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Columns000

Title: Columns
Year: 1990
Platform: Sega Genesis (Mega Drive)
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega

In my early days of gaming, I was a pretty hardcore Nintendo fan. 

It wasn’t until years after the Nintendo 64 came out that we bought a Sega Genesis (Toys R Us was still selling new ones at the time, and I remember the day vividly). 

Along with the console, we bought two cartridges, a Sega collection cart with Golden Axe and Columns, the Sega Genesis 6-Pak, I believe, and Castlevania: Bloodlines (1994). 

The Sega Genesis, or Mega Drive, seemed like a much more mature console than the SNES or NES, as all the games I encountered (Golden Axe, Bloodlines, Columns, and later, the Phantasy Star games) had these unappealing, more realistic visuals that differed greatly from their Nintendo counterparts. Even bright and stylish Sonic games were less appealing and had a more mature visual style than the early Mario games.

Columns is the focus of this article, and my experience with it. 

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Half up the arcade stairs,
the old heavy blue halo
crunching down on us,
earthquake roar, hurtle,
hurricane, heads up,
you speak in tongues on
a cartoon RPG religion.
Our feet stuck to wooden
planks, I set my fishbowl
drink down, sloshing pink
sludge, and repeat after
you three small mantras:
rhythm, respect, and
play.

Wall Street Kid Opening

Title: Wall Street Kid
Year: 1990
Platform: NES
Publisher: SOFEL
Developer: SOFEL

Mike went to a pretty wild flea market over the weekend, returning two NES carts richer: Monster Party, 8-bit horror classic and one of my favorite platformers, and, uh, Wall Street Kid…? 

That’s a name I hadn’t heard in almost a decade.

Wall Street Kid is a game I had when I was very young, one of those used three bucks NES cartridges kids buy because the picture looks mildly entertaining (or just because we couldn’t believe there was a game about being a “wall street kid”). It was a game my brother and I would play very rarely, and only for ten minutes at a time, one of the games that seems like it might be funny to play for a bit, then quickly becomes too tedious to be novel.

Casino Kid (NES)

Casino Kid (NES)

It’s one of the few old games I never returned to as I got older, looked at it with new perspective. Would it charming, humorous, or just awful? Would it be worthy of my kind of “weird NES game” seal of approval? 

The game was developed by SOFEL, a Japanese communications company that dabbled in Famicom and apparently Game Boy games before fading into obscurity. Their first title, Casino Kid (or $1,000,000 Kid: Maboroshi no Teiou Hen), which is based on an unpopular manga, was released in 1989, with a sequel, Casino Kid II, released in 1993. The sequel was a very late NES game, but rumor has it the game was supposed to be released in 1990 and titled The Prince of Othello…!

The games were obviously shoddy casino simulators, but had cool “JRPG walking around” segments, which I’m a sucker for. Mediocre sprites, but still cool. The garish checkered floor is to die for.

The US Wall Street Kid was released in Japan as The Money Game II: Kabutochou no Kiseki, and it was a sequel to SOFEL’s earlier game, The Money Game. The game’s scant Wikipedia article has this to say:
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Pancake from 2 to 4

A short game I made in RPG Maker 2003 (works in PC only, I’m SO sorry) about Pancake, my son. He wrote most of the dialogue while we watched Steve Wilkos and Maury. I mostly used only the RTP assets just for the fun!

It’s sort of a neo-noir story about – stuffed animals -.

And yeah, Mike, it’s over when you beat the cyclops!

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WEST CAMPUS, out of my league:

far below us, kids our age scramble around a
frozen vodka fountain in the dim plaza,
their laughter immense but barely audible, their
search for eternal youth lengthy and sudden.
Stoic, he closes his blinds until only
an orange halo filters in from outside,
illuminating these Oxford sheets,
scratchy, unfamiliar,
, enveloped in pale high school musk,
the occasional wool sock.
A soft whir hums out of the play
station and that
green beep, tumbling disc spinning
on its axis,
a chair dragged across the chipped floor
accompanies his bright mumbling. For
a moment, all is chthonic,
two
teenagers holding their breaths…

…But Then:
the shattering rumble of the
start screen floating mid-flight
somewhere beyond iridescent
Titan
narrows into the harsh glare
of the tv screen,
bouncing back images of a lone idiot
dashing down Kowloon descending into Hell.
“Should I kill
these guys?”
Four tribal hollowed-
out men stand static in treetops, prostrated,
unconcerned, diseased, and in prayer,
my eyes droop for hours, my brain,
steady, my dick–

“Do you want to go to latenight?”

“What time is it?”

In a foreign eatery with gravel floors, my
head on the table, dizzy, he pours us seltzer
and we make fun of and adore four
prostitute girls, je t’adore, je t’aime then
like soil we return to his dorm room. My
sneakers are still wet and
we’re both wearing matching gray jackets.
In the underground tunnels, hooded gypsies
carry baskets of laundry on their heads and
winter’s howl throttles
thin black window panes and I
shiver and swallow my gum
and finger for my phone and remember at 3am I’ll
be out there, dashing and
cursing my luck.

Apocatastasis for our
bookshelf, look! in
our greasy lofty mirrors:
Surf can see me flex pyramid thighs
and navel forced out of granite,
triangular carbon alloy,
right below something else thick
and full of rust and sand from the depths of
Damascus, harvested off the back of a
great breathing,
slobbering underground mess.
Sheathed sinews beneath purple retro-future
boardshorts bring about the angriest gay love since Rimbaud’s
cerebral nothing,
so I guess I’ll toss
‘em in the chimney pyre, these uncut books. A
brutal shadow stretches
tall from beneath my titan’s
feet, unable and unmovable,
muscle bound, heavy weight.
Immoral manuscripts abound around us
both, I think, and I haven’t
written a love poem in over
four grim years. But how
can
I write, and how can I
think, when all I really want are
six pack abs and
Muslim gold
around my
toes?