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Play it again: PC Games Challenge Chamber

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Play It Again

We Want Your High Scores

What was your high score? How did you share it with the world?

Note: Challenge Chamber post updated in 2023 to repair links etc after Play It Again moved to a new domain name. Originally posted with permission.

Showcasing gaming achievement was important for many game fans. Home computer fans had no public leader boards like those enjoyed in the arcades. However, magazines once more came to the rescue of Australian micro computer gamers. PC Games invited gamers to send their high scores to “Challenge Chamber” every month.

The scores to beat were divided up by platform. In December 1984, Commodore 64 first on the list, speaking to its popularity with Australian computer hobbyists.

Next was the Vic 20 and Australia’s own Microbee. Then came the Atari, The VZ-200, the trusty Spectrum and mix of others including the Apple II, the TRS80, Dick Smiths Wizard, the Sega SC-3000, the Amstrad, the Spectravision, the BCC Model B, the Vetrex, the MSX and the ColecoVision.

Challenge Chamber thus offers a neat survey of platforms and games popular in the 1980s. The games were listed alphabetically. And the list reveals that, despite the popularity of arcade ports and clones, there was no continuity of games over diverse platforms.

The Hobbit was featured in April 1985 column W. Mills of Metford NSW scoring an impressive 100% completion on the Commodore 64. The Microbee section is obviously full of Aussie penned games including Joust clone Emu Joust for which A Lo of Eastwood NSW scored a mighty 77,6000.

Lives well wasted.


To prevent fans fabricating their scores every few months Challenge Chamber would invite players to prove their high scoring credentials in an in-house competition. Players were invited to the magazine’s Sydney or Melbourne offices to battle it out.

These showdowns usually featured a heroic bunch of young teens whose parents would dutifully drop them at the office of PC Games. The 1985 “Ghostbusters” challenge included a bold 12 year home coder Brenda. Brenda saw a future for herself working in a bank because banks had computers. She was up against seasoned gamers brothers David (17) and Andrew (15) for the high score. Whilst our young girl programmer did not triumph, her 13 year old brother Jimmy surged to victory.

Commodore 64 gamer Daniel Bowen recalls visiting PC Games Challenge Chamber in Melbourne in 1984 to watch his friend Merlin battle it out on the Commodore 64 pinball game Night Mission with another 13 year old called Paul who held a high score for the Commodore 64 Q*bert clone Pogo Joe.

The secret challenge chamber was a non-descript office near the Elwood post office. Merlin won the challenge with an impressive score of 1,736,000 clocked in the lockdown. Paul finished with an equally respectable 140,250. Neither faced humiliation in the pages of PC Games as NERD OF THE MONTH.

 Mothers appear to have been the bane of the high score challenge!

Challenge Chamber: mothers take out high scores

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DMZ celebrated the Play It Again launch in 2013.

Series Navigation<< Play it again explores Help columns in the 1980sOrphaned work: Susan Corbett asks “Is the law an ass?” >>
Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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