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Missile Command Walkthrough



Defender of the crown
By Rob Mruczek

Earlier this year, our very own TT managed to break the long standing "Tournament Settings" world record on the classic arcade title Missile Command. We thought this month would be a good time to release a summary of the performance on video. We’ve used (with permission) Twin Galaxies Referee, Robert Mruczek’s original commentary notes to give you some guidance as you watch. So download the video, sit back and enjoy as you experience how Tony set the new world record on Missile Command on tournament settings.

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As a referee and editor for the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard, it is often my honour and privilege to verify and write articles about the best video game achievements of all time. And on occasion, I am fortunate enough to bear witness to an achievement which sets itself apart from all others.

This was one of those times.

On March 9th, 2006, more than 25 years after the title was released by Atari, in a personal best performance that took a mere 80 minutes due to the speed of point-acquisition on this title, Tony Temple raised the bar to the unprecedented mark of 1.967 million points on Missile Command played at tournament settings, a new world record. This is the culmination of more than a year of sweat and long hours of practice.

I’ll let this summary recap of Tony’s performance below attest to his expertise at the title.

Wave 1 - As do all classic arcade world record performances, this one began easily enough. The missile speed was calculatingly slow, there were no planes, no satellites, and no "smart bombs", and this was simply the calm before the storm. Final score at the end of the round, 1,025 points.

Wave 12 - 71,530 points - This wave marks the first time that Tony loses one of his three missile bases during the attack on his cities before the wave is completed. Still, he manages to survive with a 8 missiles remaining in stock, and no cities lost.

Wave 15 - 112,390 points - These stages have a bright yellow background and dark missiles raining down from above. On a side-note, Tony managed to score a whopping 14.4K on this stage alone.

Wave 19 - 169,690 points - Ah, here it is, fellow gamers...the RED/ORANGE background !! Some players refer to it as just "Red" or "Burnt Red", and I guess that' dependant on the quality of the monitor. Either way, the colour is extremely intense which is appropriate as the game reaches maximum intensity here.

The missile count and "smart bomb" count peak, and they no longer come down in predictable volleys followed by a continuous procession of "smart bombs". Here, the "smart bombs" come down staggered with the missiles, tricking lesser players into "spreading" their shots in anticipation of missile volleys that never come down until a few costly seconds later. Only the true experts at the title can routinely save all six cities under these conditions which include low flying planes and satellites dumping shallow trajectory missiles over your cities and missile bases at point blank range, just a few inches overhead.

Tony manages to save all six cities here, which in itself shows he is of a much a higher calibre than your average "Missile Command" player.

Also, take note of the fact that in this wave alone he racked up an astounding 15,600 points !! Just as he does later on in wave 46, he benefited from the incoming planes running into side-screen mushroom clouds at 600 points apiece. Considering how quickly one comes out after another, at 600 points each this is extremely lucrative and saves you the headache of a low-flying plane dropping a load of missiles to deal with.

Wave 20 - 180,340 points - Disaster!! Tony ends the wave on a hard note. He's out of missiles and there are two "smart bombs" coming down right at the two cities on the far right side. There goes two cities, just like that. End-wave city bonus drops from 3,600 points to just 2,400 points. Now, that is significant considering how many waves Tony carries his game through, but practically speaking, no one can carry all six cities up to nearly 2 million points, so the loss of points per wave is nominal at best. The majority of most expert players' scores tend to come at end-game anyway, when you are reduced to one city and must hold it for as long as possible.

Wave 21 - 190,990 points - no sooner had I written this did I consult my notes and remembered that wave 21 is another loss of a city, this time the one on the far left. Three (3) cities remain.

Wave 25 - 243,370 points - Another city bites the dust and now two (2) remain...the two in the middle. What happened here was Tony attempted to take out a missile using his left-most base which shoots slower speed missiles. The blast did not catch the missile in time. Bonus at end-wave now 1,200 points.

Wave 29 - 291,280 points - Tony loses another one while dealing with the tough to see bright blue background. He has two "smart bombs" coming down and just one missile left in his base. The city to the left of centre remains. And so begins his "End Game" strategy.

At this point, he's in relatively good shape for what is yet to come. The most common strategy is to protect a city near to your centre base. This center base missiles fire the fastest thus can easily protect the city from harm as the incoming missile and "smart bomb" angles are less extreme. Also, the far side missile base is less effective when the sole remaining city is clear across the opposite side next to an end-base rather than a central base. .

Wave 41 - 432,370 points - This is what separates the men from the boys in this title. In the middle of the wave with missiles and "smart bombs" raining down, Tony uses an end base missile to take out an incoming "smart bomb" reaching the middle of the screen coming in from the upper right side, a very tough shot to make as he must calculate not just where to place the cursor but also how far away from the missile as an end-base shot travels relatively slow compared to the incoming shots. Additionally, if you aim too far ahead of the "smart bomb" it will hop over your mushroom cloud and keep coming.

It was awesome to see how calm he was executing such a shot nonchalantly while over the 400K mark and with missiles coming down all over the place. Most players couldn't have pulled that shot off even if that "smart bomb" was the only object remaining in the stage.

Wave 74 - 817,600 points - The only significant aspect about this wave is that while under Twin Galaxies Tournament Settings ("TGTS"), the well-known 810K bug does not take effect.

Wave 90 - 1,000,120 points - Time of game thus far, a mere 42:25, but his game almost comes to an end as he experiences his first near-death moment this performance. He has no missiles left at the end of the stage !!

Wave 116 - 1,302,070 points - Now this one would have been a first for me, anyway, but maybe not for Tony. At one point he spotted a rare convergence of "smart bombs" and took out two of them with a single well-placed missile. He also took out an incoming missile due to the mushroom cloud that developed, and ALMOST took out a third "smart bomb" but the remnant cloud disappeared too soon. I have never, ever seen a single missile take out three "smart bombs" in a single game.

Wave 122 - 1,369,240 points - Even at this advanced stage of the game, very close to his previous personal best I must add, he trusts himself to take out incoming missiles that are nearly across the other side of the screen with his opposite side missile base during the middle of the wave. He has a definite "fire and forget" trust about his ability here, which is essential as less-skilled players might be tempted to double up on their shots, wasting ammunition in the process.

Wave 143 - 1,606,660 points - This, fellow gamers, is one for the highlight reels. It is the single most difficult moment in Tony's performance, bar none.

Tony loses BOTH side missile bases early in the wave...much earlier than anticipated even when things go wrong. He guarded the centre base and remaining city with seven (7) remaining missiles, carefully choosing his targets and waiting for key convergences of missiles. And finally, when the wave of "smart bombs" came, they were favourable. He finished the wave with no missiles left, the 600 bonus points for the remaining city, and let out a loud "Phew" at the very end. Definitely the toughest challenge he had faced this game.

Wave 150 - 1,691,920 points - This one almost was a disaster. He missed a key shot on an incoming "smart bomb" inches over the remaining city, and has to double-shoot to take it out, risking running out of ammo at wave end in the process. Thankfully that did not happen...especially this far into his personal quest.

Wave 151 - 1,704,130 points - A quiet "Yes !!" during the wave, followed by a soft clap of his hands at the end of the wave in an "OK, now bring 'em on" kind of way, was the only hint that Tony had passed his personal goal for this performance. And now, the new world record holder had to wonder how long could he keep this game going. Every point would of course push the score higher and higher, so he composed himself and got right back into "the zone".

Wave 164 - 1,861,480 points - Tony was taking no chances at this point. An incoming "smart bomb" was getting too close for comfort so he did a rare "double fire" at it to take the "smart bomb" down.

Wave 168 - 1,912,480 points - Another huge wave as far as points go. Tony finished wave 167 with 1,897,990 points so made approx 14.5K here, one of the best waves of this performance.

Wave 169 - 1,921,930 points - This was a near-death experience. He was again down to no missiles and again with a satellite or plane slowly flying overhead.

At a moment's notice it could have dropped down one more missile, but good fortune smiled upon Tony and he lived to tell the tale. This one was so scary he let out a whistle out of amazement once the wave came to a definite conclusion.

Wave 173 - 1,967,830 points - "Echh !!" is about the closest approximation that I can make from what Tony uttered as he loses his last city mid-wave. He missed an incoming, sharp angled missile and by the time he could launch another one from his central base, it was past the point of where his mushroom cloud could take it out. His game came to an end. And as this is one of the absolutely coldest video games of all time from the golden era, "The End" in giant letters formed from within an ever growing mushroom cloud. And finally, the opportunity to put up "T T " as the high score name for the day.

Video game history was made on March 9th, 2006, in the United Kingdom.

November 2006


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