WEIRS BEACH, NH -- For the first time in video game playing history, a perfect score was achieved on the legendary arcade game, Pac-Man.
On July 3, 1999 at 4:45 P.M., taking nearly six hours to accomplish the feat -- on one quarter -- Billy Mitchell, 33, a Fort Lauderdale hot sauce manufacturer visiting the famous Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, NH, scored 3,333,360 points -- the maximum possible points allowed by the game. The results will go into next year’s edition of the Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records -- which is the official record book for the world of video game and pinball playing.
Though the Funspot is a world famous vacation spot, Billy Mitchell was not there to enjoy the holiday festivities. Mitchell was there for the sole purpose of beating the Canadians to the Holy Grail of video game playing: history’s first perfect game on Pac-Man.
To get a perfect game on Pac-Man, the player has to eat every dot, every energizer, every blue man and every fruit up to and including board 256 -- where the game ends with a split screen. This must be accomplished on the first man, too.
“It was unbelievable,” says Gary Vincent, Funspot Operations Manager. “Mitchell purposefully arrived on July 1st -- Canada’s Day -- and won the title in time for the Fourth of July. He even wore a red, white and blue, a Star Spangled Banner tie to emphasize the patriotic sentiments behind his efforts.”
Mitchell, who refused to eat until he beat the Canadians for the world record, went hungry for nearly two full days. “I had to be first,” Mitchell explains. “Its like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. No matter how many people accomplish the feat afterwards, it will always be Armstrong who will be remembered for doing it first. And, best of all, it was an American.”
And Mitchell is first. With a camcorder supplied by Funspot bearing down over his shoulder, Mitchell’s every last move was taped for posterity -- if not, at least, for irrefutable proof of the achievement. And, after the exhausting six-hour game was over, Mitchell backed away from the game in disbelief and then did the improbable: he announced his permanent retirement from playing Pac-Man. “I never have to play that darn game again,” he sighed in relief. “There’s nothing more I can accomplish.”
“Mitchell may have just barely beat out the pack,” adds Funspot’s Gary Vincent, “because all this year players around the world have been laying siege to Pac-Man, vying to be the first to complete the first perfect-game ever.”
The biggest rivalry in the quest for the first perfect game was between two Canadians and two Florida players -- Billy Mitchell being one of them. On May 8, 1999, during Funspot’s First International Classic Video & Pinball Tournament, Rick Fothergill, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, grabbed headlines with CNN, Associated Press, the Boston Phoenix, Boston Globe, and CBS Radio Network News, when he fell a mere 90 points short of a perfect game, scoring 3,333,270 points. “This is, possibly, the most difficult feat to accomplish in the world of video game playing,” explains Walter Day, chief scorekeeper at the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard -- an organization based in Fairfield, Iowa that tracks high scores for the worldwide video game and pinball industries.
Mitchell agrees with Day’s assessment: “I just about fell apart at the 1.9 million point mark. And, then, it was like the end of the world as I suddenly realized that I still had 100 boards to go.”
Since the years 1980 and 1981, when Midway Games, Inc. distributed 99,000 copies of the coin-operated Pac-Man, its popularity has barely waned, remaining the most-legendary game produced during the period now being called the ‘Golden Age of Video Game Arcades', 1979-85.
“Still, in spite of its huge popularity,” marvels Day, “a perfect Pac-Man game never happened, even though millions of people were playing the game.”
To find out how rare a perfect game is, Day started a project where his staff would attend used game auctions and count the number of game plays found on the old Pac-Man machines to ascertain how many times the average Pac-Man machine had been played during its lifetime. The findings suggested that Pac-Man had been played more than 10 billion times worldwide during the last 20 years.
Mitchell, who also holds the world record on the classic Donkey Kong game, runs a family business manufacturing Rickey’s World Famous Sauce -- a hot sauce brand distributed worldwide. He attributes his game-playing success to his friend, Chris Ayra, a Miami video game player who currently holds the world record on Ms. Pac-Man. “Chris generously shared his brilliant strategies with me, giving me all the skills I needed to beat Pac-Man.”
Mitchell plans on enjoying the Fourth of July. He will not be playing any video games.
The Funspot Family Fun Center, founded in 1952, is the world’s second-largest arcade, with 500 arcade games, miniature golf, 24 lanes of bowling and Bingo facilities. Open year-round, it is the site of the largest annual classic video game and pinball championship in the world. Next year’s event is scheduled for June 1-4, 2000.
The Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard 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 published in 1998 by Sunstar Publishing of Fairfield, Iowa, containing 116 pictures and 12,416 scores from players in 31 different countries compiled during the years 1981-1997. For information on the perfect Pac-Man score, please call (515) 472-3882 or go to www.twingalaxies.com.