VGTidBits Exclusive: An Interview With John Numbers

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E3 and the Nintendo World Championships are nearing upon us, and everyone is preparing for the best or the worst that will come of this years announcements. But two weeks ago, VGTidbits.com managed to head out to the Best Buy @ Long Island City, NY, to participate in the Nintendo World Championship Try-Outs. (And by participate I mean I was forced-apprehended to partake in an event I didn’t exactly want to do but did so anyway so people could shuddup about it but thats all cool I luv you guys SMOOCHES!) In the end, only one man was to be the overall victor.

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Meet 23 year old John “Numbers” Goldberg, who just so happen to have the highest score in Championship Mode on Ultimate NES Remix in America(seriously, look it up). After he competed, I had a chance to interview him for a VGTidbits.com Exclusive. Keep in mind this was an audio recording, and I want to personally thank Debbie for transcribing what was said in the interview.
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Roc: First off your name and what’s your normal score, or the highest score that you’ve gotten:

John Numbers: My name is John, I go by a gamer tag, John Number and my highest score is 11.5 million, and that’s currently the highest US score. My usual runs have 6 million as my score.

Roc: Do you have any idea how big the scores are from worldwide and whatnot, from the Famicom Remix? It’s the same, it just it doesn’t take into account Europe and Japan’s scores.

JN: I’m sure some crazy person in japan took my score down and got like 30 million.

Roc: So Numbers isn’t exactly your actual last name?

JN: Goldberg.

Roc: Goldberg, Ok. Was wondering how did Numbers became your last name.

JN: I’d be so hype if my last name was Numbers. Numbers is like the grunt name of a mafia syndicate. Numbers.

Roc: Change it, Triforce actually changed his name legitimately to Triforce.

JN: Not going to change my last name to John Numbers, like “Hi my name is John Numbers.”
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Afterwards we started to get down to strategy and what it takes to get the highest score.
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Roc: So let’s go by the strategy that usually happens. Everyone knows that the first two stages really don’t matter except for speed.

JN: Take it down to a play by play. There is no luck in the game. It’s all skill. Right off the bat, people go for the mushroom. Don’t. Go down the pipe and get the coins, try to get it in three jumps and get in by 6 ’08. The next thing is, get the last coin and get yourself killed. When you spawn, there is the coin block. Get all the miscellaneous coins if it doesn’t interfere with the time.

The reason is that I’m optimizing my score, I’m doing it for the competition, for Dr.Mario. I don’t want to lose any time because the points here are kind of meaningless but I am trying to up my score as much as possible.
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He later plays through the Super Mario Bros. 3 portion as quickly as possible.
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JN: Ok now I’m on Dr.Mario: it’s 100x multiplier and Doctor Mario grades you in multiples of 200. So it’s actually possible to get a score tie in this mode and if that’s the case, I want to win the score tie by having all the little points in the first two games.

Roc: So I see you’re definitely speed running right now.

JN: Right, you do not want to spend any time on level zero, the highest score you can get is 3000 which equates into 300,000 points. That’s chump change. Level zero always gives you these pills in order because that’s just how it is. So now it’s just based on how lucky I am.

Roc: The first stage is kind of a tutorial of sorts.

JN: Vaguely. But I’m going to show off some cool stuff if I can manage it. For this part, it’s just how skilled you are. It’s just go crazy, if you know what I mean.
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He says what color he needs often. Mentions horizontals. In the background, you can hear his friend, Amine, say stuff like “he’s been doing this for I don’t know how long.”
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JN: Everything cascades from one another, you just need to know what color you need before you actually drop the second pill. As I said, you have to be lucky as well.

Roc: The way you’re playing is kind of reminiscent of Puyo Pop.

JN: Here you go double yellow, this level is not done but I’m going to get points. There you can see my score went up like nuts. The reason being is that every virus in a combo that you clear gives you 200 and then it multiples by 2 for every virus that you clear. So clearing 2 gives you 200 + 400 so that’s 600 and so forth. It’s all based on RNG. Based Reggie. The Reggie Number Generator, I like to call it.

Of all the viruses that you clear do you get more of a multiple… (a lot of background chatter-and then at that point its hard to make out most of the conversation because there’s a lot of people talking over each other – Debbie)
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After all is said and done, Numbers pulls up his score of around 4.3 million. Keep in mind his score for the competition is 4.7 million and change and I made it near under 1 mil. At that time, he said he was “having an off day.”

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…I’m totally not jelly at all. :'(
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Roc: With something like this, do you feel that you’d be prepared for the E3 Nintendo World Championships?

JN: Sure if it’s the same game. I was just nervous here because I mean it can still happen but its more likely to happen that I lose to 750 people than like 8 people.

Roc: But it seems like you have a good standing. Its just your experience with Dr.Mario is more so than others.

JN: Yes I have so much experience, its ridiculous,

Roc: So how vast is your experience with most of the retro games out there?

JN: I have the most experience with just platformers and puzzle games and Smash Bros.

Roc: Alright so uh something that pops in like the Legend of Zelda or Metroid?

JN: Uh I hate those games.

Roc: Oh you hate those games? Uh-oh.

JN: What happens is that I get lost and then I give up. And it has nothing to do with like a lack of skill, I’m just like, I don’t know what to do.

Roc: Keep in mind, this is something you need to know in the future because in retro games you need to have a map or at least drawn out something in order to know.

Best of luck, I’m pretty sure you have it. Not a lot of people have that kind of experience.
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As it turns out, John “Numbers” Goldberg has had the highest score in the NY area and will be competing alongside 7 other contestants from other states for the glory that is Champion of the Nintendo World Championships. Some of the 8 games annouced for the competition are Splatoon and The Legend of Zelda(sorry Numbers). More information for the event will be provided in the months to come as well as online at Nintendo.com as well as their Facebook and Twitter. We’ll hope to keep you up to date with E3 news, so stay tuned. And once again, thank you Debbie Poon for transcribing the interview.

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