Edmonds arcade aficionado sets world records

By Sara Bruestle | Oct 17, 2016

Jason Lundgren is well on his way to becoming King of the Arcades.

The Edmonds man’s New Year’s resolution was to beat the world’s high score in an arcade game.

Lundgren, 33, now holds not one, not two, but five world records in classic coin-op games – and the year isn’t over yet.

“It feels great,” Lundgren said. “The more I break records, the more confident I feel. I'm not stopping anytime soon, as my next goal is be at Billy Mitchell's level in 2-3 years.”

Most recently, Lundgren beat the world record for the 1989 beat-'em-up game Final Fight with a score of 2,796,386 points. Bryan Schillo from Brookfield, Ill., previously held the record with 2,621,640 points.

He also holds the world records for NARC (1988) with 2,411,075 points; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (1991) with 363 kills; The Simpsons (1991) with 368 points; G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1992) with 2,640 points.

Lundgren is also one of the Top 5 highest scorers in the world for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) and Marvel vs. Capcom (1998).

Lundgren hasn’t been playing arcade games for very long. He started playing during lunch breaks while working at Safeway last year.

When Lundgren, a 2001 Kamiak High School grad, realized he had the skills to beat the games, he made it a goal to beat a world high score.

Lundgren regularly watches play-throughs on YouTube for strategies to break world records.

He practices at Replay Cafe and Another Castle, both in Lynnwood, for a half hour to an hour about once a week.

Of his five world records, Lundgren is most proud of his high score in Final Fight. That’s the record he’s been trying to beat since he made his New Year’s resolution.

“I got the monkey off my back,” he said. “I finally beat the world record, I finally got to put my name up there.”

He’s been busy within the last 10 months: Lundgren also holds the high score on many of the arcade games at Replay Cafe and Another Castle.

“It’s really awesome,” said Dan Butler, assistant store manager at Another Castle. “It’s very impressive, and I’m proud to have his high scores on our machines. I think he’s done at least two or three in our store alone.”

He is now trying to beat the record in the 1987 beat-'em-up game Double Dragon. The world record is held by Bill Silverman of Tampa, Fla., with 261,870 points.

Lundgren, who at 18 was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder, has a message for others with autism: We, too, can be the Billy Mitchells of the world.

“Find something that you really are good at – your talent – and don’t try to do things that are beyond you,” he said. “Once you find that talent, don’t let anybody talk you down.

“You have the heart to do it, so just practice, practice, practice.”

Lundgren has his work cut out for him if he wants to be the next Billy Mitchell – because Mitchell is arguably the greatest arcade player in the world.

Mitchell was featured in the 2007 documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.”

His signature achievement is earning the first perfect score of 3,333,360 points in Pac-Man (1980) in 1999.

Mitchell’s score of 886,900 points in Donkey Kong (1981) was the highest first acknowledged in 1982, and he has been recapturing the world record for the platform game ever since.

Lundgren has at least one fan who thinks he has what it takes to become the greatest.

“It’s beyond admirable that he’s able to do that after just recently coming to the resolve that he wants to break records,” Butler said. “It’s something that people have wasted quarters and quarters, and spent years and years playing, but he just picks it up like it’s no big deal.”

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