Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Tim Balderramos, who is displayed on card number 71, from the Superstars of 2011. Tim is one of the greatest Pac-Man players you will ever see play. He is one of 7 people who have reached the Perfect Pac-Man score of 3,333,360. Tim was recently inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa. He has written a book about his Pac-Man career called “The Perfect Game: Confessions of a Pac-Man Junkie“. Tim came out of retirement to compete in the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship in 2007 – qualifying for a trip to the grand finals in New York City and taking 5th Place overall . Tim also took part in the Pac-Man Twin Galaxies Kill Screen Challenge in North Hollywood, California in 2015. Tim also holds other records with such games as Commando and Congo Bongo.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
Music in a game can be compared to music in a movie. During critical times you are immersed in a particular score that makes you feel a certain way. This was as true with Pac-Man as it is with Call of Duty. The best music you may not particularly remember, but you do remember how it made you feel.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
I remember seeing my first Pac-Man game in December 1981 at The Circus Arcade in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The arcade, if not the game, is still there at last check – as Piccadilly Circus. I was fourteen and still somewhat confused at what this whole video game craze was all about. But it seemed awfully exciting judging from the animated behavior, some good and some not-so-good, of the multitude of players at the facility. I stepped into the glow of the brightly lit marquee beckoning from the top of the machine and put my first quarter – the first of many – into the coin slot. Upon pressing the start button I was awarded with the familiar little tune that plays at the beginning. I wasn’t sure what to expect at this point, but I remember feeling nervous, excited…and alive.
The object seemed simple – so simple I didn’t bother reading the instructions. Clearly, I was supposed to eat the colorful ghosts that ran around the board. As they appeared to be running away from me, I targeted the red creature as my first victim. Suddenly, he reversed direction and ran after me. The hunter became the hunted! Only problem was, the hunter turned hunted was oblivious to what was going on and protested that the game “must be broken” when the red ghost, whom I learned went by the nickname “Blinky,” ate my Pac-Man.
Well, after this first embarrassment, it might have been easy to simply abandon this game and choose another, easier game to master. But for some reason, I couldn’t. The game’s unique appeal had, as it had for millions of others, gotten a hold of me and refused to let go. I was hooked. I had caught, as the obscure singing duo Buckner & Garcia would later describe in song, Pac-Man Fever.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
I always envisioned games eventually becoming life-like; as if you were in an actual place or situation. The tradeoff in many cases appears to be more focus on graphics versus depth of play. By comparison, classic games measured you by your score versus whether you could simply “finish” a game like with a modern title.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video game Trading card?
When I was younger, I never envisioned there being a Video game trading card – much less me being on one. The fact I am on one is a big surprise and a bigger honor.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
It has been noted in the Ottumwa Courier, as well as playmeter.com
When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?
I first met Walter Day at the 2001 Video Game Festival at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Kind. Regardless the situation, Walter has always come off as very kind when speaking to you, about an event, player, etc.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
I still play from time to time – despite my having formally “retired” back in 2008. I most recently participated in the Pac-Man Twin Galaxies Kill Screen Challenge in California last summer.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
I like my daughter’s Nintendo DS – because we got a “finally true to the original” version of Pac-Man for it.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
Console gaming is what I tend towards lately; probably more due to my old PC being well past its prime.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I have really enjoyed the Batman Arkham series. Overall, my favorite genre tends to be games that are more problem-solving and more story-line based.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
I actually own a Pac-Man arcade machine and a Space Mission pinball machine. Don’t really have room for more….LOL.
Growing up were you team Sega or Nintendo and why?
Nintendo for sure. Sega really made it hard at times though, what with their touting their better graphics and add-ons….but Nintendo had the better game library.
What does it take to be a Video Game Journalist?
A love for the material helps. What I think also helps is being a player yourself. Like in sports – where a lot of journalists/analysts are former players – drawing from their personal experience and time in the game they are covering.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Many games nowadays appear to appeal to all. There was a time in which it was geared mainly for adolescents, and for a while adults. But I think today a lot of games try to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.
Do you believe some Video Games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
It’s an age-old question that was posed since the onset of the arcade craze. One could argue that it is not so much the graphics quality of a violent scene rather than what is being depicted that creates a given reaction. In some cases using one’s imagination seeing an 8-bit scene could produce the same reaction as seeing a top-notch rendering of the same scene.
As for games leading to violence: There are documented cases in which games where involved and those in which they were not involved. In addition, there are players who grow up to be non-violent and people who develop a tendency to violence regardless of influences.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
As a classic gamer, I often gravitate toward playing alone. I have played Madden online and can probably count on one hand the times I have won a game – LOL. That said I have also played TRON: Evolution online and have managed to hold my own.
Which company makes the best games and why?
If I had to pick just one, I’d have to say Namco; being a Pac-Man fan. In addition, Namco appears to focus on games with a universal appeal versus geared for a certain niche.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
You learn to problem-solve. You learn to think on your feet, as it were. It also forces you to focus, read a situation and react. A lot of vocations out there require similar skills.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
If playing for fun, yes. When shooting for a high score, maybe not so much….LOL.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
If it’s the right game and done the right way. Super Mario Bros. had its share of detractors…though I think it’s tougher to take a classic game and attempt to transfer it to the big screen. Modern titles like Resident Evil have an easier time of it. That said I loved seeing Pac-Man in Pixels.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Pac-Man. He was the character who both introduced me to gaming and to computers. If not for Pac-Man, I don’t wind up in the computer field, enjoying what I do now.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
I still see the old-school arcade….long strings of machines with a player at each one of them – bursting to overflowing with futuristic sights and sounds.
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why? Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style
Gameplay. Many modern titles are nice to look at, but have little to any depth of play. Conversely, there are some classic games that don’t have the great graphics, but are very involved gameplay-wise.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
Depends on the boss and the game. I think in most cases, it is a bittersweet part of the game; because you’re excited knowing you’re nearly done with the game, but you are also sad knowing you’re nearly done with the game.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Pac-Man for single player. TRON: Evolution for multiplayer.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I had come up with a “super-hero” character with super speed and equipped with Pac-Man inspired gadgets. I would like to create a game in which this character would need to “save the world” from the Ghosts and their minions.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
I wonder how much longer dedicated machines and consoles will remain a “must-have” for video gaming. We’re already seeing games widely available for just about every hand-held device and smartphone. In time, we may have a return to the old arcade scene – virtually of course; in which not only can you go for a high score on a certain title, but be able to watch other players shoot for the same score in real time.
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.