So at Underground Retrocade today I didn’t beat George Strain’s house high of 551,920. I would have tried again, but it was getting pretty late, my wife was waiting for me to get home for dinner, and I fried my brain so much today that I needed at least one good brain cell to help me drive back home to Chicago.
When I arrived at Underground, I was the only customer, quite the contrast from the huge crowd that was there a month ago for the grand reopening. But the truth is, West Dundee was a freakin’ ghost town. Mine was the only car in the big parking lot downtown. (I think everybody was on the Kennedy; that would explain how it was jammed most of the way there.) Scott offered to set up the camera if I wanted him to stream any of my high-score attempts. I didn’t take him up on the offer, though; I didn’t want him to go through all that trouble unless I knew there’d be other folks there who also wanted to stream.
Scott has a machine set up that features the most recent game discussed on the No Quarter podcast. This week it was Mousetrap, a game that I had never played. Scott walked me through how to play it, and, well, I sucked. Tried Fix-It Felix Jr. for the first time. I gotta say, that’s a fun little game! Didn’t get very far, but if you like, say, Crazy Climber or Activision’s Crackpots, you’ll probably highly enjoy the game. (Fix-It Felix Jr. has taught me, by the way, that if you have a broken window, you can fix it with an axe.)
Played a game of Donkey Kong and sucked. (And I still can’t figure out how to get 100 points by jumping over Donkey Kong’s foot. Even after watching videos on YouTube. Just doesn’t work for me!) Then I tried about five times to get the house high on Burgertime — which is only about 43,000. Couldn’t get much past 38,500…uggh….
After a while I decided it was time to try to beat George Strain’s Ms. Pac-Man Turbo score. My first attempt gave me only about 256,000. I let off some steam after that by playing Millipede, then moved over to the multicade and played Super Pac-Man. (Man, the multicade’s controls are not good for that game!)
Second attempt: First off, my first sign that I’m not going to have a good game? I finished the banana level with only about 98,000 points; I think I mentioned in this blog before that I don’t consider it a good start unless I have at least 100,000 points at the end of the banana level; even during the lousy first attempt I had nearly 110,000. I decided to just brush it off and concentrate on clearing the mazes. And for the first time, it occurred to me: once the ghosts no longer turn blue with energizers, just simply get away from them! I mean, duh, that’s the object of the game (to a degree), right? But I mean, basically go off to my own corner of the maze, and when the ghosts start heading toward me, get the hell away, even if it means having to dodge three dots that I’m trying to clear. I think this strategy helped.
And no, I didn’t beat George Strain’s record score. But I did beat my own record: my old record was about 465,000, and now I was nearly 30,000 points higher (and oh-so-close to half a million!)…oh, but my rank on aurcade.com is still 5. I lost my first life when my score was over 238,000 — which is a new record for me! So a new personal record of almost half a million and a new first-life record? Pretty darn cool.
But one more thing helped me. I like to bring a tally counter with me to the arcades to keep track of the levels I clear. However, I forgot to bring it today. I think that was actually a big help: now I didn’t have to worry about clicking a button every time I cleared a maze, so that allowed me to focus more on the game.
What sucks, though, is that this might be the last time for the rest of the year that I’ll be able to go to Underground Retrocade, or any other arcade, for that matter, as I have a pretty busy rest-of-the-year schedule, what with holidays and other obligations. I’m already jonesing for another attempt…
Oh…and it occurs to me that I didn’t even try Jr. Pac-Man Turbo this time…