Last year, I invited some of my students over to my apartment to relax, play some old videogames, and indulge in nostalgia for our misspent youths playing games at our local arcades, or at home, competing with brothers or sisters. We talked about our respective gaming generations (from the 1970s to the 1990s) and our favourite games and systems (MSX and MegaDrive for the old-timers; Famicom and PC-Engine for us twentysomethings; and Super Famicom for the younger set). We also had a little competition in PC-Engine Bomberman and my Solar Wars game on the Famicom, and drove through OutRun on the Saturn to see who could get the top score. It was great fun.

So, when the weather started getting warmer this year, I didn't hesitate to organize another gaming party. This one turned out even more fun, with impromptu game choices and competitions aplenty!

Remember this picture? This is my "gaming centre" after a good day's gameplaying. This was the setting for another hardcore bash.
When my first guest came, I asked him what he wanted to do. "Play a game," was his answer. So, he chose Last Resort on the Neo-Geo CD to start with. Soon enough another guest came, and they got pretty far playing in two-player mode on the game. They gave up when they both ran out of lives at the same time and got kicked back to the "Game Over" screen.
Ah, a bugger this game, but a gorgeous one. It's a bit of a clone of R-Type, but with more spectacular graphics, and more emphasis on action. Bosses are still mean, though.
In one-player mode, you are sent back to a faraway restart point if you die; in two-player mode you continue where you die. This was great news for us!
After Last Resort, they looked through the games that I had, impressed by my game collection. But of course, when I came to Japan, I had next to nothing. It's just that prices for old games are so low in Japan; that's the great part. I slowly collected games each month until now, when I have too many games and not enough storage space.
The lads were warming up in Bomberman '94 while I served drinks. The party was 'BYOB', so almost everyone brought Coke and nachos. I now have 7.5L of cola left over from the party!
Of course, what they wanted to play was Bomberman. Two of my guests had brought PC-Engine pads so five of us could play at once. In total, I ended up having six guests, so the ones who didn't join in the competition could play another system on my other TV that I set up on a table.
Bomberman... ahh, a great party game! It's second only to Super Mario Kart in my treasured memories of family competitions. Bomberman '94's stages are nice and varied, but some of the stages I hate... like the ones with igloos or foliage which hide players and bombs. On the right is my favourite stage: No blocks, no power-ups, just five men and their bombs!
And here we are enjoying said game.
I suppose I should introduce the folks in the pics. I am nowhere to be seen, and neither is one of my students. But the three guys above are Hirotaka, Yoshikazu, and Hideki, from left to right. Hideki is good enough at this game, but the other two are demons! I thought I was good, but I usually died first in every round. Those cheating bastards; they have their own copies of Bomberman at home!
Good Average graphics for its time, Vigilante was the sequel to Spartan X/Kung-Fu (Master), also by Irem. The weird thing about this game's graphics is that the character sprites have shadows AND a black outline on the shadow side of their bodies. It's hardly realistic, especially when the shadows flip when characters change directions.
After several (dozen) humiliating rounds of Bomberman, I gave up and went over to talk to my other student and another guest (student's younger brother). Meanwhile, the lads rummaged through my boxes and pulled out Vigilante, a game that's fun enough for 5 minutes, but gets frustrating and no fun after that. They gave up and switched on my Saturn to play to the end of Twinbee Yahho!
This remains a fun game despite the fact that I absolutely HATE the power-up system of the Twinbee games. You shoot a bell, then have to stop shooting, waiting for the bell power-up to come to you; but OOPS, a leftover bullet hits the bell, changing it back to the normal gold bonus point bell. HATE HATE HATE!
I'm sure that Konami finally noticed that this system was no good, so they introduced far more ground-based power-ups in Twinbee Yahho!

Here are some of the old-timers reminiscing about Xevious and Pengo together. The guy on the right brought Super Hang-On for the Megadrive as a gift for me. What a nice guy!
My guests over at my small TV spent their time reading my old game mags (Arcade mags from 1989 are pure GOLD for them) and I plugged in my Megadrive to play some Super Hang-On. They had a few goes at this and then I put in Solar Wars to play a few competitive games.
Wow, this has not aged well.
Yes, it might seem like shameless self-promotion, but my game was actually a big hit at the last game party. My student Teiyuu actually kicked my ass that time. Soundly defeated, at my own game... ughhhh that is agony!
Okay, after another close defeat this year in Solar Wars, I decided to bring out a game to separate the men from the boys (Much to NAMBLA's dismay) at our party: DonPachi on the PlayStation. It is a manic shooter that requires a combination of bullet-dodging, geometrical, and clairvoyant skills in order to survive. I can finish DonPachi with maybe 10 credits (ok, I admit it; I fall into the 'boy' category) in single player mode. But in two-player mode, there's so much carnage and mayhem happening on the screen that one can't even see what's going on, let alone where the enemy bullets are. Needless to say, we didn't survive. But we had a great time continuing our way to the end of the game.
Here's Yoshikazu winning another round of Bomberman. He is not only skillful but he also knows the timing and tricks of the game. He was hard to beat.
Here's DonPachi in all its glory. Okay, that shot on the right doesn't show so much mayhem. But wait until the second or third stages!

Okay, so now that the dust has settled, the fun starts... Our DRINKING GAME!
I'm sure that people have combined drinking games and videogames before, and if they haven't I can't understand why not. You can see the deterioration of your own skills on-screen as the alcohol starts flowing. It's great!

Yes, that object in the background is a scythe I made for last year's Hallowe'en party costume!
Here's Hirotaka winning yet another trophy in Bomberman... the Bastard! I'm convinced that he cheated somehow. So sometimes I unplugged his pad from the multitap and sought my revenge on his stupid pink BomberGirl!
(And he actually liked picking up the poison skull icons in the game! The git!)

Actually, it isn't so great. The drink we chose for this competition was a Chinese peach liqueur, which initially tastes fine, but gets more and more foul the more of it you have to drink. I would have preferred wine, but nobody brought any, so.....

The rules of this game of mine were a little odd, and my guests showed surprise when I explained them: The winner of 3 rounds in Bomberman has to drink a shot of the liqueur. Why not the losers? Well, there are too many of them, and the situation could develop where one skillful player stays sober while the others get slobbering drunk. This is what happened to me a few years ago when I had a drinking Bomberman game with my friends for New Year's 2002. I kept on winning and nobody wanted to drink so much red wine, so I opted to drink every time I won. It was a little more fun for them.
So the beauty of the winner drinking is that as his skills and reaction diminish, another player will win. This means that eventually everybody will become equally drunk, which is exactly what happened.

Partygoers pick their poison.
If these pics are blurry, that's because that's how I was feeling by that point.
And the games are on! Here, Hirotaka and I are already dead. Yoshikazu and Hideki are duking it out.

But it didn't exactly go as I had planned it. Suddenly, I began winning several rounds, and so I was the one to get drunk first. Perhaps it was the drink that motivated me; perhaps it was revenge, but I started playing much better than earlier in the day. Hideki and Yoshikazu won about the same number of rounds as I did. But somehow Hirotaka escaped winning many matches, and he stayed mostly sober. I'm sure he cheated at that too!

The competition was really fun, with lots of shouting, head-smacking, and drinking. Everybody was speaking in Japanese and maybe English in the same breath: "Who did that?" "Haha! Aimu Soori." "You little bitch!" "I'm pissed off!" "I'll get you, etc..." Our heads spinning, we all decided to call it quits at the same time. That alcohol sure was horrible.

And Hideki wins! He chugs it down like a good boy.
(Kids, don't try this at home. Go to your friend's house to do it.)

Yoshikazu is starting to dislike the stuff and so he's taking it down in sips. Pussy!

Our heads spinning and bellies aching, we relaxed and chatted for a little bit. Hideki tried out Super Hang-On and got within 10 seconds of the final goal, with his drunken brain! Wow, that is a gamer! Yoshikazu left to meet his girlfriend, with his breath like that, and Hideki and Hirotaka played a match of Solar Wars to end the day. All in all, we had a great time, and maybe I'll do it again later this year!

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