Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Sam McNear, who currently is displayed on card number 3372, from the Superstars of 2020 Collection. Sam is also featured on card number 3547. Sam is a classic arcade collector, gamer restorer and score chaser. He loves playing the classic arcade games when he has a chance. Sam is determined get many high scores on games such as Asteroids and Star Castle. HE currently has world records in Space Duel and Jr. Pac-Man. Sam has a live stream from his home arcade called “Digital Jazz Arcade”, where he goes for world records live.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
I don’t remember my first, but I remember going to the arcade in the next town after school almost every day. I walked probably 45min to get there almost every day. I loved all the games and noticed the high score board in the arcade (electric works in Forest Grove OR) and didn’t stop playing until I had my name on that board. I ended up getting my name on the board for almost every game in the arcade. I wish someone would have taken a picture of that high score board.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
I’m honestly not a big fan of newer games, although my kids and wife love some online games. I prefer the classics with the custom game control panels with joysticks, trackballs, leaf buttons, etc.
As for the new Arcade games most are some kind of redemption game. I like playing them some, but they are all quick play and feel rigged to get as much money from you as fast as they can. So, it doesn’t feel like not much skill involved in playing.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
No but back then I thought I would have a WR, or at least be in joystick magazine with a top score. I submitted several scores only to be beat by someone else before the next addition of the magazine.
What are your world record scores in singles and doubles play?
I official hold the Twin Galaxy (TG) world record (WR) for Space Duel tethered. And I share the official TG WR with John McAllister on single ship doubles. I also have TG 2nd place on Jr Pacman Turbo.
Unofficially I hold the WR for single ship Asteroids. I have all the game play in full on my YouTube channel (Digital Jazz Arcade) for people to see the scores are legit but more importantly to help people learn my strategies so they beat my scores with practice. I love a challenge.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading card? If so, where?
Never, this is the 1st.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I met Walter Day at the Portland retro gaming Expo. Where he called Billy Mitchell and we all talked. I told them of my short Pac jr. documentary and getting the WR on Jr. Pac turbo which has been beaten since.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Friend. From the first time I met Walter he was kind, friendly, and I felt at that moment we would be friends.
Are you still involved with competitive gaming today, and what are your goals?
Yes, I love playing in competitions. I competed in many Grinkfests, and Battle of the Arcades. I also competed in the Asteroids Addicts on Facebook, in the 1 ship Asteroids competition which is where I got the unofficial WR. I will continue to compete in classic arcade competitions as often as I can. I do have a personal goal of getting 10 top 10 twin Galaxy scores on ten different classic games.
When did you first play Space Duel and what do you remember about it?
I remember when Space Duel showed up at Electric Works arcade. I played it and compared to Asteriods and Deluxe it was really hard. But I fell in love with the tethered feature. I soon was getting over 100k and then the arcade pulled it for something that would make more money, I believe it was Gravitar but as we all know that game was not that popular in the arcade. I love Gravitar don’t get me wrong, but I love Space Duel even more.
Do you prefer arcade or console gaming and why?
I feel consoles killed the golden age of arcade so, yes, I have some dislike towards consoles. With that said I did play console games for many years after the arcades died out and had much fun playing them with my kids. But if arcades were still alive like back in the 80’s I'm sure I would have rather took my kids to the arcades rather than playing on the PlayStation. I feel arcade machines are the real thing and consoles are just imitations.
Once I realized I could afford and buy real arcade games for my house about 15 years ago, as you can imagine I kind of stopped playing console games.
When it comes down to it for me it’s the controls that make the difference. The generic handheld controllers on consoles just can’t compare to customized controls on an arcade machine. You can’t play Space Duel the same on any console.
When did you first play Space Duel and why was that game a draw for you?
I love Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe so when I saw Space Duel which was a color vector, I was hooked. The ability to be able to play doubles is what I always thought Asteroids and Deluxe was missing. Space Duel was truly the next step for Asteroids. I’m not sure why it wasn’t called Asteroids 3. Maybe because there were no asteroids lol.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I still play all the classics. Lately I have been playing Donkey Kong Jr. Still chasing down that kill screen. I came close several times. I also have been playing Asteroids Deluxe, and Omega Race my goal there is to get over the 300k on A.D. and over a million on O.R. of course on TG settings.
As far as genre I love all golden area 80's and 70’s games. I really enjoy all 5 button or similar games like Space Duel, Omega Race, Star Castle, etc...
If you could own one arcade game besides Space Duel, what would it be and why?
I have been an arcade collector for a while now, so I already own most games I really wanted. Like Tron and my most recent acquired a rare Cliff Hanger. But I still really want an Ice-Cold Beer. ICB is just a game I always play when I go to arcades that have it.
What does it take to be a world record holder on an arcade game?
Well, it takes practice, practice, practice and some skill, and It doesn’t hurt to own the game.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
All three, the classic arcade games I think were aimed at pretend kids mainly boys, but it seems all ages loved the games.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Well, this is an interesting question. I never really liked fighting games when they came out. Maybe because they seemed all the same or I was never good at them, or I just was never thought any kind of fighting was a good idea.
As I look at the history of where fighting and 1 person shooter games are today, I know that some are influenced by them. Back in the 90’s when they started getting popular, games like street fighter and doom never felt real, and where more of a joke so I don’t think they really promoted violence, But games today are so realistic that it has to influence some people to be violent. I know that when looking at the history of all the mass shootings in America that some of those killers loved to play graphic 1st person shooters.
Do you prefer playing Space Duel alone or with a doubles partner? You have records on both.
Good Question, I would say I like playing alone tethered ships best. But I like playing doubles with single ship not tethered. Playing doubles tethered is fun but very hard to play. I have been trying to play single ship single player do to get the record on that version. But the records from the 80’s are extreme, and no game play is available to glean tricks from.
Which company makes the best games and why?
I have a hard time answering this because I like games from many different reasons. I would say Atari made most of my favorite games. Games like Space Duel, Asteroids, Tempest, Pole Position, Missile Command, Battlezone, and Dig Dug Atari did make many hits and games I love. But I love Taito games like Alpine Ski, Qix, and Frontline.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Absolutely! When I’m stressed, I love going and playing a video game while listening to music. It makes my mind focus on the game instead of all the stress of the day. Sometimes all it takes to relieve stress is to change focus onto something else for a little while.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
I would say Q*bert. Q*bert is just a fun character, everything from sounds, voice to movements. Although I do love laser disk characters like Dirk and Lupin III J
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘Space Duel’?
I see my personal record of 477,770 which is higher than the world record. I really want to beat this score and post that on TG.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Besides Space Duel my favorite single player game is Alpine Ski by Taito, and favorite multiplayer game is Mario Bros.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I think I would love to see an arcade style game that would combine the PC games Marble Drop, Crazy Machines and the arcade game break out or Arkanoid. I think a think good main character would be a mad scientist that looks like Einstein.
Where do you see arcade gaming in the next 10 years?
I hope newer generations see the genius in the style of classic arcade games and start to play and get inspired to make more games like the classic genre. I hope someone will start making classic games for the new generations. I like the idea of the Arcade 1up, it is a great idea. But I feel the controls need much improvement. I wish they would just put real arcade quality joysticks and buttons in the machines like Xarcade uses. I would pay the extra cost for real controls. But 1up is showing big business there is a market for classic games and my hope is someone will do it right and the classic gaming community will cont. to grow. Actually, I think it has been growing. Just look at all the retro gaming expos. Here in Portland the expo (before covid) was growing like twice the size every year.