where you play video games for 24 hours straight and take sponsor donations.

MadPlanet said...

Safran, the previous record holder, wasn't a Twin Galaxies insider. That same ref from Twin Galaxies - Walter Day - searched for him for years to years to give him an award for the record and finally found out in 2002 that he had died 13 years before by falling from his 6th story apartment while trying to rescure his cat.
Never heard of Extra Life before - but it does sound intriguing. I'm going to check that out.

MadPlanet said...

Apparently about a year ago this same guy nabbed the world record for Asteroids Deluxe too: