November 9th, 2016

krazy koati

Ask along that man who's wearing a carnation.

Sunday we didn't have any pinball events to get to. We might go watch finals for the Intergalactic Pinball Championship, if we wanted to get up for the 9:30 start which no, we weren't so into. RLM would take second place. After two days of managing the shower very successfully I flooded the bathroom again. Not so badly as I had the first day but still. This stuff. We got stuff together, packing it up and checking it with the concierge so that I would go a few more hours yet not perfectly convinced that my car hadn't been towed or stolen or something. We did not forget the cigar-infused cooler bag that we'd stuffed in the refrigerator. I forget how we kept its smell from overpowering our luggage or my car but we did it somehow.

So we finally had time to just wander around. There were some carnival-type attractions set up, like climbing walls and this inflatable thing where you hurl a giant vinyl ball into people to knock them over. We got to see the end of the video game tournament that I guess was going on that weekend too. Billy Mitchell, whom you may know from that King of Kong documentary or maybe from reading about the top level of competitive arcade gaming, was there, I believe as emcee for one of the rounds. I didn't know what was going on and I admit, I don't know how to play arcade games.

Pinball games, though --- well, one of the interesting little developments in pinball the past decade is boutique pinball games. These are made by companies that somehow pull together enough of an organization to produce some games. Many of these attempts end in sad little fiascos. If you ever need some funny-sad small-company-fiasco news look up the Predator pinball game. Or or less funny and more sad, John Popadiuk.

But some of them succeed, even brilliantly. Dutch Pinball, organized in the Netherlands, put together a new ROM set and display that turns The Machine: Bride of Pinbot into a new and more modern game. The original's a late solid state that almost begs to be a dot-matrix display game. They had that on display, naturally. But they also recently finished a game based on The Big Lebowski. Of course they would. There were other boutique pinball games that I would miss playing --- America's Most Haunted, for example, which we did play at the Pinball Wizard Arcade in New Hampshire last year --- or the Rob Zombie pinball game which is a thing and which they had. I just never had a free moment when the table had a free moment.

The Big Lebowski we had some time to play. It's got a pretty good feel to it. It also has a full-color dot-matrix display which was thoroughly disconcerting. It has a higher resolution that the color DMD upgrades people have put in older games and which are no less disconcerting. But to start up a mode whose purpose we didn't understand and for the screen to be a jet-black background with twinkling neon stars floating ever forward ... it feels like something we ought to understand, anyway. We both had pretty good games, considering we had no idea what we were doing and could just fall back on the generic Modern Pinball Strategy. Shoot the most distant target on the playfield and every ramp three times. The most distant target includes a bowling alley because they weren't going to organize a whole company to make a Big Lebowski pinball game and not have a miniature bowling alley for crying out loud.

With the time available we spent more of it at the video games. Have you seen a Super Pac-Man since 1983? No, of course not. We did here. bunny_hugger made a pretty good go of it, better when she remembered the Super Speed button. And we discovered together this early 80s game Zoo Keeper that's about, well, catch a bunch of loose animals by rapidly building a brick wall around them. It was surprisingly catchy and fun to get to. It's another of those video games that seem like they'd be great modern smart phone games, being cute and easy to understand and not really demanding all that much continued attention to play. I probably didn't understand it right.

And they had Tattoo Assassins. This one snuck up on me. It looked like your generic sort of Mortal Kombat type game because it was designed to get in on some of that sweet Mortal Kombat ``buckets full of oceans full of money raining down on game developers' heads'' thing it had going on. But I don't care about that sort of game so why notice it? Only then I read one of the character bios on the attract screens and I was delighted. Then I read another and was more delighted. And before long I was captivated by this thing. Let me explain why, in the game's own words.

Hannah Hart

Hannah was a world class strip club dancer, until a deranged killer started stalking the other dancers and murdered her best friend. She now prowls the night, in search of the man who ruined her life. her only desire is a cruel revenge.

I never even knew Frank Miller was an early 90s video game designer.

If you're somehow not yet sold on this Mortal Kombat-like game that advertises ``2196 Fatalities'' and apparently pioneered ``Nudality'' game ends (as well as ``Animalities'' before Mortal Kombat), then let me give you this:

Truck Davis

Truck is the last surviving member of the Holy Terrors biker gang. The Holy Terrors were ambushed by a rival gang, the Sore Losers, after they lost a drinking contest. Now Truck has a score to settle and the Losers want to finish the job.

You can see why this captivates my mind. Was it the Holy Terrors or the Sore Losers who lost the drinking contest? What exactly differentiates a ``world-class'' strip-club dancer from the merely ``quite good'' strip-club dancer? And what the heck, anyway? Apparently the game was rushed, troubled, and cancelled before release but the modern day of game emulators allows people to appreciate its general ineptness. (The link includes biographies of all nine characters.) Also the ``2196 Fatalities'' was padded by counting all possible combinations of one character killing another as a new Fatality. Also it was born of a movie script about magic tattoos coming to life and fighting one another, written by Back To The Future producer Bob Gale. So on further investigation: seriously, what the heck, anyway? Really, a deeply fascinating and apparently bad game. I didn't play it.

Trivia: In the election of 1816 the Federalists nominated Rufus King for President, and no one for Vice-President. Source: From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession, John D Feerick.

Currently Reading: The Art Of The Map: An Illustrated History, Dennis Reinhartz.