Nibbler (video game)
|Developer(s)||Joseph H. Ulowetz and John M. Jaugilas|
|Publisher(s)||Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation|
|Designer(s)||Joseph H. Ulowetz and John M. Jaugilas|
|Mode(s)||Single and dual player|
Nibbler is an arcade game by Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation. Its gameplay is a variant of Pac-Man and Snake: the object is to navigate a virtual snake through an enclosed maze, while consuming dots along the way. The length of the snake increases with each object consumed, making the game more difficult. The player must also avoid colliding with walls or obstacles, and must also avoid colliding with the snake's own body sections. After all the objects on the screen have been eaten, the player progresses to the next wave, involving harder obstacles and/or higher game speeds.
In the Competitive Arena
Nibbler was the first video game with a nine-digit score counter and the first game where it was possible for a player to score one billion points. The core patterns and strategies used to achieve that were introduced at Twin Galaxies Arcade by Tom Asaki of Montana, who made a pilgrimage to the arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1983. Asaki aimed to become the first gamer to reach one billion points on any game and to win a Nibbler machine from Rock-Ola, who were running a contest for the first billion point game. Due to a number of setbacks, Tom only reached a score of 838 million points.
The billion point mark was first reached by Tim McVey at the Twin Galaxies Arcade on January 17, 1984, scoring 1,000,042,270 points. News of his accomplishment was carried by the wire services and a feature story on his feat was published in the July 1984 issue of Computer Games Magazine. As McVey was a resident of Ottumwa, which had just been declared the "Video Game Capital of the World", he became the first video game player in gaming history to have a civic day set aside in his honor: "Tim McVey Day" on January 28, 1984. Officials from Rock-Ola, the game's manufacturer, were in attendance to award Mr. McVey a free "Nibbler" arcade machine for his accomplishment.
Soon after the mark was set, Italian Enrico Zanetti set out to break McVey's score and did so with a score of 1,001,073,840 on September 27, 1984. However, this was not discovered by anyone in the United States until years after the marathon and was never officially verified. Along with Nibbler being a fairly uncommon machine and the probability that the machine that Zanetti played on was a bootleg, the score has been disputed, most notably by McVey and Rick Carter.
Decades later, Dwayne Richard of Canada broke the coveted billion point mark. Afterwards, the circuit boards used in his game were analyzed and found to have a timing problem. Per his own request, the world record score was removed from the Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard.
Twenty-nine years after McVey's billion point score, the score was broken four times in the span of less than two years. Rick Carter of Glen Burnie, Maryland was the first to break the billion point barrier and claimed the world record with a score of 1,002,222,360 on July 31, 2011. Tim McVey reclaimed the score months later, on Christmas Day 2011, with a score of 1,041,767,060. In the summer of 2012, Portland, Oregon native Elijah Hayter, the son of Dig Dug world champion Ken House, beat McVey with 1,042,774,470 points. Not to be outdone, in November 2012, Carter came back with a grueling fifty-three hour game at Logan Hardware (a record store with a vintage arcade museum) in Chicago, Illinois to smash the world record with 1,231,372,670 points. To date, his 1.2 billion point game retains top honors as the score to beat.
Man vs. Snake
In 2013, producers Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy used Kickstarter to fund the making of a documentary film, titled Man vs. Snake, about the difficulties of achieving a one-billion point score on Nibbler. The documentary had been filming since 2008 and was successfully Kickstarted on September 16, 2013. The movie is set to release in February 2014.
- Keith Smith (October 10, 2012). "The Story of Rock-Ola Video Games (Part 3)". Retrieved December 16, 2013.
- "Interview with Nibbler Billionaire Enrico Zanetti". Retro Uprising. January 31, 2002. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
- "MAN VS SNAKE: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler". Retrieved December 16, 2013.
- Nibbler Developer Interview
- Nibbler on MAWS
- History's First Billion-Point Video Game Performance (Jan. 16, 1984) Computer Games magazine, July 1, 1984
- History's First Official Day to Honor a Video Game Player (Jan. 28, 1984) Tim McVey Day Poster, January 28, 1984
- Twin Galaxies Scoreboard for Nibbler World Records
- Tim McVey attempted to set new Nibbler World Record (Game began April 10, 2009 at 8:33am Central Time.)
- Live: Nibbler World Record Attempt, from Retro Thing
- Giuseppe Siciliani & Bruno Guarascio (from Cirò Marina KR - Italy) are the first players in Italy and Europe (over 87 hours of continuous play).