27 December 2011

Week 13 and 14 Summary

Last update of the year as I’m off on holiday this afternoon and won’t return until 2012…

I’ve been focussing on reaching 100k on a few games so other score updates are few and far between. As you’ve seen, both Road Fighter and Van-Van Car are now done but unfortunately my aim to reach 100k on 25% of the 40 games fell one short. The third game I was aiming for was Donkey Kong but after playing around 25 games and not getting past 72k, I’ve given up for now – I think the game just hates me!

The only other notable score updates were on Ghosts N Goblins, which I reached level 3 on for the first time and moved into yellow status with a score of 83,500, and Rally-X that saw an 11k boost to 50,200.

So that’s it for this year. Overall I think it’s been good, with my skills and knowledge of some classic games vastly improved, but there’s still a long way to go…

Two more 100k achievements - Merry Christmas!

Never let is be said that I’m not committed to this challenge – on Christmas Day and Boxing Day I put a few hours into playing and managed to reach my target score on two more games…

First up on Christmas Day was Road Fighter. I only just managed to reach the target with a score of 100,250 and annoyingly I grabbed my camera to take a photo the high score table defaulted my name to ‘A’, but it’s another one crossed off the list!

Thanks to tips from JAMMA+ forum member muddymusic on this one - his MAME score on Road Fighter is over a million points so mine pales in comparison to that! The main tips I’d share are that you shouldn’t try and race to the finish line but instead take it a bit slower, avoid hitting any other cars for a large and of stage bonus, and make sure you collect all the bonus cars which increase in value each time you get them.

The second game, completed on Boxing Day, was Van-Van Car and the score achieved was 138,000. To be honest there’s no tips to be shared here – the game is simple enough and there don’t seem to be any secrets to score boosting, so it’s just a case of making your way through the levels without making any mistakes. I quite enjoyed playing the game but it’s certainly not a classic!

24 December 2011

Return of the Invaders Gameplay Tips Video

Finally for today, here's some tips on how to improve your score on Return of the Invaders, which I also reached 100k on in week 9.

One thing I didn't mention in the video is that to activate the challenging stages you must leave at least two of the relevant enemies until last, and the more you leave alive, the bigger and more valuable the mothership that is spawned.

Mario Bros Gameplay Tips Video

This is a short video demonstrating some of the techniques I used to reach 100k on Mario Bros back in week 9...

Mr Do! Gameplay Tips Video

Back in week 5 I surpassed 100k on Mr Do! This was rather unexpected so wasn't recorded, but this video shows some strategies that helped me reach my scoring target...

Zoo Keeper Gameplay Video

Also from week 3, here's my video of breaking the 100k barrier for the first time on Zoo Keeper...

Amidar Gameplay Video

Well it's taken some time to get these created but finally I have some gameplay videos. First up we go all the way back to week 3 and my 100k achievement on Amidar. Not much more to be said about this one so I'll let the video do the talking...

13 December 2011

Week 11 and 12 Summary

A summary of the last two weeks here, as by the time I got around to writing the summary for week 11 it was already halfway through week 12!

The first major highlight of the last two weeks was breaking 100k on Crazy Kong, but there have been several notable score increases since then as well. The one I was most pleased with was finally getting BurgerTime out of red status. I have been plugging away at this for a while and after getting so close with a score of 34k, I finally broke the 35k threshold in style with a new top score of 57,100! A lot of that was brought about by a fluke of trapping 4 or 5 enemies on one burger with a single pepper spray and then dropping them down, which yielded over 10,000 points. Whether I’ll ever be able to do that again remains to be seen but that is clearly the way to amass the big points.

Another status change occurred on Taito’s Rastan with an increase of nearly 50k to a new score of 86,600. To be honest that wasn’t too difficult to achieve and I think this will eventually go down as a fairly cheap game to get 100k on.

While there weren’t any other status changes, I have managed to boost scores on quite a few other games too, including a 30k increase on Indiana Jones and modest boosts on Pitfall II, Ghosts N Goblins and Ms Pac-Man.

Last but not least came a major breakthrough on Donkey Kong. I negotiated the third elevator stage for the first time, which yielded a new high score of 95,100. Frustratingly I had lost a couple of cheap lives on earlier stages which meant I couldn’t capitalise on my progress, but having done it once I’m sure I can do it again now, so 100k is suddenly within reach!

So, with all the above in mind, my aim for the next couple of weeks is to reach 100k on three more games, meaning I will have completed 25% of my challenge by Christmas...

30 November 2011

Kong Conquered!

Late last night just before heading to bed I decided to try and increase my score on Crazy Kong. Having reached 73k last week I figured it was worth trying to surpass 75k and move the game into yellow status. As it turned out, I did that and much more!

Having only managed to get past the third elevator stage once, on this attempt I reached that level without even losing a life, and got past it without any issues. At that point my score was around 8,000 points less than my personal best so I wasn’t expecting much more, but things just got better and better as I went on to reach the fourth elevator stage before losing my first life...

On my next life I got past that stage and the following rivet level without further loss of life. I finally met my match in the form of some aggressive random barrels on the fifth barrel stage but not before squeaking past my target score with 100,100 points - how close was that?

So that’s an unexpected surprise and another 100k achievement. On to the next one!

29 November 2011

Week 10 Summary

Well compared to last week, this was a bit of a disappointment…

I’ve decided to add a new stat to the summary which is my average score across all 40 games. This way I can see how close I’m getting to my target and hopefully this will increase each week of course!

With my focus this past week on boosting scores I hadn’t improved since the start of the challenge, progress was expected to be modest, and so it was. I did play quite a lot of other games such as Dig Dug, Asteroids and Flying Shark, but failed to improve my scores on any of those games. Consequently the only notable achievement of the week was boosting my score to 44,600 on Joust, taking it from red to orange status.

The only other score boost was Crazy Kong, with an increase of 5,200 points. While this doesn’t seem particularly special at first glance, in terms of gameplay it was quite important as I managed to get past the third elevator stage for the first time. Unfortunately the following rivets level saw me lose three lives to some insanely angry fireballs!

You may wonder why Crazy Kong even appears in this challenge as to many people it is just a poor clone of Donkey Kong. However the truth is that unlike many bootlegs of Nintendo’s classic, Crazy Kong is actually an officially licensed version and offers different scoring challenges due some of the hammers being inaccessible.

Anyway, this week I’m not setting myself any targets - I’m just going to play the games I most feel like playing and see what happens. Next week’s update could therefore be really good or really bad!

21 November 2011

Week 9 Summary

What a week it was! It seems the break I had was a good thing because after a couple of unspectacular weeks I am definitely back with a bang…

The early 100k achievements on Return of the Invaders and Mario Bros were followed by big increases on two of the toughest games in my challenge, taking both out of the red status. First was a 20k boost on Ghosts n Goblins – multiple playthroughs of the first level revealed some high value secrets that pushed my score up to 48,600. As if that wasn’t satisfying enough, I then played a few games of Sinistar and managed to get to grips with the asteroid mining, gather enough bombs to dispatch the first level’s Sinistar and push my score up to 62,730 which was an increase of nearly 40k! Annoyingly the game won’t let me enter my initials on the high score table so I’m just known as ‘A’ on that game.

On top of those achievements I also managed to boost scores on Mappy, Dragon Spirit and Hyper Sports by varying degrees, so I’m very happy with the last week’s efforts.

This week I’m hoping for more of the same. I’d particularly like to raise my score on Asteroids, which I have been practicing on for the last few weeks with limited success. It would also be nice to see some movement on the games where I haven’t yet increased the score since the challenge started – the likes of Lady Bug, Flying Shark and Joust spring to mind.

20 November 2011

The Path to Points in Pitfall II

While I’m still nowhere near the 100k mark for Sega’s conversion of Activision’s classic Pitfall II, I have learned a few ways of maximising points on the first stage of the game. So here are my tips for avoiding danger and getting as many points as possible before entering the titular Lost Caverns…

1.      You get points for simply running, so try to run around as much as possible to boost your score. Bear in mind this approach has to be tempered against the time limit, which is only increased when you pick up treasure.

2.      On any screen where things are falling from the sky (excluding the volcano screens) if you hand around for long enough a bonus money bag will fall from the sky. The location this falls from seems to be pretty static. Money bags give you 1000 points each but more importantly add 30 seconds to your time limit.

3.      On the screens where there are logs rolling towards you and there’s a hole in the middle of the screen with a scorpion underneath, I’ve found that if you start running across the screen immediately you can jump over the first log and fall through the hole and you’ll never actually hit the scorpion. It will be close, but you should then run left and pick up the treasure from the preceding screen.

4.      It seems to pay off time-wise to take action straight away. For example on the screen with the swinging ropes you can run and jump on to the first rope as soon as you appear on the screen. Similarly on the screen with the crocodiles you can just start running and jump over them immediately. This is important as you need to keep moving as quickly as possible to avoid running out of time.

5.      When you get to the final screen of the stage, immediately run and jump over the first fireball and fall through the hole in the middle of the screen. Chances are you will probably die due to hitting the bat on the lower half of the screen, but this is actually an advantage as you will restart the screen on the lower part with a full 3 minutes of time. You can then run to the left to pick up a money bag and then go back and finish the stage by collecting the key. You get a bonus for all remaining time so will get way more points this way than if you complete the stage with just a few seconds remaining. Of course you may regret losing that life later on, but by that point you should have got an extra life for reaching 20,000 points so you could just see it as a worthy sacrifice!

17 November 2011

Invaders Return... Invaders Repelled!

For the second time this week, what started out as a practice session resulted in reaching the 100k scoring target. This time it was Taito’s Return of the Invaders, and my score was 103,500.

The key to scoring highly on this one is to trigger the Galaga-esque Challenging Stages, which it would appear can be done on every level by simply leaving a cluster of specific enemies to last. These then morph into a mothership that launches enemies towards you to be picked off at will. However, you can also target the mothership itself to score thousands of points. Once again there’s no video of my 100k achievement but I will definitely record one sometime to show how to trigger the bonus stages.

15 November 2011

A Plumber with a Sore Head: Mario Bros. Completed!

I decided to focus on reaching 100k on Mario Bros. last night and after a couple of scores in the 70 to 80k range, things came together nicely and I just managed to reach the 100k threshold witha  score of 101,120! I did lose a couple of cheap lives in a row around the 90k mark which left me with just one life remaining, so it was a bit hair-raising at the end.

Once again I was just practising and wasn’t really expecting to reach the target score, so there’s no video, but to be honest it was hardly a perfect performance anyway. I may record a quick video just to show a couple of scoring techniques, but in all honesty this is a game where concentration and mastery of the controls are far more important than point pressing.

So finally I have reached 100k on one of the games on my horizontal MAME cab. Not sure what I’ll be aiming for next but it’s already been a good week!

14 November 2011

Game Back On!

Well as predicted in my last post, it’s been a quiet couple of weeks, the first of which was spent preparing for the Replay Expo and the second was spent recovering! As a result I haven’t been playing any of my challenge games, but that will change from today onwards.

Replay itself was hard work but great fun. I did try to set some 100k scores on a few arcade classics but the closest I got was 76k on Donkey Kong (the Japanese boardset) and a score of over 60k on Pac-Land. I also enjoyed playing Operation Wolf, Robotron, Juno First and the brilliant Terminator 2 pinball machine – all original cabs of course! If you want to see more about Replay and some of the machines that were on offer, check out my YouTube videos.

Also noteworthy was that Anna set a new personal best on Cosmic Alien with a score of 19,070, which surpassed her previous top score by more than 1,500 points and was the first time she had scored over 10k on an original machine. Congratulations!

Now it’s back to business and I’m determined to break the 100k barrier on at least one game this week...

2 November 2011

Week 6 Summary

Another delay this week due to being out the last couple of nights, but here’s the current state of play:

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to achieve another 100k score on any games but aside from pushing two games beyond 35k as mentioned in my last post, I did also move two games into yellow status – Return of the Invaders and Pooyan, with increases of around 7,000 points each.

This week I won’t be setting any goals as I’m heading up to Blackpool tomorrow afternoon to help with the preparations for the annual Replay Expo. There’s due to be a very impressive line-up of classic arcade cabs there however, so I may try and do a ‘Replay Special’ 100k challenge and see what I can achieve on those machines over the weekend...

30 October 2011

Pitfall and DK Jr out of the Red!

As I mentioned in my last update, I was determined to pass 35k on at least one of the games that I’ve thus far failed to do that on, and yesterday I actually managed it on two of them!

First up was Pitfall II, where I finally got past the first stage of the game and the resulting end of level bonus pushed my high score up to 38,870. As I suspected, progression in this game is simply a matter of working out how to deal with each screen, and there are a few score-increasing tips I’ll share at a later date.

The second game was Donkey Kong Jr. After several attempts where I got around 31k each time, at last I worked out the best way to pass the fourth screen and achieved a score of 39,200! The fifth screen (the second ‘chains and locks' level) unfortunately brought me crashing to an abrupt halt and I suspect it will be a while before I push that score much higher!

26 October 2011

Week 5 Summary

A bit of delay this week but here’s the latest update:

The most significant score updates were already reported – reaching the 100k mark on Mr Do! And surpassing 70k on Pac-Man. The only other notable improvements this week were a 15k increase on Konami’s Road Fighter and a massive improvement on Van-Van Car, pushing the score over 90k. That pretty much proves that it was a rather cheap replacement for Phoenix, but never mind!

This week my aim is to reach 100k on at least one game on my horizontally-aligned MAME cab (all the ones achieved so far have been on the Super Astro Fighter one) and also to try and surpass 35k on at least one of the troublesome ‘red status’ games…

20 October 2011

Pac-Man Powered Up; Mr Do... Done!

Well I’m definitely having a better week! As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m focussing on the classics this week and I started with Pac-Man. After almost reaching 50k a couple of weeks ago I wondered if I’d ever reach that milestone again, and after three or four credits where I lost a life on the first level, I had as good as given up. I then had the game of my life so far, managing to last until the fifth level without losing a life and almost getting perfect points on the second stage, just missing one ghost. Ultimately I got to level 9 and was a little disappointed not to surpass 75k in the end. That said, my score of 71,330 was very pleasing!

Next I tried my hand at Mr Do! I had achieved a score of over 90k just once in the past but since then I had barely got close, with many scores barely passing 60,000. After a number of frustrating attempts I decided to have one more go last night, changing my gameplay tactics slightly, and clocked up a very satisfactory 125,200 points, thus completing the challenge for that game!

I wasn’t really expecting to reach 100k so I didn’t capture the achievement on video, but I may have another go to try and record some of the techniques I used. In a nutshell though, for the first few levels I concentrated on crushing multiple enemies with a single apple, which yields a lot of points, followed by clearing the majority of cherries and zapping the bonus letter dude from the top of the screen. On later levels when the red enemies get too fast, my focus changed to getting rid of them as quickly as possible before gathering up all the cherries. I don’t think it’s the best tactic but it certainly worked for me!