The Evolution Of Community & Competition In 10 Years Of Galaga

Phil Day,

June 21, 2019 7:25 AM

Former Twin Galaxies Galaga World Record holder Phil Day goes into detail on how competitive Galaga has evolved since his record in 2009 and what the future holds for Galaga scores and competition.

Phil Day is the former Galaga Tournament World Record holder (2009 - 2011). He was one of ten Galaga players in the world chosen compete in at the First International Galaga World Championship, Score Wars, Meow Wolf (2018). He is also the Co-Founder of Galaga Forum. Day is currently ranked on the Twin Galaxies leaderboard for Galaga Tournament. The following article was written by and offered with his permission for publication in full on Twin Galaxies Editorial.


November last year, at the Australian Kong Off II, I was asked what the classic arcade gaming (CAG) scene was like when I was competing for the Galaga world record in 2009. I answered, ‘Lonely’. However, times change, and in the case of score-chasing and particularly Galaga, things have gotten far more exciting than likely anyone could have expected. Being around through all of it, I took a look back at the previous decade and how things have gone for Galaga since my initial competitive period.

2009

Times have changed quite a bit since Phil first challenged the Galaga Tournament leaderboards back in 2009.
Times have changed quite a bit since Phil first challenged the Galaga Tournament leaderboards back in 2009.

In 2009, I had no contacts with the US CAG community, and to my knowledge, there didn’t seem to be a CAG community in Australia – certainly not a competitive one. Nor were there any full length Galaga games on Youtube. So when my Galaga cabinet (an upright Hankin 5) arrived at my door in late January 2009, I had no tactics as to how to take the World Record on Galaga TGTS (Twin Galaxies Tournament Settings).

Galaga TGTS requires the competitor to play Galaga on its most difficult setting - Rank D - with only five lives, and no bonus lives. The then 2,729,350 point world record score (2007) held by Andrew Laidlaw (USA) was an intimidating one. And there were only two other scores beneath his. Richard W Marsh at 1, 557,580 points (2005), and David Nelson at 268,890 points (2006).

Within a couple of months, I passed Nelson’s score. I introduced myself to Mr Kelly R. Flewin in Canada. My contact with him was via email, and my video submissions had to be recorded and sent via ordinary postal services. By June I passed Marsh with a score of 1.8 million. I then focused on regularly reaching 1.5 million points without losing a life. I felt this was necessary to beat Laidlaw’s score. If I could get two 1.5 million points runs back to back, I’d have the world record. It could also be accomplished if I performed three 1 million runs, or a comfortable mixture of either.

By August 2009, I scored 3.4 million points (a score that was rejected by TG due to the video camera’s low pixel count). By October, I submitted a score of 3.2 million – a new world record – what was then an impressive score, and in some ways, it still is; currently ranked at #7 on the Galaga Forum Tournament leaderboard, it’s also the only score in the top ten from last decade. It’s worth pointing out the score ranked at no. 5 is 6,169,130 points (Andrew Barrow, NZ), and no. 1 is 9,525,700 points (Armando Gonzalez, USA). As high as the 3 million points is for many players, it is merely a practice game for a select few. Who’d have thought?

2010-2017

In 2010, Laidlaw and I believed a Galaga TGTS game of 5 million would be a near perfect game, averaging 1 million points per life. We were not alone in believing a 5 million game to be the ultimate score. The Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records (1998) states a score of 5 million points on Galaga TGTS is ‘believed to not be possible.’ [pp. 864]. Laidlaw got very close with a score of 4.5 million (2011). His unprecedented score of 4.5 million, wouldn’t be passed until 2017 by Andrew Barrow of New Zealand.

Barrow had been playing Galaga on and off since he was 12 years old (2000).  At age 14, he scored 1,456,880 million on factory settings, he then hit a wall. More than a decade would pass before he started playing again. Barrow remembers:

“I hit 1.8 m in January 2015. Then 2.35m by March, then a very low 3 million in May. My big jump was in September - 4.18 million. But I sort of sat there for a while, I started playing far more seriously on all sorts of other titles, as I tend to do.”

It wasn’t until the night before the first Australian Kong Off on November 10, 2017 that Barrow decided to have a game of Galaga. Barrow scored 5.4 million, this was to be the first time a Galaga TGTS score of 5 million was to be verified by Twin Galaxies. Even though Barrow was the first to reach 5 million on Galaga TGTS, his score never received the attention it deserved. Played out on MAME, his 5.4 million score was published separately from the Galaga TGTS arcade leaderboard. Due to this, Laidlaw’s 4.5 million world record was thought by many to be the highest score achieved on Galaga on original arcade hardware utilizing only five lives. 

It looked as though Laidlaw’s 4.5 million had no active contenders, then came Score Wars.

2018 - Score Wars

Score Wars featured a whose who of talent including record holders Andrew Laidlaw and Phil Day, but it also put Armando Gonzalez and Andrew Barrow face to face, who would play up the high scores for Tournament play several times.
Score Wars featured a whose who of talent including record holders Andrew Laidlaw and Phil Day, but it also put Armando Gonzalez and Andrew Barrow face to face, who would play up the high scores for Tournament play several times.

In April 2018, the Score Wars: Galaga World Championship hosted by Meow Wolf (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA), raised the bar on how to highlight a classic arcade game title. Galaga, more than three decades old, was streamed live on Twitch - complete with commentary - to hundreds of thousands of viewers. The two-day event reignited an interest in seeing someone best Laidlaw’s longstanding world record. Barrow came closest with a score 4.1 million. But Galaga enthusiasts didn’t have to wait long.

Score Wars competitor and runners up, Armando Gonzalez, passed the elusive 4.5 million with a new world record score of 6,056,490 points only a month after Score Wars. What once seemed so difficult for so long, became common place for an exclusive group of only five members. Andrew Barrow, Jordan Dorrington, Stephen Krogman, and Mike Thompson, would all join Gonzalez in the 6 million club.

6-million-club

Gonzalez’s score of 6 million seemed to pave the way for others. It’s as if he somehow broke the spell. All of a sudden 4.5 million was no longer an obstacle, whatever extraordinary hold it had was now gone. Four players would repeatedly pass 4.5 million. Even doing so on a single run.

All five members of the 6-million-point club have passed stage 255 on multiple occasions; and each have demonstrated runs of above 4 million without losing a single life – a clear and important indicator of the skills set the top five competitors have acquired. 

A competitor on Galaga on Galaga TGTS will reach a score of 3 million points at approximately stage 255. At which point Rank D Galaga commence scrolling through all 255 stages again, but not before introducing Stage 0 (a difficult stage due to its unconventional set up, speed, and attack). A competitor who is capable of scoring 4 million points without losing a single life will have defeated all 255 stages and stage 0 and commence Stage 1. A Galaga competitor who can do that, has arguably nothing more to prove – they have beaten Galaga. But, because Galaga is capable of tracking the score into the tens of millions, competitors keep playing. Simply because Galaga Rank D has no finishing line, no ceiling, no actual kill screen. Arguably a problem for the top five players, if so, a problem for the track itself.

Marathon Curse

Where Galaga Marathon was once thought to be the test of endurance, Tournament Galaga isn't far from becoming a similar scenario with the current crop of skill in play at the highest level.
Where Galaga Marathon was once thought to be the test of endurance, Tournament Galaga isn't far from becoming a similar scenario with the current crop of skill in play at the highest level.

A great number of Galaga players are unable to reach 100,000 points – approximately 8 minutes. The current Galaga TG Marathon world record is 9.5 million points. Performed by Gonzalez, the world record score is the end result of over six hours of continuous game play. Of course, it is possible for the score to be beaten, and it may well be beaten by a 6 million club competitor who chooses to chase it. That said, like most classic arcade tracks that require hours, they become a test of something altogether different.

Initially, a classic arcade game is about scoring points – as many as one can find on each level – but this isn’t the how top competitors approach a world record run on Rank D. A top Galaga competitor is not required to focus their efforts on maximizing points per stage, instead, they tend to focus on reducing any risk that may cause their game to end sooner rather than later. It is true that scoring points and reducing risks go hand-in-hand, but one doesn’t necessarily follow the other. For example:

  • Eliminating a Galaga boss while resting in formation scores the competitor – 150 points
  • Eliminating a Galaga boss in flight – 400 points
  • Eliminating a Galaga boss in flight with one enemy escort – 800 points
  • Eliminating a Galaga boss in flight with two enemy escorts – 1,600 points.

There is an obvious incentive for a competitor to eliminate Galaga boss’s while in flight with two escorts. Doing so increases the point value by more than tenfold. Even so, a risk assessment results in a high-risk low-return due to the fact that a Rank D competitor has ample opportunity to make up those points provided they don’t lose all five ships. Thus, a player having mastered the required skills to clear stages need not investigate ways of scoring higher points per stage. Better they turn their full attention to eliminating all errors that may cost them a loss of life – a low-risk, high-return game.

All the top players have successfully demonstrated, again and again, their mastery of the low risk high return game play. Should any one of them choose to lift the world record, it is essential they now master the required skill to fight off the fatigue brought on by physical exertion (standing for too long), inadequate time to eat, boredom (repeated activity with little variation), and of course lack of rest or sleep. I suspect there is another factor – emotional stress.

Typically, many hundreds of hours of practice are required for a competitor to hone their skills to make a reasonable attempt at the Galaga TGTS world record. And should their attempt at the world record fall short, it is potentially a dent in the competitor’s confidence. Consequently, a second attempt, a third, and so on, may result in the competitor being psychologically fatigued. Thus, they tap out. Galaga champion player Jon Klinkel, openly conceded this point:

"When [Andrew] Laidlaw took the WR [Galaga TGTS, 2011], that kind of diminished my desire to push for it. I kind of just tapered off. Now I play when I get a chance. If I had a cab or lived closer to an arcade, I’d play more often. Right now, it would take me 6 months of solid play to reach 6 million. And when I’m there, the current top players will most likely be at 10 million. "

But there will always be those who have the inclination and necessary qualities to topple high scores. But as they get higher and higher, they typically take hours and hours more of game play, better known as ‘marathoning’.

Marathoning is typically the curse of a classic arcade track. World records can sit unchallenged for decades. Krogman’s Galaga Marathon word record of 15,999,990 points was set in 1989. The world record wasn’t beaten until 2019 when Gonzalez lifted the score to 17,684,050 points. The new world record lasted approximately 10 hours to achieve. Krogman’s and Gonzalez’s scores equally say as much about their respective Galaga skill as it does about Galaga’s game mechanics - Galaga is unable to equal or better Krogman’s or Gonzalez’s skills. When this occurs, the game has become, somewhat, stained. Which is one of the very reasons why the TGTS tracks were created:

"The TGTS […] were crafted from experiences reported to Twin Galaxies by hundreds of players. The settings were game-specific. In other words, Twin galaxies had to find a balance in each game that insured playability, while, at the same time, promised the game would be challenging. […] Hence, the higher the difficulty, the less likely a game would degenerate into a marathon. ~ Walter Day, The Golden Age of Video Game Arcades." [pp. 863]

The Galaga marathon record sat unshaken for 29 years until Armando Gonzalez conquered it in late 2018.
The Galaga Marathon record sat unshaken for 29 years until Armando Gonzalez conquered it in late 2018.

Like it or not, Galaga TGTS is now a marathon track as well. And for some, this isn’t a positive. Thompson, expounds:

"After reaching 5 million - which is a long game - playing Galaga became boring. I’d achieved what is needed to beat the game. After that it’s more the same - I’m just clearing stages. If a [Galaga] player gets 5 million points and another player gets 8 million points, is there really a differentiation between their skills sets? I don’t believe there is. I know when I score 5 million points or 8 million points, both demonstrate the same level of skill. It’s just the lower score of the two had an earlier unforced error. I started looking for other things to do. So, I began focusing on playing the game perfectly. That means a handful of things: firing as few shots as possible and hitting the target as often as possible, perfecting all challenging stages; and maximizing as many points per stage.

World class [Galaga] players, are equally capable of achieving similar scores. Anyone one of the [6 million-point club] are capable of getting the world record. However, if you stop a Galaga between Stage 1 and Stage 255, only then can we get an accurate insight to the broader skill set of the best Galaga players in the world. I enjoyed chasing the accuracy. It didn’t take long before my goal was to reach 8 million points with a 95% hit/miss ration. I achieved this twice. And I’ve scored higher since, but I still feel my second 8 million 95% [hit/miss ratio] score is my best game yet, all because I wasted the least amount of shots and the least amount of points escaped my game."

Thompson clearly has a different perspective on how to evaluate his Galaga scores. With recent scores ranging between 6.7m and 9.3m, he is proudest of is his 8 million score.

To better grasp Thompson’s assessment of his 8 mil game, it is necessary to compare it to how points are gathered by another top Galaga competitor.

Thompson’s 8-million-point game - precisely 8,519,870 points with a hit/miss ration of 95.8% - was the result if clearing 572 stages. While Gonzalez’s world record score at the end of 572 stages is 7,469,860 points. Thompson is more than 400,000 points in front. Averaging 14,106 points per stage, Thompson is well aware that the world record is well within his reach. He stated:

"I plan to reach 10 million [points] with a 95% hit/miss [ratio] with an average of 14,000 per stage. After that, I’m not sure. I know a year from now I’ll have no fondness for chasing 15 million [points]. I suspect someone else will. There is no world record on Galaga TGTS that can’t be beaten by one of one of the top players. The only genuine obstacle to these top players is stamina. And I dread the idea of standing at a machine for 12hrs."

I agree with Thompson - there isn’t any Galaga TGTS score that can’t be beaten – and this includes Thompson’s scores. However, the manner in which Thompson accumulates his points requires much more than the combination of clearing stages and stamina. It’s quite clear that Thompson is point pressing; squeezing as many points as he can from each stage evident throughout every aspect of his gameplay. Alas, it is of little significance on Galaga TGTS. Because Galaga TGTS doesn’t reward high hit/miss ratios, Galaga TGTS has never concerned itself with such finesse. And it would be a mistake to be distracted by measuring hit/miss ratio when regarding a Galaga TGTS score. However, what if there were a Galaga track that measured such subtlety and flair for locating and obtaining points.

Galaga Rank C Kill Screen

Historically, Gonzalez is the highest performing Galaga player to date. In 2018 he broke the two longest standing Galaga world records. The twenty-nine-year unchallenged Galaga marathon world record; and the seven-year unchallenged Galaga TGTS world record. He is arguably the greatest Galaga competitor at performing uninterrupted runs. His most famed run occurred during his most recent Galaga TGTS world record result: 9,525,700 points. Gonzalez’s run began at stage 1 and ran through to stage 255, past stage 0, and onward ending at 6.1 million points (approximately 4 hours).

Such an unprecedented feat illustrates a concern: Rank D is no longer challenging Gonzalez’s skill set. This concern is equally true of all players in the 6 million club. This is all due to Galaga TGTS being set on Rank D, which has no kill screen.

The existence of a Kill Screen on some difficulties of Galaga creates a finite experience in which one must maximize their points within a window of playtime.
The existence of a Kill Screen on some difficulties of Galaga creates a finite experience in which one must maximize their points within a window of playtime.

The lack of a kill screen has resulted in high scores that measures a narrow range of skills. Albeit, these skills are incredibly difficult to acquire, but once accomplished, Galaga TGTS becomes a pattern game. That is, the competitor has learned a systematic approach to each stage, removing all variables. Only if an error is made on behalf of the competitor are they required to resort to inventive gameplay.

It is important to add; high scoring competitors have such accomplished skills they eliminate any forced errors. A game will only come to an end because the competitor makes an error in their pattern of play. This can be witnessed in any 3million plus point run repeatedly performed by any of the top five players. What is worth considering is how a three-million-point-run-on-Rank D is no different to any other three-million-point-run-on-Rank D. This is not the case on Rank C.

A three-million-point run on Rank C is fastly approaching Stage 255 – after which the competitor arrives at the kill screen resulting in the game ending regardless of how many lives are remaining. Therefore, a genuine competitor will be required to find as many points as possible on every stage. Clearing stages to stay alive simply will fall well short of the highest plausible score. Points passed by due to ‘stay alive’ tactics, won’t be present later. This can be casually illustrated by looking at 6 million club members’ score at the end of Stage 255 on their highest official high score. A fictitious leaderboard would appear as:

  1. Thompson - 3,594,140
  2. Krogman - 3,495,150
  3. Barrow - 3,450,880
  4. Dorrington - 3,369,730
  5. Gonzalez - 3,323,820

There is a 270,320-point difference between the lowest and highest score. The difference in scores is the result of a mixture of points gained and lost, the most obvious being poor performance on challenging stages. Of the 255 stages, sixty-four of them are challenging stages – which pose no threat to the competitor losing one of their five lives. However, they do pose a threat to world record attempts. As of stage 27 and onward up to and including stage 255, each challenging stage is equal in points to three ordinary stages. Failing every challenging stage before reaching stage 0, will cost the competitor a minimum of 640,000 points – approximately forty minutes of play on ordinary stages. Which is a disadvantage to any of the top five players. However it is a disadvantage their skillset is able to comfortably overcome.

A Galaga Rank C track would give a much greater insight to where each of these top five players gain and lose points. Better still, it would also require each of them to invest in a broader set of skills to master this new track. I can think of four levels of mastery that require special attention. From easiest to hardest:  

  • Mastery Level 1 – Complete all 255 stages with a perfect score on all challenging stages.
  • Master Level 2 - Complete all 255 stages with a perfect score on all challenging stages; and destroy 75% of all bonus squadrons (the three ships that appear on each normal stage).
  • Mastery Level 3 - Complete all 255 stages with a perfect score on all challenging stages, destroy 75% of all bonus squadrons, and have Galaga boss(s) capture bonus ships and shoot them back for bonus points (1,000 per ship – maximum 17,000).
  • Mastery Level 4 - Complete all 255 stages with a perfect score on all challenging stages, destroy 75% of all bonus squadrons, have Galaga boss(s) capture bonus ships and shoot them back for bonus points, and point press on all ordinary stages – destroying ships in flight, destroying bosses in formation with two Galaga enemies (allotted points are unknown).

Should a competitor achieve Mastery Level 4, the score will most likely be above 4 million, how far above is yet to be tested.

The difference between a 3.2 million score and 3.6 million would be considerable. Many confident players who are able to score a high 2 million points or low 3 million points will comfortably reach the killscreen (especially playing with all 18 lives). Reaching the KS will be a well-earned accomplishment. However, for first timers the result will most likely be an entry level score.

It’s similar to reaching the KS on Donkey Kong. It would validate that the competitor has acquired skills to survive every stage. Reaching the KS on Donkey Kong typically produces a score of around 800k – two thirds of the current Donkey World Record. It was once thought a DK KS of 1.1milion was the limit. Then 1.2million. The current DK record, specifically sitting on the Donkey Kong Forum, stands at 1,249,500 points set by John McCurdy (USA, 2019).

Like Donkey Kong, a Galaga Rank C track will ultimately result in highly skilled competitors performing a single game of Galaga in the hope of scoring as little as a few more thousand points to set a new world record. It has taken Donkey Kong more than a decade to reach this situation. It may take equally as long for Galaga Rank C to do the same. Whether it takes ten months or ten years, I believe it will produce some of the most exciting Galaga game play to date, with one exception to the expereince. A genuine attempt will last a minimum of 2 hours. 2 hours is hardly the same as watching a genuine attempt at Galaga TGTS, but 2 hours is far longer than what spectators of more recent titles are accustomed to watching. Certainly for many enthusiasts this might be appealing, but for the general viewer it might be asking a bit much.

Gala-Gala – Mirco 31

The Gala-Gala was a perfect place to introduce a heck of a new Galaga competitive track to the retro gaming community.
The Gala-Gala was a perfect place to introduce a heck of a new Galaga competitive track to the retro gaming community.

As much as the classic arcade gaming has had a revival, it has been primarily among collectors and casual players. It is true that classic arcade gaming community has attracted new and active competitors. Nevertheless, the competitive side of classic arcade gaming is still very much a niche community. And many of its most recognizable tiles are receiving few new scores. I suspect the reasons are various - obviously the lengthy time required for a competitor to complete a game, but equally important is how many spectators are interested in watching it.

Popular video game titles, with large numbers of spectators, don’t last hours long. A Starcraft II match averages around 12 minutes, and Fortnight a match averages around 15 minutes. There aren’t too many classic arcade tracks with such short gameplay. But that doesn’t mean tracks can’t be created to accommodate player and spectator interests.

Early this year, Pincadia in Brisbane, Australia, hosted an Ice-Cold Beer tournament. John McNeill (Multiple TG world record holder) created a short track to better accommodate players and spectators. McNeill explains:

"I introduced time as a competitive factor. This prevented the game from being marathoned, making it kind of similar to a speed run track. The reason being is that the game’s given time has no real hindrance to a top player. Unlike, say Donkey Kong, which has a built-in timer, and if it runs down to zero, the player loses a life. When the timer reaches zero in Ice Cold Beer, you simply don’t get any bonus points. And top players can easily play for twenty-four hours.  Introducing a time limit for the entire game forced players to move quicker, and therefore take risks."

McNeill’s Ice-Cold Beer track was a success, attracting highly and less-experienced competitors alike, and both arcade gamers and pinball competitors as well. It’s no surprise Pincadia chose to replicate a similar idea for the Gala-Gala Tournament.

Gala-Gala is a two-day long Galaga event streamed on the Pincadia Twitch Channel showing casing their new track – Micro 31. Created by Pincadia and all-star classic arcade gamer, Dwayne Richard, the track is set to difficulty Rank A (the easiest ranking), starting with three lives, and bonus lives on.

Sounds relatively easy. However, Micro 31 tests competitors’ Galaga skills at garnering points from Stage 1 up to, and including, the end of Stage 31. Therefore, a competitor will only visit each of the nine challenging stages once. As competitors gain bonus lives, they will have to opportunity to have them captured, then intentionally destroy them to score 1,000 points. What I was most curious about was when players would initiate their first opportunity to double up their ships. I suspected some top players might not double up until after, or during, Stage 10. As enemies enter Stage 10, they do not fire, possibly offering stronger players an opportunity to accrue points when the enemies descend after formation.

Regardless of what overall strategy competitors chose elect, the beauty of this track is how little time it takes to complete. At good speed, 31 stages can be completed in around twenty minutes. Therefore, a tournament where the finals involve the top eight competitors going head to head in knock-out rounds, could easily resolve in under two hours - equal to the average soccer game. Tanya Lowe, co-founder of Pincadia, believes shorter tracks for both competitors and spectators is crucial for the survival of classic arcade gaming:

"I believe it’s important to keep classic gaming alive. These games are the very foundation of video gaming culture, and if we value that at all, surely it is important to offer people the opportunity to play these games, see how the best have mastered these games, and also how many of these games still have unexplored territory within their gameplay. Furthermore, I suspect, to widen the appeal of classic gaming, we need shorter tracks.

Back in the day, a game lasting twenty minutes would have been an impressive game. Games now can last hours and hours – and let’s face it: audiences are highly unlikely to remain tuned in. I’m not suggesting, or wanting, to close old tracks at all. I just want to find short tracks that are acclimatized to current technologies and interests. I’d like nothing more than have more players going head-to-head here at Pincadia against players in North America, Europe, and wherever else. The technology is available, but that doesn’t solve time difference across various time zones. 

Shorter tracks can certainly assist in overcoming some of those obstacles.  And I do believe what Dwayne [Richard] and Pincadia have created for Gala-Gala is a smashing challenge. Micro 31 isn’t an easy alternative to Galaga Marathon or TGTS, but Micro 31 is far more inclusive. A new player can certainly expect - with a modest amount of practice - to acquire the skills to reach Stage 31, but that won’t assure them of a certain victory. Not at all. […] Micro 31 can’t be just another track on one of the various leaderboards. It has to be a live tournament. 

World records on arcade titles are well recorded by various leaderboards – largely because a machine played here in Brisbane is going to play the same as a machine in Los Angeles, allowing players to compete against each around the world, and they can do so at their home on a private machine, or at an arcade. It doesn’t matter. So long as the player has a clear recording, they can submit their score to one of the many leaderboards, and in doing so, they are in direct competition against other players and their scores. But I, and Pincadia, believe Gala-Gala, and other events like it, are equal parts competitive tournament and social event, and this transcends what a leaderboard can offer. 

Of course, Gala-Gala is being streamed live on the internet - that’s important - but so is the need to be physically present with others.  And when this happens you get a community - One with a genuine shared interest. Already, Pincadia’s first attempt with Gala-Gala has attracted players from Canada, the US, New Zealand, and interstate around Australia. Even more excitingly, Gala-Gala has attracted non-Galaga players, including our own Donkey Kong legend, Allen Staal; and also the co-creator of Q*Bert, Warren Davis. When this happens, it’s not just about Galaga. The result becomes a mini convention, where interests regarding classic gaming is cross-pollinated between top competitors; game designers; collectors; journalists; and equally importantly, classic gaming fans."

2019 & Beyond in Galaga

A who's who of talent from New Zealand/Australia & US teams at Gala-Gala, featuring (left to right) Andrew Barrow, Rob Macauley, Mike Coolican, John McAllister, Dwayne Richard, Derek Broadfoot, Mike Thompson, and Jordan Dorrington.
A who's who of talent from New Zealand/Australia & US teams at Gala-Gala, featuring (left to right) Andrew Barrow, Rob Macauley, Mike Coolican, John McAllister, Dwayne Richard, Derek Broadfoot, Mike Thompson, and Jordan Dorrington.

To my knowledge, there has never been such great Galaga players as the top five players playing in the year 2019. While such highly skilled Galaga competitors are active, I feel it would be a disappointment not to find new Galaga tracks like Micro 31 that challenge their true ability. Once constructed, new arenas will exist for high-risk, fast-paced, and elegant gameplay. And if these tracks aren’t created, I sincerely believe competitive play on Galaga Marathon and Galaga TGTS, and many other classic arcade game tracks, will dwindle, if not die.

Of course, there will be those who disagree. However, before they do, I’d ask them to gauge the difference between ‘testing’ and ‘evidence’ before settling on what is the ‘proof’.

The word proof is more synonymous with test than evidence. A pudding to be defined good or bad, can only be determined in the sampling of a slice. All other evidence that would ‘prove’ it is in fact pudding, is irrelevant. My point being: There are a great many classic arcade gaming tracks, and many of them are unofficially grandfathered, or very close to being unofficially grandfathered. These are tracks are worthy of the utmost respect, but this doesn’t mean that they are ‘good’ tracks – that is, they may not be the most suitable tracks to showcase the true ability of our highly skilled competitors, and therefore attracting the attention of spectators they deserve.

I want this scene to continue to live and evolve. The ‘lonely’ classic arcade gaming environment I encountered in 2009 is long gone today, and I’d like it to remain that way.



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