Tournament brings attention to arcade machine

Sophomore Charles Lieb starts a game of Pac-Man on the Lion’s Den Game Room’s X-Arcade system. A recent Pac-Man tournament brought attention to the machine, which gives students free access to 250 retro video games.

The Lion’s Den Game Room offers various video games for PlayStation, Xbox and Wii U, giving students the chance to unwind between classes.

However, since last summer, it has allowed students to step back in time to the older forms of video gaming.

With the recent installation of an X-Arcade system, gamers have access to 250 classic titles, such as Street Fighter, Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog.

“It’s cool that we have multiple forms of electronic entertainment,” said sophomore Harley Miller. “The arcade machine is a classic that everyone appreciates.”

Kevin Jacques, director of university center operations and event management, said the system’s collection spans multiple gaming companies, including Sega, Capcom, Midway, Tecmo and Taito.

“All of these games, in a system that takes up a small footprint while giving the gamer the choice to play a large variety of games, is what attracted us to it,” he said. 

To utilize the new system, the game room hosted a Pac-Man tournament through February. Sophomore Sam Thigpen won with just over 20,000 points, spending around five hours in total participation.

He said he did not go very far into the game, but instead focused on making the most out of each level.

“I only went to the fourth level, but I capitalized on every power pellet to eat as many ghosts as possible for more points,” he said.

For winning the tournament, Thigpen received a thermal rug labeled “Lion’s Den Game Room Champion.”

He said anyone interested in trying the game can take advantage of glitches in the coding to get far in the game, but it will take practice.

“There are some spots on the level that, if you stop on them in the right way, the ghost won’t be able to see you,” Thigpen said. “Then, at the right moment, you make your move to get more pellets.”

Thigpen, who collects retro video games, said he originally grew up playing the companion game Ms. Pac-Man before trying out a port of Pac-Man.

“I put at least 100 hours into that game,” he said.

Thigpen said despite getting the most points in the tournament, he does not have the highest score on the Pac-Man game and plans on trying to beat it.

He said the X-Arcade system is a great way to provide students with new challenges.

“I think it is a wonderful addition that exposes people who may have not played retro games before to the games of the past,” Thigpen said. “Back then, games were about challenge and style that stood out. These days, it’s too watered down.”

Jacques said the game room would like to host more future tournaments.

“If there are any recommendations on which game to play, let us know, and we will look into it,” he said.