Today’s story is about being the best in the world at something. But first, we start at Christmas.
Not to brag or anything, but I was absolutely spoiled for Christmas last year by my mother. I didn’t ask for anything besides black socks and an iTunes card (check and mate, by the way), but my mom has a knack for figuring out things I’d like before I’m even aware of their existence. She gambles on her knowledge of me and usually comes up big.
Provided it’s not a cardigan. Her cardigan game is weak.
She found me a Wally World eggnog glass like the one from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. She found me a rad Walking Dead figurine from Japan. She even made a special project with my Nephew that is so cool it’s going to be the focal point of its own future CDP essay. I was incredibly grateful for such bizarre accessories, especially considering that I saw none of them coming.
One such accessory was the Retron 3.
The Retron 3 is a Retro Gamer’s paradise. Like some people my age, I still have the game cartridges from my youth and prefer to play these games on a television with a system, not on a desktop or streaming emulator. However, while the cartridges are resilient and tend to stand the test of time, the systems (and especially the wires) do not. Enter the gorgeous happy medium of the Retron 3.
A slot for NES games, a slot for Genesis games and a slot for Super Nintendo games. Ports for the original controllers should you have them, universal wireless controllers in the event that you do not. Beautiful sound and beautiful video that looks outstanding on your flat screen TV. Works perfectly.
Also, this isn’t even the latest version of the Retron. The ‘5’ Model can accommodate over 10 classic systems. However, the NES/Genesis/Super NES games were the ones I cared about the most, so mom went with the 3 instead of the 5 and saved about $80. Good on her.
Needless to say, I was addicted to the Retron 3 for the first few weeks I had it. Sifting through my old games, seeing if they all worked, seeing if I was still good at them. I played a season on Madden ’95 with the Packers, throwing 130 touchdowns and adding to Brett Favre’s Hall of Fame resume. Scott Skyles and myself went on a path of destruction in NBA Jam that was borderline criminal. I played as Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat II and didn’t quit until every head was separated from every body, spine and all. It was divine.
A more obscure game for the Sega Genesis that I remembered being pretty good at was PGA Tour Golf. This was the precursor to the larger EA golf games, the Tiger Woods franchise being the most well-known. I had remembered playing the game with my golf-obsessed uncles over the course of many weekends in the mid-90’s, and popped it back in to see if I could still dominate the Player’s Championship at Sawgrass like I used to.
I played a few tournaments and won a couple of them, feeling pretty confident in my arguably pointless abilities. However, my last round of the day was a doozy. I was playing spectacularly; better than I had ever remembered playing even as a kid. No bogies. Six birdies in the front 9. I was crushing it, but maybe more importantly, I was just having a good time reveling in the good vibes of my youth.
As I kept draining birdies in the Back 9, though, I started to wonder about the weirdness of video game World Records, and how cool it would be to be considered the best player in the world at a particular game (or anything, really). As a child, I was considered one of the best ‘under 17’ Table Soccer players in the world, and to this day it’s the only thing in my life that’s netted me more than one trophy.
When I wrapped my final round with a Genesis-shattering 11 under par, I pondered to myself, “I wonder what the World Record is for this game?”
So, on a whim, I took a couple photos of the screen.
You’ll notice another thing in the photo that blew my mind out the back of my skull. Even after nearly 25 years of collecting dust in a closet, the PGA Tour Golf cartridge remembered my initial save data! That’s my old last name looking back at me; the same name I punched in when I was 10 years old. I do not understand how electronics work, and do not claim to.
So anyway, there’s my 61. Hell of a round if I may say so myself. In fact, my -29 was more than enough to take the tournament in a landslide and net me a cool 260 grand. Take that, Bill Britton!
(Note: Bill Britton is currently 60 years old.)
With this information, I went to Twin Galaxies, the Internet’s Holy Grail of determining and logging all things Video Game Records. You may remember their involvement in The King of Kong, an outstanding documentary on the competitiveness of (in this case, arcade) gamers.
A word on Twin Galaxies, and the lengths one must go in order to register on their website. I have purchased several cars. I have applied for a dozen credit cards. I have rented four apartments. I have gotten married, legally changed my name, purchased a house and obtained a passport. However, the application process to get verified on Twin Galaxies in the single most comprehensive and rigorous process I have ever been a part of. It took me an entire afternoon. I literally had to speak to a man over the phone at one point. They will not, under any circumstances, have you pulling a fast one on them. They should be in charge of the TSA. It’s unbelievable.
So, once I proved to Twin Galaxies that I was indeed a human man and should be allowed to view and discuss their World Records, I went right to the PGA Tour Golf section under Sega Genesis. And wouldn’t you know it? There was a World Record for this game!
…Aaaand I had broken it.
Pow. World Record. Someone give me a certificate.
Well, not so fast. The first thing I had to do was determine the difference between PAL and NTSC versions of the game, as there were separate records for both. However, the PAL record was 68, so either way I had broken both of them. Remember what I said earlier about electronics? Yeah, never gonna know what that means. Even if you tell me, I’ll forget.
Secondly, I of course wasn’t recording my 61, as I had no idea when I started that it would lead to something this weird, or even knew it was a thing that existed. Considering I had to send a goddamn DNA swab to Twin Galaxies so they could confirm I wasn’t an android, a photo of my television amounted to jack shit on the Video Game World Record scene, and rightfully so. If I were to legitimately see this through, I would need to begin again, follow the posted rules and record my 61 from start-to-finish. Assuming I could ever replicate the 61 ever again.
I mean, the only logical next move would be to go for it, right? To take an afternoon, set up a camera and attempt to become immortalized (however temporarily) in Retro Gaming History? To take a diving leap at that Brass Ring in a feeble attempt to ensure that my legacy will remain long after I am but dust in the fragile earth?
They say that everyone is the Best in the World at something. You hope for yourself that it’s going to be something worthwhile. As a kid, I thought it would be video games. As a tween, I thought it would be kicking field goals for the Cincinnati Bengals. As a teen, I thought it would be playing the drums.
As an adult, it looks like it might be video games again. I’m gonna go for it.
Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
FRIDAY: THE TRIUMPHANT PREMIERE OF FULLER HOUSE FRIDAY.