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March 2008

Well, maybe they'd like it if I lose. I gotta try losing sometime.
donkey kong kill screen | Thursday, 03.06.08
(ed. note - I started writing this article the day after Valentine's Day, hence the reference in the first few sentences. One thousand of my sincerest, most heartfelt apologies for not posting this sooner.)

Sniff sniff. Ugh, god, what is that? It's like... dried rose petals mixed with... semen and wine. Valentine's Day is over, and while I hope you got all liquored up with your special someone, covered each other in dried rose petals and jacked off all over each other, it's now time to get down to business. MONKEY BUSINESS. In the following sentence, I'll reveal why that was so funny. I just finished watching King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, which is a documentary about two men who play Donkey Kong for fame, glory, and their name listed on a website of Donkey Kong high scores. What neither of them realize is that they could just make their own website, post their own high scores and no one would give a shit. Like so -

Most Points in Anything Ever
1. J. Lacki ............................ 65,270,000,000,000
2. AAA ................................. 3,600
3. J. Lacki ............................ 1,039
4. Everyone else ....................... n/a

AAA was me, I was just too lazy to insert my name. Anyway, King of Kong is a fantastic film that shows a world that most people have never seen - the seedy, awful world of retro gamers that will stop at nothing -NOTHING- to be the best at video games that were created before the invention of fun. Hmm, what do I do in this game? Oh, move my blocky bullshit character around a black screen and avoid touching smaller, but more bullshitty blocks that randomly spring forth jagged lines from their block loins? Outta sight! Ooh, what's this other game like? Same as the first one, except I can move in three directions instead of none? Sounds great, but where the fuck do I plug my plastic guitar into this forty ton machine?

Mom, Dad, can I stand on the lawn of a major corporation's headquarters during our family vacation to Seattle?
I kid. And as much as I want to make fun of the creepy competitive gamers that squabble over high scores and hit points, I can't. For I was involved in the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, where gamers went head-to-head in explosive deathmatches, testing their might in Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer and Tetris for cash and prizes. And as a 9-year-old that loved Nintendo more than... actually, words don't exist to describe just how much I loved that gray box. My parents watched their once bright and cheerful son degenerate into a blistery-fingered slob who sucked up more sugary resources than Boeing's sugar plane, the imaginary candy-powered jet that I just made up for comedic purposes (ed. note - check to make sure the sugar plane doesn't actually exist). I know what you're thinking and the answer is surprisingly, yes - I know what the inside of a vagina feels like.

One Saturday afternoon, my parents took me to the mall for two things - a) elastic church pants and b) a chance to use my Nintendo skills to live my dream of traveling the world... to play Nintendo in other countries. And there, in the back of some gigantic department store was the holy grail of nerd-dom - three folding tables, 8 folding chairs and 8 Nintendo systems. The rules were simple - score the most points in Super Mario Bros in like, three minutes or something ridiculous and you would move onto the Nintendo World Championships in New York City.

So, level 1-1 started up and off I went. Stomp on the goomba, get the coins, get the mushroom and then... I died. The pressure was too much for me, and I choked. Well, more like fell into a pit, but I still failed miserably and should have been shot on sight. Who dies on the first level besides your thumbless younger siblings? No one, except for me... and that's how I won. By dying so early (and so masterfully), I was able to get the first mushroom twice, which gave me an extra 1,000 points. And like the baseball player that died of Lou Gehrig's Disease who considered himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth, I also consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth and will die when I'm 38.

So, I was now a contender, and for weeks, I honed my Mario, Rad Racer and Tetris skills. And in reality, I had no idea what I was actually training for, but it gave me an excuse to play games instead of doing homework or practicing piano scales or talking about something that wasn't the Nintendo World Championships. Finally, the day came - my father and I took the ferry to New York, and I, wearing my finest pair of parachute pants, Hammer Time-ed my way over to the Javitz Center. I was ready to compete once again. Only this time, instead of competing against a handful of mongoloids in the Sears tractor department, I'd be competing against hundreds of mongoloids in a convention center. I found my spot, received some words of encouragement from my father and prepared myself for what would be the most intense challenge of my life. I'm sure instead of firing a starter pistol, some broken shell of an MC in a Nintendo-branded jumpsuit fired a zapper in the air that shot confetti and shame all over the contestants, but I didn't notice. 3, 2, 1, GO!

According to wikipedia, these were the challenges -

Officially, a player has six minutes and 21 seconds to play in the contest, which is divided up into three minigames. The first minigame of the competition is to collect 50 coins in Super Mario Bros. The next minigame is a version of Rad Racer where players must complete a specialized Nintendo World Championship course. The final minigame is Tetris and this lasts until time expires. Once time does expire, a player's score is totaled using the following formula:

Super Mario Brothers score
+ Rad Racer score times 10
+ Tetris score times 25

I remember none of this, but six minutes and 21 seconds later, the contest was over and I lost. My dreams of being hoisted above the crowd or jumping up and yelling "Yeah!" while the frame freezes and the credits roll disappeared. I just kinda stood there, staring at the 8-bit graphics on the screen telling me how bad I was at video games. I walked away, found my father in the crowd, played a few Nintendo demos and left. So after all that, like seventeen paragraphs worth of build-up, that's it. I lost the championship, and my short career as a competitive gamer stopped before it ever really started. But thankfully, with a little bit of HTML code and a sprinkle of magic, I can be a winner.

1990 Nintendo World Champions
1. J. Lacki
2. A 4-year-old Japanese gaming prodigy
3. AAA

 

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