John P. McAllister beats Scott Safran's 1982
Asteroids World Record Score
RECENT BREAKING NEWS: SCOTT SAFRAN ASTEROIDS MARATHON
SCORE BEAT BY JOHN P. MCALLISTER
John P. McAllister New Asteroids World Record Score of 41,838,740 points 57 3/4 hour marathon
completed on April 5, 2010
Asteroids Marathon Time: 57 3/4 hour
Start Time: Saturday April 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm
end Time: Mononday April 5, 2010 at 10:18 pm
Scott Safran (1982) John P. McAllister (2010)
John P. McAllister's game lasted 57:46:11 57 Hours: 46 Minutes: 11 Seconds which
ended at 10:18 PM at Seattle Washington on Monday, April 5, 2010 at the home of
Ken House, Dig Dug World Record Holder.
Asteroids 41,838,740 (57 hours 46 minutes) Marathon
Asteroids is one of the greatest video arcade games of all times released in 1979 by Atari Inc.
has seen a change in heroes. One of of the most popular and influential games of the Golden Age
of Arcade Games, Asteroids has been beaten by John P. McAllister, overcoming the long
standing score of Scott Safran.
The Coin-Operated Asteroids score to beat for the last 28 years was 41,336,440, set
by the late Scott Safran on November 13, 1982. On Monday, April 5, 2010 Locksmith,
John P. McAllister of Seattle, Washington beat this long standing Scott Safran Asteroids
score setting a new world record of 41,838,740 points. This new world record Asteroids
marathon game took 57 3/4 hours for John P. McAllister to complete which is the second
longest verified coin-operated marathon score on record coming close to James Vollandt's
Joust marathon of 67 1/2 hours playing on one quarter during the 1985 Canadian Iron Man
Contest. No coin-operated video game marathon has ever beat the James Vollandt 67 ½ hour
feat. As a note, this score is considered impossible to beat with the regular verion
of the Asteroids board however there is a speed-up Asteroids which lets one score faster
cutting down the world record time from an approximate 80 hours of game play to beat
Scott Safran's score to a more reasonable 57 3/4 marathon time that John P. McAllister
was able to do. Further, Leo Daniels had also used a faster Asteroids board giving him
a quite high score as well and at one time the highest score on Asteroids.
The new Asteroids World Record score was not set on a whim and that is why it took 28
years for the previous Scott Safran score to be beat by John P. McAllister. This score is
in the gaming world is equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest in the climbing world. Not
only do you have to beat this score by mastering the game, but you also have to stay
awake and alert in the case of John P. McAllister for 57 3/4 hours without hallucinating or
having body parts fail you such as your wrists, arms, fingers or eyes which are all
being overly fatigued.
The effort at this level has only been achieved at one other time being that nobody
besides John P. McAllister and James Vollandt have ever played a coin operated game
for as long as they have going over the 49 1/2 hour marathon time of Robert Mruczek on
his game of choice, Star Wars and his competitor Brandon Erickson a Local Portland, Oregon
Teacher who played Star Wars at Ground Kontrol arcade for 54 hours and 10 minutes with
a final score of 283,779,000 points.
Some other Marathoners of notable mention are David Palmer of Star Wars fame and
Kelly Tharp of Q*bert fame.
I was able to take the opportunity to ask John McAllister a few Asteroids questions:
(PD) Paul Dean and (JM) John McAllister questions and answers about Asteroids:
PD: How did you know you could beat this score?
JM: I wasn't sure that I could beat it but I wanted to find out. I started out knowing
that I was going to try. After 36 hours going into the 2nd nite and morning would be
the deciding point. If I could survive until 8-10am the last day I knew that I could
go the rest of the way.
PD: How long did you have this score in your sights?
JM: Oh probably around 6-8 months ago I started to think about it. I had the Asteroids
Deluxe record and thought that I should also go for Asteroids.
PD: What date and time did you start your Asteroids marathon?
JM: Looks like I started on Sat Apr 3rd 2010 at 12:30 pm
and finished at around Mon Apr 5th 2010 10:18 pm
PD: What score are you most proud of?
JM: I worked the hardest on Robotron 5 man tourney settings and that game took the
most time and effort to accomplish. After that it is Asteroids, but based on skill
over endurance it stays with Robotron.
PD: What game is next for you for a world record?
JM: Defender keeps coming up on the to do list. I have to do more research on scoring
rates and techniques to score faster. Donkey Kong III is a possible go also. Other
than that it might just be the next machine I buy :) That's how some of my records
PD: Would you do a crazy long marathon again on another game?
JM: Again back to Defender which at current lightly researched rate of 1.25 million
per hour would be around 70-75 hours with breaks and slow down in scoring as game
progresses. Bill Carlton and myself might be doing Missile Command together in June
if things happen the way were hoping and that would be around 45-50 hours.
PD: The Defender marathon score seems a bit daunting to beat. Do you think
they played on a normal Defender and for as many hours as it would take
you to beat that score?
JM: I've never heard of a modified Defender. I'm really not sure what to believe on
the score and amount of hours played. There is the 256 ship rollover problem,
breaks, and other considerations to think about.
PD: On Missile Command, have you guys figured out how to keep the game from
resetting as Bill had a lot of problems within his documentary High Score with
his game crashing.
JM: For Missile Command we have figured out all the issues. I wrote a program to
help keep track of the cities. All you have to do is enter how many cities you
lost after a wave is complete and it will do the rest. No more resets will happen
unless the machine resets on a hardware error.
PD: Would you ever consider a Robotron Marathon score or is the number one
spot just to high to compete against?
JM: The Robotron marathon is a myth and nothing else. There are just too many things
that doesn't add up. The amount of time would be in the 90-100 hour range. The
game likes to reset not only from harware issues but also software issues that have
been documented. The score that is recorded is not possible as the game must end
in 00, 25, 50, or 75 not 80. There is nothing documented about this marathon, no
pictures, no stories, no backup. The score is just flat out made up. No one will
ever beat that score, its not possible do to resets and the amount of time.
PD: I noticed you mentioned Donkey Kong III as a possibility for a high score.
Are you a fan of the original Donkey Kong and Donkey Jr. as well which you
know comes with a bit of controversy do to the King of Kong Documentary?
JM: The King of Kong was the best thing that happened to the CAG scene. High Score
has also helped our cause. I used to play DK every weekend with my buddies for
a couple of years. Hated DKjr and DK3 but now DK3 has grown on me and I have
thought about going for the record.
PD: A couple of questions about Asteroids Deluxe / compared to Asteroids if you don't
mind. It seems that you have mastered Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe - Would you say
that Asteroids Deluxe is harder?
JM: Asteroids Deluxe was made a lot harder and funner. The shots that the saucer shoots
will hit you, it has different speeds and is more accurate. Also the snowflake or
special rock that comes out towards the end of the wave makes things a lot harder.
Once the rock is broken up it starts to chase you and add the little saucer into the
mix and your in trouble.
PD: Is hunting a strategy for Asteroids Deluxe or does that not work as well as Asteroids?
JM: They made it so that you can't hunt in Asteroids Deluxe by adding the little saucer so
accurate that you just cant hunt it anymore. Plus some of the saucers shots are
supposed to hit the rocks and clear the field for you if you don't.
Well if going for the marathon score you have to hunt, it's just so much faster. If I'm
just playing I like to clear asteroid fields. It's a lot more fun to have to move around
and pick your shots than to just do the same thing over and over again.
PD: Why do you think Asteroids Deluxe was unchallenged for so long as the score differences
between first and second were very far apart.
JM: I've only heard of 1 or 2 other people to ever master Asteroids Deluxe. It's a tough
game and most people don't have access to a machine in order to get good at it.
I used to watch this one guy play all the time and he was decent. He gave me some
tips and whatnot. The one thing that stuck in my mind was that you have to basically
clear 1 asteroid field per ship. I was able to get into the low 100k range when I
was younger. Later I saw a machine and played it some. Then I came up with the idea
that I was going to see if I could get to a million. A couple of weeks later I finally
made it to a million. The best strategy is to learn to use your shield and don't be
afraid to use it all up. The game keeps track of which asteroids came from what asteroid.
If you just clear 1 asteroid from it being big to all the little pieces of it, the small
ship will come out. So you have to break the asteroids down to 1 or two pieces and then
move on to the next one. At the end of the stage you need to get the rock count down to
below 3 but usually 2 asteroids and then break the snowflake up. Otherwise the
snowflake will come back. That's the basic idea anyway. Learning to fly in specific
patterns when the snowflake is broken up is a necessity to survive. Being able to
be just the right distance from the little saucer so that he cant shoot you, learning that
is also crucial.
PD: Which do you prefer playing the most, Asteroids or Asteroids Deluxe?
JM: I'll take Asteroids Deluxe any day over Asteroids. It has better sounds. On an
original cabinet the black light and the mirror make 3d effects that gives the game even
PD: Thank you for answering these questions in order for us to get some further insight
on your great accomplishments in classic coin-op gaming!
JM: Anytime you want to ask questions I'll be glad to answer them. Your site will
always be awesome with golden era stuff and any contribution I can make I'm up for it.
Youtube: 'The Ballad of Robert Mruczek.' TG Referee link
Youtube: Robert Mruczek - Star Wars Arcade Marathon link
Here is a high score table with Notable Marathon titles included Arcade and Emulation link
Youtube: Locksmith Beats World Record In Asteroids: link
Silco West Asteroids State Championships link
Asteroids World Record Beaten After 28 Years
Update: Virtual astronaut John McAllister was crowned the new world champ after a
57 3/4 hour marathon session By Frank Cifaldi, 04/06/2010
Update: Asteroids has a new world champion. At 10:18pm Pacific time on April 5, Seattle
locksmith John McAllister achieved an approximate score of 41,838,740 on an original
Asteroids arcade cabinet, besting Scott Safran's 1982 score of 41,336,440.
The score will not officially appear on the Twin Galaxies website until officials have
had a chance to review all 57 3/4 hours of McAllister's recorded play session, but given
his previous track record and integrity, no complications are expected.
1UP's original story follows: link
The world record high score for Atari's arcade classic Asteroids, which has stood for
over two decades, is about to be broken.
At nearly 39 million points, Seattle native John McAllister is hours away from claiming
the top slot on Twin Galaxies, the acting authority on videogame scores. The previous
record of 41,336,440 by Scott Safran has remain unchallenged since November 13, 1982.
Scott Safran - Inserting Quarter into Asteroids for Marathon Game November 13, 1982
Scott Safran - signed bezel
Scott Safran "THE" SAF 41,336,440 11-13-82 World's Record (Marathon) 53 hours 8 minutes
Competitive Asteroids play is more a test of endurance than skill - Safran's original
high score was the result of a 53 hours and 8 minutes marathon run. McAllister is closing
in on that fast, having just surpassed 54 hours at press time.
Scott Safran signs an autograph after his Asteroids World Record on November 1982
As an arcade game, Asteroids of course has no pause button. When McCallister needs to
take short breaks from the game, his only option is to simply walk away and let some
of his reserved lives get eaten away.
It has been long assumed in the competitive gaming community that Safran's original
record would forever remain unchallenged. "Everyone always talks about records that
will never be broken," Twin Galaxy founder Walter Day told Newsweek in 2002, "well
this is the one that really won't."
Unfortunately, Safran isn't around to defend his title. After a years-long search by
Twin Galaxies to find Safran and honor him officially, it was discovered that he passed
away in 1989, having fallen from his sixth story apartment balcony trying to rescue his
cat, Samson. The posthumous award was presented instead to his family in a November
Previous record holder Scott Safran (courtesy Wikipedia)
"This was such a family gift when we found out," Safran's aunt, Hana Safran Kramer, told
the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time. "It's like all of a sudden, Scott is alive again."
If McAllister were to stop now, he would hold a very comfortable third place on the official
scoreboard. However, judging by the live video stream, he appears to be in good health and
spirits, and should surpass the official record sometime past midnight Pacific tonight.
ESPN.GO.COM: If Asteroids Is A Sport, Then John McAllister Is Joe DiMaggio
April 11, 2010 7:00 PM ET link
There's a new World Champion out West and it's not Kobe Bryant.
Last weekend, competitive video gaming hero John McAllister sat down at a classic Asteroids
arcade machine near Portland, OR and continued to play around the clock for three days. By
the time his game was over, McAllister had established a new all-time high score and broke
a record that had stood for more than 27 years.
To put this accomplishment in perspective, consider that McAllister basically just topped
the video game equivalent of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. In fact, when we first
heard earlier this week that the all-time record for the arcade classic Asteroids had
finally been broken, we knew that we had to reach out to the new world champion. Fortunately
for us, McAllister was kind enough to pause his victory lap and answer a few questions.
As it turns out, McAllister was primarily attracted to the prestige of the Asteroids title.
As he said, "By most people's standards, Asteroids is one of the holy grails of arcade gaming.
I've had my eye on this title for several years." Indeed, what separates Asteroids from other
classic games of its era is that it's a game of endurance. Which for McAllister meant a lot
In addition to practicing with a 34-hour session of Star Castle and a 37-hour dry run of Asteroids,
McAllister "would go out for walks of 2-5 miles" and knock out some pushups and sit-ups before
each attempt. Like any other athlete preparing for a title shot, McAllister also had to alter
his diet. He stuck to smaller meals, limited his sugar intake, replenished his fluids, and
consumed "mostly apples, bananas, strawberries, sandwiches, and lots of chicken."
On the whole, McAllister handled himself like a true champion during and after the event. When
we asked him what was the key to staying awake for three days straight, McAllister responded
by thanking his teammates first and was sure to point out that "all the people who were involved
really helped me to stay awake and make this event a success."
And where did McAllister look for inspiration when he was down to only two lives left? The
same place all legendary champions find their strength - the fans. "During some point I realized
that I still needed to give the crowd and the 1100+ on Justin.tv and on Aurcade.com a show.
Luckily, my subconscious took over and got me through the next couple of minutes and on to victory."
Unbelievably, once the record was broken, McAllister's performance was still not complete.
McAllister "turned around and looked at all of [his] supporters and just smiled, did a TV
interview, took some pictures, talked to a bunch of people, and gave another interview to
a film crew." Two and a half hours later, sitting atop the all-time Asteroids leader board,
McAllister finally decided it was time to catch up on some sleep.
As for what's next for McAllister, even he doesn't know. "That's been a big question, and
I haven't found the answer to that yet." Well, here's one idea for the new world champion:
a starring role in the upcoming Asteroids movie. You never know, John McAllister just might
be the next Ben Affleck.
TG Scoreboard (Asteroids) Leaderboard:
Coin-Operated Asteroids (Standup)
% Score Points Player Date Verified Scoring Method
1 100.00 % 41,838,740 John P Mcallister 04/22/2010 media File
2 98.80 % 41,336,440 Scott Safran 11/13/1982 Referee
3 95.85 % 40,101,910 Leo P Daniels 02/06/1982 Referee
4 71.94 % 30,100,100 Dennis Hernandez 01/12/1982 Referee
5 71.70 % 30,000,000 Lonnie J Cancienne 11/20/1981 Referee
6 61.98 % 25,932,800 Jay Howell 11/05/1981 Referee
7 61.98 % 25,930,690 Wayne MacLemore 07/05/1981 Referee
8 55.63 % 23,274,970 Rick V Scott 06/23/1981 Referee
9 49.79 % 20,832,560 Douglas J Ede 05/16/1981 Witness
10 48.54 % 20,307,890 Mike Titus 03/12/1982 Referee
Asteroids (1979) Atari Coin-Op Classic Video Game
CAGdc Forums: The John McAllister Asteroids Marathon
story in his own words from CAGdc Forums: Link
Here's a story to go along with the score by John McAllister:
We were supposed to start on Friday but I didn't get enough sleep and just didn't feel right.
I still didn't get enough sleep before Saturday either but oh well. I did try to start a
game around 11:30 but I died twice pretty quick and died again so I guess I wasn't ready.
I started another shortly after and it also died off pretty quickly also. 1st game was 2400
and the second game was 27k. I finally got a game going around 12:30 or so.
A late start to a game that is going to last a long time. I played for several hours with
nothing much going on. The 3 guys from Seattle arrived. Chris Mansfield, Scott Harold,
and Dave Okert. A few locals came by throughout the event. It was great to have
all these different people show up throughout the event to give support and such.
So first day was pretty standard for a marathon, nothing major happening, no worries yet.
Oh wait the monitor was changing the intensity at random times, so that made me nervous.
Other then that one little glitch the machine held out pretty good.
Day two Sunday my April 4th my birthday was much as the first day. We got to listen to
Scott snore and then Dave started to snore along with him. So some 24hrs in things were
going just fine. No pain or goofiness as of yet. Still to reach the half way point and
I was thinking about that. This was the first time I have played a game for over 24hrs
and not been at the half way point. This was discouraging at first thought, but I knew
I was in for another day.
Day three starting at 12:00 am Sunday the 5th
I'm a little more than half way done yay. All I've had up this point has been water,
gatorade, sandwiches, apples, bananas, yogurt and chicken. I've only seen real people
up this point. Around this time going into a 2nd nite of no sleep was starting to take
its toll. I never got tired which is strange. However I did get pretty goofy. I pretty
much lost track of time at this point forward. It all really just became a blur.
Day 3 12:00 pm Sunday the 5th
Earlier in the morning I had a 5hr energy drink to get me through to the next day kinda
thing. My mental alertness wasn't all that great. I forgot how to play the game several
times during the day. I thought that the saucers were going or staying in 4 corners. And
I had to shoot them from different spots then normal. This to me lasted around an hour or
so. Another instance the monitor shifted 45 degrees and I couldn't figure out what to do. I
was trying to fly straight up and down but since the monitor was turned in my head things
weren't going to well. I took of my sunglasses and magically the screen fixed it self.
Another time the game shifted on the monitor. The top half was now the bottom and the
bottom was the middle. The really confused me for a while also. I asked Ken House if I
was playing a single player game or two players. I tried to tell Bill Carlton that there
were patterns and that I was in a bad pattern board.
End of day 3
Towards the end someone had to be there with me pretty much the whole time. Had to ask
people how to play the game or refresh my memory as to what I was doing. Sometimes I would
just sit there and shoot at the saucer without moving just relying on hyperspace button to
save me. It seemed like the game changed speeds on me and would get harder and easier at
times during the end. In the beginning the rocks were really easy to shoot. Later in the
game I thought that they had changed patterns again and were coming at me instead of flying
away or going the correct way. I started to tell people that I was seeing Scott Harold,
allthough I knew he wasn't there I would look over to my right and I would see something that
would make me think that he was there.
Getting down to 2 ships at the end.
I had 20 or so ships and went and took my last bathroom break. I came back and had 10 or so
ships so I thought things were good. I kinda lost focus for several minutes and really didn't
think that I had to play anymore. I wasn't thinking very straight at this time. So I thought
that I would leave my safety zone, whatever that meant at the time and go and finish the game.
I started to fly around randomly just playing the game. All of a sudden I was down to 2 men
and I woke up. I realized that I had to get a certain score for the group of people in
the room and the people on line. Good thing the subconscious was still working as it took over
and things cleared up for the next 15 minutes. I finished the game off with 5-7 ships stocked
up and didn't really try hard or had any feeling of panic for the rest of the game. I think
this happened because purposely throughout the game I didn't push the score rollover button
so that I would know that I had some several hundred thousands banked to make sure I passed
I didn't have any major pain in my hands. The back of my neck and muscles attached to my
arms from there knotted up and would sometimes burn or hurt really bad for short periods at
the end but that would never stop me. My moving fingers, left side, went numb or unresponsive
a few times. It would cause my ship to turn left instead of right because the left button
finger wouldn't move off of the button. Anything that was black would show millions of little
white dots on it. I did have trouble walking or standing at times. My balance was just off
and I would kinda get lazy or something and start to lean. We had a wind storm come through
and it blew over the barbecue in the back yard, tree branches would fall on the roof. We
had battery back up supplies and luckily the lights never flickered during the storm.
When I finally went to bed at around 1:00 am Tues I turned off the lights and would still
be seeing stuff. I closed my eyes and would open them again and still see stuff in the room
that wasn't there. After about 5 minutes of this I closed my eyes again and they didn't open
again till around 8:00 am the next morning. I got up for a couple of hours and took a nap
later for a couple of hours. I never really ever felt tired, but my mind wasn't all there for
a couple of days.
Plans for next marathon. I'm really not sure about this one. Defender has been in the talks
before and I'm going to revisit it again. I did some scoring rates samples several months
ago and came up with around 1.25m per hour. If that was sustainable throughout that would
still take over 64 hours or something. I barely survived 58 hours so I don't think this is
possible at this time.
I had a great time with all the people that helped make this a great event. Thanx to everyone
who showed and gave support. See ya next time