DOUGLAS QUAN, REPORTER
WITH PAUL DEAN, SPY HUNTER CHAMPION
A day to remember Paul Dean's 1985 Guinness Book
Spy Hunter High Score
June 28, 1985
The story behind the score
Back to: Walter Day Conversations
Click here to bookmark this page!
The Press Enterprise
Breaking News: Press Enterprise - Riverside, California May 30, 2005
circulation of 190,000
Spy Hunter Champ says Game Not Over
Game not over for arcade fan
Inland man reflects on his 20-year Spy Hunter record, loss of youth hangouts
12:52 PM PDT on Monday, May 30, 2005
By DOUGLAS QUAN / The Press-Enterprise
Don't be fooled by the soft-spoken, mild-mannered man wearing the polo shirt tucked
neatly into slacks. Paul Dean, 40, of Riverside, is every bit a competitor.
Dean, who lives with his father in the same home he grew up in, has never married --
a likely result, he concedes, of his "intense" personality.
That intensity reached a peak in June 1985 at an Upland arcade. Before stunned
spectators, Dean, then a computer major at Riverside Community College, racked
up 9,512,590 points over 11 ½ hours in Spy Hunter, the James Bond-inspired arcade
game. The feat landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Photo of Paul Dean by Kurt Miller / The Press-Enterprise
Paul Dean, 40, of Riverside, in his garage with video game screens blurred in the
background. Dean has a unique claim to fame: For the past 20 years, he's held the
world's highest score in the arcade game Spy Hunter, scoring 9,512,590 in 1985.
Next month marks the 20th anniversary of that record, which still stands.
Dean, who went on to become an arcade vendor and trade-show exhibit builder, has
not lost his competitive flair. Though he stopped playing seriously after 1985,
he shares -- with a hint of a snicker -- that his nearest competitor hasn't even
broken one million points.
But then a tinge of sadness creeps into Dean's voice. The arcades of his youth have
pretty much disappeared, he says. Today's generation of gamers prefers to play on
console formats and on personal computers.
Ground Kontrol Retro Arcade
(Ground kontrol) Retro Classic Video Game Arcade
511 NW Couch St, Portland, Oregon (503)-796-9364
"There's a retro arcade in Oregon," Dean said with a wistful tone. "They're the last
classic arcade in the West. I'm saddened I live too far to visit and play Spy Hunter
again. Where do you go if you want to talk to other classics players? The other places
they do have, they're in shambles."
Today's gamers are duking it out in their homes or at Internet cafes, experts say.
About three years ago, Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine stopped running a section
about arcade games because "there just wasn't enough to talk about," said its executive
editor, Mark MacDonald, in a phone interview from San Francisco.
"I used to go to the arcade to play fighting games against people. (Now) I can stay
home and sit on my couch and do the same thing," MacDonald said.
"Arcades are dead."
The late 1970s and early '80s were the arcade industry's golden era -- home-entertainment
systems had failed to take hold yet. By today's standards, the game plots and graphics
seem elementary, but at the time, they were considered revolutionary.
Some people associated the arcade's blinking lights and the cacophony of bleeps, booms
and blips with drugs and hustling.
In the Inland area, as more arcade games sprung up in corner stores and pizza parlors,
public officials worried that the games made children steal and ditch classes.
But for Dean and other introverted Inland-area teenagers, the arcade was the place where
they could hang out and engage in a little friendly rivalry. They weren't jocks, but at
the arcade, they could flex a little muscle.
"You've got a public-performance aspect," said Christopher Swain, a USC professor of
interactive media, in describing part of the arcade allure. "Back when arcades were
big, it was a big deal to get your name at the top of the leader board."
But the arcade frenzy peaked in the mid-'80s with the introduction of the Nintendo 64
and other home-entertainment systems.
Today, the classic arcade games with the clunky knobs and rudimentary buttons have
virtually disappeared, replaced by expensive simulator games, experts say. The arcades
of the past have morphed into family fun centers.
"The smoky place filled with stand-up games -- those are really rare," MacDonald
Some classic arcade diehards can't let go. There's an industry devoted to the
restoration of classic games. Enthusiasts can download '80s-era games onto their
Castle Amusement Park - Riverside, CA
Castle Amusement Park, 3500 Polk Street Riverside, CA 92505-1824
Unlike today's stay-at-home gamers, Dean and his buddies frequented the Castle Park
and Flipper Flapper arcades in Riverside.
Sometimes they went to Los Angeles to get their thrills.
Ed Dean said he'd sometimes drive to the arcade late at night to drag his sons, Paul
and Dave, home. But he wasn't too concerned. In his view, the games "really developed
Jo Ellen Ramsey, who headed Riverside Poly High's first computer club in the early
'80s, remembers the enthusiasm Paul Dean and his friends displayed.
"Sometimes I'd say, 'No more games on the computer,' " Ramsey said in a phone interview
from Redmond, Wash., where she teaches math.
Dave Dean, an assistant engineer based in Irvine, recalled how his older brother would
pick a game and stick with it for a long time.
"He had that determination, patience," he said by phone.
Beginning in 1983, Paul Dean's focus was on mastering Spy Hunter.
The game's premise was simple: The player was a secret agent driving on a highway. The
bad guys were in cars with wheel-mounted spikes.
You could shoot their cars with grill-mounted machine guns or ram them off the road.
You also had smoke screens and oil slicks in your arsenal. The game was played to the
Peter Gunn theme.
"You're like James Bond," said Dean, a hint of nostalgia in his voice. "I think that's
Dean was so focused on bettering his score, not even the advances of a particularly
flirtatious girl one day could steer him away -- even when the girl stuck her tongue
in his ear.
Summer of '85
All the hours of practice paid off on June 28, 1985.
That summer, the world was gripped by news that terrorists had hijacked a TWA airliner
in Athens, Greece, with 104 Americans aboard. U.S.-Soviet relations remained tense as
arms-control talks loomed. Madonna was in the midst of her first tour.
But Dean, then 20, had only one thing on his mind.
The Guinness arcade tournament was held at venues across the country, including the
Huish Family Fun Center in Upland.
"There were another 50 to 100 players trying to do the exact same thing. You had this
frenzy of everybody with the same determination of getting their name in the Guinness
Book," recalled Jeff Peters, one of the designated record keepers, and a friend of
Peters, who lives in Utah now, has a world record in the game Time Pilot.
Dean, who hadn't slept much the night before, had a rough start. But slowly, he got
into a groove.
He started remembering patterns in the game that he used to avoid getting his arcade
character killed. A crowd had gathered around Dean. He could see the spectators' faces
reflected on the screen.
When Dean surpassed the 1 million mark, his friend Phil Britt, who has the world
record in the game Paper Boy, egged him on with a few lies.
"Phil would say, 'Someone in Alaska has 5 million! Someone in Connecticut has 7
million!" Dean recalled.
After an exhausting 11.5 hours without a bathroom break, Dean achieved a new world
record. As Dean hobbled away from the sit-down game, a stranger shook his hand and
offered to buy him a hot dog and a Coke.
Dean accepted. "I was starving."
A Valid Score?
For nearly two decades, Dean's 9 million-plus score went unchallenged.
Then in 2003, referees with Twin Galaxies, the official video-game record-keeping
body in Iowa, temporarily removed Dean's record because they thought it was too good
to be true. Twin Galaxies High Score Stories Link.
The title went to Mark Little, an electronics technician from Doylestown, Pa., who had
a score of 832,620. Little, 27, said he believes Dean either made up his score or played
on an easier setting.
Guinness' verification process in 1985 wasn't rigorous enough, said Little, whose
high score was captured on video. Guinness did not respond to an e-mail sent to its
Little said he'd be satisfied if Dean played the game today and reached a score of
1 million. "Until he can show me, I don't consider it legitimate," Little said in
a phone interview. Dean said that because of a back injury he sustained a few years
ago at work, he's unable to sit for lengthy periods of time. Besides, he's got
witnesses who will back him up, he says. Why should he have to do it again?
Paul Dean says, "Let's make it final right now!"
"It's a joke to me," Dean said raising his voice. "I'd do a lie-detector test. Let's
get it over with. I have nothing to hide. I'm tired of being called a liar."
Walter Day, Twin Galaxies' founder and editor of the "Official Video Game & Pinball
Book of World Records," said that, after further checks, he's confident that Dean
did not cheat.
Dean's name was returned to the top of the scoreboard last year.
And he's not too bashful to let people know about it. He mentioned it in the biographical
sketch he submitted for his 20th high school reunion.
He signed off his e-mail to a reporter with "Paul Dean, Spy Hunter Champion, June 28,1985."
He wouldn't mind if his tombstone identified him as the "Spy Hunter King."
Even though most of his arcade buddies have moved out of the area, Dean keeps their
numbers handy on a piece of scrap paper near his phone. He's devoted considerable
hours to his Web site, www.spyhunter007.com, which is full of links to classic
arcade-related articles and trivia.
Paul Dean relaxes near a Neo Geo Coin-Operated Video game
Dean has faithfully restored 20 arcade games in his garage and seven on his back patio
as part of his vending business. Dean markets to pizza parlors and laundries, places
where there are always people with loose change and a bit of time to kill. He's not
making the kind of money he used to when these games had a bigger following, but
that's not the point. "The return on investment is terrible. But I want to have a
finger in the pie if possible," he said. "It still attaches me to my childhood."
Reach Douglas Quan at (951) 368-9479 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Dean Biography Link
About The Press-Enterprise
circulation of 190,000
The Press-Enterprise newspaper, headquartered in Riverside, has a circulation of 190,000
copies daily and 192,000 copies on Sunday. It is "Inland Southern California's newspaper"
and enjoys a daily readership of 518,500 adults and 558,000 on Sunday throughout
fast-growing Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The Press-Enterprise Company also
publishes seven weekly newspapers; a weekly business tabloid; weekly magazines serving
employment, automotive and real estate advertisers; and a weekly total market coverage
product. The company also operates NewsLink, a 24-hour voice information service; PE.net,
an Internet service provider; and PE.com, a regional online information portal.
By DOUGLAS QUAN / The Press-Enterprise
Spy Hunter, Game not over for arcade fan, Original link to this Story
Spy Hunter by Bally/Midway (1983)- sitdown driving coin-operated video game
music by (Peter Gunn) (1983)
Donkey Kong Wide Release: (1981)
Classic Era Video Games of the 1980's
Pacman Wide Release: (1980)
Classic Era Video Games of the 1980's
James Bond -- Theme of Spy Hunter Game Play
Spy Hunter Game Introduction
Basically an all-around great game with superior play, music, and sounds. A unique
driving game that was one of the first to combine driving and shooting at the same
time during play. There are a variety of weapons that become available during gameplay
-- 4 in all: Machine-Guns, Oil Slick, Smoke Screen, and Missiles.
The game also features the ability to take a side road during game play and turn the
car into a boat, taking the battle onto the water.
There are five different enemies in the road sequence: tire slashers called "Switchblade"
or "Never To Be Trusted"; armored cars called "The Road Lord" or "Bulletproof Bully";
limousines called "The Enforcer" or "Double Barrel Action"; and helicopters called
"The Mad Bomber" or "Master Of The Sky".
Spy Hunter Wide Release: (1983)
Spy Hunter Game Play
This driving game has a gas pedal, steering wheel, gear shifter, and four buttons
on the wheel. The driver is a secret agent driving along a vertically scrolling
highway to the tune of Peter Gunn.
The bad spies drive blue cars that resemble '57 Chevies. They can disable the player
with wheel-mounted spikes. These make the player spin out and explode. The player
can shoot these enemies from behind with grill-mounted machine guns or ram them off
the road (assuming their spikes are not deployed). Other enemies, called 'Bullies',
drive armored cars that try to ram you off the road. The machine guns are ineffective,
as they are bullet proof, but they can be rammed off the road. The boss bad guy drives
a limo and attempts to pull up beside you and shoot you with a shotgun. This limo can be
gunned down or rammed.
Periodically, you pass an ally, the weapons van. The van will catch up to you and
extend ramps. You can drive into the van and obtain special weapons: oil slick, smoke
screen, or missiles. The oil slick and smoke screen can be used to wreck or slow down
all three of the ground-based enemies.
Occasionally, a chopper (Map bomber) flies overhead and tries to kill you with bombs.
These bombs do not have to hit you to kill you. If you drive through the pothole
that they leave, you are just as dead. They also kill the bad guys. You can use the
missiles to blow the chopper away.
As you progress, you can voluntarily swerve into the boat house and proceed on water.
Your boat also has machine guns and the special weapons. Enemy boats try to kill you
by throwing floating charges in your path. The big boat fires torpedoes at you from
behind or in front. The chopper also harasses you in the water. You can be forced
into the water when a bridge is out.
Sometimes you must also drive on snow and icy roads. This makes it very tricky to
swerve around enemies that you have just shot.
The whole time, civilian traffic (Blue Volkswagons and red compact cars) are on the road.
If you shoot or ram them, you lose points. Link
July 4, 2005 HIGH SCORE - RETRO MAGAZINE (United Kingdom)
Topping the Spy Hunter high-score league is Paul Dean with a score just shy of
10 million. With the help of a well-placed oil slick, we stop him in his tracks
and ask him a few questions about his record.
Retro Magazine: Topping the Spy Hunter high-score league is Paul Dean
with a score
just shy of 10 million. Link
12/04/05 See the latest 41 hour marathon record of Paul Dean on the arcade hit,
Twin Galaxies in the News Link
06/14/2005 Ghost-wary, dot-eating Pac-Man turns 25 Link
Associated Press, New York, NY Associated Press, New York, NY
A worldwide wire story that celebrates the 25th anniversary of Pac-Man.
Twin Galaxies and Billy Mitchell are mentioned in the story which has already appeared
in nearly 100 news journals, as revealed by Yahoo News and Google News.
06/11/2005 Arcades are no longer king; but Doris Self, 79, is still a high-scoring
queen Boston Globe, Boston, MA Boston Globe, Boston, MA Link
Doris Self enjoys big media coverage in the Boston Globe. News stories on Doris'
quest to be the "Oldest Video Game Champ" in history have been published in multiple
langueages, including: Czechoslaviakian, Dutch, German, French, Norwegian, Russian,
Portugese and Spanish.
05/30/2005 Game not over for arcade fan Link
Riverside Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA
Talking about his 20-year rule on the arcade SpyHunter game.
05/10/2005 Pac-Man Turns 25 Link
07/04/2005 Paul Drury of Retro Gamer Magazine puts out an oil slick to talk to
Paul Dean the Spy Hunter Champion from 1985 Link