Pac-Masters - Jon Stoodley
Jon Stoodley lives on the coast in North-West England, a Gas and Electrical Engineer by trade and retro gamer by night. Jon isn’t your average every-day retro gamer though, he’s a former Pac-Man World Record holder, World Record Holder on the Pac-Man Reunion Cabinet, has 8 ‘Perfect’ games to his name and is the only person outside of North America to ever get a ‘Perfect’ game on original hardware.
Yes, you heard me, that’s 8 ‘Perfect’ games of his beloved Pac-Man, all done freehand (patternless upto board 21) and oh! I forgot to mention, all done live in front of an audience or on Twitch TV!
In 1981, at the age of 13, Jon first encountered Pac-Man at the Las Vegas Arcade in Liverpool, UK, only a year after the cabinet’s release. He was struck by what appeared to be the sheer simplicity of the game. Little did he know at the time that this game would become such a major part of his life.
Jon quickly became infatuated with the game, playing as often as he could and sometimes even spending his bus-fare home, just to have that one last game!
In January of 1982 Jon managed to break the 100k barrier and in the summer that same year he teamed up with fellow Pac-addicts David Aru and Mark Marshall to try and come up with new strategies to attempt getting to the ‘9th Key Desert’.
The idea soon paid-off and in October of 1982 Jon managed to get to his first splitscreen with a score of 3,187,110. Jon didn’t stop there though, he knew that he had the ability for bigger scores and so he focused on eating as many dots and ghosts upto board 21 including the infamous 1 second boards where the ghosts are only able to be eaten for 1 second after Pac-Man eats an ‘energiser’ dot.
On June 19th, 1983 Jon achieved his goal with a huge score of 3,221,000. What Jon didn’t know at the time was that the score was actually a World Record. The score was recognised in the UK by Computer & Video Games Magazine as a high score, but this was pre-internet days and Jon wasn’t even aware of Twin Galaxies in the U.S at the time or even know that he’d beaten the WR of 3,191,000 by Tim Balderramos.
Jon pushed on though and in December of 1983 managed to raise his personal best to 3,257,130 before retiring from gaming in the summer of 1984.
Jon then got on with his life. Became a gas and electrical engineer, got married and forgot about Pac-Man, until one day in 2005 when Jon had a game of Pac-Man World on the Playstation 2 with his friend Patrick Curran, showing a knack for the game Patrick suggested that Jon should start playing the original game again.
In 2007, now with the internet readily available, Jon learned about the ‘Perfect’ game and researched the feat, deciding that was what he wanted to do. In 2008 he met Tony Temple (Missile Command WR Holder) who sold him a Japanese ‘Candy’ cabinet which Jon used to start playing Pac-Man again.
In 2009, Jon decided that his own personal way-forward was to only play on original hardware, just like his days back at the Las Vegas Arcade in Liverpool and bought a very dilapidated cabinet from Ebay and performed a full photographic restoration which you can read about here.
Later that same year Jon, who’d become quite the personality on the gaming circuit and always readily involved in the promotion of classic arcade gaming, participated in a television interview with British comedian Justin Lee Collins on his TV Show in the ‘Claim to Fame’ segment of the program. Collins, renowned for his i’ll say, teasing and ridicule style of humour is a huge fan of gaming and all things ‘retro’ and I think it’s fair to say Jon certainly held his own!
You can watch the clip of the Justin Lee Collins show here. (Obscene Language Warning).
In the next 7 years from 2009 to 2016, Jon, along with his friend Tony Temple, played at every live event possible, also flying to America regularly to play at live events where he would also meet up with the first person to get a ‘Perfect’ game, Billy Mitchell.
In 2010 Jon, playing live at Funspot in New Hampshire, USA, managed to beat his splitscreen score from 1983 and that led to his friend Tony Temple pushing for Jon to become the first Non-North American to get a ‘Perfect’ game. Jon continued to play hard for the next few years, playing at every event that he could and in 2014 at the ‘Play Manchester’ event, although not ‘Perfect’ Jon managed to get a ‘Perfect Eat’, a rare feat of eating every dot and ghost and collect every prize during a game, but alas losing 1 life on the way.
And then on the 22nd of August 2015 at the ‘Play Margate’ event, it finally happened. Jon, playing live in front of an audience, maneuvered his little Pac-Man around 256 boards, eating every single ghost, dot and collected every prize without losing a single life in just under 6 and a half hours. At last he’s done it. A ‘Perfect’ game, the 8th person in the world to ever do so and the first European.
You can watch that game here:
Jon didn’t stop there though, in 2017 in the name of charity, Jon claimed the World Record on the Pac-Man Reunion Cabinet where new code allowed a player to pass the splitscreen, getting a score of just over 6.5million in 11 hours 25 minutes, beating the previous record of 6.3million by Tim Balderramos.
And so Jon’s legacy was complete, the journey was over, he’d achieved his goal…or so you’d think!
Move on a few years to 2020. The globe was riddled by the new ‘Covid’ plague, the UK was in lockdown and Jon had been furloughed. With time to kill Jon decided to do what he did best. He switched on his trusty Pac-Man Cabinet, set up his webcam and decided to entertain the legion of retro game fans around the world, live on Twitch TV. On the 25th June 2020 Jon got his 2nd ‘Perfect’ game and then the floodgates opened and by the 4th of March 2021 Jon hadn’t done 1 or 2 more ‘Perfect’ games, nor 3 or 4, Jon had done 7, yes 7, more ‘Perfect’ games making a total tally of 8 and even found time to coach his friend Mark Singleton to a personal best of 1.3 million and his friend Jake Goldberg, over the pond in Pennsylvania,USA to his own ‘Perfect’ game.
You can watch Jon play live on Twitch TV under the pseudonym ‘Pacman83’ and you’ll often find him watching his fellow ‘Perfect’ Pac-Men friends Greg Sakundiak (Misterperfect2020), Billy Mitchell (Billy_Mitchell), Don Hayes (Cntipd), Tim Balderramos (Pacmantab). David Lyne (Charliefar) and his good friend Robbie Lakeman (Lakeman421) of Donkey Kong fame.
Here at Pac-Man forum we’d all like to say a big thanks to Jon, he’s been a good friend through some tough times recently, has found the time to support us in our own endeavours and has kept us all thoroughly entertained with his Pac-Man exploits. Thank you Jon.
Jon Stoodley Sir, you are definitely a Pac Master.
Article written by James Marshall (marleyman999) – 2nd July 2021