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The Old Warehouse At TNT Amusements

Posted by VectorGamer on November 17, 2014 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

The Old Warehouse At TNT Amusements

Originally published in Retrocade Magazine Volume 1 Issue 1


In business since 1986, TNT Amusements is a retail arcade showroom with pinball machines, video arcade games, jukeboxes and much more. Their showroom is also available to rent for private parties.


The photos shown were taken at TNT Amusement's former 10,000 square foot warehouse in Southampton, PA in March, 2009.


“Over the years, we have purchased from closed arcades all around the area,” said TNT Amusements President Todd Tuckey. “We traveled down to North Carolina one time to purchase a tractor trailer load of about 50 machines. Those days are now history. Most of these arcades have been cleared out long ago. Arcades are becoming very hard to find and locating a stash of games is becoming more and more rare. Recently, we came upon a load of games in a barn in Lebanon, PA where the home was foreclosed on. A bankrupt vendor lived there and the games left were late 80's fighting games and many empty carcass cabinets. Nothing you could really retail - just good for monitors and MAME cabinets. The classics were already gone!”


“Problem is, people want an empty cabinet from $50 to $100 these days!” Tuckey explained. “There is no one that will want to keep a supply of $50 cabinets in valuable warehouse space these days. Cheap warehouse space is not in nice neighborhoods. Our company is surviving the rapid downsizing of this industry by owning our own warehousing. We now outright own 10,000 square feet and are currently renting another 3,000 square feet for $1100 a month. By the end of this summer, that rental space will be gone, too. TNT will be lean and mean with only the classics in storage and the undesirable stuff long dumped!”


“We are watching the business of arcade machines that used to have three full pages of Yellow Pages ads drop to a small part of one column,” Tuckey added. “The coin-op industry is going the way of the Dodo bird. However, there will still be some free standing fun centers and specialized arcades that will remain.”


 


Rudy Ferretti's Vision for the Electronic Athlete

Posted by VectorGamer on November 12, 2014 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Rudy Ferretti’s Vision for the Electronic Athlete

 

Originally published in Retrocade Magazine Volume 1 Issue 1

 

Say what you will about motivational coach Tony Robbins. While his teeth may hypnotize you into buying hundreds of dollars worth of DVDs and printed material, he did manage to write a good book called Awaken the Giant Within.


In this book, Tony teaches that all great ideas emanate from one’s ability to think outrageous. Therefore, if you have a vision of man travelling to Pluto, you have to think impractical. From there, you develop a comprehensive plan that will achieve your goal - in this example, perhaps utilizing technology that does not yet exist.


Enter Rudy Ferretti - a classic console multi world record holder and New Yorker who transplanted to Nevada. He’s been lobbying for the electronic athlete – a paid electronic athlete with full benefits.


As you can guess, Rudy has his naysayers. They believe that Rudy’s vision is merely a pipe dream and will never come to fruition.


But, when you consider the modern technology we take advantage of and television oversaturated with “reality TV” and cooking shows, is it that difficult to wonder that maybe he’s right?


 

You began gaming in 1985 at the age of 6, right?

Ferretti: The first two games I ever recall playing was Pitfall II for the Atari 2600 and Beauty and the Beast for Intellivision. Both were my family’s consoles as we always had the new and popular systems. The Atari 2600 I played first and I was so excited to play Pitfall II. I knew right away even at six that this was the hottest game for that system. I was always getting pushed into the water by the rat yet I always had a belief you could get past the rat.


Beauty and the Beast for Intellivision was much like Donkey Kong. You can get temporary invincibility and things can be thrown out of windows at you. I had come close to breaking the high score on it years back. Those two games were in fact the first two I can clearly remember and how and where I was playing to date. We had a game room with brown carpet, the TV was to the left of the doorway and we always had junk food parties and gaming with friends. Ah - the good ol’ days!

Are you an avid classic console collector?

Ferretti: Well, years back I was not into it as much. I have to thank my Dad for that one as he got me started in 1996 after I had a huge fire and lost everything. We started to go to garage sales where I got all kinds of stuff over the years for pennies on the dollar. I'm sure we could have gotten more, had I known what I know now, and I'd have a small fortune from collecting and selling.


I do collect, however I'm the type who collects and plays. Certain things I have are sealed but I keep my stuff well in order. My most valuable game is The Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak for only $4.99 shipped and it's worth well over $200. I got that when FuncoLand was changing into GameStop. I was always a fan of mysterious games so I was reserved until a place would have a clearance or going out of business sale. Again, I should have bought more but who knew?


 

What is the historical significance of classic gaming?

Ferretti: Classic gaming paved the way, it put gaming on the map and the classic games have so much more variety and fun factors than today's games. The only difference is the graphics. Classics are still valuable and popular to many people today and without it you would not have anything like Wii, Xbox or PS3. That is why you should care about it. Without Commando for Atari 2600 there is no Metal Gear for NES - it's a timeline.


The same thing we’re doing now would have been done 30 years ago - we just did not have the technology. There would have been just as many people online playing Commando for Atari and other games as there are today. The new era is missing out and should go pick up an old system games. They are a lot of fun to play and they are basics for you to develop into an all around gamer.


 

You have numerous Twin Galaxies world records spanning several console generations. Are there any that stand out more than others? Which of these would you say was the most difficult or frustrating to achieve? Lastly, which one would you consider the easiest achievement?

Ferretti: Every time I set a record or score it's special in itself. I can honestly say nothing was easy and no score was ever done on one try. Castlevania 3 on the NES was very frustrating over the years. Lethal Weapon on the NES was crazy and the hardest ever to achieve was probably A Nightmare on Elm Street for the NES or Splatterhouse on the TurboGrafx-16.

 

Though I will say I have a special score on each system and I’ve learned over the years “some you keep and some you lose.” I think the easiest to achieve was probably Monster In My Pocket for NES - it's like a training type version of Castlevania.

What attributes do you possess that enables you to achieve these high scores?

Ferretti: It's a combination of skill, heart, and talent. Talent you’re born with so that can only take you so far. Skill is development - I think anyone can get good at anything to an extent. And heart: that is psychological in your mind. As you gel the three together, in any sport of competition, you get your end result: finger speed, reaction time, calculations of timing both offense and defense, figuring out how fast you can beat the game or what is needed to obtain a hard to beat score in a particular game. You have to have it all to get it but you don't have to be the best - just one of the best.


The secret is how bad you want the score and what amount of time will you put into it. That is nothing you’re given or born with and that is the special unique person in you and you only.


 

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement thus far?

Ferretti: Years ago not only did I suck at gaming, but I can remember using cheat codes and the Game Genie. Today, I'm now third if not arguably the second best all around NES player today in the world. I hold the most max-outs and perfect scores on the NES to date - talk about coming out of nowhere in 2003.


 

You are one of the players that have performed the Laser Blast 1,000,000. Personally, I stopped at 600,000 because I couldn't take it anymore. What were your thoughts during the game and then after you reached 1,000,000?

Ferretti: That's a great question and I'm glad you asked. The game is easy but even at 100K I was like talk about repetitiveness. I was ready to scream and after I hit the million I threw down the controller and said I’ll never play it again.


 

 

Why do people view you as a controversial figure in the gaming community?

Ferretti: Years back I was mistreated and lied to by many big and small names in the community. When I finally tried to fix things many others were biased and spread false rumors which hurt my name and my submission status. I went on a rampage to clear my name, prove my points and I have no regrets because it was all preventable.


 

And what were the issues?

Ferretti: Multiple gamers, senior and chief referees taking word of mouth to ban me, tampering with the database and my scores, promises broken and not kept, score challenges not taken seriously even though I knew I was correct all along. There was retaliation such as misspelling my name in a book or not leaving a space for an autograph, excuses to why I was not part of something I should have been part of and verbally bashing my image and name. That is just a brief summary of why I have done what I did in the past and present.


I did some wrong things. I was vocal and cocky at one time but now I'm just fed up with what I see and what continues to be said about me. Unlike others, I won't sit back and take it. Also, I’m very passionate and have a vision of what I want for myself and others. But, like I said, others think they know me and my story but they have no clue. Although I'm not quiet, I'm a good person that means well and sometimes I come across as bad when it's just my New Yorker strong personality. One day I will release my story book and/or documentary as my story will be told one day.


The damage has cost me interviews, money and parts in films.


 

If you could fix one thing in the classic gaming community today, what would it be?

Ferretti: The bias and politics - there are great gamers whose names and accomplishments are not treated equal. All gamers need to be respected and given their recognition, fame and their turn to shine for what they do regardless of the title or who they are.


 

You have been vocal recently in regard to gamers being paid to play. How is this supposed to work?

Ferretti: I keep seeing TV shows of the dumbest things and I said to myself “why not?” If cooking and bowling can be this big then why not gaming?


First off, we need all games and systems to form a league. Second, obviously we need someone or a group of people who are rich and say “hey, let’s take a chance on this.” I can see it being on any sports channel being watched by the gamers, casual gamers and collective gamers.


We need sponsorships from ESPN, NBC, USA, Spike, G4, Sony, Nintendo etc. Competitions could be held at arenas or stadiums. Millionaire programmers and rich people who love gaming could help us get sponsored to pay our salaries.


I had a plan eight years back with other gamers to form a league. We could have console players against arcade players in hopes of an upset, timed competitions, most points in 45 minutes and things like that. I think FPS need to be involved but the right way - not five on five but one on one cage matches which is the true test.


Other major league sports could help us out. Alex Rodriguez earns 28 million a year to bat .120 in the playoffs. Really, can you imagine how good I and others could be getting paid for this? I feel a fair salary is $250,000 a year for any sports person - not millions with potential to earn bonus.


Just like any sport, you have to be one of the best to be considered a professional. You have to throw, pitch, hit, run and catch to be a pro ballplayer. You don't have to be the best at all positions but you have to know them all. Gaming is the same: you’ve got to play it all to be a pro. Period. And that is my vision.


I'm really shocked that it's not a reality yet. I'm feeling like gaming is stuck at the NCAA levels with no future. We should get paid because we are the best gamers in the world - electronic athletes. We are the companies, we make the scores and we play so it's time we’re taken care of. If we stop, there is no gaming, no money and no players. Do you think pro sports players will play for free? Never!


 

There are the naysayers out there who believe that getting paid to play just isn't realistic, especially at $250,000 per year. First, do you understand how others may see this as a fairy tale and secondly how do you convince them that this can be done?

Ferretti: I can understand why some would see it as a fairy tale. Many people in this world see things black and white, are closed minded and all the other leagues have failed or are failing. It's just like science: it's only what we have done and know not what we can do and learn.


If I would have told you 150 years ago that baseball players will get paid millions whether they win, lose, suck or shine you know you would laugh. We should get paid because just like any trade, talent or skill we are electronic athletes. We spend just as many hours, years and days on end to be the best and develop like anyone else including heath and injury risks. For us to perform and show the world our greats we should be rewarded and compensated for all we do. If Bobby Flay can get paid to cook and eat at a throw down, and Alex Rodriguez can bat .120 in the playoffs (and still get paid), then why should gamers not be paid to entertain the world?


People say it will never happen - well it should happen. Maybe not $250,000 a year to start but at least $100,000 a year with full benefits and bonuses. The games and companies make so many gazillions of dollars, so why not give a billion to start up a league and televise it? That will pay for itself. If people watch food cookers and bowlers they will watch gamers. Do the league one year - just one and I know it will be around year after year. And if not - we tried, right?


Not everything is realistic but anything is possible. It can all be altered - it's called making history and breaking the barrier of the impossible and improbable. People said we would never have a black president and the casino odds were 5000-1 in 2007 and 500-1 in 2008. But, he won and won in a landslide.


I had the Idea of a professional kickball league in 1993. I was laughed at and made fun of yet since 1998 WAKA (World Adult Kickball Association) is a reality. I did not create it but I came up with the idea first I'm sure. I will never stop believing - it can and will be a reality someday. We work just as hard as anyone else in sports so it's time we make it our time. I hope before I'm gone it's a reality so gamers can be just as lazy as the rest of the athletes, make money, not have to work a regular job and instead have a dream job. I think gamers are worth even more money than the $250,000. If we come together it can and will happen.

 

High Scores Arcade

Posted by VectorGamer on November 10, 2014 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

High Scores Arcade

Originally published in Retrocade Magazine Volume 1 Issue 1


In the spring of 2010, Meg and Shawn Livernoche purchased an early 18th century building located at 348 High Street in Burlington, NJ. In August of that same year, the husband and wife team opened the doors of High Scores Interactive Arcade Museum in the city's historic district.


Meg works in the pharmaceutical industry while Shawn is an 8th grade Language Arts teacher and musician under the name ShawnLov. They live upstairs and the arcade, which is located downstairs, is open to the public on weekends.


I first met Meg and Shawn in March of 2011 at the Classic Arcade Gaming (dot com) Donald Hayes Challenge, a tournament organized by Mark Alpiger and hosted at High Scores Arcade with Meg and Shawn officiating. Their hospitality was outstanding and the tournament was a huge success.


On the eve of the arcade’s first anniversary, I ventured back down to High Scores to not only play some more Star Castle, but to also catch up with Meg and Shawn on their first twelve months in the arcade business.



Shawn, some may not be aware that you once appeared on the Jenny Jones show.

Shawn: That was a period of time between 1997 and 2000 when I was desperate to gain some exposure. So, I called the Jenny Jones show and fabricated this story about being picked on when I was little. I had my buddy Sean say that he hadn’t seen me in a couple of years and when they called him on stage he said “yeah this guy’s a dork” and this and that.


But that was a period of time where I would go barge in on record labels in New York and do anything I could: guerilla tactics just so I could get some exposure music-wise.


 

What got you interested in classic arcade games in the first place?

Shawn: I’ve been a classic gamer my whole life. And Meg, too - she had an Odyssey2 when she was little. I wanted to get an arcade cabinet and I hate to say this because it’s such a cliché answer: but, when I watched King of Kong it reignited the passion I had when I was a kid and it made me want to realize that again.


Meg: I’m a really competitive person so I think that’s what really bit me. We got the first cabinet, then the second cabinet and I can be egged on pretty easily.


Shawn: When the first machine came in, which was Donkey Kong, Meg wasn’t into it since she didn’t like Donkey Kong. But, when I got a Centipede cabinet that’s when Meg started getting excited.


Meg: Donkey Kong Junior was the second cabinet and I started to catch onto that. But, once we got Centipede…We tried to fit that in the back of a Toyota Camry.


Shawn: I brought Donkey Kong Junior home in a Volkswagen Golf!


Meg: Ill advised!


Shawn: Even when we had Donkey Kong with that one machine I felt like I owned an entire arcade. I was like ”Holy Crap! I got this machine.” I’d go to sleep at night and I would know that the machine was there almost like it had this presence. I’d be at work and teaching these kids is not a picnic. They’re busting my chops at 7:30 in the morning while in the back of my head I know that the machine’s at home and I can’t wait to get home and play it.


Meg: We got introduced into the world of auctions - most of time in South Jersey at the Cherry Hill Armory. That gets addictive because you see these games that are pretty cheap in working condition.


So, it started with showing up with my Toyota Camry and buying a game and saying “Oh - we got to get this home.” But, the next time we got hip to it and showed up with a cargo van.


Shawn: So when you rent money for a truck you’re like “screw it, I’m here I’m going to buy four games.“ “This game here is $90 nobody else wants it – mine.” Then there’s another “I could fix this” and then before you know it your whole house is filled with games.


Meg: I think the last auction we went to was at the Cow Palace auction down in Baltimore and we got about six games. We got Joust there, Spanish Eyes and then we got home and we were like “wait a minute we have to sell our dining room table!”


Shawn: We actually sold our dining room table. But, you know a lot of people will hear this and think it’s financially reckless to do this kind of stuff but these machines have determined value. When you see a particular game and the condition that it’s in you have a ballpark of what you can sell it for. If I buy a Donkey Kong machine for $400, I can sell it for $500 and all the quarters getting pumped into it in the meantime is like earning interest on that investment. So, we didn’t buy these machines before being ready for it. Our next mortgage payment isn’t absolutely dependent on our next quarter.


 


Was the purchase of the house in any way based on opening an arcade or housing the collection?

Meg: It started out house hunting. We’d see these cute, first timer kind of houses and we would look at the basements first to see what would fit because at the time we had about 12 or 14 games in the apartment. We’d sit down and try to bargain with each other and I’d say “what if we got rid of this game,” and he’d say “no.” Then he’d say “what about this game” and I’d say “no.” So, it became apparent that we weren’t willing to part with any games in our collection.  We tried not to buy this building as it was one of the first we saw on Craigslist


Shawn: By having this arcade open we’ve not only instantaneously become part of the community but overnight become a pillar of the community. All the businesses surrounding us, with the exception of three or four on this street, are failing or not attracting anyone new. On Fridays and Saturdays we can hang out casually with our friends or acquaintances just by opening our doors. In the meantime, we have people throw a couple of quarters at our investment.


Meg: Ultimately, by deciding to make a business out of it we’ve met so many cool people just in the last year. We meet people that travel to play the games and we meet people that live around the corner. It’s really got a social vibe about it.

 


You opened the arcade in August of 2010. When was the decision made prior that you would open an arcade?

Shawn: We started working on the arcade as soon as we moved in April of 2010. We really had it in mind ever since we came here and saw the store front. We were searching for a reason not to do it and we couldn’t find one.


Meg: The house has a lot of charm and technically we could say America’s oldest arcade (laughs). The whole property just has a vibe about it – it’s asking for something fun.


 

What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in getting this arcade off the ground?

Meg: Perception: the historic district and the perception of an arcade. We submitted our business application in April (of 2010) and it just kind of dragged. It was originally zoned as a gallery so we had to go for a land use zoning change. Man, they made that as hard as possible because people were saying “we don’t want an arcade here,” the whole “drug dealer on the corner” and “what kind of riffraff is an arcade going to bring in.” So, we had to educate the whole town that the people that love these games are generally the older crowd and not the 12 or 13 year olds that are going to be causing trouble. We had to get a waiver signed by every land owner within 200 feet of us and basically we had to make our case to every single one of them that we weren’t going to bring trouble in.


Shawn: That was our biggest obstacle in getting people to accept us. And by scrutinizing our business idea they also began to scrutinize us. In a tightly knit community like this it gets annoying - especially for me teaching kids everyday and I got these guys looking at me like I’m a thug. They were frowning on us so much but throughout the course of this one year the highlight of High Street has been our shop. After all that negativity we actually did give this community a shot in the arm.



 

And then their perceptions changed?

Shawn: Absolutely. They started observing us, seeing that we’re not drugged out “20-somethings,” seeing me getting up at 7 o’clock in the morning with my tie on and that their whole perception about us when we moved in was wrong. I’m glad that we’ve been publicized on such a level that the community has to recognize.


Meg: We have Mark Alpiger of Classic Arcade Gaming (dot com) to thank along with Donald Hayes, you and everyone that came down for the competition. That put us on the front page of the Burlington County Times and that brought a lot of people in because of that. As a result, WPVI (channel 6 out of Philly) did a feature on us for the morning news so that opened us up to a whole new group of people.


Shawn: We really have Mark Alpiger to thank for that. He did us a favor in the sense that he put hours and hours of time into the competition he had here. It’s only someone like Mark that could do something like that for us because his passion and dedication forms a lot of the events that are necessary to keep some lifeblood flowing in the culture.


 

Would the use of swipe cards or charging a flat fee into the arcade make it more profitable?

Meg: We talked all about that: per person cover, swipe cards and that kind of stuff. Yes, it could be more profitable but at the end of the day it also takes the charm away.


Shawn: We would never do that – that just takes it all away. The quarters are part of the experience. It would be more convenient and more profitable but we’re going to go against the grain and keep quarters.


 

Why would anyone want to start an arcade?

Meg: Easy question for us: we don’t pay commercial rent – it’s all a part of our mortgage. So, we have the safety of our low mortgage and our full-time jobs and this is very much a labor of love. We have that luxury where we can stay open and not dependent on the economy or on how many people come in.


Shawn: We’re humble in the sense that we’re not great with the machines and we don’t have all the money in the world. But, we also know that we have a lot of power in the sense that we’re never going to close and that we’re always going to be here.



 

For the uninitiated why should anyone care about these old cabinets?

Meg: What we see is that these kids come in here and there all cocky - “these graphics suck.” But, once they start a game of Donkey Kong, Shawn has this game he likes to play where he’s got this stopwatch and he bets any kid that comes in here that’s never played Donkey Kong that they won’t last a minute. Then they realize that there’s more to it than 2D graphics and it’s about pattern recognition, memorization and real skill. That’s the angle and what’s interesting about these games. It may not be the same as sitting in front of your HDTV but it’s a lot harder.


Shawn: I can see everything 3D perfect pixilated – it’s wonderful. You get everything but you lose the imagination, the idea and the excitement that comes with not having everything like in these old games: the idea of a construction site in Donkey Kong and the maze idea in Pac-Man. With the new games everything is going to be rendered in perfect graphics but the imagination disappears. The kids that grow up on these new games don’t develop the imagination that you or I might have when we were kids and I think that cripples them in a sense. The imagination has disappeared from gaming. Some kids can play one of these machines and fill in the gaps and other kids can’t. I’ve seen a 12 year old kid come up to one of these machines and get it.


Meg: When I was growing up and I only had an Odyssey and shit you’re talking about imagination - the race car games were just squares.


What I like about the arcade cabinet is the competitive and fun element of the whole machine. You’re playing Star Wars, you got the blinders on, you’re in the game and it’s a totally different experience.


Classic arcade games are not just about the games. When people walk into our place and see Garbage Pail Kids hanging up, the black lights and the 80s music it’s more than just the games - it’s about the environment. People come in and there like “oh man it’s bringing me back!” whereas playing a PS3 in a buddy’s living room isn’t going to be nostalgic. The classic games are part of a larger scene.

 



King of 3: George Riley

Posted by VectorGamer on October 28, 2014 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

King of 3: George Riley Takes On Junior and the King of All Kongs

Originally published in Retrocade Magazine Volume 1 Issue 1


The organizers of the The Grassroots Gaming Expo must have had a hunch that George Riley wasn’t attending – they added Donkey Kong 3 to the list of tournament games.


George Riley is undeniably the greatest Donkey Kong 3 player on the planet. Period.


And while the rest of the classic gaming world goes gaga over another Donkey Kong kill screen and its world record changing hands (yet again), his accomplishments on the less glamourous, black sheep of the Donkey Kong series goes unheralded in contrast.


Riley’s current marathon record of 3,538,000 is almost 1,000,000 points better than Dwayne Richard’s second place score.


George also holds the DK3 tournament settings world record with a score of 857,200 that was set in June 2010. That score is almost 400,000 points better than Dwayne Richard’s inaugural score of 473,400 achieved in October of 2005.


With George Riley submitting MAME scores to MARP and sitting numero uno in not only various Donkey Kong 3 ROM sets but also Donkey Kong Junior ROM sets, one can only suspect the man is serious in gunning for the Donkey Kong Triple Crown.


And why should expert Donkey Kong Junior players care that he’s putting up great scores in MAME? Because he learned Donkey Kong 3 in Java.


So, before George’s future accomplishments render him inaccessible, I nabbed him for an interview with Retrocade Magazine.


When did you first get into classic gaming?

Riley: Maybe Rip Off was the first one I really remember. I think I actually have a picture of me playing the game. Maybe the picture helped me remember that time more clearly.


My first home console was the Commodore 64 which I got when I was 10. Unfortunately a few months later it was stolen when we moved. I have no idea what happened to it, but I did get another Commodore 64 years later.

 

You are also a classic console collector. When did you get into the hobby and any significant finds in the wild?

Riley: If you want to get technical, I guess I was a collector when I got my first Atari 2600 at the age of 17 in 1992. I would go to thrift stores from time to time and pick up an Atari 2600 game. I would only go for the popular games that I knew of though. Boy, if I had insight about the fact that the rare games would be worth a ton one day I may have tried to pick those up as well. I started actively collecting for the Atari 2600 in 2001.


I have had a few good finds in the wild from time to time. I found a Pengo loose in a thrift store for $2 once and I also was able to find a Starpath game player for the Atari 2600 at Salvation Army about seven years ago. About three years ago I bought about 25 mint condition Atari 2600 boxes. Some were rare like Basic Math and they also had around 4 different gatefold games. I also have found Sears and Atari Heavy Sixers in the wild along with a few Atari Joystick Heavy Sixers. It is easy to get Heavy Sixer Joysticks where I live. I don't think anyone besides me really knows what to look for in my area.


I believe you had an Atlantis II up for sale. Do you still own it and how was it acquired?

Riley: I actually had two different Atlantis II carts at one time. It was a freaky coincidence. Both were loose, but one had extensive documentation. I posted on AtariAge (a site for classic game collectors) about this auction with great documentation. The seller had a reserve that was insanely high. I mentioned how I had bid that up to $2,000 and it still had not broken the reserve.


Later on someone had posted about how he would sell his Atlantis II for $1,500. It was loose but had the box sticker stuck to it. I jumped at the opportunity and bought it.


The guy who had the Atlantis II with docs had his reserve super high and no one had a high enough bid. He tried again with no success. Then, out of the blue, he contacts me with a second chance offer through eBay for my original $2,000 bid. I decided that although this was going to hurt me financially it would be worth it. Through the years I sold both of them: one was for college and the other to go after the Donkey Kong Junior record.

 

You are currently the record holder on the Atari 2600 translation of Galaxian. How would you compare the quality of the 2600 translation of this classic against the arcade game itself along with the other ports released to e.g. the Atari 5200 and ColecoVision?

Riley: Personally, I prefer the Atari 2600 version. Usually arcade ports are nothing compared to the original, but this title seems to be an exception. First the colors are livelier on the Atari 2600 and for whatever reason the sounds are not as annoying. And finally I am just good at the Atari 2600 version while the arcade version rips me apart. It is fun to play games that are challenging yet still allow you to dominate it.

 

If I recall, you first broke Todd Rodgers' 2600 Galaxian record and then subsequently broke your own record by doubling up Todd Rodgers’ score.

Riley: Yes, that is 100 percent correct, except I also broke the record live with a 1.955 million game. I just was not able to send that one into Twin Galaxies.


How much playing time was spent on Galaxian until you broke the record? What were your average scores on the game before you went on the run to break the record? Did you have a "breakout" moment in your game progression that built your confidence in knowing that you could break the record?

Riley: AtariAge has a high score game of the week contest - they so happened to have Galaxian as one of their games of the week three different times.


At first, I really was not that good at this game - I would get scores of around 25,000 to 35,000. Then, the first time they had it as a game of a week I found out I was really adept at it and got a third place score of 89,000+. Then the second time they had it as a game of the week I had a score of 201,000+ which was good enough for first place.


I noticed that some really good players were having trouble with this game. I am talking about a player who would regularly break Atari 2600 world records could not even get 100,000 points on this game. They had the contest a third time and I had a score of 217,000+.


About a couple of months later I saw Steve Wiebe play Donkey Kong at E3. It was during the summer time of course. And I thought that the idea of going after a record for a short period would be a fun thing to do. It was an easy choice for me to pick: Galaxian. I am a substitute teacher and I’m single so I have more time on my hands than the average person. So I thought to myself, what the heck? Why not go for Todd Rogers’ record?


Of course, his record was 1,343,700 points. Like I said, my high was around 217,000 points so I really did not think I even had a shot. So, I posted that I was going to give myself two months time to go after this record. I decided I was only going to play three games a day at first, because I did not want to burn myself out. At first the progression was slow but at a steady rate. Soon 300,000 was hit, then 400,000 and then 600,000.


At first I had no intention of submitting this tape, but soon enough people started posting how that was a dumb thing to do and no one would ever really know you did it unless you submitted a tape. At first I thought you needed a camcorder, so I used that as an excuse. Once I found out though that they accepted VCR submissions, I decided to go for it. At the time I hit 600,000 I decided to actually send in the score. At first I did not use a printer and just used a hand written copy of the agreement.


I actually sent the 600,000 tape to the world record holder Todd Rogers himself. I could have sent it into Tom Duncan at first but, I just wanted to write to Todd telling him how I really thought he was probably the greatest game player out there and that he was really an inspiration to me. For whatever reason, that game was never verified and so I sent my next tape into Tom Duncan. I found him extremely quick in verifying - I mean within a matter of a couple days. So, from then on I stuck with him.


As far as when I thought I had a legit shot at getting his record was probably when I hit the 800,000 mark. I was now at an area where I was only a few hundred thousand away. Another time I really knew I had a shot was when I flipped the game, and actually got another extra man at 7,000. In fact I took that game up to 30,000 points of the record. So, I was definitely on the doorstep when that happened.

 

In the game that you broke Todd Rodgers’ record, was there any anxiety when approaching the record score? What about during the game after you eclipsed Rodgers' score?

Riley: For me there was a ton of anxiety. I had come close to Todd's score and then for two straight weeks I did not even come close to his record. I was suffering a mental block or a slump and it was really getting me down. Then I had my run.


It was actually the day before my deadline of July 31st. I knew if I did not do it this run I would not be able to do it by the deadline. I was about to drastically cut down on my game play to only one game a day instead of three or even more like I was pushing myself the final two weeks. As I broke it, a huge smile came on my face and I was able to push it 300,000 points further.


I am a man who very rarely cusses. But, for that one time I actually decided to unload the F-bomb to express my excitement and said “I F'ng broke Todd Rogers’ record!” And I used caps with all big letters in bold to express it.

 

Was there any difference in your performance when you broke your own record? Was it relaxing knowing that you were just improving upon your own record with really nothing to lose?

Riley: Well yeah, once you break the record, then a lot of the doubt fades away. When I first broke the record the main obstacle was freaking out, making the wrong move and dying right away after I just had died. When I doubled Todd's record my main challenge was no longer of fear but of focus.


Galaxian, as far as the game is concerned, does not let up. It is a constant barrage of enemies one after another - there are only 3 seconds between levels. There are no bathroom breaks because there is not a continual giving of men like other games. You get 3 men to start, another man 2 minutes later and then you have to wait about 2-1/2 hours before another man is given. So, because of the constant barrage you need to be always focused on what you are doing.


At about the 5 hour mark I noticed I was actually starting to get mentally fatigued. I was starting to miss ships that I usually can get easily. For most marathon games the game play is at a level where it is not that mentally taxing. Galaxian is very mentally taxing. And so concentration was the biggest thing.


Later on after I set the record I found out that Twin Galaxies seems to allow for a person to park their ship or character in a safe spot and take 5 minutes off per hour if the game is over 6 hours. My game was 7 hours so I could have used this trick and possibly reached a much higher score. Most likely the person who will break my record is going to use safe spots and take time to rest in order to break the record.


As far as doubling Todd's score: at first my goal was not 2,696,100 (which is a little more than double Todd's record) but to get 3,000,000 points for the year. When in less than a week I got to 2,696,100 (it took me 7 hours to get that score), I realized that I could be spending a ton of time just to increase the score another 300,000 points. So, for me that was good enough and it was time to go after bigger and better things.


That score has been very good to me. I was able to have it featured on Twin Galaxies Parade of Champions and the score was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records: Gamer's Edition. Heck, I even signed a couple of books as autographs which was a pretty cool experience.

 

The Donkey Kong 3 record is, at this time, the one you are most famous for. What is it about DK3 that makes it special?

Riley: Well, for me, it has to be the multi-tasking that goes on in the game - from spraying the worms, Donkey Kong and bugs to defending the flowers and dodging Donkey Kong's coconuts - there simply is so much you have to do all at once. If you let one thing go everything falls apart. Most other classic games from this era are not multi-tasking games.

 

If memory serves, you were playing DK3 on a Java app before you purchased a DK3 machine, is that right?

Riley: OK, yes, I went the extremely unusual route of playing Donkey Kong 3 on Java. I found that this really helped later on.


One main reason is I could not rely on any sound clues - it was all on visual clues. Sound plays a very important part of the game. Also, I was using a keyboard with Java. I decided to then search for a Donkey Kong 3 machine in the area but there was none.


But, I did find an Ultracade. I found that playing with a joystick was way easier than playing with a keyboard. Within a week I was getting to 3,000,000 on easy settings. At this time I knew that if I could get a Donkey Kong 3 machine I would be able to have a great chance at breaking the record. I took a leap of faith because I had no idea how the game would play on Twin Galaxies settings.


I looked around and found nothing. So, I went online and decided to enlist help. I offered $50 to the person that could find me a Donkey Kong 3 machine. Shortly after, someone posted about this party supply place in L.A. I called them, and they offered to sell the Donkey Kong 3 machine for $775 shipped. I knew this was overpaying, but I was desperate and believed I could break the record. So, I took the plunge and bought the machine.


Upon receiving the machine the joystick played a tad bit stiff and the monitor was not perfect. But, I gladly paid and went about going after the record. I soon found out the joystick was really bad and deteriorated. I still could play but I had to put effort in moving the joystick and it was starting to put blisters on my left hand. Soon the monitor was also having problems and would go out of whack if played too long.


How was your score progressing? And at what point did you breakout, giving you the confidence in breaking the record?

Riley: I had no clue as to what Twin Galaxies settings were going to be like. I decided to put the machine on 5 man settings first which is the Twin Galaxies Tournament Settings (TGTS). On the third try I broke the TGTS record without even recording. At that point I knew that I would eventually be able to get the Tournament and Marathon records.


I felt so confident about the Marathon record that I actually told you I was going to go after the record for the AtariAge Memorial Day weekend tournament. I think within two days of the tournament I broke the record. Then I just gradually moved up that score until I hit the 3,000,000 mark.

 

Some feel that Donkey Kong 3 has nothing to do with the Donkey Kong series: it's missing Mario and it's a shooter instead of a platform game. What are your thoughts on that and does it have anything to do with the perception that DK3 does not get the attention it deserves like the previous two titles in the series?

Riley: I always point out one thing: Shigeru Miyamoto was the lead programmer for this. Among Nintendo fans this man’s name is extremely revered and just bringing his name up in an argument is pretty powerful.


Well, if you think about it Donkey Kong Junior was also extremely different. I mean you are playing as neither Donkey Kong nor Mario but as Donkey Kong Junior (another character that disappears after that game). True, it is a platformer, but there are no hammers - just fruit.


Most people who are really, really good at Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior are primarily platform gamers. I think the biggest problem with DK3 is that it is a shooter first and foremost and a very hard shooter at that. So people don't really want to spend the time needed to become really good at the game for so little glory. Dean Saglio is the current record holder for Donkey Kong on MAME and has also been dabbling with Donkey Kong 3. I saw a game he played on Donkey Kong 3 just a couple of days ago and unlike the other games he was playing, he really seemed extremely frustrated. He even said words to the effect of "this game is going to be hard to get good at."


For me, that is probably one of the greatest compliments I have ever been given: the world record holder on the most highly competitive game admitting that this game was hard to get good at. I have seen this man play Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior and Zookeeper. The man completely owns these games and does things that are simply amazing.

 

You discussed that you discovered a "blue screen" in DK3 - can you discuss what that is and how you discovered it?

Riley: The Blue Screen: basically that is where the game repeatedly gives you the same blue screen over and over again. Strangely enough, I was just playing around with Java one day and was able to get to it. I decided to see if the same thing happened on my arcade machine and sure enough it did.


As a side note, Donald Hodges later found out with save mode that the game actually loops back to board one on board 257. As a challenge I decided to see if I could do that with Donkey Kong 3 on default settings in MAME which, ironically enough, are the easiest settings. I was able to do that and I achieved a score on MARP of 6,689,400 on Easy settings. I also found out that the game does not give out extra men after you loop the boards. I was really hoping this would happen because then the game can be marathon’d for a very long time. But alas, that was not the case.

 

Do you think that your DK3 record is one that could stand for ten years or more due in part because of it being less popular than DK, DK Jr. and the fact that your score is so high?

Riley: Well, some very high profile names have tried to go after this record or have had the record. Dwayne Richard and Shawn Cram are usually mentioned among the greatest gamers of all time and they were the former world record holders. John McAllister also toyed with the idea of going after the Donkey Kong 3 record. So did Steve Wagner, Justin Knucklez and Brian Allen. And like I said Dean Saglio has been trying his hand at this game as well.


Yes, the game is less popular than the other games, but some very big names in the arcade world have had their go at this game. One thing I have learned is that no record is safe. At the moment I am sitting pretty, but someone out of left field could come and knock me off my perch. Heck that is what I did to Dwayne Richard. Also, let it be noted that the Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior records changed hands a bunch of times in 2010. So, I believe that no Donkey Kong record is truly safe - even the Donkey Kong 3 record.

 

What attributes do you possess that allowed you to crush the DK3 record?

Riley: I think the biggest thing for me is the fact that I love to play this game. I mean I really, really enjoy what I do in the game. I really believe that in order to become great at something you need to have the love.


But besides that, I also think you need to have a chess-like mind. You need to be able to see three or four moves ahead at all times. The ability to constantly focus is also a must. And lastly I think you need to have a strong will. This game will at times kill you off a couple of times very quickly. It can be really mentally discouraging if you let it get to you. The key for me is to mentally stay in the game when this is happening.

 

How are you progressing on Donkey Kong Junior? Do you foresee yourself being the first gamer to achieve the Donkey Kong Triple Crown?

Riley: I have been stuck at 1,161,100 for about a month now. I have had a couple of games that were within 10,000 of that mark in the past week. To be honest, my highest official goal really for this game was 1,000,000 points which is something I have far exceeded. I think 1,200,000 is possible for me.


My goal really isn't to get the Triple Crown with these three games. My goal is to be the all around best on all three games. A lot of Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior players do avoid Donkey Kong 3 like the plague and the ones who play Donkey Kong 3 generally don't go super hard after Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior. So, basically what this means is that my competition in being the all around best is not that huge.


I believe if I can get 1,000,000 on Donkey Kong then I will have the title wrapped up. I am almost done now with Donkey Kong Junior. In about a month and a half, I will move onto Donkey Kong as my primary game and I understand the commitment this is going to take. Unlike Donkey Kong Junior where I devoted a year of my time to this game, I will devote two years of my time to Donkey Kong. Based on most people’s experiences, it seems that the learning curve is about two years of hardcore practice in order to become an elite player.


Now of course if somehow I stumble upon all three records than obviously I would be on cloud nine for a very long time.


 

I had Space Jockey back in the day and it’s currently in my VCS collection. Some may view it as a terrible VCS title. What are your thoughts on the game itself and what was enticing for you to break the Space Jockey world record? How long was the game play to achieve the score?

Riley: OK, I will admit that this is by far my least favorite game of any of my records.


After I got the Galaxian record, I really had this thought that I did not want to be known as a one trick pony. So I searched for the game I had the best chance at breaking a record with. Sure enough, Space Jockey fit the bill. The only thing I really needed was an 8 hour tape instead of a 6 hour tape because the game play was going to take at least 6 hours to break the record. As far as the game it took me 7 hours and 45 minutes to set. To be honest it was pure torture to play.


It felt like this was pure hell on earth to play. The game is super easy and super repetitive. There is only one screen and it kept going on and on and on and on and on. I would rather be on a road trip with a couple of kids “saying are we there yet?” every 10 seconds than to play that game.


By the way, two of the previous record holders have also stated their disdain for this game. Most games are a game of endurance or skill. This is a game of tolerance for such horrible game play.


Have you considered going for 1,000,000 on Laser Blast?

Riley: Thankfully, Laser Blast stops at 1,000,000 and thankfully enough people have done it - like ten or so where the relevance is meaningless. If Laser Blast did not stop, I might think about it. Same goes for Megamania. I love that game, but ten or so have maxed that game out as well. i

 


Review: Scramble (Vectrex)

Posted by VectorGamer on February 1, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

If you were too busy pumping quarters in Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Galaga back in 1981, then you probably missed this great shooter released by Konami that same year.

 

Cited as the influence for the Gradius series, this horizontal shooter puts you at the controls of a cool looking space ship dodging missiles, destroying bases and bombing fuel tanks through various terrains. There are five terrains to get through before you meet the objective of bombing the enemy base on the sixth level.

 

So, how does this all translate to vector graphics on the Vectrex?

 

Pretty darn good!


 

I was skeptical about how this would play out on the Vectrex, but was pleasantly surprised.

 

The terrain drawn up in vector graphics looks sensational. Your space ship actually looks more like a vector version of the Cosmic Avenger craft, but that’s just nitpicking. Explosions appear as large asterisks on the screen and sometimes I crash my space ship accidentally on purpose just to see it break into pieces.

 

There are some collision detection issues in this release but they seem to work in your favor. You can dip your wing into the terrain without losing a life and I’ve even went through a missile without dying!

 

Aside from that, the game play is “all that.” Maneuvering through the tight spaces takes some practice and that’s even on the easiest of three skill levels.

 

It’s all about the fun factor and this port of Scramble delivers.

 

Grade: A

 

 

Review: Life Force (NES)

Posted by VectorGamer on February 1, 2014 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I remember my local bowling alley getting this arcade cabinet in their game room. I played it several times back in the day and to this day I find it to be a bizarre horizontal space shooter.

 

Konami ported their 1986 arcade release to the NES in 1988. The game can be played by one or two players simultaneously with one piloting the Vic Viper and the other the Road British Space Destroyer. Like many games in this genre, you can power-up your weaponry throughout the game.

 

The space monster Zelos has gone on an intergalactic buffet. Zelos needs a whooping in the digestive tract from the star fighters to save civilizations. Along the way you battle enemy defenses and bosses to your ultimate goal of destroying Zelos’ heart and soul.

 

At the onset, this game looks like same wine, different bottle. You’ll see similar enemy craft travelling in similar flight patterns as in Gradius. After that wave, things get interesting.

 

You travel through caverns facing enemy Death Hands, Belbeims (which look like ribs or horns – take your pick) and other universal scum. When you finally plow your way through all the obstacles it’s time to face the first boss.

 

Golem is a brain with Death Hands and an eye protruding from his frontal lobe. I’ve found that you can simply do circles around him avoiding the Death Hands and just start wailing on his eye.

 

I like the dynamic of this game. Once you get to Terror Zone II, the game turns into a vertical scrolling shooter and that’s pretty neat!

 

Graphically this game looks good and at the same time bizarre – appropriate for the story line. The music doesn’t fit the game, however – I would’ve chosen a jingle to the tune of Public Image Ltd’s “Albatross.”


 

There is no randomness in this game so you basically have to do repeat plays and memorize the patterns. It’s still a challenge, nonetheless.

 

This is a highly addictive game –one you can play for hours on end.

 

Grade: A

 

 

Review: Gulkave (ColecoVision)

Posted by VectorGamer on February 1, 2014 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Gulkave is a 1986 Sega horizontal space shooter ported from the SG-1000 by Eduardo Mello and released by Team Pixelboy. This game is another example of  “what could have been” had Coleco not snubbed the ColecoVision in favor of the disastrous ADAM.

 

In a nutshell, you pilot a spaceship called the Zaiigar that shoots anything that moves. Your adversary is the Gulbas Empire who throw everything but the kitchen sink to see you destroyed. Your goal is to destroy the eight fortresses of the Gulbas Empire. Pretty easy, right?

 

Wrong! This game is tougher than tough. There are no cookie levels in this game – it’s an onslaught from the onset.

 

Your Zaiigar ship is protected (temporarily) by a shield barrier that loses energy with every hit you take. When you run out of energy on your shield barrier, the next hit you take means you lose a ship.

 

There are thirty levels known as “acts.” When you complete an act, you earn bonus points for any energy remaining on your shield barrier and you move onto the next act. The eight Gulbas fortresses that you are to destroy are located at the end of acts 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22, 26 and 30.

 

Along the way you can receive power-ups for weaponry upgrades, and of course, you lose the additional fire power once you lose a life. Some of the weaponry is pretty awesome like the “Screen Eraser Blaster” that shoots five beams so you can give the Gulbas thugs some payback.

 

The cartridge features a high score table, a game demo screen and (thankfully) the ability to continue the game. Music plays throughout which is typical for this genre of games of the mid-1980s.

 

The graphics are superb and if you didn’t know it you’d swear that this wasn’t a ColecoVision title. On the first act your ship is flying over nicely rendered ice capped mountains with a sparkling star field in the background.


 

The level of difficulty has its positives and negatives. The positive is that it can entice you to explore the game further by using the continue feature (if needed). The negative is that there are players that would have preferred, at a minimum, two difficulty levels (e.g. Novice and Standard) for the purpose of practicing and discovery of the game at higher levels without having to use a continue.

 

Players that seek a challenge of this magnitude in the genre of horizontal shooters will enjoy this game. It’s a hit or miss for players that don’t.

 

Grade: B-

 

 

Review: Yars' Revenge (2600)

Posted by VectorGamer on February 1, 2014 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

A programmer at Atari was asked to develop a port of Star Castle for the Atari 2600. He said it couldn’t be done “but, here’s Yars’ Revenge.”

 

You are Yar (Ray spelled backwards – as in Ray Kassar), a fly that must destroy the Qotile (the equivalent of the cannon in Star Castle) that lies behind an energy shield on the right side of the screen. You must chip away at the cells in the energy shield by shooting them or nibbling away at them. All the while you are being chased by the guided destroyer missile (equivalent to the sparks in Star Castle) in your attempt to tunnel a path through the shield. Once you have a path through the energy shield, you can then launch your Zorlon cannon from the left side of the screen to destroy the Qotile on the right.


 

In the middle of the playfield is the neutral zone where you are invincible to the destroyer missile but not to the swirls blasted off by the Qotile. Additionally, you cannot fire from within the neutral zone.

 

As you kill off more Qotiles, the destroyer missile increases its pace and Qotile’s swirls are launched more frequently. As you advance further in the game, there will be a couple of boards sans neutral zone.

 

None of this stuff makes sense but that’s the imagination that makes games from the classic era great! This is definitive Atari 2600 of the early 80s.

 

Graphically, Yar looks pretty good as a cosmic fly and the Qotile looks like some kind of demonic cannon that constantly changes hues. Machine code was used as graphic representation of the neutral zone and the destruction of the Qotile. All this action is set to the sounds of the Qotile swirls, Zorlon cannons and an insect drone as the backdrop.

 

From a game play standpoint, thisis one of the finest titles in the 2600 library. It’s one of the few moments in Atari’s history where they made the right decision in that they released a title that was influenced by an arcade port instead of releasing a blocky flickerfest masked inside seductive box art and calling it Star Castle.

 

Grade: A+

 

 

Review: Star Fortress (ColecoVision)

Posted by VectorGamer on February 1, 2014 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

This is the home brew version of Star Castle ported to the ColecoVision by John Dondzila.

 

You command the familiar looking Asteroids type ship while you blast away the rings to destroy the cannon in the center.

 

You can use the two buttons on your controller to fire and thrust and your joystick to rotate left and right. You can also push up on the joystick to thrust which I have found is much easier. I dabbled playing this game using the Roller Controller but I found the Coleco controller to be the better option.

 

Graphically, the game looks great. Although the star field is static backdrop it’s something you’d miss if it wasn’t there. The sparks flicker but that may have been done intentionally to mimic the effect in the arcade game.

 

I like the audio effects in this translation. The drone of the rotating rings hasn’t been left out and the other effects are vintage ColecoVision: the game looks and sounds like it could have been released back in 1983.

 

There are two flaws I found in this game. The first is when you attempt to bounce off the rings: at times you will go through a missing segment and get trapped between two rings.

 

The second flaw is the lack of acceleration for your ship. When you thrust from a dead stop, for a second your ship stutters like it’s running on fumes before it actually accelerates. In this type of game you need full acceleration.

 

Between arcade, Vectrex and this version I’d have to say Star Fortress is the most difficult. The cannon watches you like a hawk and more often than not when he unloads on you it’s certain death.

 

The nostalgia has been captured in this release; however it would be more enjoyable if it weren’t so difficult.

 

Grade: C+

 

 

Review: Star Castle (Vectrex)

Posted by VectorGamer on February 1, 2014 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

My favorite arcade game used to be Galaga. Then, it was Sinistar until I came to terms with the fact that the game cheats. Now, I can profess my love for Cinematronics’ 1980 vector classic, Star Castle. And what better system to port this brutally difficult arcade game than the Vectrex?

 

The Vectrex translation features two difficulty levels with game 1 being the most difficult and the default level of play. The cartridge was also bundled with an attractive overlay with blue tint and red ring and yellow circle in the center to colorize the rings and cannon. The overlay really makes the game look sharp (especially when you play in a dark room!).

 

Like most deep space shooters, your ship rotates left and right (using the joystick or controller buttons) along with thrust and fire.

 

The bad guy is a cannon that rotates in the middle of the screen surrounded by three rings rotating in opposite directions. Aiding our foe are three sparks that will free themselves from the rings and chase you around the screen. Colliding with these sparks is fatal.

 

The object of the game is to destroy the cannon by shooting the ring segments (but do not shoot all the segments of a ring or they will regenerate) for points in order to create a gaping hole. Once there is a path cleared through the rings to the cannon, you need to kill or be killed. Whenever you destroy the cannon, you are awarded a bonus ship, you repeat the process of destroying a cannon and the game ramps up in difficulty.

 

The difficulty is in the game’s speed. The deeper you advance in the game, the faster the sparks travel and the faster the cannon rotates to keep aim on your ship. In the latter stages of the game, you have no option but to stay on full thrust and firing at the same time.

 

The Star Castle arcade game featured some great audio effects such as the drone of the rotating rings and the thundering destruction of ring segments. The drone has been recreated well on the Vectrex although the sound of ring destruction resembles that of two brawling wooden coat hangers.

 

Graphically the game is spot on and there are no flaws to speak of.

 

The Vectrex version of Star Castle is easier for this reason: the sparks never wrap around the playfield. With that, you can always wrap around the playfield to avoid collisions. Nevertheless, the sparks increase their speed to a profound level much like the arcade game.

 

Star Castle is arguably the best game in the Vectrex library and is a must have for your collection.

 

Grade: A+

 

 


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