What Was the First Video Game With High Scores?

However, even though players couldn’t erase that high score anytime they liked, that information was still stored in RAM, which required a constant flow of electricity. If a Space Invaders cabinet lost power for any reason, that high score was lost with it. Even worse, Space Invader players had no real way of letting others know that the high score on that machine truly belonged to them.

What Was the First Game That Let You Enter Your Initials Next to a High Score?

When we think of high scores, we often associate them with the record setter’s name, or, at the very least, their initials. What good is bragging that you performed better than everyone else in a game if you can’t actually prove it? Many arcade games, especially the most famous ones, let players insert their initials (or “ASS” if they’re feeling immature) next to their high scores when they do well enough. That’s why it’s so surprising that the seemingly simple practice of entering your initials next to a high score originated in a game you’ve probably never heard of.

In 1979, Exidy published a relatively obscure arcade game called Star Fire. Not to be confused with the DC character of the same-ish name, Star Fire shamelessly ripped off Star Wars in terms of its name, in-game font, enemy design, and…well, pretty much everything else. Star Fire was a simple first-person space shooter where players locked onto and fired at TIE Fighter-like ships as well as the occasional Battlestar Galactica Viper-like ship. The goal, of course, was to shoot down as many enemies as possible. The more ships you shot down, the higher your score.

Unlike Space Invaders, which recorded the top score and only the top score, Star Fire lets gamers insert their initials whenever they achieved a new high score. However, the game had an odd way of tracking that score data. Instead of keeping tabs on every single score, the cabinet organizes players based on how many coins they insert into the machine.

So, if someone deposits one coin, Star Fire files their score into the one-coin slot. If someone inserts two coins, the game places them in the two-coin slot, and so on. A player’s score and initials are only put on display if they can beat their slot’s record holder. If someone shoves five coins into the game and beats everyone in the one-coin through four-coin positions, but not the current five-coin record holder, their performance was lost to history. It was a truly bizarre system that would soon be improved by a game that offered a more elegant score-tracking system for a more civilized age…

What Was the First Game to Feature a High Score Tracking Table?

Star Fire introduced audiences to the concept of showing more than one “high” score at a time, although it certainly wasn’t perfect since it divided participants based on how much money they spent (insert your own “pay to win” joke here). Thankfully, gamers didn’t have to wait long to see an arcade cabinet that let players who couldn’t break the all-time record still show off their 99th percentile scores.


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