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!

19 October 2011

Out with the Crap!

I’ve made a decision - two games on my list have got to go. It’s not necessarily because they are too hard. It’s actually because having played them a bit over the last few days, I realised I utterly hate them both! If a game’s no fun then there’s no enjoyment to be had from slogging away at it, so two space shooters are being bumped off the list.

First to go is Namco’s tedious vertical scroller Xevious. I’m pretty sure that if I persevered I could reach 100k on this, but it’s such a boring game I just don’t want to waste any of my life playing it! So off it goes, to be replaced by Taito’s hack and slash platformer Rastan.

Also being dumped is Phoenix. Now given that my current top score on this is under 7,000 then I'd probably never reach 100k anyway, but again I just don’t like the game and the thought of playing it for what must be hours to reach any kind of decent score fills me with horror. In its place comes a bit of a left-field choice, Sanritsu’s Van-Van Car, chosen purely on the basis that I could get over 40,000 points on my third go so it can’t be too hard to reach the target score!

So it's two games out, two games in, and a new look to my scoresheet...

The JAMMA+ Juno First Challenge

As an aside to my usual gaming exploits, over the next couple of weeks I’ll also be putting some time into Konami’s Juno First. Arcade collectors site JAMMA+ is running a friendly competition with the aim of getting the highest score on the game by the end of October.

I already know I have no chance of winning this as several astonishing scores of over 500k have already been logged, but I’m hopeful of putting in a reasonable showing. My best so far is 169,200 so some serious improvement is required if I’m to break into the top ten!

18 October 2011

Week 4 Summary

Here’s the update for the past week…

Frankly last week was underwhelming to say the least. While I did make moderate progress on games like Commando, Pac-Land and Green Beret, there were no status upgrades at all. Added to that was the frustration of failing to improve scores on Nibbler, Lady Bug, Ghosts n Goblins and Joust despite several attempts. Pants!

In my defence I spent a lot of free time last week proof-reading the programme for the imminent Replay Expo. Also, I did have a heavy night out drinking followed by having to look after a broken girlfriend at the weekend, so my gaming time was significantly reduced!

This week I hope to put a few more hours in, especially as we’re having an 80’s themed gaming party next weekend where I can show off some skills! My intention is to try and reach a consistent performance level on the classic games such as Dig Dug, Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

17 October 2011

Anna's Achievement

Well I’ve had a crap week with my attempts at high scores, so I thought I’d share a story about my girlfriend Anna’s exploits instead.

Anna doesn’t play many games but after we visited the legendary Funspot arcade last year she became a big fan of Universal’s Cosmic Alien. Ever since, she’s been gradually working on improving her score on this game (which incidentally I absolutely suck at!) and had achieved a personal best of just over 12,700.

This past weekend she unfortunately had an accident and broke her wrist. Once she was back home and recovering I joked that her gaming career was effectively over since she now had only one usable hand (her left) and games like Cosmic Alien require two. Never one to shy away from a challenge, she decided to try playing the game by using her left thumb and forefinger to move the ship and her little finger to fire…

Imagine our surprise when after just a couple of attempts she not only mastered this new style of playing but completely smashed her existing high score, improving by nearly 5,000 points!

So congratulations to her for making the best of a bad situation, but can you imagine how ashamed I feel? I now cannot get close to a score set by a girl with one arm…

10 October 2011

Week 3 Summary

Here’s the summary for the past seven days…

Last week was generally a bit of a slow one, with not a lot of progress made on many games. The main reason for this was my focus on reaching 100k on Amidar and Zoo Keeper, which was finally achieved on Saturday night.

Aside from that the only notable increases occurred on Dragon Spirit and Contra, though I’ve also managed to surpass 30k on both Donkey Kong Jr and BurgerTime, something I thought was impossible just a couple of weeks ago!

I’ve realised that since I started the challenge there are still around a dozen games from my list that I haven’t even tried to better the scores on, such as Lady Bug, Commando and Scramble. So my aim for this week is to try and improve my scores on at least a few of those.

9 October 2011

Amidar and Zoo Keeper Completed

Well it took a bit longer than I anticipated but I’ve now surpassed the 100k threshold for the first time on both Amidar and Zoo Keeper! Both achievements were recorded and I’ll get the videos along with some gameplay tips online ASAP, but in the meantime here’s some pictures of the high score tables from both games...

3 October 2011

Week 2 Summary

Time for a look at how I’ve got on over the last week...

I only managed to reach 100k on one game, Shao-lin’s Road, but last night came agonisingly close to crossing Taito’s Zoo Keeper off the list. Hopefully I can beat that score of 98,420 very soon.

There was some decent progress on other games, with more moving from red to orange status – I now have over 35k on 75% of the games. Significant increases this week include nearly 30k on Return of the Invaders and boosts of over 10k on Centipede, Donkey Kong Jr and Rally-X, not to mention the previously reported updates on Amidar and Donkey Kong.

This week’s aim is to pass the 100k mark on both Amidar and Zoo Keeper, recording a gameplay video for both, and it would be nice to push some more of those red status games into orange...

2 October 2011

Mario Moving Higher

Further progress has been made on two Nintendo games from my list that feature early incarnations of Mario. Firstly I’ve now pushed my Donkey Kong score up to 87,300. I reached the third elevator screen for the first time and spectacularly failed to time my climb up the ladder to complete the level. More practice of that is certainly required! Secondly I’ve also made further progress on Mario Bros, pushing my score beyond 90k for the first time.

I wish I could report similar progress on the other Nintendo game, Donkey Kong Jr. Although I have increased my score beyond 27k I’m still struggling to get to grips with this game – I thought the original Donkey Kong was one of the hardest games ever made but there are so many ways to die in the sequel it’s untrue!