Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate
As most of you already know, I’m a huge fan of the book Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I’ve read through the book about 4 times now, and enjoy it immensely every time. The book is based around a video game contest, whose winner becomes the heir of a great fortune.
The writer decided that he’d like to make a contest of his own. Thus, he created a video game contest for readers of the books. This contest requires one to find three gates, and defeat 3 video game challenges. The prize? A FUCKING DELOREAN!!! Complete with an accurate replica of a flux capacitor.
SPOILER ALERT!!!! I will be talking about what challenges are located within these gates. I will NOT tell you the names of the games, or how to beat them, but if you want to be surprised by what kinds of games there are, don’t read any further.
Hidden in the print copy of the book, is the web link to the first video game challenge, an Atari 2600 game. I won’t ruin it by telling you the name of the game, but chances are, you’ve never played it. You must complete the game a find the easter egg, which leads you to the next gate.The game itself was awesome fun! Just like other Atari games, it required memorizing patterns for enemies, quick reaction times, and some fancy controller work. Even after beating it and finding the second gate, I ended up replaying it over a dozen times. I’m even working on getting an actual Atari controller for my PC so I can play it retro-style.
The second gate, I must say, I was disappointed in. It ended up being a Facebook game which was essentially just a big fetch quest. It had nothing to do with skill or fun or anything like that, and everything to do with just wasting enough time and waiting for the right items to randomly drop so you could get through it. I was pretty upset when I found out about this. After all, video games should be about skill and fun, something exciting and immersive. This was none of those, and waiting for enough time to pass to get another bit of energy to use searching for the items was an irritating chore, and not something I was able to get any enjoyment from. Needless to say, I haven’t passed through the second gate, but eventually will. I decided to find out the location of the third gate another way, just to see what it is, and possibly play a good game. Suffice to say, I was very pleasantly surprised!
The third gate does not contain a game, or a link to a game, per se. This is because you have to play actual stand up arcade games to beat it. The challenge of the third gate is to pick one of 5 or so classic arcade games that are listed on the gate description page, and set a world record high score for it. This must be done on an ORIGINAL ARCADE MACHINE with the appropriate settings for tournament play, and must be done in accordance with the guidelines set by Twin Galaxies, who started the whole keeping track of high scores thing. This completely saved this contest from the disdain I acquired by traversing the second gate. After all, getting people interested in classic arcade gaming was a big part of the reason for the contest in the book, and it’s great to see him do that here. Also, I think this is definitely a worthy test for winning this particular prize. Old arcade games required skill, determination and talent to master. These days, I can beat pretty much any game released, but old arcade titles are a very different story. I’ve only beaten about a dozen or so, and they were later titles like Tekken, SFII, D&D, Simpsons, etc… I absolutely LOVE that he did this for the third gate, and I really hope it ends in a resurgence of interest in these titles.
This also got me interested in my MAME cabinet again, so I spent all last night building a PC from my spare parts to replace the dying machine currently in the cabinet. I’m also looking into putting together a custom control console for a better feel than my current X-Arcade, which gets the job done admirably, but doesn’t look so good bolted to the front of the cabinet.
All that being said, I’ll be tackling the third gate. I know I have no shot at getting a record, since I don’t have the hand-eye skill to be good enough, but it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey….and this journey is gonna kick some fucking ass!