Report Originally From Twin Galaxies

Funspot High Score Results November 18, 2004

Robert Mruczek gives full report and results of Funspot Competition in November 2004

November 18, 2004 - Report originally from Twin Galaxies Robert Mruczek High Score announcement

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----------------------------------------------------------------------------- PART I By: Robert T. Mruczek Link ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Funspot 2004 - Results (Part 1 of 2) Twin Galaxies Forums Forum Index -> Funspot Arcade View previous topic :: View next topic Author Message RMRUCZEK Robert Mruczek TG Board of Directors Location: Brooklyn, NY Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 4:49 pm Post subject: Funspot 2004 - Results (Part 1 of 2) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello fellow gamers: Please bear with Robert T Mruczek as I post this in two (2) sections. Robert ********************** Hello fellow gamers: I just returned from perhaps the best gaming-related vacation that you could hope for. From Saturday morning, November 13th, thru Sunday morning, November 21st, I was at the Funspot Family Entertainment Center in Weirs Beach, NH, one of the world’s largest commercial classic video game arcades. Funspot is where the annual classic arcade video game championship has been taking place since May of 1999. Until 2002, I attended only the annual events, but last November of 2003 I decided to attend on my own without the distraction of a live competition, to enjoy my favourite titles at my leisure, and hopefully set some new personal gaming records in the process. But the best part was getting to meet once again my many friends from that gaming area, players that I typically see only a few all-too-short times each year. I couldn’t possibly pass up the opportunity to do this again in 2004, and after all that transpired these past weeks at my job in New York City, it was a week more than well spent. Across the week, I logged well over 200 gaming records and personal bests by the gamers in attendance, Robert Mruczek included. In total, more than fifteen dedicated classic arcade gamers showed up throughout the week, and their company and competitiveness was greatly appreciated. The 8 ½ days that I spent there covers a lot of ground, and I will try my best to adequately recap everything that happened for your reading enjoyment. Here goes. **************************************** PRE-ARRIVAL (Friday, November 12th) As usual due to the constraints and responsibilities of my job, I ended up putting in about overtime for 13 of the 15 days before Friday was done with. I just wish I got paid for it, by alas, no. On most of those days I left between 12:30am and 4:30am, so I was really feeling run down and burnt out. It wasn’t easy taking my vacation this time. Between hardships at my accounting job due to a key subordinate leaving Robert T Mruczek in a lurch, a new trainee who started just ten days before my vacation, and the standard month-end responsibilities, I’m lucky I was allowed to go at all, everything considered. However, I practically take no vacation time as it is, and the last thing my company can afford is a burnt out staff member, plus all my plans were paid for in advance, so we had to hope that nothing would blow up while I was gone. Last minute TG work updating the two MAME competitions underway, and answering some E-MAILs were my last tasks before I could officially call it a day. When I got home, pretty late at night I must add (well past midnight), I hadn’t even packed and was up from 8:00am Friday, so with an early flight scheduled on Saturday, the last thing I could afford to do was to oversleep, so I decided (as I did last November) to just stay awake and deal with the lack of sleep. Hey, I could always go to sleep in, oh, 20 more hours at midnight…just like I did last November due to my job. Some things never change, it seems. I packed for nine days, but the bulk of my luggage tended to be the Xbox and various games and controllers. Hey, you never knew who would be coming over for some late night gaming once I got there, plus I was expecting Martin Bedard from Canada to remain all week as my guest, and he didn’t have an Xbox as it was, so better prepare for every eventuality. Once I got everything packed, which due to my procrastination I didn’t finish until 6:00am, I watched an episode or two of “Alias” on DVD and then got ready for the trip ahead. DAY ONE (Saturday, November 13th) Car service arrived a few minutes late, as usual in my neighborhood, but once it got there it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. I left my house at 8:15am and touched down in Manchester at 10:45am where Donald Hayes and David Nelson arrived to take Robert T Mruczek to Funspot. That was very nice of them, especially since the cab ride would probably have cost Robert T Mruczek about $100.00 !! Donald Hayes Funspot 2003 "Player of the Year" David Nelson Funspot 2004 "Player of the Year" One thing, though…at Laguardia Airport, my flight was changed after I had my main piece of luggage go through security. I was worried that it would not have made it to my destination in which case I would have had no clothes to wear OR no Xbox to play. Most importantly, the Xbox held all my personal records and unlocked tracks on the titles that I own, and believe it or not, that was my primary concern. I could always buy new clothes. Thankfully it arrived without a hitch. A quick ride later, and I was checking in at Sun Valley by 11:30am. Not bad… a tad over three hours to get there, just a few minutes longer than the bus ride from my house to Atlantic City. We arrived at Funspot and I bought my first allotment of gaming tokens. For those who do not know this yet, Funspot tokens can be bought for approx 16 cents apiece, much cheaper than a quarter per game. And with coupons that can be found throughout the town, it is even possible to get them for effectively 11 cents apiece. Talk about a great deal. Well worth the trip. Throughout the day, the Crams (Shawn, Jason, Anna, Cristian), perhaps classic arcade gaming’s most prolific family of world record holders, and also reknowned gamers Greg Bond, Brian Kuh and Fred Pastore, all arrived to make the opening day special. Brian Kuh Fred Pastore In the Center of picture Fred, the “Carnival” world champion, managed to establish a new world record on “Astro Fighter” on Saturday with 26,150 points. He nearly achieved over 35K but missed a critical shot before he died. Location Funspot Link Weirs Beach, NH United States Player Fred Pastore Malden, MA United States Game Score Place Date Accomplished ---- ----- ----- ----------------- Astro Fighter 26,150 1st November 3, 2004 Carnival 386,750 1st June 3, 2001 Also, we took notice of an older gamer playing “Crazy Climber” who had a nice score of 149,550 points…Chris Felknor of Massachussetts. We asked him if he would like to log his score and sure thing he did !! On this game, any score over 40K is good, but the number of gamers who can approach a score of approx 150K is far fewer indeed. Lunch, by the way, was a full pizza from Funspot’s “Braggin’ Dragon” café. My treat… it was the least I could do. I believe it was David Nelson, Donald Hayes, Brian Kuh and Robert Mruczek. And to further enhance our pizza lunch was some “Rickey’s Hot Sauce” courtesy of legendary gamer Bill Mitchell, who ensures that Funspot always has a plentiful supply for their loyal patrons. Donald Hayes, Edition on his photo by Fred Pastore Donald Hayes Donald Hayes on left side, Fred Pastore on right side DBH Windham, NH wr's on Centipede (7,111,111), Dig Dug (4,388,520), Tron (4,580,031), Millipede - TGTS (346,846), Super Zaxxon (564,250; unofficial), Domino Man (1,040,866); contest results: 2nd place at both 2001 and 2002 Funspot Classic Videogame World Championship tourneys; 2003 Funspot CVWC Player of the Year (placed 1st on the Color Challenge, 2nd on Monochrome Challenge) Billy Mitchell Fort Lauderdale, FL United States World Game Score Standing ---- ----- -------- Burgertime 4,978,550 3rd Donkey Kong 933,900 2nd Donkey Kong Jr. 957,300 2nd Ms. Pac-Man 703,560 4th Billy Mitchell / B M, b 07-16-1965, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 1984 Video Game Masters Tournament: World Record set on Burgertime, Donkey Kong Jr., Ms. Pac-man, Pac-man 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament: World Record set on Donkey Kong World Record kept on Burgertime, Donkey Kong Jr. 1986 Video Game Masters Tournament: World Record kept on Burgertime, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong 1987 Video Game Masters Tournament: World Record kept on Burgertime, Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong world records: Pac-man top score at kill screen (3-way tie) contender: Burgertime, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Ms. Pac-man Billy has been playing at a very high level for over 20 years, and was crowned the player of the century in Japan. Most of the day was spent catching up on gaming stories, records and related matters. And in between, a few great scores were set. Brian Kuh and David Nelson established the inaugural 1st and 2nd place world records on “Sega Hot Rod”, a 4-person driving game, each while playing in single-player mode. Brian hit 229,280 and Dave hit 192,751. This is one cool game…and a rare strategic racing game at that. It is played on an overhead unit similar to the 1975 cult classic “Death Race” by Exidy and is maintained in pristine condition by the Funspot technical staff. David Nelson Scores Link Derry, NH United States Jen Sweet showed up with my TV set that I asked Shawn Cram last year to purchase for Robert T Mruczek and hold until every November and May/June event. The Sun Valley cabin TV’s had no input provisions for the gaming systems, so it was either buy a new TV and keep it up there, or deal with the local TV channel choices which, especially mid-week, generally do not show my favourite shows or movies. Besides, what better to do after than a full day of gaming than MORE gaming…after all, it was a gaming-vacation from start to finish, so may as well max out as much gaming as I could on my rare vacation opportunity. Jen helped Robert T Mruczek get the TV to the cabin, and then we returned to Funspot for an afternoon of gaming. Gary Vincent, left side, Walter Day, Middle, Ken Sweet, right hand side of picture Shawn Cram pulled off an impressive 93,620 on Taito’s “Jungle Hunt”, and I pulled off a surprising (for me) 72,360 on “Rally X”, improving my personal best from 45K in the process. David Nelson hit 1,050,130 on the vintage pinball title “Playboy” based on the world famous men’s magazine empire owned by Hugh Hefner. Shawn Cram SJC wr's on Zoo Keeper (35,732,870), Donkey Kong 3 (2,544,400); skilled on: Donkey Kong Jr., Robotron, Donkey Kong, Star Wars, Galaga, Tutankham, Frogger, Carnival, and Mario Brothers (1M points); contest result: 5th place at 2002 Funspot Classic Videogame World Championship tourney; Twin Galaxies referee at large 603-312-5829 As the day winded down, I was very concerned that Martin Bedard from Canada had not shown up yet. Originally both he and Todd Rogers from Florida were to have been my guests, but Todd had to cancel due to a business opportunity, and Martin, once he left Canada, would be unable to contact. I also was not sure the day that he would show up. Also, at some point, Gary Vincent came by to say hello. I never see Gary more than twice a year, same like most of the other gamers, so it was nice seeing him again as well. He is the Operations Manager for Funspot, by the way. Gary Vincent, left side, Walter Day, Middle, Ken Sweet, far Right side The big surprise today was that it was soon to be Jason Cram’s birthday. His wife, Anna, had planned a special get together in the Funspot virtual golf range area being that so many of us were expected to be in attendance today, so everybody was told to go there for a certain time. Jason was in the arcade and probably wondering where everyone had gone to. When he was lead to the area it was a huge surprise for him. Chris McClard had also joined us, as well as Cristian Cram’s son, and even Gary Vincent popped in after awhile. This was a nice way to end the day at Funspot, and I’m very happy that I was able to be part of the celebration. Jason Cram Anna Cram Funspot Owner Bob Lawton an Referee and General Manager, Gary Vincent At day’s end the group wanted to go to the Laconia House of Pizza, a weekly ritual every Saturday they get together. By this point I was exhausted from being awake for approx 38 hours and I needed some sleep…badly. Donald drove Robert T Mruczek back and then went to meet the rest of the gamers at the pizza place. I watched a little TV and then fell fast asleep for the evening before 11:00pm. I had a long week ahead and was not about to tire Robert Mruczek out from late night gaming or TV shows. Besides, 38 hours with no sleep is not a good idea if your intent is to set a world record on a game like “Super Cobra” by Konami, one of my lofty goals for the week !! DAY TWO (Sunday, November 14th) Happy Days - Howard Cunningham Family I woke up at about 8:45am, watched an episode of “Happy Days” on the TV-Land station, which turned out to the first of the 2-part series finale that I had never seen before so that was fortuitous. After getting ready, I left the cabin for the uphill trek to Funspot. It was early and just Brian Kuh and Robert Mruczek were present, as well as the technicians. I immediately started on “Super Cobra” while Brian started on “Rally X”. I had a good game too…174,930 points, good for 3rd highest in the world !! Actually I was already in 3rd with 170K from Funspot 6 back in June, but I wasn’t complaining. Not many players can crack 50K at this game, let alone reach this level of skill. Brian gave “Donkey Kong” a shot… he’s one of the top players in the world, by the way. As he played, the adorable Tina from Funspot’s staff came by to say hello. This lovely lady is one of the many reasons we players make the pilgrimage to Funspot annually, by the way. We spoke for awhile during Brian’s game and then she went off to continue her day. But before she went, she gave Robert T Mruczek something from David Nelson that was greatly appreciated….snacks for the week !! David Nelson, Player of the Year, Front of Picture Donkey Kong Rating Link #8 in World Score 298,000 Derry, NH United States Date Achieved Sunday, June 03, 2001 Brian then introduced Robert T Mruczek to “Fireball II” pinball” which has a feature called a “Little Demon Meter”, basically a controllable “ball save” in the center of the two flippers. It was a fast moving pinball game, that’s for sure. Brian hit 282,860 while I managed 176,490. After that we tried “Monaco GP”, one of my favourite driving titles from my high school days. Not available on MAME, the only place I know of that still has one is Funspot. My goal was a previously registered personal best of between 3-4K. This time I hit 4,720 points…not bad. The game is maxed out at 9,999 so I’m almost halfway there. Brian gave it a shot and hit 3,592…very respectable indeed. Funspot staffer Christopher Burnell registered a score of 366,840 on “Circus Charlie”, his first score registered with Twin Galaxies, by the way. More gaming throughout the day, lots of chatting. Many of these gamers would not be showing up until the following Saturday. Brian Kuh, in fact, left at 2:30pm to drive back home as tomorrow would be a work-day for him. By day’s end I was all gamed-out and ready for some sleep. After three weeks of double-time before my vacation, especially the week immediately prior . I was the last player there so walked back to the cabin. Not a bad walk at all…just a few minutes and you are there. I went to sleep earlier than usual, still wondering when Martin would show. A little after 2:30am, I woke up and turned on the TV. After 2-3 minutes, I heard a car immediately outside, and assumed it was Martin. I was right. Apparently, he arrived about 12:30am and saw the lights out so decided to sleep in the car. But New Hampshire weather meant a cold evening, and a car is not exactly a comfortable resting area, so he was all set to drive around to pass the time away, when he saw me exit the cabin. So much for his midnight excursion. I helped him unpack, and we spent the next hour or so chatting until 4:00am, catching up on what held him up (over-enthusiastic border patrol guards) and anything else we could think of. After that, with an entire day in front of us, we retired for the evening. I took the comfy couch since it was not a bad experience from both the previous November and the more recent Funspot event back in June. I just wish it was a bit longer, but no biggie. I rented one of the larger cabins, just in case a guest gamer needed a place to crash rather than spending an hour or so driving back to their home town. Last June, it turned out that this was the best decision I could have made. Gamer Joel Hedge from my hometown of Brooklyn showed up but was unable to find a place of lodging, so I offered space in my cabin. It was designed to accommodate up to five people, and with Todd “Pizza God” Rogers preferring a spot on the floor, the two extra cots that the cabin had in reserve couldn’t have been more opportune. Anyway, that’s how the first day ended. I was looking forward to at least SOME sleep before a full day of gaming tomorrow, and thankfully I conked out inside of I guess a few minutes, because the next time I opened my eyes it was already daylight and after 8:00am. DAY THREE (Monday, November 15th) Daybreak !! I remembered to watch the conclusion of the final episode of “Happy Days”. Interestingly, at the very end, the Howard Cunningham character speaks to the TV audience at one point, and mentions how he is glad that his two (2) kids are now married. Gee…what about “Chuck”, the basketball-playing son from the 1st season ? I guess no mention means no royalties…besides, “Chuck” was largely not mentioned starting midway into the 1st season anyway. After both Martin and I readied ourselves for the day, we drove off. The first priority today was to shop for some food. Also, Martin needed to get some gas and exchange Canadian currency. So we headed to the local super market and stocked up well for the week ahead. This was much smarter than when I arrived last November by Robert Mruczek and relied on the Funspot vending machines for nightly sustenance. To be honest, I’ll never do that again…nightly meals consisting of either Pop Tarts and/or Combos, along with some Powerade drinks. Ugh !! We returned back and stocked up the refrigerator and then headed to Funspot for some serious gaming. Throughout the day, we set various personal arcade bests. I hit 213,890 on “Wonderboy”, trashing my years-old personal best of less than 35K. Martin hit 687,240 on “1942” and had this game in his sights for some major improvement this week. On “Berzerk”, I passed 5K for the first time ever with a score of 13,300. Martin hit 66,140 on “Spectar”…not quite Dave Nelson’s arcade record of over 80K, but close. Martin’s MAME personal best is over 98K, but Twin Galaxies tracks MAME and arcade separately for purity reasons. I hit a new personal best on “Super Cobra” with a score of 179,360 points, and this was a heart-breaker. I reached the 3rd city with approx 174K and two (2) ships in storage and let Robert T Mruczek tell you, whatever could go wrong did go wrong. Due to the nature of the game, I needed at least one (1) ship in storage coming into the 3rd maze in order to survive due to the rate of the fuel consumption. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. Oh well…at least I was closer to the 2nd place score. Charlie Weatherbee, one of the new generation of young gamers from Funspot, logged some scores, or rather times, for “Time Crisis” for stories 2 and 3. Not quite his personal bests on each, but close to within a second or two. He hit 3:26.62 on stage 2, and 5:17.05 on stage 3. He also set a score of 410,300 on “Land, Sea, Air Squad” (aka “L.S.A. Squad”) on the cocktail version of the title. Let Robert T Mruczek tell you, it is NOT easy to play a cocktail version for this game !! That beat Tim McIlro’s previous tournament best of over 360K, but Charlie had one scored over 500K and was confident that he could do so again at some point. So I took down his score for now. Martin played some “Time Crisis 3”, setting a 1st-credit single player score of 1,143,240 points and a full-game score (also single player) of 1,631,630 points. Anna and Jason Cram showed up towards the evening. She’s a huge “Wonderboy” fan and logged a score of 479,240 points, more than double my own personal best. Jason likes “Crazy Climber” and hit 262,250 points. Jason K Cram JKC World Record on Congo Bongo (1,506,300); contender on Zoo Keeper (28.7 million, unofficial); also made the only two 15 million jumps on ZK in history; contest result: 3rd place at 2002 Funspot Classic Videogame World Championship tourney 603-312-2230 By day’s end, we headed back to the cabin. Martin and I started to dig in to some of the food we picked up. I actually over-bought but you never know who might be coming over, or how hungry you might be after a full day of gaming. We played a little “Crazy Taxi 3” before calling it a night. DAY FOUR (Tuesday, November 16th) Hard to believe it…the fourth day of my vacation, and I still had this full day AND another four full days yet to come ahead of me. At this point I realized how badly I needed this vacation, and was very pleased with the fact that for once, after so many days away from the office, I had not given a single though as to what was not being done, or what is being done wrong, while I was gone. I woke up a little after 8:00am and was curious what would be on TV-Land now that “Happy Days” had the last episode shown the day before. Not surprisingly, the very first episode of “Happy Days” was shown. Wow…can’t believe I actually saw that one when it first aired nearly 30+ years ago. Now I remember why the “Chuck” character was dropped from the show so quickly. At least the actor got to see himself in the dinner scene during the end credits of every episode in the first season as a consolation. Wasn’t sure if anyone other than Martin and Robert Mruczek would show up today. I knew that on Wednesday at least Donald Hayes and David Nelson would be present, and probably the Crams and Greg Bond. Turns out I was correct…today was largely just Martin and Robert Mruczek all day, with Charlie Weatherbee coming in by the evening for some “Time Crisis” attempts. During the day, Martin and I experimented with several titles that we normally stay away from, just to see how we would do. I hit 58,740 on “Popeye”, a game that I normally avoid as, quite honestly, I stink at the title. We both tried “Depth Charge”, a favourite title by Gremlin from 1977. I scored 3,510 which was (I think) my arcade best, and Martin hit 2,430. I also got him hooked on “Sky Shark”, a faster version of “1942” and which boasted a much more powerful array of firepower options. His goal today was maxing out the scoreboard on “Timber”, which took a little over an hour but he logged 999,995 points. There’s a 50/50 chance of getting either 999,995 or 999,990. Martin’s personal registered MAME best is a mind-boggling 2.5 million on just five (5) lives. Yet this 999,995 point score is more impressive due to the problems with the controls sticking. His unofficial MAME best is over 4 million points in which, like “Tapper”, the game resets to board zero after stage 256. However, as far as the arcade platform goes, the 999,995 point game is a TG-verified world record. I managed a mediocre 11,537,540 on “Monopoly” pinball when Charlie Weatherbee showed up to give “Time Crisis” another go. Tonight, he pulled off 3:25.83 on story 2 and 5:02.18 on story 3, much better than the other day. Martin and Charlie teamed up for an inaugural team-score (1st credit) on “Time Crisis 3”, scoring a combined 1.210M. I couldn’t quite get the true score due to the fact that if both players die in the same stage, the individual scores are lost. Plus, and as a TG referee I absolutely HATE this, as you lose a life, your score disappears from the game screen until you put in another credit. Hello…Mr-Braintrust who stupidly programmed this into the game…I’m talking to you !! Before the end of the day, Martin upped his “1942” score to 1,284,010 points. Back in the cabin, Martin hooked up his PC to the TV and showed Robert T Mruczek a couple of totally awesome gaming performances, so awesome that I felt humbled by what I had just seen. One was a “Gigawings” type title for the PC which boasted some of the most unusual and impressive boss battles that I had ever seen. And I must admit, after nearly 35 years of playing video games of all kinds, this level of gaming expertise was among the best that I have ever seen…a perfect way to end this gaming day. DAY FIVE (Wednesday, November 17th) We slept in a little later than usual for a change and did not make it to the arcade until probably 10:30am, maybe later. David Nelson and Donald Hayes showed up, as did Shawn Cram. The group of us headed over to “JT’s Barbecue” JT's Barbecue Just go across the street for lunch. I try to make it a point to visit this place at least once every trip. Though I wouldn’t recommend trying their HUGE “Roundup” meal as I did in the past due to the massive amount of food they give you (enough for three meals), they make the best baked beans in the area, in my opinion. Shawn Cram Link Zoo Keeper Rank 1 Score 21,849,650 Lebanon, ME: USA Date Achieved Sunday, June 15, 2003 Shawn Cram has the record for Zookeeper. The previous record had stood for 18 years. Jack Gale had the former record of 20,063,920. He achieved this score on June 28th, 1985. A lot of scores were logged today, especially with Cristian, Jason and Anna Cram showing up along with Greg Bond. Here are a few of the best, in the order of accomplishment… “1942” – 1,525,590 by Martin Bedard, reaching stage 10 or 7 to go “Kiss” (pinball) – 448,840 by Christian Cram “Make Trax” – 1,181,320 by Greg Bond, his first 1M+ game ever “Star Wars” (TGTS) – 3,712,774 by Donald Hayes “Centipede” – 239,329 by Greg Bond (this was the game he was practicing while we ate) “Rally X” – 94,020 by Robert Mruczek… reaching level 9, this was a totally unexpected surprise !! “Berzerk” (slow bullets) - 23,230 by Robert Mruczek, a huge pop over my previous personal best “Satan’s Hollow” – 81,005 by Robert Mruczek “Motorace USA” – 151,500 by Robert Mruczek “Wonderboy” – 510,980 by Martin Bedard “Wonderboy” – 560,400 by Anna Cram “Frontline” – 18,700 by Jason Cram, reminding Robert T Mruczek just how hard this title is “Alpine Ski” – 75,798 by Jason Cram “Dr. Mario” – 165,300 by Randy Lawton…and I am told he’s done MUCH better !! “Laser War” (pinball) - 2,677,540 by Christian Cram “Gorf” – 122,940 by Donald Hayes “Super Cobra” – 165,440 by Donald Hayes (4th best in the world) Tonight, David Nelson opted to stay over for awhile, and Donald Hayes drove him over and decided to stay for a bit. Jen Sweet also showed up for awhile. I asked Martin to show them that performance on the PC again, and, Dave, Donald and Jen were as stunned as I was at the unbelievable precision and skill that the gamer whose performance was captured on the DVD possessed…and that assessment is coming from some of the planet’s best gamers, mind you !! Donald left, leaving Martin, David, Jen and Robert Mruczek to try our luck at classic “Mario Kart 64”, one of the best party games available for the N64 system…and any other system, for that matter. Well, to make a long story short, David and Martin were super good at the game, and after an hour of trying…well, I was trying, but compared to their skillset I was just a little bit of an annoyance… \maybe I won three games to their combined 40+. Eventually, it got late. Jen left, and we wheeled out the cot for David. Tomorrow was another day. _________________ Robert T Mruczek Twin Galaxies - Editor and Chief referee Star Wars classic arcade marathon champion (work E-MAIL) ****************************** ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- PART II Link ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Twin Galaxies Forums Forum Index -> FunSpot Arcade Link RMRUCZEK Robert Mruczek TG Board of Directors Location: Brooklyn, NY Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 5:02 pm Post subject: Funspot 2004 - Results (Part 2 of 2) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello fellow gamers: Here is the second half...something technical is preventing Robert T Mruczek from posting this article as one piece. Robert ************************* DAY SIX (Thursday, November 18th) Three whole days to go and feeling great. We had a late start today because we got into watching a vintage episode of the “Dick Van Dyke” show in which Dick’s character Rob Petrie finds out that his wife Laura, played by Mary Tyler Moore, lied on their wedding license many years back about her age…turns out she said she was only 17 at the time. Heavy stuff for a 1960’s show !! Connecticut-based gamer Richard Marsh showed up early in the day. He holds the TGTS record on “Gyruss”, the world record (1st credit only) on “Stun Runner”, and is an accomplished “Galaga” and “Tempest” player. Gary Vincent dropped by to say that a reported from “The Weirs Times” would be showing up to do a story about our being their…for once a positive story on gaming rather than all those negative ones about titles like the “Grand Theft Auto” series that seem to change the public’s opinion on video gaming in general. It was a nice lunch-time interview, ending in a picture taken outside the premise. Today we each pulled off some impressive scores. Here are a few of them… “Rally X” – 88,560 by David Nelson “1942” – 11,846,500 by Martin Bedard (his 1st completed game ever) “Berzerk” (slow bullets) – 37,800 by Robert Mruczek (amazing, I think, considering my prior best was 5K before coming to Funspot) “Shootout” (Data East) – 88,436 by David Nelson (without hunting) “Super Breakout” (Double) – 1,996 by David Nelson “Circus Charlie” – 419,900 by Christopher Burnell “Track and Field” – 85,620 by David Nelson “Donkey Kong” – 113,200 by Robert Mruczek (I may have watched a couple of good DK scores over the past year, but I still stink at the game !!) “Vanguard” – 253,280 by Martin Bedard “Robotron” (TGTS) – 449,575 by Shawn Cram “Red Alert” – 11,050 by Martin Bedard At some point, Randy Lawton pulled out a “Red Alert” game. This one is rare… I don’t even see it on MAME !! Over the course of the next few days, we would each give this one a go. Martin was starting to get into “Sky Shark” and hit 421,370 points. I showed my “Alien Syndrome” skills to Mark Alpiger and scored 195,800 points. Golden age gamer Mark Alpiger showed up at this point. He holds the 2nd highest “Crystal Castles” score in the world, and is one of the best players at “Road Runner” that I have seen. We dabbled in some “Food Fight” (TGTS) Mark Alpiger MDA Contender on Crystal Castles (now #2), Marble Madness, The Glob, Roadrunner, Snakepit, Tetris Plus, Tetris Plus 2; avid gamer on arcade and computer platforms, plus MAME (see MDARULZ at M.A.R.P.) Please contact Mark Alpiger, who is first in URGENT BREAKING NEWS, from Funspot. His integrity and honesty preceeds him as an great reporter of these events. Please contact him and see his web site for BREAKING NEWS because he has the most up to date lists and first person contacts with the refs, judges and players. Mark Alpiger'sWeb Site Dave left earlier in the day after the interview. Evening fun included some “Crazy Taxi 3” on the Xbox in which Martin Bedard pulled off a “Crazy Jump” of 959.01 yards. Another day awaited…and Friday was poised to have a large crowd. DAY SEVEN (Friday, November 19th) Coming close to the end of my vacation, we tried to squeeze in as much gaming as we could. On a personal note, try as I could, I was unable to beat my earlier score of 179K on “Super Cobra”, although for the week I did break 170K four (4) times in total which was quite promising. Here are some of the other scores from Friday… “Monaco GP” – 2,498 by Martin Bedard “Star Wars” (TGTS) – 2,151,156 by Shawn Cram (his first 2M+ game) “LSA Squad” – 660,400 by Charlie Weatherbee, a new world record “Wonderboy” – 594,620 by Anna Cram…so close to 600K she can feel it !! ”Twin Cobra” (single player) – 456,190 by Charlie Weatherbee “Super Breakout” (Double) – 1,727 by Robert Mruczek “Jungle Hunt” – 185,150 by Shawn Cram “Sky Shark” – 436,750 by Martin Bedard Also, Charlie Weatherbee’s friend, Nick Ortakales, showed up to try his hand at “Time Crisis”. He pulled off 2:29.53 on story 1, and 11:01.07 in story mode achieving a rating of 8 stars and 51% accuracy in the process. His stages times were 2:38.90 and 5:58.30 at the end of stages 1 and 2. With just a few days left, knowing that I will most likely not see some of these gamers for many months, I spent a considerable amount of time talking rather than playing. Actually, as it was Friday, there were more kiddies running around today than the rest of the previous week combined !! If I had a good game going, it might have been in jeopardy of my getting bumped by an over enthusiastic young’un running about with their token cup !! Dinner took place at the Hart Turkey Farm which was (Mark Alpiger, take note of this), a LOT further than 2 miles away from Funspot !! According to the placemat, they serve up more than a ton of turkey every day, never mind the fixings. FYI – if all you want to eat is a burger, go to McDonald’s. Why waste the opportunity of a eating at a dedicated turkey farm…after all, when in Rome, as the expression goes. I am fairly sure that we left Funspot very late Friday and went our separate ways. Tomorrow, my last full day at Funspot, was bound to be long so we needed some rest. Besides, Fred Pastore promised earlier in the week to meet us at 9:00am for breakfast, and all week we’ve been ready no earlier than 10:00am, so I made it a point to get to wake up early. DAY EIGHT (Saturday, November 20th) Okay, here it was. My last full day at Funspot. A lot of gamers were expected today. I woke up very early, close to 7:00am, and was ready for Fred Pastore showing up while Martin decided to catch a few extra Z’s. In the interim, I watched some of the “Baywatch” marathon that was running, and saw the episode featuring “The Beach Boys”. By the time it was almost over, Fred Pastore, Mark Alpiger and Brian Kuh showed up. Martin got ready quickly and we were off to breakfast in Meredith at a family place called “Diner” or something like that. Another place called “MAME’s Diner” was nearby, and Fred couldn’t help but notice that one which happened to sound like the MAME platform. After a quick breakfast we returned to Funspot to a large crowd, mostly kids in the tween age group and younger. Throughout the day, the full array of gamers showed up. Here is the roster…Robert Mruczek, Martin Bedard, Donald Hayes, Greg Bond, Brian Kuh, Jason Cram, Shawn Cram, Anna Cram, Christian Cram, David Cram, Fred Pastore, Mark Alpiger, and also John Zabel, who showed up last in the day, presented Robert T Mruczek with an anxiously awaited taped performance on “Super Missile Attack” in which he broke 200K for the first time ever, a new world record by far, and my apologies if I forgot anyone else. Only David Nelson and Richard Marsh were not in attendance. Quite an array of world record holders, I have to say. During a day of some serious gaming, here are some of the records and personal bests that were registered… “Jokerz !” (pinball) – 2,514,060 by Fred Pastore “Close Encounters” (pinball) – 270,680 by Martin Bedard “Road Runner” – 780,740 by Robert Mruczek “Gorgar” (pinball) – 264,980 by Brian Kuh “Red Alert” – 14,450 by Robert Mruczek “Wonderboy” – 615,560 by Anna Cram…she broke 600K for the 1st time ever !! Greg (“Mappy”) Bond was on a roll at “Make Trax”, at 1.12 million points, when his cell phone rang. He literally jumped off his gaming stool to take the call. The game was lost, but Greg is sure he can do this again. Greg Bond - Mappy Champion The group of us…ALL of us, in fact, went out to dinner at a place called “Patrick’s”, and luckily the family room had a table that could accommodate all of us at a single table…well, three or four tables pushed together, but the effect was the same. This was an awesome way to end my weekend, spending it with so many friends. But one thing made it even better. Bill Mitchell called Greg Bond on his cell phone, and had some important TG-related news to discuss with me, after which came the big surprise. Bill managed to get “Pac-master” Rick Fothergill on the line, and we passed around the cell phone from player to player saying hi to Rick and wishing him well. Rick has been unable to attend the annual Funspot event for close to three years now, and we miss his presence, so this really cheered him up big time according to Bill. Walter Day and Rick Fothergil The discussions at the dinner tables were spirited and varied, often gaming-related but sometimes we shared aspects of our non-gaming lives. Our hobbies outside of gaming are quite varied and range from collecting to sports, movies and gaming programming and design. We also discussed the upcoming year 2005 “Bounty” announcement that TG will shortly be making on January 1st. That generated a lot of buzz. Dinner ended and we all returned to Funspot. While we were gone, operations manager Gary Vincent was wondering where everyone had gone. He knew that a lot of us were at Funspot that day, but all of a sudden he checked and aside from the local young kids, none of us were playing at all !! So he suspected we went out to eat. When we came back, we squeezed in as much gaming as we could. I also verified a team score on “Time Crisis 3” by Martin Bedard and Charlie Weatherbee that (by far) outpaced their previous day’s efforts. For 1st credit-team play, their score total was 1,392,450 and their full-game score was 2,727,750 which is now the top score on the Funspot machine. Not too shabby !! Here are the remainder of the scores from that evening…some of which featured “The Glob” which Mark Alpiger received permission from Gary Vincent and Randy Lawton to temporarily hook up to a “Ms Pacman” machine. “Funhouse” (pinball) – 9,391,230 by Charlie Weatherbee “Food Fight” (TGTS) – 152,400 by Brian Kuh “Crazy Climber” – 276,600 by Jason Cram “Sky Shark” – 585,320 by Martin Bedard “The Glob” – 65,604 by Donald Hayes “The Glob” – 77,161 by Mark Alpiger “Gorgar” (pinball) – 343,220 by Brian Kuh “Gorgar” (pinball) – 293,540 by Fred Pastore “Red Alert” – 8,970 by Jason Cram The scores for everyone on “Gorgar”,> the pinball title that I grew up with in freshman year of high school, would have been dramatically higher, but “The Pit” area of the game (top left) was barely registering, so we all lost out on 50K-150K per game attempt. Oh well. We retired to the downstairs tavern to chat and spend our last hours together. Even played some bar room billiards. Turns out that I forgot more about billiards than I had thought…I used to be quite good but messed up on way too many shots. The LAST score of the contest came when we were gathered in the downstairs main area. The bank of arcade machines up above was the last to be turned off. Most of us were downstairs talking with Gary Vincent when Donald Hayes and Shawn Cram returned from upstairs. Donald achieved 173,700 on “Super Cobra”, still 4th place but now each of us were that much closer to beating the world record. It’s just a matter of when. After much discussion, the time came when we all had to go. Most of these gamers I would not see for another 6 months so it was a tough goodbye as it always is. Jen Sweet returned with us to the cabin to take back the TV set, and we gave her every single unused canister of “Pringles” that we had…at least six or seven Like I said, we over-bought, just in case. Fred Pastore said he would meet for breakfast the following day AND said he would drive Robert T Mruczek back to the airport, which was very kind. Before Donald left, he gave Robert T Mruczek a video tape of a massive score on “Millipede” which is going to be 2nd place on the all-time list once verified. In fact, that tape, and John Zabel’s “Super Missile Attack”, are the next ones that I will verify. Martin and I packed up, chatted a bit, and then it was time to rest up for our trips back home the following morning. I checked my airline itinerary and mea culpa, I though all along my return flight departure was 1:45pm when it was really 2:30pm, so good thing I checked !! Before we packed, we had computer and gaming equipment all over the place, plus a still over-stocked refrigerator. LAST DAY (Sunday, November 21st) Martin and I were all ready to go early when Mark Alpiger, Brian Kuh and Fred Pastore showed up on schedule. Checkout was not until 11:00am so we had some time. I told them about my later-than-expected departure, so we all decided that after breakfast we would head over to Funspot for some last minute gaming attempts. Breakfast was at McDonald’s, during which time I learned a new tactic on table-clearing from Brian Kuh. Fred drove us back to the cabin where Martin and I packed up. Fred then drove back to where he was staying to check out, and then Martin and I checked out and headed back to Funspot where Fred would shortly meet up with us. Back at Funspot, the place was totally quiet. John Zabel also showed up, surprised to see us. We had perhaps 90 minutes or so before Fred had to drive Robert T Mruczek back to Manchester for my flight so we mostly played some pinball, but I promised Fred that I would give “Super Cobra” one last attempt. I had an EXCELLENT start…cleared the first “booty” stage on my first ship and reached approx 115K and the “city” stage the second time around before taking a hit. I cleared that and reached the dreaded “maze” stage with five (5) ships in storage, and had a chance at an awesome game ahead of me, but it was not meant to be. The first major drop is the deadliest. A tank is firing directly at the exit point, and rockets fire upwards. This is extremely tough due to the dive that follows and the tough parts ahead. I needed to reach the end of the maze with at least one (1) ship in storage due to the fuel consumption concerns, but that tank and rocket combination was unbelievably unlucky this time for me. Although I passed 170K four times this past week, I was unable to clear this section of the maze for five times in a row. I walked away in disgust as my last ship came up. I had in the vicinity of 120K when I died, but could care less. Even though this was still more than double what an average gamer could ever hope to accomplish, it was my best effort ever, wasted due to bad random luck. “Super Cobra” is one of the rare games where a few points in the game have little to do with luck. One such point exists in stage 5, another in stage 7, a third in stage 8. Stage 9, the “city” stage as most players refer to it since the “Scramble” days, is a chore and a half to clear unscathed. But the maze is deadly. If it was not for that single tank in such a deadly position, I probably would never die in the maze except for fuel runout which is unavoidable in the 2nd “booty” stage and the 3rd “maze” stage and thereafter. Oh well, another time, then. I told Brian Kuh and he suggested that if I was interested later on that I could meet up with him on a Friday in New Jersey and drive up for the weekend, something he does every weekend for nearly the past year. I certainly will, but only if I am not too drained from a week at my job beforehand !! Only two (2) more decent scores were achieved before I headed on back. Martin Bedard hit 234,260 on “Gorgar” (pinball), ensuring that everyone there had cracked at least 200K on this title at least once over the past week, and John Zabel after 22 years of not playing “Rally X” proved that time has not hampered his skills. He broke 100K for the first time ever with a final score of 104,690 points. Nice !! I made sure to show that one to Brian Kuh, whose personal best is nearly 140K and who ranks as one of the world’s best players at the title. Time to go. I gave most of my tokens earlier to a youngster who, with her friends, went about systematically searching the coin slots for extra tokens. That made her day. I gave the rest to Martin the day before so he could play some more “Time Crisis” if need be. So today, with two single dollar bills, I purchased eight more tokens and played a few more games. After all, I had been gaming for nearly 100 hours this past week…I was virtually gamed-out !! We went out to the parking lot leaving John Zabel in the arcade as he was still on vacation. Brian Kuh had to drive back to New Jersey, Martin Bedard to Canada, and Mark Alpiger to I forget, Kentucky or Louisiana. Fred was to take Robert T Mruczek to Manchester Airport for my flight back to New York. One of the comments that I could not help but make was that in case Donald Hayes showed up, and saw my 120K+ score on “Super Cobra”, he would be mystified as to who the gamer was that set this score, being that I was not supposed to be at Funspot on Sunday. I wonder what he would think if/when he saw that ? Ah well, at least when Donald reads this recap he’ll know the answer. We all drove off in our respective directions. I got to the airport with about 20-30 minutes before boarding time, so Fred and I had a quick snack from “Dunkin’ Donuts” and chatted in the waiting area until I had to go. Fred walked with Robert T Mruczek to the security gate and then headed back to his car for the drive back home. Security was not too bad. The taking off of the shoes is annoying, but I had more on my mind than worrying about whether my socks had any holes in them for people to see so I just went on through without incident. After baggage check I took a cab ride home which was pretty cheap compared to the ride going there. The local car service in my neighborhood is a rip-off, it seems. I got back home at 4:00pm and immediately contacted Walter and Bill to let them know I was back. Some important TG matters were discussed. I resisted the urge to go into work and see how bad everything was left for me. Thankfully I did not or my last evening on vacation would have been very discouraging indeed. No one did ANY of my work while I was gone…nothing except the most mission-critical tasks were handled. In other words, 99.9% of my work was left there for Robert T Mruczek to deal with when I returned. Today is Friday, November 26th, a company holiday. I had no chance between a chaotic first day back and an early dismissal Wednesday to get much done. I was going to go in today to do some work but decided the heck with it. But tomorrow, Saturday, I have no choice. I have to or else things will fall to pieces in my division. So…that recaps my November 2004 vacation at Funspot. The resultant scores I will start to enter as early as tomorrow into the TG database and hope to finish by Thursday, December 2nd. Thanks to all my friends who showed up this past week. You all contributed to making this one of my best vacations ever. Call Robert T Mruczek crazy, but I’d much rather have a chance to score 179K on “Super Cobra” than go down to Disneyland or Great Adventure. Besides, I’d probably be in the arcades there, anway. I’m already looking forward to Funspot 7 which will probably be held in early June 2005, and by the time November rolls around, I most likely will be doing this all over again. Until then !! Robert _________________ Robert T Mruczek Twin Galaxies - Editor and Chief referee Star Wars classic arcade marathon champion (work E-MAIL) ****************************** permafrostrick Referee Joined: 11 Sep 2003 Posts: 1722 Location: Baltimore, MD Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 5:59 pm Post subject: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- pictures?!? FYI, I am planning on meeting up with Donald Hayes on Sunday, the 28th at the Crab Towne arcade in Glen Burnie, Maryland. We met up there last year when he came to Baltimore for a ping-pong tournament. He is here playing the tournament again this year. Hopefully the games still will be least the ones that were working last year. It's unlikely any of the others were fixed...unless someone does that on their own time denoting the parts as well. I have not visited there since last fall...but do now live only about 25 minutes away from Crab Towne. We will see....if not there was at least a decent conditioned Centipede and several decent pinball machines to just talking over food and drink of course. Hope to cya Sunday Donald! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- RMRUCZEK TG Board of Directors Location: Brooklyn, NY Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 6:49 pm Post subject: Pictures -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello Rick: Other than a couple of pics that Mark Alpiger too kon the closing day, and a few of Jason's birthday party, I'm not sure what pics were actually taken !! Oh yes...there should at the very least be a few in the Weirs Times once that article of Robert Mruczek, Martin Bedard, David Nelson and Richard Marsh outside of Funspot, and a few more that the visiting columnist took on Saturday. Next time I gotta remember to get a digital camera !! Robert _________________ Robert T Mruczek Twin Galaxies - Editor and Chief referee Star Wars classic arcade marathon champion (work E-MAIL) ****************************** -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The_Pro Location: Saint-Lazare, Quebec, Canada Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 10:42 pm Post subject: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yeah, this was definitely a great trip. Thanks a lot to Robert for having me, David Nelson for the chocolate, Fred Pastore for breakfast and everyone else that made it a good time. It was great coming down on a non tournament week. I felt I had more time to just get to know eveyone and it was definitely time well spent. The large dinner Saturday night was great, although I was a bit tongue tied talking to Rick on the phone. Hopefully I'll make a better impression if he comes down to the tournament next year. Can't wait for Funspot 7, where I will initiate the Pringles challenge! Also, I will remember to bring a signed affidavit verified by the TG board of directors that will detail exactly what my reason for entering the USA is. Apparently, my going to the middle of nowhere, to see a man from New York that I met on the internet, to play videogames is not very convincing. _________________ Martin Bedard -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- QRS1 Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 11:23 pm Post subject: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Damn... I wish I had the money to visit funspot.. Someday.. i will be there... and break the moon patrol score Anyway, great scores!! Especially that vanguard score *gulp* btw, Martin:If you want to get a 12-13mil score on 1942, make sure you save a lot of ships to the last but one stage.. destroy the big plane for 50k and die on its bullets... then do it over and over again and finish the game after that My best is 12.3 mil using that tech (mame). I first saw Hisa Chan do that...with a final score of 14mil!! He got to the last plane on his first man... used all ships (23 I think) and finished it on his last man. Talk about nerves!! _________________ Deca 2001, 2002 Champion. Editor at MARP -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The_Pro Location: Saint-Lazare, Quebec, Canada Posted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 11:53 pm Post subject: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- QRS1 wrote: btw, Martin:If you want to get a 12-13mil score on 1942, make sure you save a lot of ships to the last but one stage.. destroy the big plane for 50k and die on its bullets... then do it over and over again and finish the game after that My best is 12.3 mil using that tech (mame). I first saw Hisa Chan do that...with a final score of 14mil!! He got to the last plane on his first man... used all ships (23 I think) and finished it on his last man. Talk about nerves!! Yeah, I saw that inp as well. I was going to try for that trick but when I reached the plane I had totally forgotten that it was bigger than the others. I lost a couple of the lives I had and then beat it on my final man, really close shave. I'll surely try for more when I get back there. By the way, at some point during the week I showed some people at Robert's cabin parts of your wonderboy inp. A lot of "no way" was heard during 8-4 . _________________ Martin Bedard -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Carnival_Fred Posted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 10:58 pm Post subject: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Robert, Just for the record, that place is George's Diner... a place recommended by the locals. No problem Martin on the breakfast. Actually, it was Martin who brought up the name of the place next to George's. I must say that Robert looked quite refreshed on the second Saturday of his trip. And to Rick, since Donald headed down your way, I think you need to return the favor and make a trip to FS 7!!! Lastly, I'll second what Martin said about being there without the tournament going on although it doesn't seem to make much of a difference in my case!!! Carnival Fred -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Zotmeister Location: Tiverton, RI Posted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:05 pm Post subject: Re: Funspot 2004 - Results (Part 2 of 2) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- RMRUCZEK wrote: Throughout the day, the full array of gamers showed up. Here is the roster… Robert Mruczek, Martin Bedard, Donald Hayes, Greg Bond, Brian Kuh, Jason Cram, Shawn Cram, Anna Cram, Christian Cram, David Cram, Fred Pastore, Mark Alpiger, and also John Zabel... my apologies if I forgot anyone else. Apologies accepted - ZM, the ONE person you omitted (but hey, I know all about missing just one - I invented the puzzle) P.S.: I hope you remember that I'll be sending tapes your way! _________________ Darkness lessons learned/Avenging golden tresses/Yellow flower blooms - "(dedicated to Millia Rage)", original haiku ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- SCORES OF NOTE & WORLD RECORDS Game Player Score Land Sea Air Squad * Tim McIlroy 342,600 Astro Fighter * Tim McIlroy 19,670 Clowns * Dave Nelson 61,390 Starship 1 * Christian Cram 6,700 Timber * Martin Bedard 339,225 Lazarian * Jason Cram 88,670 Gyruss (5-man) * Richard Marsh 1,306,100 Star Trek (Tournament) * Darren Harris 1,717,350 Robotron: 2084 * Abdner Ashman 821,000 Jr. Pac-Man * Abdner Ashman 1,550,000 Tutankham (marathon) * Rob Barrett 2,791,880 Leprechaun * Steve Kyriakides 537,395 Xybots * Joel Hedge 166,900 Quartet * Adam Wood 512,200 Guided Missile * Mark Shultz 2,690 * = New World Record -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- CHALLENGE WINNERS Color Game Challenge Winner -- Dave Nelson Monochrome Challenge Winner -- Dave Nelson Women's Challenge Winner -- Catherine Karpins Pinball Challenge Winner -- Greg Bond Overall 2004 Funspot Player of the Year Dave Nelson ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Origins Of Funspot By Funspot Gary Vincent Link ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Funspot. The Classic Game Headquarters of the World! Welcome Classic Game Fans! FUN WITHOUT THE SUN To drive the rolling roads around Lake Winnipesaukee is to risk arriving, entirely by mistake, in some other decade. The Moultonborough general store rears up out of the year 1781. The area's grandly named little motels pull you straight back to the 1950s. The motor ship Mount Washington has been carrying passengers around the lake since 1940. And then there is one little corner of Laconia where it is forever 1983, and robots are trying to take over the earth. The robots are villains in the 20-year-old video game Robotron, and their home is the Funspot, a sprawling arcade and mini-golf center which among its many attractions has slowly become the single largest repository of out-of-circulation video games in the known world. It's hard to miss the Funspot, even if you are trying. Its cartoony green dragon blows smoke on billboards for miles around, advertising vast quantities of alarmingly wholesome family pleasure. What the Funspot does not advertise is the room on its third floor, above the 20 bowling alleys and the Skee-Ball and the D. A. Long Tavern, that holds a dense, blinking cluster of 185 working arcade games built between 1971 and 1987. There are people who travel to New Hampshire just to visit this, the Classic Game Room, where original units of Pac-Man, Centipede, Galaga, and Space Invaders Deluxe are arrayed side by side in their original pixilated glory, as if Diffrent Strokes were still on prime time and the second Reagan administration was still a distant vision. "There is nothing else like this room, anywhere," says Gary Vincent, the manager of the Funspot and the man responsible for the fact that there are people in Finland who have come to visit a rambling arcade a half-mile from the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee, "And I've asked, believe me." If you were not aware that there was such a thing as a "classic" video game, you are not alone. But if you are younger than 50 and once played video games and eventually stopped, bewildered by the hyper realisticfighting and cripplingly loud soundtracks, then you will understand the pull. At the peak of their popularity, video arcade games were novel and cute and went boing. They featured appealing characters like Pac-Man, Q*Bert, and the little frog in Frogger. When those games disappeared, a whole generation walked out of the arcade and never walked back in. Unless they stumbled in the Funspot. "You could go up there now, there could be a 50-year-old woman playing. There could be a 20-year-old guy," says Vincent. "If you come here on a weekend or rainy day, I'd say most of the people playing there are in the 5-to-45-year-old age group." In a sense, the Funspot is a 55,000-square-foot testament to the idea that in a fast-moving world, you can go a long way just by standing still. In 1952, two brothers named Bob and John Lawton launched a small business at nearby Weirs Beach featuring a nine-hole indoor miniature golf course, ping-pong, and a half-dozen mechanical arcade games. They bought more arcade games. Needing room to expand, they settled on a parcel away from the beach. They bought a chain saw, cleared trees, and laid out a new outdoor miniature golf course, featuring hand-built wooden New Hampshire landmarks, that still stands today. In the past four decades, the Funspot has branched out into every brand of kitsch diversion imaginable. There was the Indian Village (1967-1983). There was the Storybook Forest (1976-1984). "We used to have a beautiful slot-car track," says Vincent, dragging out the beautiful with appreciative gusto. It was eight lanes wide. "But one video game would do pretty much three times the amount of money as the slot-car track." That was on the cusp of the 1980s, when video games seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut. So the Funspot undertook an ambitious plan. The Lawton brothers expanded to a half-dozen Funspots around New Hampshire and Maine. There was even a franchise in Port Richey, Florida - the first beachhead in a campaign to populate the nation with Funspots. But youth culture changes as fast as youth does. Once there were scores of Indian villages, and now to find even one would be extraordinary. By the mid-'80s the bottom had dropped out of the arcade industry. Mall arcades shrank, then disappeared, and their owners raced one another to ditch their arcade rooms. As games became increasingly fast, violent, and more tightly targeted to teenage boys, tens of thousands of Pac-Man games and Defenders and Zaxxons were mothballed, auctioned off for low multiples of $20. Then there was the Funspot. Through inertia or principled stubbornness, the Funspot held on to its original games, keeping them in working order for years. And years. When kids in Boston were paying 50 cents to blast away at three-dimensional zombies in the wide-screen game House of the Dead, kids in Laconia could still pay a quarter to slowly pilot a homesick frog across several lanes of highway traffic - if, that is, anyone wanted to. "We took a lot of flak here for many years for the old games, from 1988 to about '99," says Gary Vincent. "People were like, 'What do you keep all these junk games for? Nobody plays them.' But we stuck to our guns." In fact, Vincent did not merely stick to his guns: He had an idea. His idea was the first annual Funspot International Classic Video Game and Pinball Tournament, in 1999, which drew dozens of former video game champions out of their semivoluntary retirement to compete once again for high scores on Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Dig Dug. Word got around that there was a place in New Hampshire where you could find working versions of all these games. "It went from 'Why do you have them?' to 'I can't believe you have this!'" says Vincent. Vincent found himself taking phone calls from people who saw themselves as donors to a cause. Curt Vendel, who operates a website called the Atari History Museum, donated seven games, including an original Breakout. Another man offered Vincent a collection of 111 games. None of them worked, but the Funspot's head technician, Randy Lawton, has been around since Asteroids was a gleam in some programmer's eye, and he set to work. Now the arcade can boast a rare working version of Lunar Lander, the early black-and-white arcade classic that endlessly frustrated millions of teenagers in 1979. Today, the catalog of Funspot games reads like the fantasy afternoon of a long-vanished adolescence: Joust, Tron, Galaxian, Qix, Tempest, Wizard of Wor. There are older black-and-white games like Sea Wolf and Space Invaders. Of course there is pinball. And floating through the room is a 1980s soundtrack of Run-DMC and the Romantics. Enthusiasts of classic video games - and there are a lot - have pointed out that the variety and sheer creativity of early-'80s games is a direct result of the minuscule processing power available at the time. The brain of Tempest, very advanced for its day, wouldn't power a modern telephone. With realism out of the question, game designers compensated with an outrageous profusion of clever ideas. But the creativity wouldn't last. "About mid-1987 was when the game Double Dragon came out," says Vincent mournfully. "It went from puzzle-type games, fanciful-type games, to nothing but players trying to beat each other to death. That, in my opinion, ended the whole innocence of the arcade industry." While dozens of 30-somethings recapture that innocence on the Funspot's third floor, Gary Vincent's own headlong rush backward has taken on the energy of a crusade. Thenext step, as he sees it: nonprofit status. Vincent envisions a new addition to New Hampshire's roster of curious attractions, which he calls the Classic Arcade Museum. But even he concedes that "it's never going to make money, and that's a fact." For now, the Funspot - and the Classic Game Room - is still a business and needs to behave like one. Vincent passed up the chance to buy a two-player version of Computer Space for $3,000. "How do you go to the company and say I want to spend $3,000 on a game that'll take in two, three bucks a week?" he says. "They'd look at me like I just sprouted a second head." These days, if the classic game room is looking a little crowded, it's because dozens of games were evicted from a neighboring room to make way for simulated video golf, a grown-up pastime that attracts year-round golf leagues. And Vincent has his hands full as the manager of a center that employs, depending on the season, between 55 and 90 people. It all still seems extraordinary to a man who took a job as a teenager almost exactly 22 years ago. "They said, 'Can you help us for the last four weeks of summer?'" he recalls, shaking his head. "Somehow, the last four weeks of the summer of '81 haven't ended yet." For more information about the Funspot, call 603-366-4377 or visit
Thank you,
Paul Dean, June 28, 1985 Spy Hunter Champion

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The Golden Era

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Click the Below Graphic Text to read my Conversations With Walter Day

June 9, 2004 Walter Day states, "No Replay Necessary" for Paul Dean

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Thank you,
Paul Dean,, Spy Hunter Champion, June 28, 1985

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