This weekend make sure you tune in to catch some of the action with the 1CC Marathon where a selected group of top players will challenge themselves to get 1 credit clears in their selected arcade game. I’ve been tuning into this event for the past 3 years and discovered a lot of my favourite Twitch streamers from it.
The posted schedule is here
I sat down with players Pasky, zuq_, Neo_Antwon, and Chuboh who are participating in the event this weekend for an article in my Eighth Issue of my Dank Zine. You can check it out here:
AnnK: How long have you been running the 1CCMarathon?
Pasky: I’ve been running the ‘1CCMarathon’ for roughly two years now. The first one took place in November 2015 and the second event occurred in October 2016. The upcoming event will be happening on November 10th through the 12th of this year.
AnnK: Do you organize this event on your own or do get help from other people? If yes, who else makes up your 1CC crew?
Pasky: I handle the administration of the entire event myself. This includes creating the game submission form, processing the submissions, scheduling the event, communicating with the participants to get them set up, preparing the format of the stream (stream layout, wait screens, etc…), and, of course, streaming the event itself. I’ve always been a believer in the saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
AnnK: Why do you put on a big event like this?
Pasky: Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it big, but it’s truly a labour of love for me. There’s no monetization involved, it’s not advertised everywhere I go, and I’m not looking to get any sort of recognition out of it. I enjoy holding this event because I’m a huge fan of watching high-level gameplay and it’s extremely exciting to me to see top players complete their respective games in a live setting.
When you watch the completion of a difficult game on Youtube, for example, it’s pretty cool but that player basically has an infinite amount of chances to get it correct; he can simply reset the game and restart the recording. Now give that player a live audience, put a spotlight on them, increase the pressure, and allow them to show off all the skill they have accumulated, giving them only one chance to complete the game to receive that recognition and you have a recipe for excitement.
There are a lot of players that are relatively unknown on Twitch but are extremely good at the games they play, or perhaps they don’t normally do them in live settings. This event allows these players to exhibit their skill to a broader audience, so more people can appreciate it. It is for these reasons that I enjoy putting this event on.
AnnK: What are some of the challenges you face when planning an event like this?
Pasky: Where do I begin? I’d say the first challenge is to determine what games to accept in the marathon. There are many factors when considering this, such as if a game was played in a prior year, if it is entertaining, and things of that nature. Another challenge is scheduling players, as there are so many time zones and scheduling constraints to work with and there are people on entirely different continents that I need to work around. There’s also the issue of streaming the marathon itself, making sure everything is properly functioning while making sure the next player is set up while keeping tabs on the current run. You’d think an online event would be an easy gig, but it can be quite stressful ensuring everything runs smoothly for the players and the audience, especially when you’re dealing with factors out of your own control such as Twitch server errors and things of that nature.
AnnK: Why focus on 1CCs?
Pasky: Well, arcade games in particular are known for being much more difficult on average than your home console released games. The odds are usually against the player and unfair situations are placed upon them because these games were designed to make money for arcade operators, so to generate revenue, ending credits forced players to pay if they wanted to play again. Particularly in the United States, arcade companies usually pushed regional differences to make the game even more difficult than the original Japanese release to encourage credit feeding, and for that reason, a lot of the United States arcade culture was akin to credit feeding through games. This leads many people to be surprised that these games can be beaten in a single credit, and opening their eyes to this sort of high–level play is always refreshing. It’s extremely impressive watching someone show off all the content of a game by completing it without continuing.
AnnK: Who do you look for when selecting someone to be in the event?
Pasky: All of my scrutiny goes towards the game being played. Is it entertaining? How impressive is the run? Has it been played in the marathon before? There are other factors such as character choice because using some characters over others can be far more impressive and difficult. With that being said, I sometimes put my own personal taste aside when selecting games to accept. There have been plenty of games I don’t personally like that have been in the event because there is a community that enjoys them or someone is passionate about it and wants to share their fondness for it.
AnnK: Can you describe in your own words what the best thing about 1CC’ing a game is?
Pasky: I’d have to say the best thing about 1CC’ing an arcade game is triumphing over a game designed to be outright difficult and unfair to complete and mitigating these obstacles with your own skill.
AnnK: Can you tell me what game you first 1CC’d and what that feeling was like?
Pasky: The first game I ever learned to clear on one credit was Double Dragon. I believe I was 11 years old. It was pretty cool, but at the same time, I didn’t feel that accomplished because I just back elbowed everything, haha. It’s an extremely easy arcade game because of that exploit.
AnnK: What do you hope to share with the people in your community with this event?
Pasky: All of the great games and players exhibiting them. This year there’s going to be a mix of relatively unknown games, popular games, and a lot of difficult games. With such a huge variety of games this year, it’s going to be really exciting. I’m happy to be able to put this on and share this with a broad audience, while at the same time giving the players an audience and a moment to shine themselves.
AnnK: Can you tell me which runs you are most excited about?
Pasky: This is such a difficult question for me to answer because I’m actually excited for everything, but if I had to narrow it down I would say P.O.W. which I have fond memories of playing as a kid. Scoop will be playing it and he normally cannot stream his playthroughs, but he will be at Zuq’s home for the marathon so I’m super excited to watch him in action, live! I’m also looking forward to both Dodonpachi games, as they are incredibly difficult games in my opinion. Really exciting to see these done in a live setting.
AnnK: Tell me who you are, where you are from and what sort of games do you play
Zuq_: I’m just some dude from a small town in Poland. My nickname is basically unpronounceable to English speaking folk, so everyone calls me zook or zuck but I got used to it to such an extent that the original pronunciation sounds foreign to me now. I enjoy playing arcade beat ‘em ups the most but I do play some run ‘n guns (Metal Slug series) and traditional shmups (Toaplan, NMK and early Raizing) from time to time.
Neo_Antwon …I primarily play arcade shooting games such as Mahou Daisakusen and Game Tengoku. I also play a lot of older 2d fighting games, my favourite is Project Justice, that game is super fun. I’ve always gravitated towards faster paced arcadey type games, long RPGs and stuff tend to put me to sleep.
Chuboh: My name is Michael Gilroy, and live in a small town in northern Michigan. I play classic games of all kinds, ranging from arcade games to computer games and console games, with a special focus on games that could be considered “hidden gems” and, of course, everyone’s favourite, jank.
AnnK: What is the most challenging thing about the game you are playing in the 1CC Marathon?
Zuq_: The most challenging part of “Knights of the Round” is the boss of stage 6 – Muramasa. You need to be on top of your block game, not over-commit to heavy attacks and be patient enough not to go all in when he keeps juking you once low on health. Though, the entire run is pretty demanding as you can die in 2-3 hits from certain enemy types.
Cadillacs & Dinosaurs is mostly about sticking to tried and tested strategies and not trying to be overly creative but it does have a gatekeeper, Slicesaurs. It’s a duo-boss fight which is a Capcom staple and personally, I think that this one is one of the most frustrating beat ‘em up bosses to deal with; they’re fast, aggressive and will try to stay on opposite sides of the player character but the frustration stems from their random wake-up timers, due to which you’re unable to crowd-control them with throws.
Thankfully, The Punisher co-op run I’ll be doing with Scoop is rather tame in comparison to the other two games I’ll be running in the marathon, even on hardest difficulty. Unfortunately, due to other obligations, we won’t have much time to practice prior and that fact alone can pose a challenge as our play styles vary a lot.
Neo_Antwon: For this 1CC Marathon I will be playing a trio of games. Labyrinth Runner by Konami, Kiki KaiKai by Taito and Plus Alpha by Jaleco. I feel that Kiki KaiKai may be the hardest. when you die, getting the power-ups you want again is really hard to do in some stages. Sometimes enemies just spawn so fast it’s hard to keep up and they will overwhelm you. Plus Alpha can be a blow up on the last 3 stages if you’re not careful.
Chuboh: Out of the three games I’m playing for the 1CCMarathon (Spelunker, Big Karnak and Bonanza Bros.), I would have to say Bonanza Bros. is by far the most challenging. For those who may not be familiar with it, Bonanza Bros. is a stealth-action game released by Sega in 1990. The Bonanza Bros., Mobo and Robo, have been hired to sneak into various buildings in the town of Badville to steal evidence that will allow some nebulous, undefined force of justice to clean up the town. It has a really neat graphical style that almost looks like early 80s CGI, kind of like the old Money For Nothing music video, where everything is made up of low-poly geometric shapes. The way the game is structured, the levels are almost like puzzles, where you have to figure out the best routes and tactics to collect all the loot and escape without getting clobbered or shot by the guards. You don’t get any 1-ups at all during the game, and the guards become faster and more aggressive as the game goes on, plus each level has a 3-minute time limit, so clearing all 12 levels on the three lives the game gives you by default is pretty tricky. Things can go terribly wrong very quickly!
AnnK: How long have you been playing the game you are playing in the 1CC Marathon?
Zuq_: Too long. Cadillacs & Dinosaurs used to be my favourite arcade game as a kid (why play anything else when you can get ~40 minutes out of a single token) and to be frank, I’ve been playing it on and off for about 20 years. I’m still working on getting No-Miss (deathless) runs on the hardest difficulty setting with characters other than Mustapha. I’ve played both, Knights of the Round and The Punisher for the first time around the same period as Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, but my history with those two is rather different. The Punisher is one of the first games I cleared back in my arcade-going days, and despite it being a great one, I’ve grown a bit bored of it – Scoop, my co-op partner, simply loves The Punisher so fun will be had. Knights of the Round is probably my favourite beat ‘em up at this point, it plays vastly different than other Capcom developed brawlers and despite having played it in the arcade, most of my experience came from a half-year grind – when I was still aiming for deathless clears with all characters on the hardest difficulty. What captivates me the most about this one is the combat system, which has blocking, heavy attacks and other options which are just fun to execute. Plus, all characters are rather balanced so you never feel confined to a single, top-tier choice.
Neo_Antwon: I’ve had prior experience with Kiki Kaikai and Labyrinth Runner before, but I recently started Plus Alpha like maybe a month ago. Plus Alpha is a lot of fun, it has really good music and is easy to pick up and play.
Chuboh: I first encountered Bonanza Bros. when I rented the Sega Genesis version as a teenager around 1992 or so. The idea of a game where the object was to sneak around stealing things rather than shoot everything in sight was pretty unique, and the art style in the game really stuck in my mind. Then, about a year ago, on a whim, I started playing arcade games in MAME again, and one of the games I picked up was the arcade version of Bonanza Bros. Memories of the Genesis version came flooding back, and I’ve been fascinated with the game ever since.
AnnK: What sort of practice schedule or planning goes into a 1CC attempt?
Zuq_: I do not really have a schedule and I’m more of an ad-hoc guy so planning is not my thing. Once I focus on a game I’ll just keep playing it over, and over, and over again – credit feeding at first. I do, however, make save states for stages and boss fights as the ability to practice bosses and route stages (especially later ones) is invaluable and speeds up the learning process immensely. Unfortunately, the scarcity of my leisure time forces me to chose between practice or streaming attempts, and I’ll opt for the latter any day of the week as I feel the former to be rather boring/mundane. I do admit I love loading boss save states and looking for new loops or strategies as it feels rewarding to turn an otherwise difficult boss fight into a punching bag through manipulation and AI abuse.
Neo_Antwon: A lot of stage routing goes into learning a game for 1CC. I really like to have a planned route to get me through a stage if possible, it reduces the chance of running into a situation you can’t get out of or waste resources on you could use later in the game. I also watch a lot of super plays, high-level replays, for the games I play to pick up new strategies.
Chuboh: The first thing I do when I pick up a new game is just mess around with it, familiarizing myself with the controls, figuring out what the game will and won’t let me get away with, working on potential tricks and techniques that might help with tough situations, stuff like that. So, my first several times playing the game are more exploratory rather than trying to actually make progress. Then, I start working my way through the levels, planning out routes and making note of tricky spots I need to work on. Around this time, I try to string things together into a full 1CC attempt, and then just hit the grind, trying to improve and refine my routes, making things as safe and idiot-proof as possible. I try to practice a game at least two to three times a week when going for a new 1CC, or if a game is really demanding.
AnnK: Why do you enjoy playing arcade games?
Zuq_: Arcade games, when played with a one-credit clear mindset feel satisfying, there’s no hand-holding and the variety when compared to current releases is off the charts. But the steep learning curve is what truly turns it into a rewarding experience as in order to beat the game (credit feeding doesn’t count) you need to master its mechanics and familiarise yourself with patterns etc. You take baby steps, but once it all clicks, and each subsequent credit ends up lasting longer/you get further, you realise that “winning” is possible even when facing a game essentially rigged against the player.
Nostalgia also plays a big part as I’m quite susceptible to it myself and clearing games which made me fumble constantly back in my arcade days feels great.
Neo_Antwon: I really enjoy arcade games, STGs in particular, because you can continuously get better at them. Like I can clear a game but I always know I could do it better. Seeing the progression in my game play is very satisfying.
Chuboh: I enjoy difficult games in general, and classic arcade games are among the most difficult games out there. There’s something very satisfying about playing a game that was purposely designed to take as much money from you as possible, and beating it on a single credit. Also, and this is the real reason now that I think about it, I was REALLY BAD at video games as a kid. I loved playing them, but I rarely beat them, and I would get frustrated and ragequit all the time. So, playing and beating these hard old games is like conquering a childhood hobgoblin.
AnnK: What’s the best thing about participating in events such as the 1CC Marathon?
Zuq_: It’s the showcase aspect of it; exposing people to my favourite games, whilst simultaneously sharing all my knowledge and applying it during a live play demonstration. Thus, dismissing the misguided claims of arcade games being just “coin munchers” as it just takes passion and practice to overcome the odds. Even if they’re stacked against the player.
Neo_Antwon: Participating in events such as the 1CC marathon and Nintendon’t gives you an opportunity to show off games others may have never seen before. Its fun to show off the game and get people hype for them. Everyone should take a break from reading this and play some Battle Mania Daiginjou 😛
Chuboh: To me, the best thing is being able to show off games that some people may have never seen before. There are a TON of really great games out there that don’t get the recognition they deserve
AnnK: Do you think events like the 1CC Marathon encourage other players to get up and go for 1CC on their favourite games?
Zuq_: Absolutely, we’ve got a couple runners (Goati, CoolJay, perhaps others?) in this 1CC Marathon who were encouraged by the previous editions. Events such as Pasky’s show that arcade games (the Japanese developed ones at least) are fair, balanced and designed with one-credit play in mind. Furthermore, it’s especially beneficial to those viewers who are intimidated by arcade games, to the point of not following through with the 1CC attempts of their own as they see for themselves that success is not guaranteed and failure is a given, even if you mastered a game. This uncertainty is mesmerising as it creates this aura of excitement, which further encourages viewers to give it a go and maybe, participate the next time the 1CC marathon comes around.
Neo_Antwon: I feel like events like these inspire other players to learn a game or two. They get a chance to see what’s possible in a type of game that was thought to be designed to completely stomp you and steal your coins.
Chuboh: I sure hope so! That’s how I got interested in streaming these old games in the first place. You don’t even have to go for the 1CC; just picking up a classic game you’ve never played before or going back to an old favourite you haven’t touched in years is great!