Video Game Mania 7:
The Competitors

(in order of appearance)

Dave The Video Game Critic (Tournament host)
So who exactly are these fearless warriors who compete year after year for fame and glory? How were they chosen for this prestigeous tournament? Well, as it turns out, they all share the following three characteristics:

  • Have proven themselves to be world-class video game players
  • Are loyal friends that I can always count on
  • Have threatened to spill the beans to my wife about some bachelor party shenanigans I was involved in a few years back (which I can explain, by the way).


Mike F (#5 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 10 (3 multi-player, 7 single-player)
Mike was crowned champion of VGM5 and VGM6, but in the weeks prior to VGM7, this grizzled veteran began to realize that his reign was nearing an end. To understand the dramatic turn of events that transpired at VGM7, you need to recall the fate of Obi Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope). Mike fought valiantly in the first round of the playoffs, but appeared to concede the final blow that would spell his defeat. Then suddenly Mike's entire body instantly vanished into thin air, leaving nothing but a pile of clothes! Upon witnessing this amazing spectacle, Marc immediately charged in, rifled through the clothes, and snagged Mike's wallet - just beating Dean to it! Upon assuming his new spiritual form, Mike F made his presence known to young "padawan" gamer Jonathan , who was the number one seed going into the playoffs. I asked Jonathan if Mike imparted the invaluable knowledge and wisdom necessary to push him over the top. "Not really," Jonathan replied, "He was just rambling on and on about how good the ham was, and how freakin' hard Choplifter is. Actually, it got really annoying after a while! I'm surprised I even won with that bastard blabbering in my ear the whole time."

First place finishes:

  • Centipede (arcade)
  • Steeplechase (Atari 2600)
  • Donkey Kong (Coleco portable)
Second place finishes:
  • Pole Position (arcade/PS2)

George - SECOND PLACE (#7 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 8 (2 multi-player, 6 single-player)
Despite coming up short in so many previous VGM tournaments (always a bridesmaid never a bride!), George finally "busted a big one" with an inspired, breakout performance. Unlike his wise-cracking, beer-guzzling competitors, George took a more intellectual, strategic approach. Sensing easy points for the taking, he initially honed in on the small Vectrex and Coleco handhelds. Then, realizing that this brand of "small ball" would only take him so far, George began the process over-analyzing each game, annoying his teammates to no end. He even went so far as to pull out a protractor and compass to calculate the angles in Video Olympics and serve trajectories in Beach Volleyball. What was the compass for? "If it came down to the last point," explained George, "I could use this to stab the bastard." Also of note is the fact that for the first time in recent memory, George was not heard blaming the controller for any of his losses!

First place finishes:

  • Mine Storm (Vectrex)
Second place finishes:
  • Beach Spikers (teamed with Steve S) (GameCube)
  • Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo 64)
  • Tapper (arcade)
  • Spiderman (Atari 2600)
  • Donkey Kong (Coleco portable)

Joe X (#8 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 7 (7 multi-player, 0 single-player)
Coming from out of nowhere, Joe X made one hell of a splash at his very first VGM. For the first hour or so, Joe was absolutely on fire, taking a substantial lead over the rest of the field. Eventually he would cool down however, and when all was said and done, he quietly settled into the final (eight) seed of the playoffs. Joe claimed to have arrived with Steve N, but this was neither confirmed nor denied by Steve. Days later, the ugly truth was finally uncovered when Video Game Madness, a rival tournament, was held across town using the exact same format as VGM. That's right, Joe X was a spy who infiltrated VGM in order to steal my ideas. And if that's wasn't enough, it also turns out that Joe is not a human at all but a cybernetic robot with synthetic skin over a metal exo-skeleton. That means the only way I can kill Joe is by trapping him in a steel press as his mechanical hands reach for my neck to strangle me. It may take a little planning, but I hope to get that done before VGM8.

First place finishes:

  • Wii Sports Tennis (teamed with Jonathan ) (Wii)
  • Super Sidekicks 3 (Neo Geo)
Second place finishes:
  • Far Cry (Xbox 360)

Steve N (#6 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 9 (5 multi-player, 4 single-player)
Since establishing himself as a powerhouse by winning VGM3, Steve's game career has been on a downward spiral - and that's putting in mildly! Steve fell to second place at VGM4, and at VGM5 he slipped to third. At VGM6 the wheels came off completely, with Steve falling hard in the first round of the playoffs. Steve wouldn't fare much better at VGM7, having to settle for fourth place. Demoralized and in danger of becoming the Corey Feldman of VGM, Steve comtemplated traveling to Tibet to become a Buddist Monk. There, he would take the sacred vow of celibacy, just like his father, and his father before him. After further consideration however, Steve said "F that!" and began petitioning for a Video Game Xtreme (VGX) to be held this summer. Some may recall VGX1 from a few years back, which was marked by late-night mayhem, excessive drinking, and shameless upsportsmanslike conduct. Very similar to VGM!

First place finishes:

  • Video Olympics (Atari 2600)
  • Spiderman (Atari 2600)
Second place finishes:
  • League Bowling (Neo Geo)
  • Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)
  • Dead Moon (Turbografx-16)

Mike B
Total Points: 6 (0 multi-player, 6 single-player)
Mike has been a long-time contender at Video Game Mania, but this turned out to be an off-year for him. Sure, he destroyed the competition in Pole Position and Paperboy, but his failure to place first or second in any multi-player game crippled his chances of making the playoffs. When asked what was holding him back, Mike did not mince words. "Steve N", he replied in bitter disgust. "He always insists on teaming up with me, but that bastard's just dead weight! He may have been worth a crap four VGM's ago, but now he's the Steve Guttenberg of the tournament!"
First place finishes:
  • Paperboy (Super Nintendo)
  • Pole Position (arcade/PS2)

Scott Z * Not present for playoff round
Total Points: 8 (3 multi-player, 5 single-player)
Despite having to leave at the half-way point of VGM7, Scott still earned enough points to have actually qualified for the playoffs had he been present! Unfortunately, one of Scott's other friends was having a major social event that Scott couldn't get out of. I reluctantly gave Scott permission to leave, but only on the condition of him telling that other bastard point-blank that their friendship was officially over! I advised Scott that kicking him in the crotch was optional, but I hoped he would at least consider it. There are some things more important that VGM, but I can't think of any right now, and that speaks volumes.
First place finishes:
  • Crystal Castles (arcade)
  • Dan Sullivan's Indy Heat (NES)
Second place finishes:
  • Centipede (arcade)
  • Marine Fishing (Dreamcast)

Jonathan - VGM7 CHAMPION (#1 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 14 (10 multi-player, 4 single-player)
Clocking in at a paltry 25 years old, Jonathan was the youngest player at VGM7, so I was sure to stock the fridge with plenty of Juicy Juice for him. He was surprisingly well behaved, although I did have to admonish him once or twice for walking on the couch with his shoes on. Riding high on pure sugar, Jonathan proved to be an unstoppable force, gaining the number one seed and eventually cruising to the championship. As Jonathan left my house with trophy in hand, the groupies that had been congregating for hours mobbed him, and proceeded to treat him like a slab of processed meat byproducts (much to his delight). It's common knowledge that VGM champs get an endless supply of tail, unless they're married of course, in which case they get none at all.

First place finishes:

  • Wii Sports Tennis (teamed with Joe X) (Wii)
  • Far Cry (Xbox 360)
  • Dark Moon (Turbografx-16)
  • Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo 64)
Second place finishes:
  • Mine Storm (Vectrex)
  • Micro Machines 64 (Nintendo 64)

Eric R - THIRD PLACE (#4 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 10 (5 multi-player, 5 single-player)
After teetering on the precipice of greatness for several years in a row, Eric finally had something to show for his efforts this year, proudly emerging with a third-place trophy. But it almost didn't happen! Apparently Eric's wife Jill was due to have a baby at around the time of this year's tournament. Fortunately, she was nice enough to hold that baby in long enough to allow Eric to live out his lifelong dream of winning at VGM. If only all women would be so considerate, us guys would probably get in a lot more quality playing time! And isn't that what's most important?
First place finishes:
  • Ghosts and Goblins (NES)
  • Micro Machines 64 (Nintendo 64)
Second place finishes:
  • Paperboy (SNES)
  • Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat (NES)
  • Super Sidekicks 3 (Neo Geo)
  • Choplifter (Atari 7800)

Eric S (#3 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 10 (7 multi-player, 3 single-player)
This was a break-out year Eric, but at what price?! In his past VGM performances, Eric had always played the role of the "nice guy" in the PG-13 movie that everybody was pulling for. Well, this year he suddenly became the "bad man" in the rated R movie! And when the smoke cleared, Eric found himself surrounded by allegations of employing questionable tactics in the Beach Spikers Volleyball competition. When asked to comment about the scandal, Eric snapped, "Who's the snitch? I'ma pop a cap in his ass! Oh I've been known to kill a snitch. I'm not saying I did, not saying I didn't." Some have even speculated that Eric had in fact cheated in multiple games, but was only caught in one! In fact, investigators are currently looking into the possibility that Eric may have gained unfair advantage in the League Bowling event using nothing but a wire, a wad of gum, and a peanut shell.
First place finishes:
  • Beach Spikers (teamed with Deane ) (GameCube)
  • League Bowling (Neo Geo)
  • Choplifter (Atari 7800)
Second place finishes:
  • Video Olympics (teamed with Marc ) (Atari 2600)

Marc
Total Points: 3 (3 multi-player, 0 single-player)
When you're talking about VGM players and pure talent, Marc stands out as being the tallest player at VGM. When specifically asked to assess Marc's gaming skill and dexterity, without hesitation I always say Marc is tall. Of course, Marc's physical stature is only really useful in the event of a VGM fight, but fortunately for him, they happen all of the time. Marc has taken a strong stance against the Wii console because it promotes physical activity, which he abhors. The highlight of Marc's day occurred when he snatched the wallet of Mike F, whose physical body had vanished seconds earlier. Some in attendance regarded this as a classless act, but him yelling "SCORE!!" really sealed the deal. Although initially accused as being involved in the controller scandal, Marc denied all charges and eventually was exonerated. Still, certain players contend that Marc intentionally burped on them during critical moments in the competition.

First place finishes:

  • Video Olympics (teamed with Eric S) (Atari 2600)

Keith
Total Points: 0
Although a VGM veteran, Keith usually regards these things more as social events that competitons. Always an early adopter of technology, this year he could be heard espousing the virtues of Verizon's FIOS - ad nauseum. Unfortunately, his credibility was tarnished beyond repair last year when he claimed his new, state-of-the-art cell phone also functioned as an Internet browser, game machine, walkie-talkie, fax machine, back-scratcher, and meat thermometer. Few bought into his claims, but Keith remained adamant. Even after being hospitalized three times last year for Ecoli poisoning, Keith maintains that was "purely a coincidence". Keith had to leave VGM7 early this year to help a friend "find her car downtown" - whatever that means. I let him off this time, but warned him that good deeds would not be tolerated at future VGMs since they violate the spirit of the event.


Steve S
Total Points: 7 (3 multi-player, 4 single-player)
On paper, Steve had a terrific day, scoring points in five events. Normally he would have cruised into the playoffs, but in this year's competitive field, Steve just missed the cut. Or did he? Apparently Steve was involved in a highly controversial Beach Volleyball match. As we've come to know, his opponents Eric S and Dean were employing questionable tactics some would regard as "cheating". Had Steve and George won that event, Steve would have made the playoffs easily and perhaps made a run at the championship. When asked about the scandal, Steve was unusually calm. "Forgive and forget - that's always been my mantra," Steve replied. "And if Dean happens to be involved in a freak gardening accident, well, that's just unfortunate. Also, if Eric experiences some mysterious car trouble over the next few days, that would be a shame."

First place finishes:

  • Marine Fishing (Dreamcast)
Second place finishes:
  • Ghosts and Goblins (NES)
  • Beach Spikers (Teamed with George )
  • Wii Sports Tennis (Teamed with Deane )
  • Steeplechase (Atari 2600)

Dean (#2 seed in playoffs)
Total Points: 11 (8 multi-player, 3 single-player)
Ever since the Wii was first introduced last fall, one burning question has lingered in the back of every gamer's mind: "Can you play this thing while holding a beer?" Thanks to Dean's hard work and sacrifice, we now know that the answer is yes. This is great news for alcoholic gamers everywhere, who will wholeheartedly embrace the Wii as their system of choice. It is important to note however that there are several side effects commonly associated wtih drinking a beer while playing a Wii. On the positive side, you may experience a sense of euphoria, and you'll generally have a much better time than you normally would. On the downside, your scores will royally suck. Of course, Dean has proven there's more than one way to win, as demonstrated in the chicanery he helped orchestrate during the Beach Volleyball event.

First place finishes:

  • Tapper (arcade)
  • Beach Spikers (teamed with Eric S) (GameCube)
  • Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)
Second place finishes:
  • Wii Sports Tennis (teamed with Steve S) (Wii)
  • Video Olympics (teamed with Eric S) (Atari 2600)

Jon S
Total Points: 0
Despite arriving very late, Jon did a lot of damage at VGM7 this year - mainly in the kitchen. Specifically, he decimated the lasagne, destroyed the sausage ziti, tore the ham a new one, and showed the Texas beans who was boss. Not to be out-done by Dean, Jon also made a substantial dent in the beer supply. When asked if his food-eating prowess would translate in video game success, Jon looked over with that patented blank stare and mumbled, "You have games here?"

Jacob
Total Points: 0
Jacob's chances of making the playoffs would have increased substantially had he not arrived as they were in progress. Still, his prescence was welcome, considering he was the very first Video Game Mania Champion, way back in the year 2000. Actually, he would not have been available to participate anyway. S, since his big win, he took out a multi-million dollar insurance policy on his right thumb. Under its strict terms and conditions, he is not permitted to use the thumb for anything. He actually had to hire a guy to remain with him at all times as a "thumb double", just in case he ever needs to hitchhike, or give a "thumbs up" for any reason at all. Furthermore, his thumb is permanently sealed in an inflated, cryogenically-controller plastic bubble, which makes it difficult for Jacob to drive. It sounds like a huge hassle, but when you consider the slight wrist sprains and minor cramps associated with playing video games, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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