A Few Words From Ruben Spaans!
It's been a while since I played JezzBall now, so I guess you can call me a retired JezzBaller.
My name is Ruben Spaans, I am 25 years old and I come from Brønnøysund
in Norway, the land of the midnight sun and polar bears etc. My main interest is computing, especially programming, playing games and simply "doing whatever I find quite fun for the moment" which really could be anything. I work for a company which sells business information, stuff like catalogues and all kinds of information about companies. I mainly work as a "puncher", I mainly type in information about the companies. I also do some programming and various tasks.
The JezzBall thing started when I first got the Microsoft Entertainment Pack back in 1993. I tried all games, and found games like Chip's Challenge, Klotski and JezzBall quite fun. I completed Chip's and played to level 6-7 at JezzBall, with a score between 100,000 and 200,000, I think. During the next years, I barely touched the game, because whenever I was playing around in Windows I played Minesweeper, and finally worked me down to 61 seconds.
I didn't play much JezzBall until 1997, when I needed another game to fiddle with when I was bored at work. I decided that I should give JezzBall a try. We were a group of 3-4 people at work who competed for the highest scores. I developed a strategy where I built a line in the lower corners. This line would proceed to the top of the screen, giving me enough time to build 3-4 small traps. I would then trap the balls and trim off the blank squares, so I usually completed each level with 97-99%. To begin with I had scores like 300,000, but I eventually worked my way up to 588,000, which was my high score for a while.
Finally, during the late summer 1997 (end of August/beginning of September) I discovered my breakthrough strategy. At level 10-12, when my existing strategy didn't work any more due to too many balls, I found out that I could build traps without doing these corner lines (which would be caught by balls anyway). I built the traps on the bottom horizontal line, around 3-4 squares high. The bottom line would proceed to the bottom while the top line would usually be smashed by balls. This way I had lots of traps on the bottom of the screen where I could trap the balls manually, and usually completing each level with many lives left. On my first breakthrough game I got a score of 1,354,211 points on level 22, followed by 2,032,774 (level 28) and 1,999,357 (level 27).
After that game I had a week off work. When I got back I saw that one of my colleagues, Sverre Rande, was in a middle of a game, with a score of over 3,000,000, and he has been playing for days. I immediately started a new game (it was 25 September'97, by the way). This time I managed the middle levels (level 20-40) without losing. In the meantime Sverre had lost his game, with a score of 3,605,008 points on around level 37, and Tom Jørgensen, another one of my colleagues, has started a new game after losing with a score not much below Sverre's. I'll try my best here to describe my strategy:
On level 49 I use a strategy similar to David Besteurien. The first thing I do is to make small traps (2 squares high) along the top and the bottom lines (losing 20-25 lives), then wait for the balls to trap themselves. I wait until all traps except 3 or 4 are filled, then I trap them manually. Now I have trapped up to 32 balls, at this stage there are minimum 18 left to trap. Then I build long traps on top of the leftmost and rightmost trap on the bottom, using 4-5 lives. These traps are usually long enough to trap every ball except 5-6 in average. If I'm lucky, it could be only 1 left, and in the worst case, as many as 10-15. Then I make a horizontal line 2 squares above the bottom line with all the trapped balls, so I can build more traps on top of them again. Now try to find somewhere I can make traps without losing lives, usually I can start at the very left or right and then quickly make a trap next to one of the long traps. When there are 2-3 balls left, I make a horizontal line on the top to close off the trapped balls, and fill every blank next to them. Then I trap the remaining balls just like on level 1. In average I complete level 49 with 15-16 lives left and a bonus of 230-240,000. At the most I had 26 lives left (a bonus of 396,776), and sometimes I only had one life left.
I kept playing this same game for one month minus one day to be exact. I was playing only in the pauses at work so that is why I was spent so long. At some stages I almost lost, especially after passing the mega-barriers at 10 and 20 million points, mainly because I was unconcentrated and a bit out of motivation. Especially this situation on level 49 for the 25th time was very frightening indeed, where I still had two balls left to trap and only one life left. I really thought this was my demise.
Well, this game finally ended on 24 October 1997, 29 days after starting it. All machines at work had to be turned off and disconnected, and everything had to be moved at least 0,5 m away from the wall because the office should be cleaned. So, there were nothing to do but capture a screenshot, lose the game, enter my name, behold the hall of fame with my newly achieved high score of 25,541,500 points, quit and disconnect. Tom Jørgensen also had a game in progress with around 6,700,000 points after completing level 49 once, but he had no chance to grab a screenshot until his PC was disconnected. Here are screenshots of my last level (level 49 for the 83th time!) and my hall of fame:
After this mega-game I haven't played JezzBall seriously. I had a few goes just to play the 2-3 first levels again but that was all. After this I decided for another game to play at work, since November I've been playing Chip's Challenge and whipping up unbelievable scores.
When looking back, I can't believe that I was playing the same game for a whole month. This is the ultimate JezzBall achievement from my side, there is no way I could repeat this. Up here in Northern Norway the electricity comes and goes, and Windows crashes even more often. So this is the end of my JezzBall era.
Good luck to every JezzBall player out there in breaking new records.
These are some scores of some friends of mine:
6,609,014 Tom Jørgensen
3,605,008 Sverre Rande
Also see my thoughts on personal Web Etiquette and You.