Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Score! Beating the Top 16 Video Games!


Yeah. This is something fresh, and lots of what I wrote on the boards on the subject.

This book was my bible when I was a kid. I lost it after moving multiple times. Actually, I think it is still at my parents' house. My father was in the hospital last year and that forced me to work from Stanford with my laptop. In my downtime, I started playing a Mame version of Star Castle almost nonstop. I am still intrigued by that game. However, I couldn't crack the 40,000 point barrier. The game just got too vicious.

I went online to my normal video game haunts with posts like, "OLD SKULE GAMR NEEDZ ST* C*SSTLE STRATS PLZTHX." Not cool enough I guess, I didn't get any replies.

Then I went through the mental Rolodex on a late night bout of insomnia on the subject and realized that the strats were indeed out there...I just hadn't thought of the proper place. Furthermore, I had owned those very strats previously. I knew that I had them in the Ken Uston book. At that point I couldn't even remember the title of the thing though.

So I started to think of this book obsessively. I was at my folks' home awhile later cleaning up the garage (killing mice if you have been keeping up with this thing at all), and I realized that the book was probably in there. Every time I saw a pile of older books in a box, I would rifle through it...hoping. But no. Nothing.

On a sick sort of bored whim, I went to Amazon and punched it in about 2 weeks ago. I found the sucker for one penny. Shipping was 3.49 though. Whatever. I have the book back in my possession.

It is deep, as far as depth for the games of that era go. This book was the Koran, or maybe the Year's Greatest Video Guide among video gamers back then (the '80s) because information wasn't moving the way it does today. I would hear stuff about games in the arcade (like you get an extra man every time you die in Defender once you hit 990,000. But you never saw the stuff unless you were in the arcade at the right time. People would talk about all of these things that were happening, but there was no database, no verification and certainly no 1up or youtube. You needed to get out there and play and talk. You could read Electronics Game Magazine, but sometimes they just got close to the fact that you wanted and then changed subjects.

Home versions were completely compromised versions of the originals and there were few complaints about the absolute porting blasphemy of the time. We were happy to play our Atari 2600 version of Asteroids because we knew that was all/the best we were going to get. The arcade days of the 1980s were fascinating this way.

Furthermore, my parents knew that arcades were places where pedophiles and dopers might be hanging out. This created a completely constricted knot in the leash of my social life. I couldn't just roll on down to the arcade. I had to coordinate with parents and older sisters/brothers of friends. I wasn't allowed down there alone, or just with my brother. This meant that every moment I spent down there, I had to pay attention, because it might be my last moment for a lonnnnggg time. Furthermore, with $2.50 a week for allowance, I really needed to get as much bang for my buck as humanly possible.

All of this is the backdrop/political pathos that led me to Ken Uston's SCORE! BEATING THE TOP 16 VIDEO GAMES book. Without the drive that I felt because I was sure I was missing out on something, I probably wouldn't have given a rat's ass if I had found the book in some "free" bucket in front of any number of downtown Santa Cruz houses.

Ken Uston in some ways was a visionary on the subject because he was hanging out in Vegas (where the pulse was strong for some reason, and where some of the best players at that time congregated) and he brought out the little known facts.
Before you contest me and say, "Hey Man! Eric Ginner was cracking SICK high scores in the Silicon Valley area! Some his scores have yet to be beaten!!!!" I need to stress that the guys making video game playing magic were not out for the big Atari medals. They were guys in bars and arcades having a good time, dropping quarters and sharpening their skills beyond what ordinary quarter-droppers had.

My claim to fame on any record sort of level was running the pterodactyl cheat on a Joust machine on Cannery Row for what must have been 8 hours. If I recall correctly You needed 10 million to flip that sucker (bring it back to zero) and I wanted to make sure that I had the 20 letter high score, so I almost flipped it twice.

I've got my Star Castle Strats and I am almost there. I was playing last night and I am such a short-bus riding retard because of it.

The book is solid old-school gold. Best penny I spent in my life EVAR.