8-bit Heroes

Full disclosure: I’m a total video game nerd.  Well, not one of those people who sit in their dark bedroom playing World of Warcraft all day – I don’t have the time or money to do that – but I’m a pretty geeky guy when you get me around any console.  Ever since my family got us kids a NES, I’ve been hooked.  Twenty years and nearly fifteen systems later, I’m still kicking around in virtual lands, but now it is just online with people born in the nineties (shudder).

Everyone knows Mario, Sonic, and Donkey Kong, but did you know that there is one game that unites them all?  If you said Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, I’m going to venture a guess that you live in your mother’s basement.  It has not been rare for popular platform characters to sneak into or headline sport games throughout the history of video gaming.  While most of their appearances simply masked bad mechanics, there have been many other games that have flown just below the radar without the aid of a big name star.

I’ve rolled through so many cartridges and discs it would make my girlfriend leave me.  No seriously, don’t tell her I ever owned a Virtual Boy.  Anyway, going back through my catalog of PC and video games, I’ve discovered some brilliant, and not so brilliant, sports.  One of them is even a completely fictitious game – ahh, the beauty of video games.

SuperDodgeBallSuper Dodge Ball (AKA You’ll Hate It, Then You’ll Love It)

The learning curve on the NES game Super Dodge Ball was slightly ridiculous.  You don’t know how many balls my poor team took to their faces as I tried to master the controls and strategy of this game, but like any cartridge-blowing gamer, I soldiered on.  Soon, I was taking out the USSR and Japan in a battle for global domination.  Honestly, it is a tough game to completely master but once you do, you are rewarded with a high-energy 8-bit experience.  It was recently ported onto the Wii for download, so I say it is worth the 500 points if you put in the work.

ShufflepuckCafeShufflepuck Cafe (AKA Lamest and Least Helpful Bar Regulars Ever)

I remember getting this game with our family’s first computer – and the only reason I remember it is because it was an absolutely infuriating game.  First off, it had the most ridiculous premise of all time.  You are an intergalactic solicitor who runs into some issues with your spaceship.  Unable to keep on with your galaxy-jumping sales mission, you look for a telephone but find the closest is in Shufflepuck Cafe.  Working our way past the fact that you have a spaceship but landlines are still the best options, the Cafe is filled with creeps from all corners of the universe, and they sit hunched over tables.  And in the most outrageous deus ex machina for the plot of a game, you must play “shufflepuck” against the regulars to earn your right to use the phone.  No…seriously.  Shufflepuck Cafe wasn’t much table shuffleboard, but an awkward version of air hockey.  And let me tell you, there is nothing less fun than playing air hockey on a computer, especially one which has the infinitely-better Snake installed on it.  Or that weird game where the two monkeys throw bananas at each other from buildings.  And I digress.

TargetTossBagsTarget Toss Pro: Bags (AKA Golden Tee Without The Course)

Incredible Technologies, the makers of Target Toss Pro: Bags, is more a part of your life than you may know.  Sitting at a bar and hearing drunk patrons smack their hands against the cabinet of a Golden Tee machine?  Thank Incredible Technologies.  Lifting your small child up to throw a virtual gutterball in Silver Strike Bowling at a Chuck E. Cheese?  Ha, you just participated in making Incredible Technologies a little richer.  All these games are trackball-based, so they are a bit of a one-trick pony, and Target Toss Pro: Bags is no exception.  Golfing can get expensive and bowling is not so much fun when you suck, but baggo is such an easy game to play and have fun for a minimal cost.  So when I saw this arcade game sitting in the middle of a busy arcade, I was apprehensive about it.  Needless to say, I wasted some good tokens that could have been used on House of the Dead.  Pretty unresponsive and nothing close to the touch of the real game, pumping quarters into Target Toss Pro: Bags is like paying Lindsay Lohan for acting lessons: she’ll probably not show up, but if she does, she’ll puke all over you and pass out in a heap of failure on the floor. That made more sense in my head.  Moving on!


I’ve never played this French DOS game from 1989, but this just gave me a nerd freakout: “American football with roller-skating”.  Holy balls, Megaman!  This violent sport of the future (which is around 2002 if you are playing at home) is played on a circular skating rink where two teams of five players try to put a ball into the hole, which marks a score.  Other players try to dislodge the ball by absolutely wailing the crap out of them in beautiful 16-bit glory.  So this game is basically roller derby if the goal of the game was the same as the goal of the Rebels in Star Wars: A New Hope.  Sweet.

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