To all you retro gamers out there, there's some good news in the horizon; After a year long hiatus, Retro Arcade Night returns this Saturday, September 20, at Arcade Game Sales.
It's the first Arcade Night held at the new location on 279 E. Oakland Park Boulevard with double the space and double the games. Additionally, this will be a particularly auspicious event because, announced earlier in the week, gaming celebrity, and star of the documentary King of Kong, Billy Mitchell, will be in attendance.
We caught up with event host Steve Kleisath, who on July 22, scored 3,784,050 points on the original Mario Brothers game and found himself landing as the second highest ranked Mario Brothers player in the world (as verified by video game world record tracking website Twin Galaxies.) Local music fans may recognize Kleisath as the steady beat-keeper for influential proto-emo group Further Seems Forever, but many may not be familiar with his alter ego as a retro gaming mack daddy. Kleisath has done a stellar job balancing between drum stick and joystick.
Between national tours with Further Seems Forever, Kleisath still carved out time to practice on gaming consoles around the country. He's also currently sitting pretty as the third ranked player in the world on Turbo Ms. Pac. That's right, Kleisath is a gaming celebrity in his own right. We took a few minutes to ask Kleisath about the return of Retro Arcade Night, and if the classic pixelated arcade game concept has a place in the world of CGI-like PS4 gaming millennials like to get down with.
New Times: First off, we got to know, how long does it take to beat a score of 3,481,000 points on Mario Bros, how long did you actually sit in front of the game?
Steve Kleisath: Four hours and 10 minutes.
That's a lot of Mario Brother head-bashing. Do you practice every day?
Currently I try to, because I am trying to get the world record in Mario Bros.
Billy Mitchell is slated to be in attendance at Retro Arcade Night. Describe his relevance in the arcade scene today?
He will forever be relevant because of his ties to Twin Galaxies, and the stardom he achieved being one of the main characters in the documentary King Of Kong.
Are you and Billy Mitchell friends, has he been a role model for you?
Yes we are good friends. I got to know him through our mutual friend, Robert Childs, who is the owner of Arcade Game Sales.
Super Mario Bros versus Pac Man, which do you enjoy more?
I love them both equally. But, I find Mario Bros. to be just a little more frustrating.
Did you not stop playing arcade games in your life, or did you take a break and get back into in recently?
I played a lot when I was younger, and then went away from it for a while, not having the time with everything else I had going on. Then when I started touring musically, the band's van would have a home system console set up in it (PS3, XBoX), and I started getting back into that facet. The classics I got back into after a slew of documentaries came out back in 2007, which spawned a retro like rediscovery of competitive classic arcade gaming.
Do you think millennials have as much interest in playing classic arcade games like Super Mario Bros, as people our age (you know, old farts in their thirties and so forth, who grew up on the stuff?
To a degree, yes. For instance, Mario is still one of the most recognizable characters on the planet along with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
What do you think draws younger kids to classic arcade games?
Nostalgia passed down from their parents, I think. People who grew up on these games in the '80s and pass along the titles and traditions to their kids.