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Subject: $100,000 Prize Offered to Pac-Man Players From: Walter Day" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: November 26, 1999 News Release
FAIRFIELD, IOWA: An American hot sauce manufacturer has stirred up the video game industry by offering a $100,000 bounty to the first Pac-Man player who, before January 1, 2000, can solve the mysterious split-screen that ends everybody's game at the 256th board. An additional $95,000 is set aside for players who, before the same January 1st deadline, can break decades-old high scores on fifteen other classic video games.
"Pac-Man's split-screen is the most puzzling phenomenon in the entire video-game-playing universe," explains Billy Mitchell, President of Rickey's World Famous Sauce, a Hollywood, Florida-based hot sauce brand that is guaranteeing the hefty sum to the first Pac-Man player that can get through screen number 256 without losing their game. "And," adds Mitchell, "the game must follow Twin Galaxies' rules and be videotaped and witnessed by Walter Day, chief scorekeeper at the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard."
Day, who is the editor of Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records, the industry's official book of record, says that Pac-Man ends at the 256th board when the screen is split by a vertical line down the middle. "On the left side of the line, the maze is normal," explains Day. "But, on the right side, the screen is obscured with small, colorful boxes, symbols and random numbers." Day says that no one has been able to prove that they can get through this maze and proceed onward to the next screen even though dozens of players have claimed they have proprietory tricks that have accomplished it.
"These claims are baloney," retorts Mitchell, who recently grabbed worldwide headlines for achieving history's first "perfect" game on Pac-Man. "I have reached the 256th screen hundreds of times and cannot get through," he exclaims. Mitchell wants these players to prove their claims, however, and has offered the cash to make the players come forward and demonstrate their strategies. "The first player to stand in front of Walter Day and demonstrate a strategy that works gets the $100,000 from Rickey's Hot Sauce."
The split-screen controversy has raged since 1982, when players first reached it. And, due to Pac-Man's enormous popularity, the debate became very heated. In fact, many players were chagrined when, on December 5, 1982, President Ronald Reagan sent a letter of congratulations to Jeffrey R. Yee, 8, of San Francisco, when he reported a new world record of 6,131,940 points on Pac-Man. Other players are still boiling over this incident because Yee's score was only possible if he got through the split-screen.
Mitchell's campaign to uncover the truth goes back many years. In September, 1983, he and Walter Day led a possee of top players on a score-checking mission on behalf of Video Game Players Magazine, a major newsstand publication. They searched through Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, tracking down elusive players who claimed they could get through the split-screen, but no one would reveal their secrets.
Mitchell is not the only player who wants to see some proof. Tim Balderramos, a 31-year-old native of Rapid City, South Dakota, who was recognized by Twin Galaxies as the Pac-Man World Champion in 1983 believes: "The split-screen on Pac-Man is the inevitable end to the game, simply because the computer program runs out of memory and goes into a faint-a fate that the player cannot avoid because the game programmers back in 1979 never dreamed that people would get to the end of the game-so they didn't bother to program any further."
High scores on titles other than Pac-Man can also win players large
sums of cash. Rickey's Hot Sauce will give $10,000 prizes to the first
persons to score over 1 million points on any of eight different games
following Twin Galaxies' official rules. The games are: Ms. Pac-Man, Carnival,
Berzerk, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Rally-X, Hypersports and Tutankham. Also,
a further prize category promises $1,000 to the first players to break
the world record on any of these fifteen games:
Carnival 221,000, Crystal Castles 910,722, Berzerk 224,880, Dig Dug 4,129,600, Donkey Kong 874,300, Frogger
442,330, Hypersports 538,340, Joust 1,537,050, Kung-Fu Master 1,349,040, Missile Command 1,695,265, Ms. Pac-Man
920,310, Pole Position 67,310, QIX 1,666,604, Rally-X 250,160 and Tutankham 244,920.
News of the offer has spread via Twin Galaxies' Internet website at and through a full-color poster that is circulating arcades in North America. Since most arcades no longer carry these historic titles, players have been forced to travel long distances in order to take a crack at a record or two. The Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, NH, famous for its collection of 200 early 80s classics, is one arcade that has been feeling the effects of the poster. "Players have been coming from all over Canada, New York, Boston and Florida, trying to break the records and win the prizes offered by Rickey's Sauce," says Gary Vincent, Funspot Operations Manager.
And, some players have already cashed in on their skills. Dwayne Richard, 31, of Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada, has already received two $1,000 checks for beating the world records on Dig Dug and Tutankham. But he's not done yet: he has gone so far as to buy his own Donkey Kong machine to aid his attempts in breaking 1 million points on Donkey Kong before January 1st-a feat that will win him $10,000.
Industry leaders agree that this is the first time that prizes have been created for history's greatest video games. Mitchell is offering this money because he believes the older games are better than the current crop of fighting and slashing games and wants to renew the public's interest in these legendary titles. "Actually," confides Mitchell, "this is really the duty of the manufacturers themselves to keep the old titles alive because they are a significant part of the culture of the 20th Century. However, they aren't doing it, so I've decided to go to bat for the players and get the ball rolling."
Mitchell, 34, president of the family-owned business that created Rickey¹s
World Famous Sauce, splits his time between promoting his nationally distributed
hot sauce and playing video games-a pasttime that has brought him worldwide
fame. At the
recent Tokyo Game Show, he was crowned the "Player of the Century" before a crowd of thousands.
In the early 1980s, Mitchell dominated the video game section of the Guinness Book of World Records, and, as early as
1984, was recognized as the "world's most famous video game player." Among his dozens of career milestones were a 1983
appearance in LIFE magazine as well as a stint as a star performer in an "Electronic Circus." Later, in the same year, he was
interviewed by NBC National News in Chicago while touring as a member of the U.S. National Video Game Team, raising
monies for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
In January, 1984, he was selected by his peers as the 1984 Player of the Year during a ceremony broadcast on CBS News.
"His most notable accomplishments," explains Day, "were his six world records listed in the 1984-86 editions of the Guinness
Book of World Records. These were on the toughest, most contested games of the times, like Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man,
Centipede, Burgertime, Donkey Kong, Jr. and Donkey Kong-with some records still standing today."
Twin Galaxies has been keeping score for the world of video game and pinball playing since 1982. Its most well known
product is the Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records (ISBN 1887472-25-8), which is a
984-page book containing scores from players in 31 different countries compiled since 1981. For more information on these
prizes, contact Twin Galaxies at (515)472-3882 or go to www.twingalaxies.com to see the required difficulty settings for
each game. Or, contact Billy Mitchell at Rickey's World Famous Sauce c/o Rickey's Restaurant, 4799 Hollywood Blvd.,
Hollywood, FL, 33021, USA, Ph: (954)966-1424.