This makes me a sad panda.
Luckily there are ways of preserving these games so our children may one day be able to mock us for playing such crap.
Here’s a sampling of arcade marquees I’ve preserved. Most are up for sale, if you want them. Just let me know.
“I wish I was a bigger nerd, then I could rule a bigger part of the world”. – Steve
Hello, my name is Jeff and I’m a nerd. Lets face it: We’re all nerds. I build computers in order to play PC games. I research the latest and greatest PC hardware, read games related magazines and web sites, all in order to spend countless hours in front of my monitor playing games. And you, you are reading my blog, which makes you partially guilty by association right there, nerd.
Now now now, don’t get yourself all worked up. Come on, dry those eyes. Being a nerd isn’t such a bad thing these days. I speak in general, of course. There are varying degrees of nerd-ism and the depths of social retardation know no limits but many successful nerds have paved the way for the rest of us to relax a little bit whenever we walk past a frat house or a locker hall. For a pinnacle of nerdy financial success we can look to Bill Gates. He’s like king of the nerds. Seth Green, actor and co-creator of Robot Chicken is like nerd chic, not quite as rich and powerful but much more well liked. Everybody knows George Lucas is a huge nerd, even though he has fallen from grace in most nerds’ eyes (this nerd included). Even Vin Diesel sports solid nerd cred as he tattooed his favorite D&D character’s name “Melkor”, a half-Drow witch hunter, across his stomach. Now who in their right mind would give Vin Frigging Diesel a wedgie and try to jam him into a locker?
And then there are the rest of us, the daily rank and file nerds. We may not have tattooed our character’s names on our bodies, speak Klingon, or even know how to code, but we all have our nerdy moments. Some more than others.
My sister and I were in a “nerd shop” (this term applies loosely to any store carrying comic books, video games, or RPG materials), when we overheard a conversation between a store employee and a local patron. The conversation was regarding another nerd who took part in the store’s weekly Warhammer games competition (a tabletop miniatures strategy game) but had somehow upset this local patron (I’m going to call him Mr. Pit-Stains). Mr. Pit-Stains was expressing his disdain for this nerd, relating his odd gaming behaviors and his lack of nerdiquette citing his sole purpose of playing Warhammer was just to win. It was clear this nerd didn’t really care about the core of the game or any back story. Exasperated Mr. Pit-Stains exclaimed: “He doesn’t even paint his miniatures!” My sister and I glanced at each other, snickered a little, left the store, and laughed all the way home.
“Painting your miniatures” has become the unofficial identifying slogan for nerds who keep it real, even if you don’t actually own any pewter ghosts or goblins. Bill, Seth, George and Vin have all painted their miniatures, metaphorically and literally. Do you? Now bringing your D&D books or Magic the Gathering cards to your school or public library is a bit much, also begging for a butt kicking even from lesser nerds, but still, those who do wave their nerd banner proudly. Despite the fact that social camouflage is a skill most wise nerds take at their first level some still struggle with it, or just don’t care. Those of us who have learned the value of staying off radar would never judge a fellow nerd for keeping their head down.
I’m talking about realizing you are a nerd, accepting it, and embracing it. You shouldn’t be ashamed of being a nerd if you enjoy it. The nerdy arts, once on the fringe, are more mainstream now than you may think. Look at the popularity of video games. Atari was big in the 80s, then Nintendo was a little bigger, but still very nerdy. Then came the Playstation and console games were becoming more sophisticated, like PC games were but not quite as nerdy (fewer buttons, less thinking). Now the current generation of video games is undeniably the most popular era ever with development costs sometimes in the millions. How about movies? Lord of the Rings, anyone? They tried very hard to make those movies appeal to a larger audience removing many preciously nerdy parts from the books and still ended up with a beautifully nerdy movie that everybody and their dog went to see. Of course hard core nerds will scoff at the unwashed masses who now jump on board the S.S.J.R.R. Tolkien with inaccuracies between the movies and the books, but the point is now everyone knows what a Hobbit is.
In the interest of brotherhood and nerd solidarity I will now come out of my nerd closet on this blog:
My name is Jeff and I am a nerd. I have thousands of video games (probably close to 25,000 including all emulated titles, sometimes you just need to play Donkey Kong in Japanese). I have a large collection of D&D 3.5 books and a few old school AD&D manuals, and I still run a semi-regular weekly gaming night where I usually am the Dungeon Master. I recently bought about 15 Warhammer books from the nearby Borders Book Store when it went out of business. I still have my Darth Vader case full of original Star Wars figures that I will someday give to my kids… someday. I recently went to a used bookstore hunting for a copy of the Lord of the Rings books released prior to the movies just so I could enjoy it in its purest form, without a picture of Legolas on the cover. I love games. Not Monopoly or Clue. I’m talking Munchkin, Guillotine, Fluxx, Gloom, Settlers of Catan, Zombies. I have tons of Magic the Gathering cards, Star Wars cards, X-Files cards, Buffy the Vampire Slayer cards, etc. One of my favorite movies of all time is King of Kong, a Fist Full of Quarters doccumenting the struggle between the two Donkey Kong world champions fighting each other for the ultimate high score. I love 80s thrash metal and have struggled with the fact that no matter what I think, its still nerdy, VERY nerdy. I have tons of painted, unpainted and pre-painted miniatures and some day I will paint again. One of my biggest regrets in life is when I sold most of my comic book collection (3 1/2 long boxes full) to a store for 125$. It was a time of desperation but I will always regret that decision.
and all the sports, bungee jumping and surfing I enjoy won’t change the fact that I am a nerd at my core and always will be.
If someone were to ask you what is the greatest arcade game ever, you might be tempted to say:
Street Fighter 2,
Vs. Super Mario Bros,
or even Star Wars.
You’d be wrong.
The correct answer is Black Tiger.
Black Tiger is a 2D side scrolling fantasy themed game from Capcom. Two things set it apart from other games, first: I had access to it. And second: the player was able to purchase gear with in-game currency, rewarded for killing bad guys and exploration, allowing you to better slay your enemies and continue exploring. This added an interesting cost / efficiency strategy to a visually (at the time) stunning game. If you believed you were very skilled at the game, you wouldn’t need to buy a slightly better weapon incrementally but save up your money until later, allowing you the privilege of buying the best weapon (a huge ball of fire on a chain that shoots swords! Actually all the other weapons also shot swords but that just adds to the aweseomness of Black Tiger) in the game 1 or 2 levels before you were expected, thereby making it easier to do-in more evil doers. The 7-11 near my house had this one for about a year and I found myself the local expert on the machine owning the top 5 high scores. yea, I know, oooooowww!.
and then one day, it was gone. Just like that. No word, no warning. Just gone. Replaced by an inferior game. Which I probably played the crap out of as well but I’m getting off topic.
Fast forward many many years later, having obtained my first personal dial up internet connection in 2000 (courtesy of Blue Light from Kmart of all places) I was all set to explore the depths of knowledge hidden away within the interwebs. I enjoyed typing anything I could think of into search engines and being overwhelmed by vast amounts of sites hosting information on any given topic bouncing around inside my head. I was reminiscing about Black Tiger and I wanted to see what information about this game existed. I stumbled upon something called M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) and gave it a shot. Turns out MAME is a free program, community supported, created to enable the playing of classic arcade games on the PC. It emulates various game engines to run on a PC with the correct game ROM for any game out of thousands. I could get the ROM for Black Tiger from any number of generous host sites, download MAME, and relive the greatest arcade game ever. Mind = blown! It was unbelievable! I soon found myself searching sites for other classic games also supported by MAME.
It was about 4am when I forced myself to turn off my PC. But I had to tell Steve! Steve has been my buddy since 3rd grade and if its one thing we loved, its tarding. He would have understood if I called him at 4am with news of my discovery but I thought against it since he might try to come over and keep me up the rest of the night.
The next night, Steve came over and I showed him Black Tiger, exactly as we’d remembered. Mind = blown!
Then we played Star Wars,
then Rushin’ Attack,
then many others. At some point Steve turned to me and said: “You know, when I was a kid, I saw some guy play Tron so well he made it to a tank level with recognizers.”
Naturally I called his story crap. But this led us to play Tron the rest of the night, until the sun came up, seeking for the recognizer level. We didn’t make it to the recognizer lever (we finally did years later)
but we had an amazing time reliving past classics gone, taken from us along with all our local arcade machines. Thank you MAME for bringing them back!
Recently I have discovered Hyperspin, a new, very pretty, user interface for MAME which I am now updating and preparing for the creation of my dedicated MAME arcade machine. Occasionally, I’ll play Tron, Star Wars, or Black Tiger for an hour or two and then play some Just Cause 2 or Left 4 Dead 2. The contrast is startling. But sometimes you just need your classic gaming fix.
Hey! My brother has a games site up. Go check it out!
OK people. This one’s real. We have our first official non-sponsored contest right now. I’m giving away a Steam copy of Darksiders to the first person to post a comment below this entry. Its that easy. Just post a comment. If there are no comments below, you could post first and get a free game. Just do it! Darksiders is a God of War style clone with excellent art design. A must have for any action game junkies. I have played it and its lots of fun. You could be playing it too but you need to follow my instructions.
1. Post below.
2. Win free game.
Its that easy. Just do it already.
Many of you have asked me, what is this “tarding” you keep referring to? So I’m going to tell you. It began many years ago on a N64 in my parents living room.
One of my good friends, oh lets just call him Steve, and I were playing 007 on the N64. That was THE game on the N64 and that’s why I bought one with the little money I had. On this beautiful Saturday, Steve and I began our 007 around 10am. I believe we took a break for some Taco Bell, as usual, but around 10pm I came to the conclusion that we had wasted our entire day indoors, playing 007. We had a lot of fun, virtually, but the real world had slipped us by. What-ifs, and should-ofs flooded my mind as I contemplated why we sat there all day, and wasted a Southern California Saturday in front of my TV when we could have been outside pursuing other less-nerdy interests; Riding bikes, going to the beach, heading downtown, and in all of these pursuits was the possibility of meeting girls, something that cannot be obtained through a 12 hour marathon of 007.
As I sat there feeling sorry I’d lost a complete Saturday I turned to Steve, who was in the middle of a mission, and said:
“Dude, we suck. We stayed indoors all day playing video games.”
“We’re retarded! Complete social tards!”
“Yeah! We’re tards!” Steve said without even blinking.
And that is how “tarding” was born. Conceived out of an understanding that the outside world with its people, places and fun activities are all nice, but we’d rather just stay indoors and play video games. That’s tarding.
Over time “tarding” has morphed to illustrate varying degrees of social retardation.
Tarding – playing video games when you could be engaged in socially appropriate behavior.
True tarding – tarding during daylight hours.
Tinkerbell tarding – ending your tard session before midnight (usually at the scorn of your buddy who doesn’t have to work the next morning).
Tarding hard – tarding past midnight.
Tarding too hard – tarding til the sun comes up the next morning.
Tardageddon – A LAN party. We lost count but I think we are on Tardageddon XI now.
Tard parties – See Tardageddon.
So the next time your friends invite you to spend a day outside at the beach or otherwise engaging in healthy social interactions, just tell them “no thank you. I’d rather be tarding.”