Friday, September 04, 2009

You Think That's Something? Well, Let Me Tell You About The Time....

By Darryl Mason

I don't want to take anything away from this obviously incredible record....

In a back room of his Braidwood cottage in the NSW Southern Tablelands Phil Day has just broken the world record on the 28-year-old classic arcade game and successor to Space Invaders, Galaga.

Passing the previous mark of 2.7 million set by an American, Andrew Laidlaw, in 2007, Mr Day's score of 3.44 million is the culmination of six months' training and practice.

It took him two hours to break the record.

But I swear that I can remember a kid not just scoring a few million, but more than ten million, and clocking over the Galaga machine in a local takeaway, back in 1982-1983.

It took him more than five hours, probably closer to six, and he drew a coming-and-going crowd, some of whom thought it was hilarious fun to try and distract the unflappable gamer. This was in the days before mobile phones, or even phones in every home, and word about this massive event unfolding was spread by kids on bikes, rushing to friends' houses to alert them to the news of historic spectacle of Galaga mastery.

There might have been fifteen or more kids gathered around the Galaga machine, in the late afternoon of a firey hot Saturday, when the score hit 9,999,999 and then turned back to zero. There was an awed silence, and then applause, and then the patient, but well over it, shop owner told everyone to get the fuck out. Naturally, the kid that clocked Galaga sauntered away with only these words, "So what? It's no big deal."

Or maybe this happened on a Moon Patrol machine. Or was it the Mrs Pacman pinball?

No, it was Galaga, dammit, I'm sure of it, and even if the above details about Galaga's scoring system are flat out wrong, I will be, regardless, shouting to bored young people well into my old age that I Was There The Day an incredibly focused friend clocked over Galaga, turned that bastard back to zero, and that the youth, like them, with their iBrains and holograms and flying robot friends, don't know what the hell real excitement is.

Or was.

This year marks the 30th birthday of Space Invaders.