An Interview With Armando Gonzalez On Setting The New Galaga World Record

Twin Galaxies Editorial Staff,

April 30, 2018 9:50 AM

There is a new king in the world of Galaga records, as Armando Gonzalez has set a new world record for the storied arcade game. We spoke to him at length about how the new record came to be.

(This article was a collaboration between Nicholas Barth and TJ Denzer)

They say records are meant to be broken, and this was the case for Armando Gonzalez who has set a new Galaga World record. Gonzalez's score record score of 6,056,490 was achieved on Galaga Tournament Settings - Rank D in five lives with no bonus lives. The score was posted to the official Galaga Forum and announced on the forum's Facebook page.

You can view the over four hour record setting performance below on Twitch, and any fan of the storied arcade game will not want to miss seeing the incredible gameplay that Gonzalez shows off. 

We were able to catch up to Gonzalez following the the amazing run and he had quite the story to tell about how the record happened. It was Twin Galaxies alumni and record holder Hector "Fly" Rodriguez (Track & FieldReturn of the Jedi 1988) that invited Armando Gonzalez over to his home for a live, Twitch streamed attempt at an admirable Galaga Tournament Settings score. That said, Gonzalez admitted it didn't start out smooth at all.

"It was actually on a third attempt that I made the record," Gonzalez claimed. "I was originally trying to put up a good score to give to the Galaga Forum, but my first two attempts weren't that great. I only got to 2 or 3 million in them. I've put up under-the-radar record scores at Eighty-Two and Button Mash. I knew I could do better, but it was a little embarrassing to score so low. I almost ended up heading home that night."

EightyTwo was where Gonzalez started to get serious with his arcade play and Button Mash is where he has played Galaga on Tournament Settings consistently for the last couple years. That said, Armando wasn't quite playing in his comfort zone for this record. He claimed that adapting to Rodriguez's personal Galaga arcade cabinet was a tough challenge for him in his first few attempts.

"Every Galaga machine feels and plays a little different," Gonzalez explained. "Hector's set-up is great, but it's different from what I'm used to. The screen is upright and in your face and the controls were very tight. You can actually hear me in the video slamming the fire button constantly and it really started to hurt my hands. On the other hand, I could make all the excuses in the world, but it took me a while to find my zone."

Armando Gonzalez has mentioned before that after a certain length of play, the muscles in his wrists start to really hurt. This occured after his first and second attempts. Despite this and the discouragement from his personal low scores, it was the positive support of friends that pushed him to stick with it for the third try.

"I had Hector asking me to stick around and try again, but that wasn't all," Gonzalez explained. "I also had friends like Mark Schult reaching out to me on Facebook and giving me some postive pushes. They got my competitive drive going and I pulled it together and tried again."

Among the many who cheered him on, Armando was thankful for the positive pushes of fellow players like Mark Schult and Tim McVey who ultimately helped him power through to the record on his final attempt.
Among the many who cheered him on, Armando was thankful for the positive pushes and vibes of fellow players like Mark Schult and Tim McVey who ultimately helped him power through to the record on his final attempt.

As Armando stepped up to the cabinet for the fateful third run, he changed stance a little bit to adapt to the machine. Gonzalez plays standing up and claimed it help him to concentrate a little bit better for his final run. Even so, the third run started off shakey.

"I lost some ships early, around 1 to 2 million points," Gonzalez explained. "It shook me for a second. I thought to myself, 'this is Score Wars all over again.'"

Armando Gonzalez was the second place winner at Score Wars in a head-to-head competition with fellow Galaga player and record holder Andrew "Barra" Barrow. In the Score Wars Galaga Finals, Gonzalez fell by a couple ships early, which forced him to fight from the bottom for much of the match-up. Though he stayed in step with Barrow for a long time and even managed to even the score for quite a run, Barrow eventually won out to become the Score Wars champion.

That said, Gonzalez managed to persevere past his own doubts and make a spectacular run past the loss of his first ships. Even then, the record almost didn't happen.

"Once I got into the 3 million point range, I was really sore and hurting," Armando told us. "I thought for a second that I could probably call it quits and head home on a high note with that, but Hector kept pushing me to keep going."

It was at the point of decision around 3 million points that Gonzalez claimed it wasn't a matter of points, but a matter of time that helped him build himself up for the rest of the endurance run.

"I worked out in my head how long it might have taken to get to Barrow's record, and then Laidlaw's," Gonzalez claimed. "I came to maybe fifteen more minutes to beat one record. Maybe a half an hour more to beat the other, and I thought to myself, 'yeah, I can hang in there for at least that long.'"

And hang in there he did. Gonzalez eventually found his way past both Barrow and Andrew Laidlaw's set Galaga Tournament Records. Laidlaw's best sits on the Galaga Tournament Leaderboard at 4,525,150, set in 2011. When Armando Gonzalez reached that point, he felt like all expectations were off and he felt relieved.

"I've passed 5 million before at Button Mash, so getting that far wasn't a new experience for me," Armando claimed. "But when I passed Laidlaw's record, I felt so much more relaxed about my play. I passed the bar. Everything at that point was just gravy on top. At that point, I just went at far as I could and was relaxed about it."

Anyone chasing the final score that Gonzales put up is going to have their work cut out for them.
Anyone chasing the final score that Gonzalez put up is going to have their work cut out for them to say the least.

When Armando Gonzalez finished, he had eclipsed Laidlaw's record by 1.5 million points 6,056,490. He has since submitted the record to Twin Galaxies for adjudication as of this writing, and though content with the score, Gonzalez says he knows an even greater score is possible.

"Andrew Barrow and I have talked about it and we definitely believe a 7 million point score is attainable," Armando claims. When asked whether he would chase that mountain, he declined for the time being. "I've made it to the top and I'm happy with where I landed for now. Hopefully this score will stay up there for a bit and I can take some time to let my wrist heal. I accomplished a goal here. I'm older and I don't know how much time I've got to keep doing this. Players like Barrow are young and have time on their side. Also, Barrow's a monster at the game. I know he's coming. But I pushed the bar up quite a bit. I'll take some time to rest while while other players chase after it. When I'm feeling better I may go after the Galaga Marathon records."

It's a rest well-earned, and as we wait on proper adjudication, we will follow this story as it progresses. In the meantime, Twin Galaxies offers an initial congratulations to Armando Gonzalez on his stellar performance. 

Interested in seeing more world records being broken? Check out the record setting performance from speedrunner Kosmic in Super Marios Bros. in Super Mario All Stars.

(cover photo courtesy of Syfy)


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