6.14 A Letter to the Prince of Kong


This puzzle included elements that are subject to change over time. It may not be solvable in the way originally conducted during the Hunt.

Dorothy was mesmerized by the coin-operated amusements in the Stratton Student Center. "Why, this technology could be used for education!"

"Or advertising," Toto seemed to express with a small growl.

January 1, 2010


I hope the new year finds you and your family well. I can make an educated guess as to one of your resolutions (who couldn't?), and I have a similar one - to do more with The Official Electronic Scoreboard myself. I got my own taste of relegation at the last Funspot tourney when I was scooped in my mission for that two-comma score on my favorite game there: my own friend - who'd been practicing for the two of us to play co-op - blew my record out of the water with 1,462,100! I don't think playing as Mary, Joe, Lee, or Edgar will make a difference - I'm not beating that any time soon. My friends seem to have hidden talents when it comes to games; two tournies ago, another friend actually got the tournament's top score on one of the competition games, with 195,150 - a far cry from the record, but he beat all the gathered experts. (He had this great strategy of hitting the Gobble button before tossing the grenade - my, how the feathers flew.) Competing with the likes of this makes me think of the 10,774,191 your nemesis slew countless insects (and mushrooms) to attain; so what if that isn't the top score, and so what if he used spider-trapping - that's still some amazing trackball skills. Of course, that number may look a lot more impressive than 1,050,200, but you and I both know better.

You know, one of the things I admire most about you - as evident from the film - is how keeping the competition friendly is important to you. I couldn't agree more. For example, there's this one game at Funspot that has something of a cult following among us - it's an old Exidy offering - that often comes up as a daily challenge, and there's a group of us that watches each other play, congratulating one another on high scores... even when that means our own was beaten. Last year saw my 75,710 slip yet another slot down, but I was there cheering him on when it happened. (Maybe I should adjust my strategy, and try to shoot down the ramships rather than collect the stars. But I digress.) The game's exciting, and very tough: one of the best overall competitors in classic arcade gaming has only 66,140 on it, and we're talking about someone who won the MAME Decathlon. Thrice. IN A ROW. (Actually, he also has a rarity in the database for a game that doesn't nine out - his 24,260 on an Irem/GDI obscurity they have there is TIED for the record. He may be listed second as his performance was later, but it still counts as a first-place score in my eyes. Could you imagine that, TYING for the record? But I digress again.) The heroic Wummel's greatest driver, however, is a master in his own right, especially when it comes to monochromatic games - he seems to win that division of the tournament more often than he loses it. (That actually makes his 4,140-point sub hunt an interesting turnabout, as that makes their positions in that game the reverse of what they are in this one. That was my last digression, promise!) He's no slouch in more modern games either - he holds the record of 1,494,500 in a Data East rotary-joystick shooter I'm rather fond of.

Maybe what we need is a new title, something else to ply our skills to. There's no shortage of options out there, that's for sure. I've been practicing this Capcom shooter that has only two scores in the database; I'm sure I could break 361,400. Too bad Funspot doesn't have one. (I hope they get the version that still has Michelle Heart in it.) Maybe a Konami game would be more my style - Funspot has one that nines out that I have some experience with, but let's face it, 999,990 loses some of its significance when five have attained it already. Trying for that kind of record would just seem like, well... like clowning around. Sorry, couldn't resist. Anyway, one Konami game I know inside and out has a new track available, and with my XBLA experience (without using the thirty-life code, natch) I know I'm good for 1,646,100. For you, I have two recommendations. The first is an Atari classic often compared to your game of fame; the tournament settings track is EMPTY. That's a guaranteed record if you submit for it, but I'm willing to bet you could hop and punch your way to putting even the marathon-settings scores to shame under the harder rules; I have you pegged for 754,400. My second recommendation should be obvious: give Stanley a try! Even if you don't break 473,400 under tournament settings, you'll be second place for the entire trilogy. Come on, that would be pretty cool.

You're probably wondering what's with all the digits. Indeed, what's in a score? Your own daughter - who has the best line in the movie, despite what some tell me - certainly doesn't see much in the pursuit of records, but I do, and I know you do too. Forget individuals - each of these scores is a title position, and grouped together represent a path to enlightenment. All that's missing are those three initials - how about putting in yours? Now THAT would lead to a name of significance.

Sincerely yours,
Adam R. Wood