Growing up in the 80’s you most likely chased a high score at your local burger joint like The Haledon Grill, at a roller skating rink over some high quality nachos, or even at Brother Brunos Pizza on Hamburg Turnpike. It’s where you had your dates, met your buddies over a slice, secretly slipped two dollars in quarters into a vending machine for a pack of Parliaments, and left your cigarette burning while you were trying to heenze your top score.
There was always that one guy that would just play forever. He was probably 13, rode a Tomos moped, rocked a full mustache with his Z Cavariccis and fresh two-strap Reeboks while wreaking of Drakkar Noir. You know the guy. He would leave you to just sitting around talking about which girl you wanted to take to the movies, or the football game on Saturday. It was the worst.
Then there was the mystery gamer that you never saw, but alway had the top score. Those three initials on the scoreboard would haunt you. Who is this person? What do they look like? When do they even come in here to play? He probably washes dishes in the back. With that being said, I finally met one of these apparitions by chance.
I would like to introduce the world to Kurt Zehneder. He’s a master of slinging Chinese food at Fivestar and drinks at William & CO. but more importantly he has the 17th highest score in the world on the 1981 classic arcade game Galaga. Dork he is not, skillful he is, and after 2.5 hours, 3 PBR’s and reaching level 222 with a score of 2.5 million on his first quarter, I will say I was blown away. This is on his first attempt with no practice and no warm up. Although he didn’t beat the game this go around, he was impressive to not only myself, but also developed a crowd around him, equally as fascinated.
Now let’s take a step back for a moment. Does anyone remember The Last Starfighter, the 1984 not-so-blockbuster hit that never really took off? I think I may be the only person to ever watch it late night on HBO or something. Well, anyway it’s a story about a kid who’s playing an arcade game and becomes the game’s highest scoring player. He is approached by the game’s inventor to fill in due to the absence of one of the members of their fleet. Did I mention it was in space? Well, Kurt may be the next Starfighter. I saw the game start shaking when he reached level 222.
A few days later I received a text that said, “I’m at level 205 with 2.4 million points and still going.”
A half hour later a text came through with a very low quality picture of the final level, a crash screen, and a score of 3,020,360 points. I haven’t seen Kurt since. Fly fast and strong my friend.