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The WPU Defender Gauntlet is being laid down!

Defender Tournament Scores: Has anyone noticed that we’ve got some pretty weak scores on our default Defender thread here at WPU? BITD most players moved onto machines with more difficulty and more expensive extra lives to keep the addiction going. 2, 3, 5 and even 7 & 10million-pt games were not unheard of but can we reproduce them? Even if your power supply / eyesight / carpal tunnels and knees can stand it, can your head? It would seem that the limit to human endurance is about 50 hours of straight game play… or is it?

THE HISTORY:  Defender is considered the grand-daddy of all marathon games.  Released in 1980, arcade players were playing many hours on one credit by 1981.  By January 1982 a US player reached a ‘record’ score after 16+ hours.  This garnered Steve Juraszek instant stardom in his homeland as his story was picked up by Time magazine.  The bandwagon was about to get crowded though. Through the US summer of 1982 the back and forth competition for the ‘world’ record pushed games into the 30+ hr realm.  Of special note is Doug Mahugh’s 24-hour game played in late January 1982 as a response to Juraszek’s 16-hour game.  Mahugh had visited developers Eugene Jarvis & Larry DeMar to prove his skills and the ‘Vid Kidz’ were incredulous until they saw his intense mastery first hand in Chicago.  As a result of the meeting, Doug Mahugh was able to complete his definitive Defender strategy manual (unreleased until early 2013).  The experience landed Mahugh at Joystik magazine where he went on to be a prolific leader in Video Game reporting.
Unfortunately, by Sep 1982, the teens of America were getting hungry for video game magazine “stardom” so reports of “record scores” on many video games blurred the line between fact and fantasy. Competitions and event coverage were unheard of outside of the US, and so, therefore was the ability to submit high scores. If you could get a million on factory default then by rights you could ‘play forever’… or as long as the body would let you! There have been a lot of scores bandied around for Defender over the years but none more outlandish than spate of 70million+ scores back then. Staying awake for 70+ hours is one thing… but concentrating on the hardest ever video game created too… hmmm… who knows.

TODAY: With the wonders of modern technology, the benefit of hindsight, in-depth analysis and a worldwide interest, there’s really only way to lay claim to such ridiculous scores… right here at WPU with your chosen link. The best Defender marathon effort to many - and according to the brains-trust here at WPU is the very well documented 40-hr game by Dale Rees of 42,335,225pts.

    Video games magazine, 42,335,225 on Sept. 28, 1983

My 40-Hour Defenderthon: 42,335,225 (Sept. 28, 1983) by 18-year-old Dale Rees.

“Back in the October issue of VIDEO GAMES, Dale Rees, of Cocoa Beach,Fla., slapped our wrist for printing an erroneous Defender high score.  Rees added that he would be going for the record - 33 million points at the time - and asked if we would like a report on “the event.”  “Certainly,” we replied.  Two months hence the following article arrived in the mail.”

DR: “At the age of five, I was told that my coordination would never be right.  I couldn’t even touch my nose with my hand.  And here I am preparing to top the Defender high score.

It’s 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 28, when I pop my quarter into the machine at the Game Tunnel inMerit Island,Fla.  My first ship goes down at 62,375.  My first soda goes down as i start to climb the big bonus level of 990,000.

I’m well into th fourth million when the game room begins to fill up.  It’s already way past dinner-time when someone brings me a burger; another friend supplies Pac-Man cookies for some quick energy.  By 11 p.m. - as I pass the 14 million mark - the spectators are beginning to thin out.  A leather pad I designed is doing a good job keeping the cabinet’s hard edge from gnawing at my wrists - no soreness yet.

Dwayne Coffman, my Defender-playing partner, talks to me through the wee hours.  By 6 a.m. (Wednesday) my score stands at 22 million.  I’m hungry again.  Dwayne feeds me an Egg McMuffin and coffee.  Suddenly, nature calls - I hold off until the last moment, make a mad dash to the bathroom, throw some cold water on my face and race back to Defender.  incredibly, only three of my well-stocked ships have been lost.  By noon, Milt Salamon, a local newspaper reporter, arrives, followed by the local TV crew.  Soon the room is flooded with bright lights, and I’m being asked lots of questions.  In the background, I hear a live radio D.J. informing all of Cocoa Beach what I’ve accomplished so far.  Then my mother arrives and spoon feeds me chili in between attack waves.  Even in three-second gulps, the hot food is calming.

At 5 p.m. I reach the magic 33 million point.  While friends whistle congratulations for achieving the goal I set, I decided to run the machine up to 34 million before quitting.  Then I get some shocking news.  According to Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard, in Iowa, the Defender score is 52 million!  Even though I hadn’t planned on a second night without sleep, I keep going.

By 11 p.m., at 39 million, I’m in pain.  The ice packs scorekeeper Guy Kent has been putting on my knuckles are no longer helping; my right foot, which has been supporting me through this ordeal, is throbbing.  At midnight, my concentration starts to lapse.  My hands seem to be moving independently of my brain.  Suddenly, at 41,410,00, I drop to four ships.

I feel like a boxer who’s down for the count.  Three, two, now one ship left.  I’m smart-bombing everything just to stay alive.  A new wave Begins.  I smart-bomb the pods and regain another ship.  Have i weathered the storm?  Hardly.  My smart bomb stock is down to two.  Did I overplay them in my previous panic?

The final moment arrives at 42,335,225.  I am, in fact, relieved.  I let my head drop into my hands.  I could cry, but I am just too tired.  Forty hours is a long time Defending.”

WPU: To this end, our contest is celebrating what is most likely the authentic 1-credit game of Defender of all time. Dale Rees is a celebrated hero to the culture of Defender and WPU honors and salutes his legacy “defending the planet one humanoid at a time”.

DETAILS: WPU is for players, by players just-for-fun and is not affiliated with any other score-keeping body. So, 10,000,000+ pts gains you a custom T-shirt prize (artwork penned by the famous artist Dan Tearle), WPU notoriety with a definitive write-up of your achievement and the adulation of every current global Defender player! We will need a link or feed like or YouTube though plus onhelluva write-up to inspire ther players to take on the gauntlet. In the unlikely event of you beating Dale Rees’s record marathon game of 31 years ago, there will be a very special prize which may include cold compresses, a wheelchair, acupuncture vouchers and physio sessions in order to recover from it.
RULES: Call us old hippies, but we here at WPU aren’t much into ‘rules’ but we’ll have to put a few guidelines down on this one…
-Any romset (beware some romsets are more difficult than others - red is easiest, then green)
-Any hardware (real machine, JROK board, 19-1 board, MAME of any version).
NOTE: Defender hasn’t changed over the course of MAME versions, so any version such as wolfmame106 would be adequate.
SETTINGS: default settings / 3 ship start / 10k bonus
-no pausing
-no assisted play
-no 10 man drop to get breaks (unsporting behaviour)
-no baiter hunting.
MISC: Don’t forget that your ships roll over at 255 and so do the smart bombs and Waves. We’d expect every million to take about 55mins. The best time for a break would be during the ‘goldilocks zone’ of 990k-999k where every hit gains a ship. After that, every Wave 1 rollover or by leaving just 4 bombers on subsequent waves will buy you time until the baiters get you…

The Jarvis-DeMar combo are considered the ultimate developers of enemy dynamics in classic video games.  Are you up to the challenge of beating them at their own game?

“Can’t wait to see what scores come in!”  
[Eugene Jarvis, head of the Defender development team]

“Your efforts are bringing Defender back into the limelight .. a place where it always belongs. And, as people devote their time and energy and love to restore the legacy of the 1980s arcade, we will see a worldwide resurgence in interest in owning, playing and preserving these games.”
[Walter Day,  founder of Twin Galaxies arcade, official record-keeping and a videogame culture advocate]