Game Preserve Friday: A Surprise For MAJ

Before Saturday’s tournament, Game Preserve had a “member appreciation day” on the Friday after Thanksgiving a.k.a. “Black Friday” for those of us who prefer pushing buttons, moving joysticks, and pulling plungers over pushing shopping carts, moving around a crowded store, and pulling items off the shelves. It was, by the looks of it, quite the success, and something I hope becomes an annual tradition.

Most of the day I spent playing pinball, in preparation for possibly playing in the tournament the next day (see previous post for the details of that, in case you missed it). The gallery below shows mostly pinball high scores. (The additional picture of Beat Time shows the score after the first ball, before I played the awarded extra ball. Both are from the same game.)

The big story of the night, though, was that I suddenly found myself on a Millipede kick. I’ve run up pretty good scores on Millipede on MAME with a mouse, but never on an actual original Millipede arcade machine. Earlier in the day, someone who enters the initials “MAJ” had filled the high score list with a bunch of scores in excess of 350,000.

Now the settings on this particular Millipede machine are pretty liberal: 5 lives, extra lives every 12,000, and I think easy everything. Obviously, MAJ filled the board by starting at the highest possible score (sort of the equivalent of continuing a previous game on a new credit before that caught on). It’s easy to get up to the 300,000+ range that way, but this feature doesn’t let you start at a score higher than 300,000. MAJ put up a top score of 392,585, so if I wanted the top slot, I had some work to do to say the least.

Further complicating matters is what happens at starting scores of 100,000 or greater on Millipede. Instead of starting with only two spiders, the very first wave starts with as many as eight. I jokingly call this “Millipede: Arachnophobia Edition.” (I think it’s three at 100,000+ and then an additional spider for each 20,000 above that, so for 144,000 it would be five spiders.) So, by the time one is starting at 200,000 or higher, the first wave consists of fending off hordes of spiders, eight at a time. Remember, this game was originally made for operators to make money with; getting to the 300,000 point level took what would have been the equivalent of about $5 worth of play. (Thankfully, the games at Game Preserve are on free play.) Getting to the point evidenced by the first picture probably took the equivalent of $8 worth of play. It’s hard enough to do without having to fish for another quarter every three minutes…

In the end, I was finally able to post a score of 406,875. Surprise, MAJ.