Video Game Mania 9: The Games

Selecting games for VGM is never an easy task. You don't want to include anything that's too complicated or time-consuming to set up. You don't want any games that will give certain people an unfair advantage. An even distribution of old-school and new-school titles is a requirement. And finally, you want to avoid games from the previous VGM.

The games are divided into two categories. The single-player games start at 12 noon and people can play them freely, writing down their best score. At four o'clock the points are tallied with first place getting 3 points, 2 for second, and 1 point for third place. The multi-player games are head-to-head contests orchestrated by me. First place nets you 4 points and you get 2 points for second.


Single-player Action

Silent Scope (Xbox)
Arcade/Story Mode
I had one large (27") TV reserved for a single-player game and decided to put a light gun game on it. Silent Scope is an old favorite of mine (especially on the Dreamcast) and the Xbox version came with a big ole' green "light rifle". It had a mechanism to zoom in on distant targets. The game was set up in an out-of-the-way spot that a lot of people didn't even notice at first. The Xbox I used was a backup I had taken out of storage, and it was apparently on its last legs, running loud and occasionally freezing up.

1st Place

Nick 22,000
2nd Place

Hawk 17,900
3rd Place

Scott 11,700


Galaga (Playstation)
Namco Museum Volume 3 (emulated arcade version)
I wanted to include at least one game that everybody was comfortable with, and Galaga fit the bill. I put it out in front where everyone would see it and get psyched up. Although it ran off a Playstation One, this version is pretty much arcade-perfect. There were some impressive scores rung up, but Eric really blew the lid off of this one.

1st Place

Eric 99,060
2nd Place

Steve 86,350
3rd Place

Hawk 76,900


Ninja Gaiden III (NES)
Continues permitted (but your score is reset)
I recognized early that the bulk of the games in VGM9 were going to be shooters, so I made a concerted effort to incorporate at least one platform game. The Ninja Gaiden series is terrific on the NES, but the third one is the only one that clearly displays your score when the game is over. It's also pretty tough so there was no danger of having somebody sitting there playing it for hours on end. Nick took an early lead in this one, and his score was never really in jeopardy.

1st Place

Nick 195,9000
2nd Place

Brent 78,700
3rd Place

Steve 77,100


Atlantis (Intellivision)
Medium Skill Level
I wanted to make sure the old-school was sufficiently represented and Atlantis is one of the more impressive titles for the Intellivision. The players found the controllers to be somewhat cramp-inducing, affectionately referring to the game as "thumb-killer". Crippling controls combined with the flashing visuals led to several players began exhibiting symptoms of Carpalepsy. There's a price to be paid to be a VGM champ!

1st Place

Brent 2,400
2nd Place

Steve 2,360
3rd Place

Scott 1,330

Note: Hawk ranked in with a paltry 420, noting "Are we all playing the same game?!"


Sega Rally (Saturn)
Time Attack/Desert Course/3 Laps
As the obligatory racing game, Sega Rally was a big hit. It challenged players to shave split-seconds off their best time by employing power slides on muddy tracks. This was one of the more popular games despite Scott's deriding statements about the Saturn.

1st Place

Brent 2:51:27
2nd Place

Hawk 2:52:48
3rd Place

Levi 2:53:53


Thunder Force III (Genesis)
The Genesis deserved some representation, and Thunder Force 3 is probably the best shooter for the system. Steve asserted his dominance early, and his high score was never really in jeopardy.

1st Place

Steve 95,280
2nd Place

Hawk 36,980
3rd Place

Brent 14,150


Bedlam (Vectrex)
People are forever fascinated with the Vectrex system. This self-contained system is from 1983 but its sharp, high-resolution graphics look perfectly at home in 2013. Brent was absolutely obsessed with this game, but despite his steady improvement he was unable to crack the top three.

1st Place

Hawk 27,150
2nd Place

Nick 20,950
3rd Place

Scott 16,875


Geometry Wars (Xbox 360)
Geometry Wars is like Asteroids to the Nth degree, delivering non-stop excitement in a virtual fireworks display. Unfortunately the game was only available for half the tournament since I needed the plasma TV to run many of the multiplayer games. Everyone who played this admitted it was awesome.

1st Place

Steve 97,974
2nd Place

Hawk 96,950
3rd Place

Nick 80,025


Stampede (Atari 2600)
This was really a "bonus" game only available during the second half of the tournament. As I transitioned the multiplayer action from my 27" Toshiba to the 50" plasma, it left an open TV for some old school fun. Stampede was a perfect fit because it's short, sweet, and addictive.

1st Place

Steve 2,772
2nd Place

George 2,461
3rd Place

Matt 1,364


Millipede (Arcade 1982)
This game was furiously competitive with plenty of back-and-forth action between Steve and Chris.

1st Place

Steve 55,511
2nd Place

Chris 40,556
3rd Place

Scott 17,399



Centipede (Arcade 1980)
Eric was pretty much obsessed with this game, so it's no surprise he edged Steve out for first place.

1st Place

Eric 34,163
2nd Place

Steve 31,860
3rd Place

Chris 27,469



Tapper (Arcade 1983)
Apparently some people didn't realize these arcade games were part of the competition at first. This led to a competitive spurt as 4PM quickly approached. Chris was one of the last people to play Tapper and he snagged the high score.

1st Place

Chris 22,925
2nd Place

Brent 16,750
3rd Place

Eric 14,925



Crystal Castles (Arcade 1983)
This may have been the least popular game of the tournament. Could it be because it stars a bear who prances around in a red sash and collects fabulous jewels? Crystal Castles served as easy points for Eric who snared the top spot in the waning minutes of the tournament.

1st Place

Eric 52,165
2nd Place

Scott 24,526
3rd Place

Hawk 29,467



Multi-Player Action

VGM9 got off to an inauspicious with Smithereens for the Odyssey 2. The game is great fun but was plagued with technical difficulties. Possibly due to issues with the electricity (I blew a fuse just setting everything up), the game behaved erratically and locked up after every few minutes. Sadly, we had to cut our losses and move on to the next game.


War (Astrocade 2012)
Everybody thinks Warlords (Atari 2600) is the best game ever, and they're probably right. However, I used it in too many VGMs of the past. War was the perfect replacement as it delivers the same cut-throat gameplay with a few nifty embellishments. We encountered some problems with jittery controls (due to the electricity), but the contests were still wild and fun.

1st Place

George
2nd Place

Hawk


Virtual Athlete (Dreamcast 2000)
I felt obligated to work the Dreamcast into the mix, and recalled this game being a big hit at one of the previous VGMs (way back in the day). The "quick competition" option worked perfectly, displaying simple instructions prior to each event. There are plenty of opportunities for hilarity, like when the high jump athlete misses the mat or when the javelin thrower puts the javelin through his big toe.

1st Place

Scott
2nd Place

George


Street Fighter IV (Xbox 360, 2009)
No video game tournament is complete without at least one head-to-head fighter, and Street Fighter IV is one of the best around ever. I made sure my special Street Fighter IV control pads were hooked up in order to even the playing field. Levi was a force to be reckoned with, but Chris was the clear favorite. Nick probably scored the most improbable upset of the tournament when he came out on top.

1st Place

Nick
2nd Place

Chris


Mario Kart Wii (Wii 2008)
A Mario game is a good way to lighten the mood, and Mario Kart is a franchise that's universally loved. I love how when one person would stand up while playing, the other people would stand as well, as it was providing an unfair advantage.

1st Place

Scott
2nd Place

Hawk


Halo Reach (Xbox 360, 2010)
I originally chose Halo 4 as the obligatory first-person shooter, but balked when I realized how confusing it was to set up the multi-player split-screen. Halo Reach wasn't much easier, but all's well that ends well. There was actually a tie with the second group of players, forcing a nail-biting, three-way finale between Hawk, Chris, and Scott.

1st Place

Hawk
2nd Place

Chris


Multiplayer games planned but cancelled due to time constraints:
Twisted Metal (PS3), Asteroids (Atari 7800)

Multiplayer games seriously considered but not selected:
FIFA (3DO), NBA Jam (SNES), Blades of Steel (NES), Football aka "Trashcan Football" (Atari 2600), X-Men: Children of the Atom (Saturn), Fruit Ninja (Xbox 360), Dance Central 2 (Xbox 360), Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 (Xbox 360), Goldeneye (Nintendo 64), Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (Xbox 360), ATV Fury (Soccer mode) (Playstation 2)

Point Totals

These totals were used to seed the playoff round.

Blue=multi-player
Red=single player

1. Steve - 22 (0 blue, 22 red)
2. Hawk - 20 (8 blue, 12 red)
3. Scott - 13 (5 blue, 8 red)
4. Nick - 13 (4 blue, 9 red)
5. Brent - 11 (0 blue, 11 red)
6. Chris - 10 (4 blue, 6 red)
7. Eric - 9 (0 blue, 9 red)
8. George - 8 (6 blue, 2 red)
9. Levi - 1 (red)
10. Matt - 1 (red)
11. Keight - 0
12. Mike - 0


The Playoffs


Indy 500 (Atari 2600, 1978)

Originally I had planned to have three separate games for each round of the playoffs. However, it became clear that it would be a logistical nightmare, and I didn't want any delays during the exciting playoff rounds. Indy 500 was a perfect fit because it has multiple tracks. I could give the players something different with each round, but still let them build on their previous races. Also, the controls are about as simple as they get: just accelerate and steer.

I was expecting a lot of back-and-forth battles, but that was not the case. For the most part, when one person got a lead, they were usually able to stretch it out. I noticed that the person who was losing was more likely to take chances and crash into the barriers. Still, the races were fun to watch and a fair way to determine champion of the universe.

Quarter Finals Semi Finals Finals Semi Finals Quarter Finals

1. Steve

8. George

8. George

3. Scott

7. Eric

2. Hawk

8. George

7. Eric

4. Nick

5. Brent

3. Scott

3. Scott

5. Brent

6. Chris


Video Game Mania 9 Champion of the Universe: SCOTT
Second Place: GEORGE
Third Place: ERIC


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