By Joseph Leray
On December 12, 1982, a “Missile Command” player named Victor Ali scored over 80 million points in a single game, claiming a world record that stood uncontested for 30 years. Over the weekend, after a 56-hour marathon, another player named Victor Sandberg usurped the throne on his Twitch.tv channel.
For anyone not familiar with how “Missile Command” works, here’s the basic setup: the player has to guard a group of three military bases and six cities from nuclear attacks by shooting warheads out of the sky. Like many ‘80s arcade games, there’s no real way to “win” — you just keep playing until you can no longer keep up with the onslaught and all of your towns and bases are destroyed.
I’m not exactly clued into the hottest trends in “Missile Command” strategy, but Ars Technica has some neat insights into how Sandberg achieved his feat. “Missile Command” has a “marathon” mode that allows players to stockpile bonus cities that aren’t counted against the player when they’re destroyed. Sandberg built up a huge collection of extra cities, allowing him to take breaks as needed. At one point, Sandberg apparently had enough cushion to take a half-hour break from the game, but he prefers to take five-minute breaks as needed.
The final tally of Sandberg’s record-breaking score was 81,796,035 total points, slightly short of his 100 million-point goal, but enough to surpass Victor Ali’s previous record of 80, 465, 995 points.
For a slightly less feel-good story about “Missile Command,” this video does a great job illustrating how stark and lonely the game can be, and explains why its creator, Dave Theurer, had nightmares for years after finishing it.