Video Game Xtreme 1:
(in order of appearance)
George C - 4th Place (#1 seed in playoffs)
12 points (9 in head-to-head games, 3 in single-player games)
A self-professed cheap bastard with a heart of gold, George ("G-man") Courtros is an enigma in the world of video games. In 20+ years of gaming, George will attest that every single one of his losses has been attributable to either 1) a faulty controller, 2) a glitch in the game, or 3) poor overall game design. Incredibly, not once was it George's fault. If you're amazed - you should be. The odds of a single person experiencing such a run of bad luck has been calculated to be 7.21 billion to 1. Scientists have been studying this mysterious phenomenon for years and continue to be baffled. Despite his obvious disadvantage, George performed extremely well at VGX1, and he deserved better than 4th place. He finished first in Poy Poy and Gran Turismo 3, and finished second in Super Bomberman, Hydro Thunder, Frogs and Flies, Centipede, Miner 2049er, and Mine Storm. Despite his apparent domination, in the first round of the playoffs he had to pull an amazing come-from-behind victory out of his ass in order to avoid the upset. George knew his days were numbered however when the next game selected was Street Fighter 2. Fighting games not being his strong suit, George fought valiantly but lost due to poor character balance - a blatant design flaw inherent in the game (according to George). Demoralized, he was subsequently defeated by 6th seed David B in the consolation game. Alas, George would once again go home empty-handed.
Steve S (#3 seed in playoffs)
10 points (3 in head-to-head games, 7 in single-player games)
Knowing that Steve's wife keeps him on a very short leash, I went to great lengths to ensure Steve did not attempt to cut out early. I hired two armed guards to watch him around the clock, and as a last resort I was prepared to shoot him in the leg with my rhino-strength tranquilizer gun I recently purchased in Mexico. Thanks to a healthy fear of being shot, Steve stuck around and came ever so close to making the finals. Initially it looked as if it might be a long night for this video game veteran. The first two head-to-head games, Poy Poy and Super Bomberman, were games Steve had suggested, yet he didn't rank in either one. Steve's expertise with the Dreamcast paid off handsomely however, as he finished first in two of the three Dreamcast games featured at VGX: Hydro Thunder and Sega Marine Fishing. In Burnout 2 (Gamecube), Steve scored an incredible 40,406,516 on his very first try, and nobody even came close to beating that. As icing on the cake, Steve added a second-place finish in the Crystal Castles arcade game. This earned him the enviable position of #3 seed in the playoffs, but he squandered it, falling in the very first round to newcomer David B. Adding insult to injury, the game randomly chosen for the second round was Street Fighter 2 - Steve's favorite game of all time!
David B - 3rd Place (#6 seed in playoffs)
5 points (4 in head-to-head games, 1 in single-player games)
VGX marked the first time I met David, who incidentally lives right down the street from me. He even rode over on his bike! Understated at first, David gradually developed a penchant for talking trash. Although David claimed no prior experience with old school games, he exhibited some serious skills, finishing second in Joust, Moon Patrol, Ice Hockey, Poy Poy, and Virtua Tennis. Although he had no first-place finishes, his impressive consistency earned him a #6 seed in the playoffs. After falling to Steve N in the semi-finals, David beat George in the consolation game to earn the third place trophy. David's mouth really kicked into high gear after that, as he continued taunting adversaries Rob Z and Marc Guerassio long after the tournament had ended. When Rob Z ragged on David's performance in Burnout 2, it really set him off. At one point David went so far as to drink beer out of his trophy cup in an open display of disrespect.
LATE UPDATE: David is recovering well after his badly beaten body was discovered on my front lawn the morning after VGX. No suspects or motives have yet been identified, but Rob and Marc have suggested it probably was the work of an Asian street gang.
Mike F - 1st Place (#4 seed in playoffs)
9 points (3 in head-to-head games, 6 in single-player games)
Mike was the Cinderella story of VGX. A low-key competitor, Mike F quietly took first place in Centipede and Moon Patrol before "decimating" (his word) the competition in Joust. Remarkably, Mike did not rank in Miner 2049er (Colecovision), a game he had mastered on the Atari 5200. As the #4 seed in the playoffs, Mike cruised until he reached the finals, when he was forced to face his arch-nemesis Steve N. Mike and Steve had previously faced off at the finals of VGM3 (Video Game Mania 3), with Steve coming out on top in that contest. This time there was added suspense since the deciding game was chosen at random out of a bag. After Steve unwisely exercised his "veto" power on the first pick (Virtua Athlete, Dreamcast), Mike's prayers were answered as he selected Atari 2600 Combat - the very game he had suggested for the tournament. Predictably, Mike's victory in Combat was convincing. Despite taking an early lead, he remained aggressive, lighting up Steve's tank with extreme prejudice. Now that he has ascended the throne as VGX Champion, no one can question the fact that Mike F is now the greatest video game player in the world, if not the entire known universe.
Keith M (#5 seed in playoffs)
6 points (all in head-to-head games)
I'm not sure why, but for some reason I got the impression that Keith liked Halle Berry's new movie Catwoman. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he was raving about it all night. Clearly inspired by the film, Keith won the very first contest of the night, Super Bomberman (SNES), and later he would team up with Rob Z to win the Virtua Tennis contest. These two wins secured him the #5 playoff slot. Unfortunately, the first round saw Keith run into a buzz saw by the name of Mike F. Despite the good showing overall, Keith was clearly agitated by the fact that his beloved Intellivision console was not represented at VGX1. Should this travesty of justice not be addressed in the next tournament, Keith has threatened to not invite me to his Catwoman Mania One party.
Steve N - 2nd Place (#2 seed in playoffs)
11 points (4 in head-to-head games, 7 in single-player games)
Steve "Duke" N had recently accepted a new job in Pennsylvania, and as everyone knows, nothing impresses PA chicks more than a shiny new video game tournament trophy. As usual, Steve put in a strong performance, finishing first in Pitfall, Ice Hockey, and Mine Storm. In addition, he finished second in Burnout 2 and Gran Turismo 3. I should also mention that Steve was "locked out" of the arcade games at VGX, due to the fact that he's always playing them at my house. As the #2 seed in the playoffs, Steve cruised to the finals, until his ill-advised use of his veto power inadvertently gave Mike F the upper hand. Still, second place is nothing to sneeze at, and his trophy will make a nice addition to his collection. And you can bet that in three months when Steve is the biggest man-whore in the history of Pennsylvania, he'll have those trophies to thank.
1 points (single-player game)
Mike didn't make the playoffs, but that's okay because Mike's one goal in life was to beat Steve N at Pitfall on the 2600. This was a grudge match and personal vendetta of the highest magnitude. Both Mike and Steve happen to be Pitfall experts from way back in the day, and both can easily play the game for its full 15-minute duration. The question is, who could grab the most treasure in that period of time? Steve N set the bar high early with an unbelievable score of 85,750. Mike remained undeterred however, and was playing an impressive game until the clock ran out on him just as he reached 82,799. Mike did eventually get the last laugh however when he keyed Steve's car before heading home.
0 points (0 in head-to-head games, 0 in single-player games)
Of all the gamers at VGX, Eric S was certainly one of them. Eric arrived all "bright eyed and bushy tailed" with posse in tow (actually, I'm pretty sure four gamers sufficiently constitute a "gang"). In spite of his positive attitude, Eric's performance was, well, forgettable. At least he didn't let himself get distracted by extraneous things, like "winning" for example. Actually, Eric shouldn't feel so bad. After all, he wasn't the only player to not score any points. Oh wait - that's right he was the only player not to score any points (awkward!). He's got a heart of gold though! Recognizing VGX1 as a "wake up call" of sorts, Eric vowed to embark on a Rocky-like thumb-training regimen in preparation for the next tournament. All I can say is, if Eric shows up for VGX2 like he did for VGX1, he will definitely be there. Note: Most people agree that Eric is a cross between Luke Wilson (Old School) and Matt Stover (Ravens kicker), and Rob Z thinks he's pretty hot.
Eric R (#7 seed in playoffs)
5 points (1 in head-to-head games, 4 in single-player games)
To Eric R, VGX was the culmination of a long career of video gaming that began with the Odyssey 2 (or the "Odyssey 2000", as his fuzzy memory recalls it). Needless to say, when Eric entered the Video Game Xtreme "arena" and laid his eyes on that Odyssey system poised for action, he was so excited he had to run to the bathroom to change his shorts. Eric later proved that he was not a gamer to be trifled with, winning Miner 2049er, and coming in second in Sega Marine Fishing and Virtua Tennis. Ironically, Eric was defeated in the first playoff round on the very system he had once mastered - you guessed it - the Odyssey 2. When asked how he could squander such a golden opportunity, the dejected Eric stated that he is considering going back to his old job of being Conan O'Brien's late night sidekick.
3 points (all single-player)
Deane entered the tournament equipped with one thing every good gamer should have - a built-in excuse! Yes, Deane claimed to have be the victim of a vicious, unprovoked attack by an assassin bug called a "Masked Hunter" the day before. Of course, a little research revealed that this insect is only indigenous to a remote region of Uganda, bringing Deane's integrity into question. As a young child, Deane cut his teeth on the Atari 2600 (actually, it was that cheap Sear knock-off), so he was fairly confident when he saw the 2600 console waiting in the wings at VGX1. Unfortunately, Deane had foolishly misspent his youth practicing "common" games like Asteroids, Space Invaders, and Breakout, unaware that 20 years later none of those games would be featured at VGX1. Deane's one shining moment came when he obtained the high score in the Tapper arcade game, edging out Marc Guerrassio by less than 1000 pts. Alas, it was not enough to carry him into the playoff round. Asked about his future video game ambitions, Deane predicted he would dominate at VGX2, and took comfort in the fact that he "kicked Eric S's ass in points".
Marc G (#8 seed in playoffs)
4 points (3 in head-to-head games, 1 in single-player games)
Marc's primary goal at VGX (and life in general) was to defeat Deane at the Tapper arcade game. Unfortunately, his attempts were in vain, as the best he could do was second place, falling short a mere 850 points. There's no telling how many quarters Marc dropped into that machine during his quest, but it's estimated to be in the hundreds of dollars. Ultimately Marc managed to snag the eighth (and final) seed of the playoffs, thanks to an unlikely game called Frogs and Flies. Although Marc had never played Frogs and Flies before, he exhibited a knack for hopping around and flicking his tongue rapidly - the exact skills required to excel at this old Atari 2600 game. Marc seemed genuinely surprised to make the playoffs, so he wasn't too upset about being eliminated in the first round.
3 points (all head-to-head games)
Video game tournaments and conspiracy theories go hand in hand, so Rob Z (who is NOT gay, no matter what they say) was quick to assign the blame when he failed to make the playoffs, missing out by a single point. Rob alleges that he was intentionally "locked out" of Gran Turismo 3 (PS2), and this conspiracy at the bottom on this injustice extends to the upper reaches of the government. The truth is, Rob was goofing off when the GT3 contest was in session, missing out on his big chance. Rob absorbed the brunt of the trash talk during the tournament, so missing the playoffs was like throwing gasoline on the fire. At one point, Rob because so incensed with David B's non-stop barbs that he stole David's trophy and hid it behind a wall panel. As for VGX2, Rob insists that he will exact his revenge, and not even "The Man" will be able to hold him back this time!
3 points (all single-player games)
The name "S" is hardly synonymous with video games, but John definitely made his presence felt at VGX. John let it be known early in the tournament that he was not morally opposed to Internet porn - as long as it's free. Not that anyone had asked him about it (awkward!). I'll say one thing about John - he looks and acts so much like Will Ferrell that it's uncanny. John spent the bulk of his time at VGX playing Sega Marine Fishing, a Dreamcast game that he actually owns despite inexplicably NOT owning a Dreamcast console. Although John didn't actually catch anything worth mentioning, I did witness him hooking a 258 lb (!) white marlin, which would have easily been the biggest catch of the night. John quietly obtained the high score in Crystal Castles, much to the amazement of those in attendance. With his three points, John only narrowly missed out on the playoffs. Surprisingly, he didn't make much of a showing in Moon Patrol, a game that used to be his favorite back in the day.