I overheard a disturbing conversation last week. I was sitting in my usual coffee shop reading the local paper when I couldn't help hearing a couple of what appeared to be high school aged boys discussing their weekend plans. They were talking about how they were going to play some "old school" video games... you know, really get nostalgic about the good old days. This made me think about some oldies like Duck Hunt or Track and Field. You remember Track and Field, right? The one that came with a big mat with blue and red dots? The idea was to run in place on this buttons, simulating running, long jump, and various other events. With my friends, and I suspect we weren't the only ones, this invariably devolved into lying on the ground, pounding the buttons with our fists rather than doing any actual activity.
As I was sitting there letting the nostalgia wash over me, I was suddenly jerked back to perspective with the details of these kids' "retro" plans: They were talking about playing Super Smash Brothers on Nintendo's N64 system. Released in 1999. It's hard to accept that the time I spent in college is looked at by today's kids as the "early days" of video gaming.
Last weekend I took a trip to Chicago to take part in the 2007 RBI Baseball Tournament. For those of you born in the 90's, RBI Baseball was the first baseball game, created for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Eight teams filled with actual Major League Baseball players, most of which are now retired if not dead. Although each player does have unique stats, based on the players best year in the majors, each of them looks exactly the same. Even Darryl Strawberry is white. If you still don't remember what the "good old days" of video games looks like, you might need a little visual stimulation to jog your memory.
Before this tournament, I had never actually had the pleasure of playing this game. We met up at Mark Bettenhausen's house in the suburbs of Chicago and started things off with a round-robin tournament to determine placement.
Through a series of mishaps, I managed to pull off a 3-and-5 records, netting me a 7th seed in the single-elimination tournament. I lost in the first round, a victim of the "mercy rule," to Bhouse who went on to lose in the finals to Mr. Brent Cline and the Minnesota Twins. Here are a couple of highlight moments from the playoffs.
Gavette pulls off a ninth-inning comeback to defeat O-Dogg and his heavily-sober and heavily-favored Giants.
Clips from the final inning of the championship game, where Brent Cline pulls off a few runs to break the nine-inning scoreless tie between his Twins and Bhouse's Red Sox.
All told, 71 games were played on two original NES systems over the course of 12 hours. We also took the time to commemorate the lives of the original RBI players that have passed on: Juan Uribe (motor accident), Donnie Moore (suicide), and Kirby Puckett (stroke). The capstone on the weekend was the assembly of the 2007 "Dead Pool," where it was predicted which original RBI Baseball players would be the next to leave us. Here are the picks, as presented by the Snake.
So we all have a year to practice up before the next tournament, and I assure that I will need every day of it.