4 September 2013

An Old Score Settled... and a Minor Improvement!

Since I started this challenge nearly two years ago, my scores on some games have remained unchanged. A couple of nights ago, that finally changed for two games – Dig Dug and Qix.

Firstly, my score of 83,360 on Dig Dug has been unattainable, let alone unsurpassable, with my next best score being around 68k. That was until Sunday night, when I had just one attempt, and had the game of my life so far! Everything seemed to click, all the bonus items were collected and I not only surpassed that long-standing score but smashed through the 100k barrier in style with a score of 110,460! Whether it was a fluke or not, I’ll not find out until I next play, but that’s another game crossed off the list regardless…

The second score improvement was not quite so impressive, but to be honest I never thought I’d surpass my best score of 55,906 on Taito’s challenging Qix. I may have only beaten that score by a few hundred points to give me a new best of 56,348, but at least I know progress is actually achievable after nearly two years of trying!

So that’s a great start to September, and 100k now achieved on 16 of the 40 games. Let’s see what happens next!

1 September 2013

Zombies, Crashes and Building Burgers

As mentioned a couple of weeks back, my progress on the 100k Challenge has been limited during August. The main reason for this is the acquisition of two new arcade machines that I have been playing or tinkering with...

Firstly I picked up a Sega House of the Dead cabinet, in fully working condition (though there is some cosmetic damage) for £300 including delivery. This is currently resident in my garage, which will eventually be knocked down and replaced with a brand new games room designed to hold 10-15 machines. It was a bit impulsive to buy it so soon but at that price it was too good to resist!

The second machine came from Martin, the excellent deliveryman who is relied upon by many arcade and pinball collectors in the UK, and delivered the HOTD cab. The machine is Exidy’s Crash, a 1979 black and white release that cost me £125 with no charge for delivery since it came along with the Sega machine!

The Exidy cab has an interesting back story, as it came from the Duke of Lancaster ‘Fun Ship’ in North Wales, as part of a large scale operation to remove all the machines from that location last year. This is well documented on a number of sites including JAMMA+ and Dragon’s Lair Fans. This machine needs some work as you can see from the picture, but is complete and should make a nice project.

I did manage to get a little bit of gaming in for the 100k Challenge too, setting a new high score of 58,800 on BurgerTime. More importantly I am now at the level where I can get over 40k on every game, so can hopefully increase the top score more significantly in the future.

That rounds things up for August. It’s not really worth showing a summary as there have been no significant changes since July, but here’s the current state of play with each game…

14 August 2013

Scramble Scrapes Through

I’m not particularly happy about it, but I did manage to increase my score on Scramble last week by a measly 3,500 points to 27,940. As a result, it stays in the 100k Challenge for now!

I truly hate this game. The first four stages are relatively easy, but the maze-like fifth stage induces swearing like almost no other game before it (although Mappy and Joust are contenders!)

I don’t think it helps using a microswitched joystick, which is almost too precise when navigating that fifth stage. I have finally managed to negotiate it a couple of times, only to find what must be the most pathetic and annoying end of level boss in the history of gaming – a tiny base that is seemingly impossible to destroy!

Next time around I hope to finally vanquish that end of level nuisance, thus giving the opportunity to surpass 30,000 points, but for now I have had enough of Scramble!

I haven’t decided which game to focus on next, despite it already being midweek, but that’s due to some distractions that I’ll give more details on in my next update…

4 August 2013

Monthly Summary – July 2013

Time for a round up of my efforts over the last month or so, but first I should mention how I progressed with last week’s game, Dragon Spirit. The game itself is intensely frustrating at times, but my progress was actually very similar to the previous week’s attempts on Joust.

On my first go last Sunday I immediately posted a new high score of 57,550, an increase of 5k from my previous best. What then followed over the next few days was a number of attempts that got nowhere near that score, one that increased it by just a small amount, and then finally a more significant improvement to 63,820. After that I gave up as the game was driving me nuts!

Interestingly I got the 63k score without making it past level 2, whereas the 58k I got earlier was achieved on my first ever progression to the third level. So there are definitely ways to boost scores on earlier levels, but it seems to be reliant on getting random power ups rather than any actual skill!

So that’s a score increase on every game since I started focussing on one game per week. There have been no significant achievements as yet, but each of the games is edging that little bit closer to 100k. Below is the latest status on all games and a summary of my progress since returning from Funspot in June.

This week I’m concentrating on a game that I have yet to better my score on since starting the 100k Challenge - Scramble. I’ve decided that if I can’t make any progress on the game after a concerted effort this week, I’m going to ditch it in favour of something I actually enjoy playing!

28 July 2013

Beating the buzzards!

No, it’s not a euphemism; it’s a comment on my progress with the Williams classic Joust over the past week. Actually, to be more precise, I managed to narrowly beat my previous score of 57,850 on my very first attempt last Sunday, and then just two games later I upped the score to 69,400 points.

The rest of the week has been spent trying to better that, but despite several scores of 65k or more, I haven’t topped the score I set a week ago. Probably should’ve quit while I was ahead!

Next week I’m going to focus on one of the later releases from my selection of games – Namco’s vertical scrolling shooter Dragon Spirit

21 July 2013

The heat is off and the scores are up!

Finally there’s been a drop in temperature this weekend that has allowed me a little more gaming time in the evening. As I mentioned in my last update, I was focussing on Donkey Kong Junior, and after almost losing the will to live with the game, I finally managed to better my score, albeit only by a thousand points or so. The new score is 40,300 so at least I’ve surpassed the 40k mark!

I then had a couple of quick games of Rally-X to round off my evening, and managed to improve my high score after just two attempts. Again, not a major increase but the new score is 54,960 and every little helps!

My focus for next week is Joust. So far I’ve succeeded on every game I’ve tried to increase a score on – will this one continue the trend?

17 July 2013

Heatwave Stops Play!

There’s been very little activity on my MAME cabs over the last couple of weeks due to the heatwave we’re all experiencing. My cabs are located in our conservatory, which means it is too hot to play on them until after 9pm at the moment!

That said, I did manage to increase my Ms. Pac-Man score a little more during my week of play – the latest is 58,200.

Next on the list of games to focus on is Donkey Kong Junior. My current score stands at 39,200 and having played odd games over the last few days, I’ll be ecstatic if I ever best that score!

3 July 2013

She has a bow on her head!

Last week’s exploits on Mappy didn’t yield a bigger score, but did see me finishing third in the JAMMA+ challenge, which I was happy with.

This week’s focus is on another game from the Namco/Midway partnership from the early 80’s - Ms. Pac-Man. I’ve played a few games already and last night managed a slight improvement (less than a thousand points) to take my high score up to 56,780.

This was a strange game. I survived to level 6 before I lost a life, and yet at that stage my score was far lower than on previous attempts. I can only put this down to missing the high-scoring ‘roaming food’ items on stages 4 and 5. I then made a complete mess of level 6, losing three lives, before finishing on level 7, which is as far as I’ve got in the game to date.

I’m starting to learn a pattern for some of the levels which seems to make them easier to clear, so if I can improve that and also pick up those roamers (and a few more ghosts) then I should be able to push this score higher. Stay tuned...

27 June 2013

A New Strategy for Score Improvement

To keep myself interested and motivated in the 100k Challenge, I’m always coming up with new ways to approach the sometimes daunting task of boosting my scores. My latest idea is to play a single game from my list for an entire week, until I either beat my existing score or the week runs out.

This week’s game was determined by the latest round of the JAMMA+ high score challenge, and the game in question is Mappy. I’ve already played the game more than 20 times and have managed to improve my top score by just over 10k to 82,510 points, taking it from orange to yellow status.

I’ll probably continue to play the game for a little longer since there is the secondary aim of ranking as highly as possible in the JAMMA+ competition, but I’ll be switching to a different game at the end of this week for the purposes of the 100k challenge…

21 June 2013

Funspot Report

I’ve been back from my holiday to the USA for a few weeks now, and it was certainly a memorable trip for a number of reasons! Most relevant to this blog was the 15th Annual Classic Gaming Tournament at the legendary Funspot arcade.

This year’s tournament featured the usual line-up of 15 classic cabs, a mixture of reasonably well known games like Xevious and Moon Patrol, and obscure but interesting titles such as Zero Hour, Head On and Pac & Pal. This year’s manufacturers tournament featured games from Konami, including two that I’ve played regularly as part of the 100k challenge, albeit under their European names of Green Beret and Shaolin’s Road.

A new addition this year was the 30th Anniversary Tournament, which included three games celebrating their 30th birthday – Tapper, Star Wars and Elevator Action. Finally, there were the usual daily game challenges that included the likes of Rally-X, Metal Slug and Video Pinball.

I’ve put together some comprehensive video coverage of the tournament which can be seen below:

This year I finished 28th in the main tournament and 19th in the manufacturers challenge, both significant improvements on my 2010 placings, and I certainly credit my 100k challenge as one of the reasons for my overall improvement on classic arcade games.

Also noteworthy from this visit to Funspot was my fiancĂ©e Anna’s live performance on Bank Panic. Her score of 1,087,100 was a personal best, the greatest score ever recorded on the machine at Funspot, and also the greatest score recorded by a female player worldwide. Nice work!

As well as visiting Funspot, we also managed to check out some other locations around the USA that have classic arcade games, such as Barcade, Game Galaxy and the Pinball Wizard arcade. These are summarised nicely in my United States of Arcadia videos on YouTube.

New games I discovered on this trip that I enjoyed, and have now made it on to my MAME cabs, include Swimmer, Zarzon, Food Fight, Timber and Skydiver. If you’ve never played any of these before then I recommend checking them out!

So now it's back to the challenge with some renewed enthusiasm...

11 May 2013

Nibbling past 80k, and April's end of month summary

Nothing much to report in the way of score updates from the last couple of weeks. The only improvement was on Nibbler around a week ago, pushing my score up to 82,080.

Just one more week remains until we head off to the USA, and my preparations for competing in the Funspot tournament have been variable to say the least. I’m still hopeful of a good placing though, as many of the games in the competition are likely to be quite obscure, giving all players a similar chance of achieving decent scores.

So with a month gone since I restarted my efforts on this challenge, here's a look at the latest stats...

And here's the latest status on all 40 games:

24 April 2013

Green Beret Goes Green…

…and of course Green means I’ve reached 100k on the game! Following the progress reported in my last update, I progressed past the target more quickly than anticipated and finished with a score of 102,120. As I wasn’t expecting to get 100k quite so quickly, I didn’t record the achievement, but I do intend to record a few hints on this one soon.

That brings the total games with 100k attained to 15, with hopefully more to come in the next few weeks before I head off to America.

14 April 2013

High Scoring Friends and Loved Ones

While I’ve been plugging away on my games, big congratulations are in order to a couple of people this week for increasing their personal best scores on their respective favourite games.

First up we have my friend and Pac-Man master Jon Stoodley, who edges ever closer to becoming the first British player to obtain the perfect Pac-Man score. His new record is 3,317,480 and you can see the video of his marathon six and a half hour video of this achievement by clicking here.

Second, and closer to home, my girlfriend Anna posted an astonishing update to her existing Bank Panic score this weekend, breaking the one million points barrier and surpassing her previous record by almost 500k in a single game, to 1,081,000 – mightily impressive!

Congratulations to both of you, and hopefully we’ll see both records broken again when we meet up at Funspot next month…

Triple Score Boost – Hacking, Stabbing and Clowning Around!

I’ve been playing a few different games from my list this week and with a  bit of persistence have managed to make some progress on three of them.

First up is Taito’s hack n’ slash platformer Rastan. This is quite a tough game, especially with those annoying bats, but I have been learning the level layout and can now make it mid-way through the castle stage. The result is a score increase to 97,500, so I expect to push this past 100k pretty soon, and will be videoing all future plays.

The other two games are both from Konami. First, I’ve posted a modest increase on Green Beret, with my latest score being 82,900. I’ve finally worked my way through the second level and on to the third, so with a little more practice I should be able to push that score up quite quickly. The second Konami game is Circus Charlie, and after some infuriating practice, I’ve finally worked out how to negotiate the challenging fifth stage, which involves riding a horse and jumping over trampolines, and push my score to 73,280.

I’d call that a pretty good week’s work!

4 April 2013

Back with a Bang!

Well then, it’s been nine months since my last update. There are numerous reasons for this which I won’t go into, but as of this past weekend I am officially restarting the 100k Challenge!

In the last nine months I have not done a lot of arcade gaming, but I’m now focussing back on the MAME cabs for the next couple of months because we are heading off to the USA for the annual Funspot tournament at the end of May, so I need the practice!

My initial preparation for the tournament has been to play games that are available at Funspot (and therefore might be in the competition) but are also on my 100k Challenge game list. This practice had reaped almost instant rewards, as I’ve now passed my target score on Konami’s Contra, with 126,500 points!

Interestingly, this score was achieved on what seemed to be one of my worst-ever games. I lost two lives before I even reached the enemy base on the first level, but then proceeded to get through the base and past the first boss without losing another life, which was a first. I then got to the second base before meeting my demise, but by then the 100k was well secured. There’s no video for this one (it was just a practice session) but it was hardly a vintage performance anyway and most players should easily be able to pass 100k after a few attempts.

Since my last update, the only other game I’ve made any improvement on is Donkey Kong, pushing my score up by a little over 2,000 points to 97,300 – that 100k is getting painstakingly close now!

So as a reminder, the current state of play is shown below. Hopefully there will be some more updates soon!