Captain N: The Game Master
Tuesday, April 1, 1997, 8:27 PM
Kevin, Mike, Rick, Lana, Stacey, and Samus were hanging out in Kevin's living room, watching the "Family Matters" episode "Flirting with Disaster" from tape.
After the episode was over, Kevin stopped the tape and ejected it. He stood up, walked over to the VCR, took the cassette out, placed it in its sleeve, and put it on the TV cart. He walked back over to the couch and sat down.
"That Steve Urkel is nutty." Samus said with a laugh.
"Now, if you wanna see somethin' serious, let's watch this." Mike held up a tape.
"What is it?" Lana asked.
"Me playing deathmatch with Keene." Mike replied.
Kevin groaned. "Oh, no."
Stacey laughed. "Cool! Put it in! It'll be good for some laughs!"
Samus stood up. "Hold on, I wanna get a Pepsi!"
Mike stood up and walked over to the VCR. He took the cassette out of its sleeve and put it in the VCR.
Samus came back from the kitchen with a can of Pepsi. "Okay, I'm ready!"
Mike and Samus sat down on the couch. Samus opened her can and took a swig. Mike pressed PLAY on the remote control.
"This oughta be good." Rick said.
"Of course it's good!" Mike said. "I'm playing!"
The six of them watched the tape of Mike playing deathmatch. Mike continually killed Kevin. Kevin was able to kill Mike only a few times. Everyone except Kevin laughed.
"That's enough." Kevin said, stopping the tape and shutting off the TV.
"Embarassed, Keene?" Mike asked with a demented grin.
"Look, that deathmatch was from three months ago." Kevin pointed out. "I've become much better since then."
Mike smirked. "Yeah, sure."
Kevin stood up. "I have!"
Mike stood up as well. "Wanna prove it?"
"How?" Kevin asked.
"Deathmatch." Mike replied. "You and me, tomorrow."
"Yeah, right. When? High noon?"
"Noon?" Mike asked. "I do my killin' before breakfast. 7:00."
Kevin thought for a moment. "8:00. I do my killin' after breakfast."
At that, Mike turned and walked out the front door, closing it behind him.
Lana, Samus, and Rick all sat with confused looks on their faces.
"Okaaayyy..." Lana said.
"He forgot his tape." Stacey pointed out.
Kevin woke up with a start as the phone rang.
After taking a moment to regain his composure, Kevin picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Keene, get yo' ass online!" Mike demanded. "I'm hungry."
Kevin groaned and looked at his clock radio. "It's not 8:00 yet."
"It is by my watch!" Mike replied.
Kevin sighed. "Fine."
He took the cordless phone with him to his computer. He sat down at his desk, turned on his desk lamp, and then turned on his computer and monitor.
Kevin looked through some CDs he had brought with him from Videoland. He finally settled on his "Ghostbusters" soundtrack. He put the CD in his CD-ROM drive.
"Okay, D!Zone?" Kevin asked.
"Yeah." Mike agreed, putting his Ozzy Osbourne "Diary of a Madman" CD into his CD-ROM drive.
Kevin and Mike started up D!Zone. They switched to their characters and selected Knee-Deep in the Dead, Alternate Deathmatch (2.0), No Monsters, Random Items, Random Lights Levels (between 127 and 255), and Record Demo. They started playing their CDs.
Kevin dialed up Mike's computer. They selected seed -9108, named the demo, and randomized.
They played a game of deathmatch while music blared from their computer speakers.
If there's somethin' strange
In your neighborhood,
Who ya gonna call?
If there's somethin' weird,
And it don't look good,
Who ya gonna call?
The door to Kevin's room opened, and Lana and Samus walked inside.
"Oh, no, they were serious." Lana said.
"Kevin, shut off the music!" Samus yelled.
"Why?!" Kevin yelled back.
"Cuz we were tryin' to sleep!" Lana yelled.
"It's almost 8:00!" Kevin yelled. "Time to get up anyway!"
Lana and Samus looked at each other and shrugged, then they watched Kevin play.
Mike ended up beating Kevin at deathmatch that time.
Later that morning, at 10:00 AM, Kevin, Mike, Lana, Samus, Stacey, and Rick went to Wal-Mart.
They walked into the Home Electronics department and got copies of Doom 64. After they paid for them, they went to their house in Megaland.
Kevin opened the Doom 64 box. He read the instruction manual.
"Here's the story." Kevin said. "'Your fatigue was enormous, the price for encountering pure evil. Hell was a place no mortal was meant to experience. Stupid military doctors: their tests and treatments, were of little help. In the end, what did it matter - it was all classified and sealed. The nightmares continued. Demons, so many demons; relentless, pouring through. The planetary policy was clear. An absolute quarantine guaranteed by apocalyptic levels of radiation. The empty dark corridors stand motionless, abandoned. The installations sealed. A long forgotten relay satellite barely executing, decayed by years of bombarding neutrons, activates and sends its final message to earth. The satellite's message was horrific, from the planetary void there came energy signatures unlike anything sampled before. The classified archives are opened. The military episodes code named 'DOOM' were not actually completed. A single entity with vast rejuvenation powers, masked by the extreme radiation levels, escaped detection. In its crippled state, it systematically altered decaying dead carnage back into corrupted living tissue. The mutations are devastating. The Demons have returned even stronger and more vicious than before. As the only experienced survivor of the DOOM episode, your commission is re-activated. Your assignment is clear: MERCILESS EXTERMINATION!'"
Samus snickered. "What a story."
"Okay, guess I'm ready to play." Kevin said.
He inserted the cartridge into his Nintendo 64 console and turned on the power. The others watched Kevin play Doom 64 for a while.
Five tones sounded throughout the house.
"There's an incoming call." Lana said.
They all left the room.
They entered the Communications room.
"Receive call." Lana said.
The viewscreen turned on. Li Shiroshi appeared.
"Hi, everyone." Li greeted with a smile.
"Hi, Li." Lana replied with a smile. "What's up?"
"Can all of you come over to my lab, please?" Li asked. "I've just completed a new invention, and I'd like you to see it."
"Okay, we'll be right over."
The N Team entered Li's lab.
"So, what do you want to show us?" Lana asked.
Li smiled. "I have created a new game computer with an artificial intelligence! Allow me to present...Virtual Boy!"
A red computer hovered over to the N Team. "Hello, I am Virtual Boy." it said in a deadpan voice.
"Oh, no." Mike said.
"That's hardly the response I anticipated." Li said. "What's wrong, dude?"
Lana looked at Stacey. "Did she just say 'dude'?"
"Uh-huh." Stacey replied.
"Anyway, what's wrong?" Li asked again.
"Well,...I'm sure you all know the history of the Virtual Boy." Mike said.
The others shook their heads.
Mike took a deep breath and exhaled it before beginning. "In the spring of '94, rumors about Nintendo's VR-project started circulating in the media. It was Gunpei Yokoi and his R&D1 team that, with the aid of the people at Reflection Technology Inc., had been working on the Virtual Boy for two years. Speculation began about how the new machine would revolutionize the gaming market, and sketches of the VB began to circulate. By the time the Shoshinkai-exhibition came, the hype was enormous! Everybody wanted to know what Gunpei Yokoi had accomplished this time. Gunpei is the genius that developed both the Gameboy and the Game & Watch machines, so the expectations were quite high! The visitors at Shoshinkai weren't pleased at all. They thought the VB was only a pathetic attempt by Nintendo to draw attention from Sega and Sony's new 32-bit consoles. But the Virtual Boy was produced by Nintendo, the most respected video game company in the world. Great confusion broke out; they didn't know what to think! The console and the games looked crappy, but it was from Nintendo, so could it really be that bad? Most of the dissatisfaction was in the games: nothing revolutionary at all, and they were all in red! The red colors supposedly gave the game a better 3-D look. At the big WCES (Winter Commercial Electronics Show) four months later, some new, better games were shown: Mario Clash, Teleroboxing, and Galactic Pinball. These new games were quite good, so the press became a little bit curious. Maybe the VB wasn't going to be such a big flop after all. On July 21, 1995, the Virtual Boy was released in Japan and in the states a month later. Nintendo thought it would sell very well because the VB didn't have any competing consoles. Both the Saturn and the Playstation played in a totally different league. They hoped it would sell 3,000,000 copies. They couldn't have been more wrong! In Japan, the VB sold poorly, and the price dropped drastically on both the machine and the games. Nintendo estimated that the VB would sell 250,000 copies in Japan, but it ended up selling less than 50,000! One problem that arose, which worried the parents, was that it was said that playing the VB could cause eye damage to children under the age of seven. In the US, the machine hardly sold at all, and it was never released in Europe. Players bought Playstations and Saturns instead, even though they cost twice as much! At Shoshinkai 95, Hiroshi Yamauchi, the big boss at Nintendo, confessed that the machine had sold less than Nintendo had calculated, but they hadn't lost all their hope for this strange product yet. New games that made better use of the VB's special skills were to be released. Unfortunately, by now most of the players in the world weren't interested in the Virtual Boy. Nintendo just had to live with the fact that the Virtual Boy was a flop!"
"You're calling my creation a flop?!" Li cried.
"Well, yeah!" Mike said.
"Fine." Li said. "Let's test him. Pick a game world. If Virtual Boy can't handle it, I'll admit you're right. However, if Virtual Boy can handle it, you'll have to admit I'm right."
"I accept that challenge." Mike said.
Li and Mike shook hands.
The eight of them exited the warp and found themselves on Romero.
"Okay, we're here on Romero." Mike said. "There are still some monsters left alive from last year's invasion."
"Okay, Virtual Boy, show 'im what ya got!" Li said.
Virtual Boy went and found some zombie privates and zombie sergeants. A glowing red light came out of his screen, and it killed the zombies. In the same way, Virtual Boy killed imps and demons.
"Not bad." Kevin said, impressed.
"See, I told you, Mike." Li said with a grin.
Soon, though, a cyberdemon walked over and fired a lot of rockets. The rockets impacted on Virtual Boy and blasted him to pieces.
Li stood still in shock, her mouth agape. "Okay,...that sucked. Let's fry the bastard."
Li fired her laser gun. Lana, Kevin, and Mike fired their Zappers. Stacey fired her Power Glove. Rick fired his Super Scope. Samus fired her arm cannon.
The combined blasts killed the cyberdemon. With one final roar, the monster died and fell to the ground in a smoldering heap.
Li gathered up what remained of Virtual Boy's components. "Let's go home."
Back at Li's laboratory, Li put Virtual Boy's parts in the trash.
"Guess that's the end of that." Li said.
Lana put her left hand on Li's right shoulder. "I'm sorry your latest creation was a piece of crap, Li."
Li placed her left hand on Lana's left. "Thank you, Lana. That means so much to me. Heh. From now on, I'll stick to what I know works. I think I'll upgrade Gameboy."
"Listen," Lana said, "let's have lunch and try to forget this virtual disaster."
"Sounds good to me." Li said.
Li, Lana, Stacey, Mike, Rick, Kevin, and Samus sat at Li's kitchen table. They were eating hamburgers with onions and hot pepper relish and drinking regular Pepsi.
"Great idea with the relish, Lana." Li complimented.
"Thanks." Lana replied with a smile.
"What's wrong, Rick?" Samus asked, noticing that something was bothering Rick.
"I've been thinkin'." Rick said. "Why was there a cyberdemon on Romero? I mean I understand zombies, imps, and demons. They can hide easily. But a cyberdemon? I don't think it was left over from last year."
"What are you saying, Rick?" Mike asked.
Rick looked at all of them. "I think it was a scout."
"A scout?" Kevin asked. "For what?"
"Exactly." Rick said. "For what?"
"Invasion." Samus said simply.
Copyright © 2000 by Mark Moore
Wednesday, April 2, 1997, 7:55 AM
Copyright © 2000 by Mark Moore