Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Paul Streifel, who currently is displayed on card number 3982, from the Superstars of 2021 Collection. In October 2020, Paul saw some chatter online on a Facebook arcade game leaderboard about how nobody was playing Snap Jack and that they would like to see somebody take on Bruce Glick and Robert Racek of Team Scorechasers. He found that the game was on his MiSTer, and he dove right in.
Basic synopsis of Snap Jack: it combines the chase and dot crawl consumption of Pac-Man with the terrain chaos, confined space and horizontal movement of Scramble. The game features contextual music with simple samples of songs such as Ode to Joy (for the end jump/bounce sequence), Popeye’s Spinach theme (power dot!), and London Bridge/My Fair Lady (retractable bridges). There’s also a song for the piranha that are in levels, but the name escapes me.
When Paul started playing, he made sure he was using the 2 Lives Hardest difficulty, as it provides a more exciting experience than the stock 3 Medium. Once he started eclipsing both Bruce and Robert, he was challenged by Robert to hit 100k, and if he did so, Paul would win a Team Scorechasers jersey. In January of 2021, he did just that - hitting something in the neighborhood of 136k.
In May 2021, Paul hit the printed-on-card score of 209020 on his MiSTer, which eclipses the record set by Michael Sao Pedro in 2017. Since that point, Paul has taken that score and pushed it to 336,400, a total of 41 minutes of Snap Jack play. On December 3rd, he will be attempting to set the world record on Bruce Glick’s dedicated Snap Jack cabinet live on Twitch from Survivor’s Arcade. Paul is confident he will break 200k at the very least, even if he doesn't go over his practice record.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
My first video game, one that I’m aware of, was Learning with Leeper by Sierra On-Line for the Atari 800. However, my first arcade game was more significant: Gyruss. For Leeper, it was a simple game that my father introduced me to that also had a primitive drawing and coloring suite in it. Gyruss? That game had me hooked from the first time I heard the attract mode.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
There’s a lot of heart in the smaller titles, but today’s games seem to be built not on risk or fun, but on “We made this game so you can play all of the content.” Older games took risks and had easter eggs and hidden content and were fresh and new. But if you listen to a publisher talk now, he is probably making sure that whatever is being programmed/designed/arted into the game is accessible to the player, and if that means cutting content because 99% won’t see it, so be it.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
My dad had dreams of me showing up on a baseball trading card, but Video Game trading card? Didn’t honestly know it would be a possibility.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
Nope! You were the first to contact me for such a story!
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
January 2018 at the Retro City Festival in Pomona, CA. I walked up to him at the end of the show and shook his hand. The next time I saw him was his 70th birthday party in Banning, CA.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Kindness. Just so kind. If you’ve met him, you got the same read.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
It’s been almost a full decade since the last time I worked in the video game industry proper, but for now, I stream on Twitch under the handle thepulserifleplays, and I occasionally submit bug reports and play test for the MiSTer project.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
Sentimental favorite will be the pea green screen Game Boy. I didn’t do much portable gaming, so that was probably the first and last time I ever had a game on a road trip or travel was in that era.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
Console by a country mile. I love controllers, basically – a keyboard and mouse are nice and all, but when you’re getting immersed in a game, it’s nice to be able to step away from the antiquated.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
When I’m not playing Snap Jack or Gyruss, I’m typically playing some form of arcade or console game on my MiSTer. As far as genres, I like to mix it up – hell, throw me at an Ice-Cold Beer machine, and I’ll be enthralled for at least three credits until I accept that the 7 hole is just not happening. I’ll sometimes play through Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! three times before going to bed like I’m doing rosary or something.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
I own Gyruss. Twice. It was my absolute favorite from the moment I played it, and when I heard one was up for sale, I grabbed it that same night. Over the years, I also acquired a cocktail table Gyruss.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?
Nintendo. I had a really great experience once with their Customer Support where I learned that, as of 2007, they had customer data on me from 1986, which was when my parents signed me up for the Nintendo Fun Club. I know they’ve got their flaws and all (my Wii overheating and frying its own GPU due to WiiConnect24 being an example fail), but I love em all the same.
What does it take to be a Video Game Journalist?
This is a tricky question. I think there is a self-awareness required when reviewing a game, to know that there will be people that like a thing that you do not, and you must do your best to cater to whom you feel your audience most reflects. Other than that, be prepared for the toxicity of the gaming community writ large, because it has only gotten worse since I managed the Atlus Online forums in 2012.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
The phrasing of this question confuses me, but I think the overall answer you’re looking for is Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Video Game.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Adults with a trickle-down perspective, because Capitalism.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
The TL;DR answer to this question is: No. The long answer: I watched Robocop on VHS in 1987. I was five years old. I grew up loving revenge flicks. I have fired an automatic weapon at a gun store. I would never knowingly harm another human being unless threatened, and I don’t own weapons of any kind except for light guns because the Time Crisis series is timeless. There are so many different factors that lead to violence, even when you talk about the subsection of Gun Violence specifically – do you pit that on the glorification of violence in hip hop music? Of COURSE, you do, because you’d rather not put that responsibility on the fact that you have millions of guns in millions of homes in the United States and simple probability can suggest this behavior will occur. Guns exist. They will be used. Chekov’s gun gets used in Act 3.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
It depends on the experience I’m looking for. Snap Jack and Gyruss are solitary, but if I’m going to play Daytona USA, I want three other folks singing ♪ Day-to-naaaaaa Let’s Go Away ♫ while we bash into each other. Because I stream, I often play video games alone, but I would prefer playing them around or with people if the content suited it. I grew up in the arcades, and I like crowds.
Which company makes the best games and why?
I’m a bit biased because I previously worked with them, but I always found Obsidian Entertainment games to be delightful. The astounding level of choices that matter within their games is to their credit.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
I learned patterns and developed dexterity through playing video games for more than 35 years of my life.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
I suppose it depends on the game, but I’ve known some to be therapeutic. Take the Katamari Damacy series on the PS2, the Tanahashi originals. Tell me you weren’t grinning like a fool the first time you rolled up a sumo!
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
No. If you wanna get me talking, throw on The Last Starfighter.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
When there is less space between the player and the game, that is my favorite character: it’s you. You’re the player. And this game is gonna make you feel like you’re a bad ass when you play it.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
My dragon’s hoard of video game equipment in my home that cries out “You guys remember Field of Dreams? He built it, but nobody’s coming!”
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why?
Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style Gameplay, because if I’m not enjoying myself with the basics, the story isn’t going to make me forgive gameplay.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Gyruss for single-player, multiplayer would be Daytona USA. Gyruss’ waves and rhythms keep me going, and Daytona USA is just bumper car chaos with occasional driftuu~.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
A shoot-em-up roguelike that transcends the different subgenres and styles of what it means to be a shoot-em-up. Imagine the main elements of games like Space Harrier, Gun.Smoke, Jackal, Salamander, and putting them in a random sequence where choices you make during the game (like blowing up a silo in Jackal and finding the rocket from Space Harrier, and the game changing from Jackal to a Space Harrier-like level) lead you to the different play styles, and you can build your fighter to play to your own strengths and give it power-ups like Gradius if you so choose. Or should I say Solar Assault? Maybe Twinbee/1943 is more your style? What am I doing – this isn’t a pitch. If you want a real pitch for this game, get at me.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
When virtual reality convincingly replicates the phosphor glow of a CRT, I honestly believe we’ll see something akin to Microsoft Game Room where we can walk halls and play games and enter credits and play with people across the world.