Video Game Mania 6: The Games

In the days before the tournament, I announced that VGM6 would have a theme: "Snow and Ice". Inspired by the Winter Olympic Games, I wanted to incorporate as many winter sports as possible, especially for the head-to-head games.

Video Game Mania consists of two types of events: Multi-player and single-player. Multi-player games are chosen at random and played in single-elimination tournaments. Single-player games are selected and set up beforehand, available for all to play as many times as they want, beginning at noon. Most of the games were suggested by the players in the days leading up to VGM6. At exactly 4:30, single-player game winners are awarded points for each first place (3 points) and second place finish (1 point). The players with the eight highest point totals were seeded for the all-important playoff round.


The Single-player Games

Bruce Lee (Atari XE, 1984)
It never ceases to amaze me how many gamers are familiar with this excellent oldie. Apparently anyone who owned an Atari or Commodore computer in the early-80's has experienced the joy of playing this butt-kicking platformer. Besides jumping around and collecting lanterns, you had to contend with a black ninja and a fat dude called the "Green Yamo". Bruce is equipped with jump-kicks, punches, and a duck move. The game starts out easy, but once you enter the underground areas, precise timing is required.
1st place: Scott 50,700 2nd place: Tuan 41,125


Berzerk (Atari 2600, 1982)
You can't go wrong with Berzerk, and setting the game to the highest difficulty (variation 6) meant the action was intense. The shoot-the-robots-and-escape gameplay is simple enough, but should you hang out in any room for too long, that bouncy smiley-face Evil Otto will chase your raggedy ass out of there.
1st place: Steve N 9,000 2nd place: Matt 7,750


River Raid (Colecovision, 1984)
I had numerous requests for River Raid, but I knew for a fact that several of the contestants would breeze through the Atari 2600 version. So I threw a curve and went with this slick Colecovision edition, which features more detailed graphics and more challenging gameplay. The players had to begin on level 4. I hooked up a Super Action Controller, which is a ridiculous-looking contraption, but far more comfortable than the standard Colecovision controller.
1st place: Mike F 24,130 2nd place: Steve N 19,700


1943 (NES, 1988)
Who can resist an old-fashioned NES shooter? In this vertical airplane shooter, you can acquire various power-ups and detonate special weapons to inflict widespread damage. Fun and easy to play, you don't have to be familiar with this one to enjoy it.
1st place: Shawn P 180,700 2nd place: Tuan 130,100


Gaiares (Genesis, 1990)
This was one of the first shooters I bought for my Genesis, and it's a good one. A side-scrolling space shooter with crazy firepower, constantly-changing stages, and a killer soundtrack, what's not to like? For this one I used the Game Genie to prevent continues and limit the number of ships to three. Unfortunately, I could not locate a composite cable for my Genesis, and the RF cable was not providing a clear picture much of the time. I found myself fidgeting with it all day. It just goes to show - no matter how much preparation you make for an event like VGM, something will always go wrong.
1st place: Mike B 53,155 2nd place: Steve S 44,890


Mr. Do (Super Nintendo, 1995)
The week before VGM6, I had my buddy George come over to review and test out all of the games I had planned (George could not attend the actual tournament). He helped me weed out some problematic titles, and then suggested Mr. Do as an easy, arcade-style maze game. It turned out to be a really good call. Mr. Do plays a lot like Dig Dug, but with extra elements including a magic ball you can launch at enemies. Dig Dug has always been a favorite of many of my friends, so this game really hit the spot.
1st place: Steve N 45,450 2nd place: Shawn P 40,150


Skiing (Intellivision, 1980)
In order to support my "snow and ice" theme, I needed a solid skiing game, and you really can't get much better than Skiing for the Intellivision. The game is easy to play, but requires real skill to navigate the gates and jump over the moguls. On the downside, it required some elaborate instructions to begin each game: Press reset, press on the directional pad, enter 1 for player, 4 for slope, and 1 for course. I was concerned about that, but it turned out to be no problem at all.
1st place: Eric R 67.0 2nd place: Bobby 72.0


K.C. Munchkin (Odyssey 2, 1981)
I used this excellent Pac-Man clone in a VGM a few years back, but it's so much fun that I decided to bring it back. In this one, the dots actually move around the maze, and you only get ONE life. K.C. Munchkin is one of those madly addicting games that keeps you coming back "just one more time". Tuan was completely obsessed with this game, playing (and cursing at it) for a good chunk of the afternoon!
1st place: Eric R 584 2nd place: Tuan 449


Solar Quest (Vectrex, 1982)
The Vectrex is an amazing system. Despite being over 20 years old, whenever you show its unqiue vector display to anyone, people are like "wow!". Solar Quest looks a lot like Asteroids, but after you blast ships, you can pick up their floating "pilots" for bonus points. As usual, Bobby took a keen interest in this Vectrex game and dominated.

1st place: Bobby 73,500 2nd place: Mike F 55,250


Centipede (Arcade 1980)
As usual, Mike F took first in this addictive bug shooter. Having won this game in three straight tournaments, it's quite possible he could be banned from this game next time around!
1st place: Mike F 32,000 2nd place: Eric R 28,900


Tapper (Arcade 1983)
I knew Steve N and Scott would dominate in this arcade game, so they were banned from participating. This allowed some "new blood" to step up and demonstrate their beer-serving abilities.
1st place: Shawn N 19,200 2nd place: Matt 8,600


Crystal Castles (Arcade 1983)
I always loved this game, but it seems like most of my friends can't make heads or tails out of it. What's so complicated? Shawn N stepped up big time to win this one in a convincing manner.
1st place: Shawn N 73,500 2nd place: Scott 57,000


The Head-to-Head Games

Torino 2006 (Playstation 2, 2006)
Perfectly coinciding with the Winter Games, I had groups of four people go for best time in the Alpine Skiing event. Actually, Torino 2006 offers several events, but I needed to keep things short, and besides, the skiing event was easiest to learn. Although the controls allowed you to perform tight turns and tucks, I advised players to simply try to stay on the course, since running into a fence meant instant disqualification. Typically the guy who reaches the finish line is the winner.
First RoundFinalsWinner
Shawn P
Eric S
Steve N
Eric R
Steve N
* Steve N *
Bobby S
Steve S
Matt H
Tuan T
Bobby S


Sled Storm (Playstation, 1999)
I remember having a blast playing this game with a four-player split screen many years ago, and it turned out to be an ideal choice for VGM6. There's no turbo button (everybody was asking about that) - this is just a straightforward snowmobile racer.

First RoundFinalsWinner
Bobby S
Mike F
Scott Z
Tuan T
Scott Z (2)
* Steve N *
Steve N
Mike B
Keith M
Matt H
Steve N
Eric R
Steve S
Shawn P
Eric S
Eric R

Castle Crisis (Atari XEGS, 2004)
Atari 2600 Warlords was featured in many past VGMs, since it's easy to play and offers four-player head-to-head action. Castle Crisis was a good substitute, with the same basic gameplay but more advanced graphics and multiple fireballs. As with Warlords, it's tough to win because everyone gangs up on the player who's ahead. The winner was the first to reach three victories.
First RoundFinalsWinner
Scott Z
Mike F
Keith M
Eric S
Mike F
* Mike F *
Shawn N
Mike B
Eric R
Shawn P
Eric R
Joe K
Bobby S
Steve N
Steve S
Steve N (2)

Darkwatch (Xbox, 2005)
I knew a lot of first-person shooter fans would be in attendance, and since Darkwatch has a four-player split screen and snow levels, it was a perfect match. The four-player action was awesome. Although the environment was huge, the players found each other easily, sometimes riding around in vehicles. When it came down to the one-on-one final however, I ran into a problem: the players couldn't find each other! This was mainly due to the inexplicable lack of a radar display (which WAS available in the four-player game). I didn't know how I was going to handle this annoying problem, but then Eric gunned down Mike just as the clock ran out, bailing me out.

First RoundFinalsWinner
Steve S
Scott Z
Steve N
Eric R
Eric R
* Eric R *
Joe K
Mike B
Mike F
Shawn N
Mike F

NHL 06 (Playstation 2, 2005)
At VGM5, one of the more exciting competitions was the two-on-two NHL 2000 event. I decided to repeat that action this year, only using the latest NHL game instead. It worked out pretty well, but seemed less exciting than last year. I think the new hockey games lack the fun factor of some of the oldies. Also, the game locked up during one game with five minutes left, abrupting ending the contest.

First RoundFinalsWinnering Team
Tuan T / Bobby S
Steve N / Mike B
Steve N / Mike B
Keith M / Matt H

* Steve N and Mike B *
Joe K / Shawn N
Keith M / Matt H

FIFA International Soccer (3DO, 1995)
I always thought this game was terrific - one of the best titles for the 3DO. I was going to make this a 2-on-2 team contest, but then I remembered that this game supports up to SIX players. So I decided to have an unprecedented THREE-ON-THREE competition! It worked great! The early rounds were pretty sloppy as the players got acquainted with the controls (Matt scored a goal for the other team), but the finals were a real thrill. You can probably expect to see this event return for subsequent tournaments.

First RoundFinalsWinning Team
Steve N, Shawn P
and Mike B
VS.
Mike F, Steve S
and Eric R
Steve N, Shawn P
and Mike B
VS.
Bobby S, Scott Z
and Shawn N

* Bobby , Scott ,
and Shawn N *
Bobby S, Scott Z,
and Shawn N
VS.
Keith M, Matt H,
and Eric S

Soul Calibur (Dreamcast, 1999)
No video game tournament would be complete without the obligatory one-on-one fighter, and I managed to squeeze this one in just as the clock was counting down to 4:30. I thought Steve S had this one in his back pocket, but he was dealt a devastating blow in the finals by Eric R. Players were allowed to select whatever character they wanted, and Eric triumphed with the hulking Nightmare.
First RoundSecond RoundFinalsWinner
Keith M
Scott Z
Scott Z Steve S
* Eric R *
Steve S
Mike F
Steve S
Bobby S
Eric R
Eric R Eric R
Tuan T
Shawn N
Shawn N


Point Totals

These totals were used to seed the playoff round.

1. Steve N - 18
2. Eric R - 13
3. Mike F - 11
4. Shawn N - 9
5. Scott - 8
6. Bobby - 8
7. Mike B - 6
8. Shawn P - 5
9. Matt - 3
10. Tuan - 3
11. Steve S - 2
12. Keith - 1
13. Eric S - 0
14. Joe - 0

Note: In case of tie, head-to-head game points take precedence. If still a tie, order of appearance determines rank.


The Playoffs and Finals


Pong: The Next Level (Playstation, 1999)

Normally I use three games for the playoffs - one for each round. However, this year I came up with a game so perfect I decided to use it for the entire thing. Pong: The Next Level is a terrific remake that came out for the Playstation in the last 90's. The best stages are the ice stages - perfectly matching the VGM6 theme. Plus, the straight-forward gameplay meant that no player would have an unfair advantage. Using the analog thumbsticks, both players deflected snowballs at each other while penguins in the center added more balls. A seal functioned as a "power-up", helping you keep the balls in. I was planning on using all three variations of this stage, but wouldn't you know it - I couldn't find my memory card! Consequentally, we had to play the same variation for all three rounds, which was kind of lame. Still, the game served its purpose, and the winning players really had to work for their trophies.

Quarter Finals Semi Finals Finals Semi Finals Quarter Finals

1. Steve N

8. Shawn P

5. Scott

3. Mike F

2. Eric R

2. Eric R

8. Shawn P

7. Mike B

4. Shawn N

5. Scott

3. Mike F

3. Mike F

5. Scott

6. Bobby

VIDEO GAME MANIA 6 CHAMPION: MIKE FLEMING


SECOND PLACE: SCOTT ZIMMERMAN


THIRD PLACE: SHAWN PETERSON


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