How to become a world champion (the easy way)

Conventional wisdom says that World Champions are men and women of grit. Words like “perseverance” and “determination” get bandied about. Newspaper articles talk about the long, lonely hours of training, the sacrifices made and the hideous cost paid to be the best in the world at your chosen field.
Rubbish. Sure, you can do that, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I became a World Champion yesterday, almost by accident.
Regular readers of this blog (there are some of you now — I can tell) may have noticed that my ten minute game review of Pitfall! the other day mentioned that it wasn’t the first game I slotted into an Atari 2600 for testing purposes. That game was Ms. Pac-Man. While I was playing Pitfall!, I wanted to check the maximum high score, so I headed to the self-proclaimed “official” scoreboard for such things, Twin Galaxies to find out.
It’s safe to say I’m not in contention to be world Pitfall! champion any time soon.
On a whim, I also checked out the high score table for the PAL version of Ms. Pac-Man. Unless the link changes, you can find it here.
21,290 didn’t sound like a heck of a lot to me. This isn’t a game that scores you in single points, after all. So with a little grit and determination… well, OK, not much grit or determination at all, I set to breaking it. At about 4:40pm yesterday, that’s exactly what I did, with a score of 39,210. Woo-hoo! I am the champion!
Except that I’m not. At least, not according to Twin Galaxies, because they require proof. Which is, on the face of it, fair enough. I could claim to have scored 27 million points, and nobody would be the wiser, but I wouldn’t be able to prove it.
So I did it again. This time, with a video camera pointed at the screen.

Those who did sit through all of that (you have a lot of patience!) might notice some obvious mistakes in my game. Mostly that’s down to the age of the creaky old Atari 2600 joystick betraying me at key moments, but there’s also a few brain flubs in there too. Still, evidence is evidence, and I’d like to claim the World Champion crown, if you don’t mind…
Sadly for me, things aren’t quite that simple. Twin Galaxies has to officially approve my score. According to their scoring guidelines, that involves sending them video tape of my achievement. Video tape. Sure, I do like retro gaming, but not so much retro video formats, and especially not when I’d be sending PAL VHS to the NTSC US. I’ve submitted a digital copy with no edits via a download link — will be interesting to see if I get a response at all. There’s a certain rather US-centric nature to Twin Galaxies, and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle a current video format from a non-US source.
In the meantime, I’m still assuming the mantle of World Champion. Evidence is evidence. Local boy done good, and all that.
For once, I figure that makes me the news story, rather than the reporter on the outside. It also means that unlike my professional journalistic pursuits, I’m free to pursue sponsorships. Therefore, in my position as a role model to young children, I’m more than happy to accept your oodles of cash to promote your breakfast cereal/vitamin supplement/mousepad line/electric hamster shaver. Just form an orderly queue at the door, and have your chequebooks ready…

2 thoughts on “How to become a world champion (the easy way)”

  1. Nice, been thinking about doing this for a good while now and I may have a go at Mr’s Pacman myself :).
    Whats the deal with using emulators though? Is it allowed?

  2. They seem to be allowed, but you’d want to check their rules VERY closely — I’d imagine with emulators they’d be (justifiably) even more picky about making things were on the level. There’s definitely scoreboards for emulator titles (distinct from the original hardware, which was what I was playing on).

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