Video Game Mania 7: The Games

This year I kept the game list a complete secret, despite being bribed thousands of dollars to reveal it. As usual, I wanted a good mix of new and old school games. They needed to be easy to learn, but hard enough that people wouldn't be sitting there playing the same one for hours on end. Also, they needed to display a score at the end so the player could record it. Finding games that meet this criteria isn't as easy as you might think. I also deliberately avoided certain games that I knew some of the guys were particularly good at. That explains why Strawberry Shortcake Musical Matchups was not included (sorry Marc)!

Video Game Mania consists of two types of events that run in parallel: multi-player and single-player. A first-place finish in any game earns three points, with a second-place finish earning one point. I keep track of the point on a "leadboard" in the center of the room. Multi-player games are single-elimination tournaments run by me. Single-player games are set up around the room and available for all to play as many times as they want, starting at noon. At exactly 4:15PM, the high scores for the single-player games are added in, and the top eight players are seeded for the all-important playoff round.


The Single-player Games

Marine Fishing (Dreamcast, 2000)
These fishing games always go over big. I just set the thing up in "free fishing" mode and simply challenge the players to catch the biggest fish. Steve S has a real knack for this game, pulling in a 126-pound swordfish right off the bat. After being edged out by Scott, he went right back to work and immediately pulled in a 253-pound monster. That proved insurmountable.

1st place: Steve S 253 lbs 2nd place: Scott Z 155 lbs


Ghosts 'N Goblins (NES, 1986)
I wanted at least one classic side-scroller for VGM7, and I knew the high difficulty of Ghosts 'N Goblins would give the guys fits. Several players racked up impressive scores, but in the end Eric and Steve stood head and shoulders above the rest.

1st place: Eric R 82,700 2nd place: Steve S 75,500


Spiderman (Atari 2600, 1983)
This game was actually a last-minute substitute. I really wanted to use Tutankham for the Colecovision, but my Colecovision console was giving me trouble. Since the new Spiderman movie is out, I figured the timing was pretty good for this one. Despite being an Atari 2600 game, Spiderman befuddled the hell out of most who attempted it. Steve N must have owned this cartridge as a kid, because he absolutely mopped up the competition. George came in with a well-deserved second place as one of the few people to actually manage to get the hang of this.

1st place: Steve N 2820 2nd place: George 510


Choplifter (Atari 7800, 1987)
The inclusion of this game was largely due to a no-show by the name of Matt Hoffman, who always bugged me about including the Atari 7800 in the festivities. Indeed, this was the first appearance of this system at a VGM. There are better titles for the 7800, but most allow the player to fiddle around with difficulty settings, which I wanted to avoid. Chopterlifter has one setting: HARD AS ALL HELL. A lot of players wrestled with this one, making it one of the more competitive titles.

1st place: Eric S 64 2nd place: Eric R 56


Dead Moon (Turbografx-16, 1991)
Every VGM needs at least one old-school shooter, and Dead Moon for the Turbografx-16 really kicks ass. With great graphics (parallax scrolling!), simple controls, and crazy firepower, you can't go wrong with this one. Jonathan dominated early on, but several players achieved impressive scores in an attempt to snag second place.

1st place: Jonathan 594,200 2nd place: George 141,600


Pole Position (Arcade/Playstation 2, 1982)
When it comes to racers, it doesn't get any more "classic" than the original Pole Position. I ran this arcade-perfect version off my Namco Museum disk on a Playstation 2. Both Mike's finished way ahead of the field, and Mike F was broken-hearted (reported heard crying in the bathroom) when Mike Bl edged him out by a mere 290 points.

1st place: Mike B 31,500 2nd place: Mike F 31,210


Paperboy (Super Nintendo, 1991)
This is a really nice version of Paperboy for the Super Nintendo, maintaining the core gameplay of the original while allowing you to toss papers both left and right. A lot of players were very familiar with this game, but Mike B showed them all who was boss.
1st place: Mike B 14,900 2nd place: Eric R 12,200


Donkey Kong (Coleco Portable 2, 1982)
It's convenient to use these little portables for VGM (no TVs required), but most have annoying sound effects that get on your nerves after a while (Pac-Man comes to mind). Donkey Kong isn't one of the better Coleco portables (it's probably the worst), but it's relatively quiet and hard as hell.

1st place: Mike F 10,800 2nd place: George 8000


Mine Storm (Vectrex, 1982)
With its slick vector graphics display, the Vectrex portable system (circa 1983) has aged like a fine wine. Everybody loves playing this thing and its built-in game Mine Storm, which is very similar to Asteroids. George invested a lot of time in this, but it paid off with an astronomical high score that should remain in my record books for some time.

1st place: George 59,965 2nd place: Jonathan 47,225


Centipede (Arcade 1980)
Mike F's hatred for bugs is nothing new, evident by the fact that he once worked for Orkin Pest Control as a volunteer. When asked about declining bee population, his only concern is that some might survive. Mike ruled Centipede this year, as he usually does. It might be the last time he does for a while though, because next year I will be implementing new rules that bar players from games they win in three consecutive years.

1st place: Mike F 47,900 2nd place: Scott Z 33,341


Tapper (Arcade 1983)
Dean is in the same boat as Mike, having extended his domination of Tapper to three straight tournaments. I don't know why Dean likes this game so much, but there has to be something about the subject matter that he finds appealing.

1st place: Deane 55,400 2nd place: George 31,750


Crystal Castles (Arcade 1983)
Although Scott easily took first place in Crystal Castles, when it came to award the point for second place, no one could figure out who it should go to! Apparently everyone except Scott sucked so bad that they couldn't even get their initials on the high score screen! Hence, the second place point was forever lost, like a tear in the rain...

1st place: Scott Z 57,726 2nd place: Unknown


The Head-to-Head Games

Super Sidekicks 3 (Neo Geo, 1995)
Super Sidekicks 3 on the Neo Geo features non-stop action and impressive sprite graphics that raised a few eyebrows. A two-player only game, I set this one up early while people were still filing in. Eric R strong-armed the competition, but Joe X made quite an impression by coming in second in his very first VGM event.

First RoundSecond RoundFinalsWinner
Steve N
George
Steve N Joe X

* Eric R *
Joe X
Mike F
Joe X
Jonathan
Scott Z
Jonathan Eric R
Eric R
Mike B
Eric R


League Bowling (Neo Geo, 1991)
Perfect for a party, this easy-to-play bowling game lets two people bowl at the same time via a split-screen. In a time-intensive tournament like VGM, I really didn't want people to have to sit around waiting for their turn. I think it's safe to say that everyone was totally shocked when Eric S, a career VGM under-achiever, walked away with first place.

First RoundSecond RoundFinalsWinner
Dean
Keith
Dean Eric S

* Eric S *
Marc
Eric S
Eric S
Eric R
George
George Steve N
Steve N
Steve S
Steve N


Wii Sports Tennis (Wii, 2006)
I'm glad I picked up a Wii the weekend before VGM7, because it was truly the hit of the party. Everyone loved it, and people stuck around long after the festivities were over to play with the Wii. It was easy to predict that Jonathan , wearing a Wii hat, would walk away with first place, with Joe X smartly riding his coat-tails.

First RoundFinalsWinning Team
Eric R & Mike F
Joe X & Jonathan
Joe X & Jonathan
Dean & Steve S

* Joe X & Jonathan *
Dean & Steve S
Steve N & Mike B


Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat (NES, 1992)
Someone on my web site clued me in on this old NES gem a few weeks before VGM7, and I'm glad they did. Indy Heat has old-school written all over it, with a top-down view of a screen-sized track, and simultaneous four-player action. This is the only racer I know where pulling over for a pit-stop isn't a total bore.

First RoundFinalsWinner
Mike F
Scott Z
Eric S
Marc
Scott Z

* Scott Z *
Steve N
Eric R
George
Dean
Eric R


Far Cry Instincts (Xbox 360, 2006)
Every VGM has at least one first-person shooter, and with the weather getting warmer, I thought Far Cry was a good choice. The battlegrounds are set in the jungle, and Jonathan "pulled a Rambo" on everybody to win this event.

First RoundFinalsWinner
Jonathan
Eric R
Mike B
Dean
Jonathan

* Jonathan *
Steve S
Marc
Mike F
Joe X
Joe X


Beach Spikers (GameCube, 2002)
This was the controversial event in which Eric S and Dean were accused of secretly swapping controllers to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents. Dirty or not, their tactics were certainly effective. How did their opponents not notice the monkey business that was going on? Perhaps they were distracted by the shapely chicks on the screen, who would often engage in a tender embrace after a winning point.

First RoundFinalsWinning Team
Eric R & Marc
Eric S & Dean
Eric S & Dean
George & Steve S

* Eric S & Dean *
Steve N & Mike B
George & Steve S


Micro Machines 64 (Nintendo 64, 1999)
The consummate party game, I had been planning to include Micro Machines in a VGM for some time. The game lets players guide toy cars around familiar household environments like a kitchen or pool table. Although available for a number of systems, I went with the Nintendo 64 edition, which in my opinion is the pinnacle of the series. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of picking random tracks, and they turned out to be pretty hard. At one point, all the racers were forced to all cross a narrow yardstick, and they were all falling off. It was ridiculous.

First RoundFinalsWinner
Eric R
Mike F
Joe X
Mike B
Eric R

* Eric R *
Steve N
Jonathan
George
Steve S
Jonathan


Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo 64, 1997)
Everyone loves a kart racer, and Diddy Kong Racing delivered the brand of simple arcade racing action I was looking for. Jonathan continued to be unstoppable at Nintendo-related games.

First RoundFinalsWinner
George
Eric S
Joe X
Dean
George

* Jonathan *
Steve S
Jonathan
Mike F
Mike B
Jonathan


Video Olympics (Atari 2600, 1977)
Getting back to the basics, some serious competition was on display at the Video Olympics event. I set up the two-on-two soccer variation, with the ball picking up speed as it hit the paddles. As expected, pandemonium ensued.

First RoundFinalsWinning Team
Marc & Steve N
Joe X & Mike B
Marc & Steve N
Dean & Eric S

* Marc & Steve N *
Dean & Eric S
Mike F & George


Steeplechase (Atari 2600, 1980)
I'm sure this one caught everybody off-guard. This Sears-made Atari cartridge is fairly rare, but I remembered playing it with a few friends a few years back and thinking it was pretty good. The idea is to race your horse to the right side of the screen while jumping barriers of random sizes. I like the fact that four people could play at once, and the races were limited to three minutes. Mike played his "old school card" and smoked the competition.

First RoundFinalsWinner
Jon
Steve S
Dean
Eric R
Steve S

* Mike F *
George
Mike F
Mike B
Eric S
Mike F


Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600, 1977)
I hear a lot of people fondly reminisce about this game, so I kept it handy just in case I had time for one extra multi-player event. Sure enough I did, and the game generated a surprising amount of trash talk. Rarely has such coarse language been used to describe ducks and rabbits.

First RoundSecond RoundFinalsWinner
Marc
Dean
Dean Dean

* Dean *
Mike F
Eric R
Mike F
Jonathan
Steve N
Steve N Steve N
George
Steve S
Steve S


Point Totals

These totals were used to seed the playoff round.

1. Jonthan - 14
2. Dean - 11
3. Eric S - 10
4. Eric R - 10
5. Scott Z - 10 * not present for playoffs
6. Mike F - 10
7. Steve N - 9
8. George - 8
9. Joe X - 7
10. Steve S - 7
11. Mike B - 6
12. Marc - 3
13. Keith - 0
14. Jon - 0
15. Jacob - 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


Rocky (Xbox, 2002)

I have to give myself credit - selecting Rocky as the playoff game was pure genius. I started the loading process as I was seeding for the playoffs, and sure enough, when everybody heard the Rocky theme and saw the inspirational movie montage, they were totally pumped.

Originally I was planning to use Fight Night Round Three (Xbox 360), but its control scheme had a bit of a learning curve, and there's no time for practice during the VGM playoffs. Rocky's control scheme is simple, mapping various punches to different buttons. Not only is the game fairly easy to play, but it's a hell of a lot of fun and the contests are crazy intense. It may be a few years old, but Rocky's graphics look great, with fighters that get really banged up and even bleed!

I need to thank my buddy Eric V. in Louisville for suggesting a few rules that really helped build drama. Rocky contains all of the fighters ever to appear in the Rocky films, and in some cases there are multiple versions of some fighters. The first rule was that the higher seed always had the first pick. Next, during the first round, only the "lower-tier" boxers were available. Finally, you could not select the same fighter as your opponent. I did that to avoid the confusion that would result if Rocky 3 was fighting Rocky 4 or something like that.

The matches were absolutely fantastic with everybody standing around cheering while somebody in the back was doing hilarious impressions of Joey ("Get 'em Rock!"). One semi-final contest was particularly brutal, as Jonathan (Clubber Lang) and Eric R (Drago) engaged in a epic, back-and-forth bout. I wish I would have taped that one. Jonathan rode his number one seed to the championship, although George didn't make it easy. To determine third place, Eric R played and defeated Steve N in a consolation game.

Quarter Finals Semi Finals Finals Semi Finals Quarter Finals

1. Jonathan
Jack Reid

1. Jonathan
Clubber Lang

1. Jonathan
Rocky I

7. George
Apollo Creed I

7. George
Apollo Creed I

2. Dean
Joe Czak

8. Joe X
Joe Chang

7. George
Big Chuck Smith

4. Eric R
Dipper Brown

4. Eric R
Ivan Drago

6. Steve N
Clubber Lang

3. Eric S
Dipper Brown

5. Mike F
Big Yank Ball

6. Steve N
Spider Rico

VIDEO GAME MANIA 7 CHAMPION: JONATHAN HAWK


SECOND PLACE: GEORGE COUTROS


THIRD PLACE: ERIC ROBBINS


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