Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Video Vignettes - "To Catch a Plumber"

Video Vignettes are 500 to 1000 word short stories about one or more video games. "To Catch a Plumber" features elements from "Super Mario Bros." and "Pokémon Go." 


He felt the water around him begin boil and knew what lied ahead.

He’d never thought much about it before, just accepting it as a part of this strange world. But as he watched it twirl around, like the compass he used in grade school math class, he began to wonder: how DO those fire sticks burn underwater?

But he was a plumber, not a philosopher, and there were more pressing matters at hand. A pair of black-and-white sea horrors silently glided towards him, their terrifying tentacles almost brushing against his boots.

With one hand holding his hat to his head, the plumber struggled ahead, barely evading the stick of fire. As it struck one of the demons, a sound like a rock hitting a metal bucket echoed through the ocean, and the beast sank lifelessly into the depths.

But the other, motivated by hunger and hate, charged onward.

The plumber could see the green pipe just ahead. There was no way he would make any farther than that.

As he felt a slimy tendril wrap around his ankle, he lunged for the pipe, grabbing the side. As the monster tried to drag him to a watery grave, the plumber pulled with all his strength towards the inside of the pipe, to the current that could get him to safety.

The plumber suddenly felt a great force pulling him upward. Relief washed over him and he relaxed his tired muscles, literally going with the flow. Where ever he would end up, it HAD to be better than the aquatic hell that had nearly claimed his life.

Darkness gave way to light. The plumber reached out of the water, felt around for the edge of the pipe, and hoisted himself out. He slumped on the grimy, damp floor with a thud.

But then he heard a second thud and something wet and heavy climbed on his chest. He was face to face with sea beast!

Before he could react, a red and white ball wacked the monster in the head. It confusedly blinked a few times before wilting into a heap next to him.

The plumber stood up slowly. The small, dim room reeked of wet rats and rust. The only sound was the constant dripping of sea water – enough to drive someone mad over time – and the labored breathing of the person who had rescued him.

“Who are you?” asked a raspy voice.

“It’sa me, M-”

“Never mind! Names don’t matter down here. The only thing that matters is catching them. ALL.”

From the shadows emerged a man with an ashen face. A tattered white and red baseball cap concealed his eyes. His decades-old jeans, torn at the bottoms from constant wear, hardly fit around his emaciated waist. Balled up in the corner were the remains of a blue and white overshirt, and on floor lied a waterlogged cell phone, the word “Go” crudely scratched into the glass screen over and over again.

The man stretched out his hand, which was clad in a moldy green glove. He slowly extended his finger towards the sea beast lying dead on the ground.

“That one is dinner,” he grumbled. “But I was hoping for a new friend, too.”

He lifted his head, his eyes visible for the first time. They danced with evil.

“I choose you, plumber man!” he hissed.

The man threw another one of the red and white balls and it landed near the plumber’s feet. The sphere popped open like compact mirror. The plumber shielded his face instinctively, wondering what fresh horrors would emerge.

The sphere rattled, then tipped over, spilling out a pile of animal bones. Was it a rat? A mouse? He couldn’t tell.

They clinked like tiny sticks as they hit the cold, metal floor.

“Mama mia!” exclaimed the plumber.

He dashed towards the pipe and full speed, jumping once, twice, three times to avoid the attack. But it was too late. The crazed man used the great ball, and the plumber was caught. The last thing the he saw was a series of flashing lights, enough to induce an epileptic seizure, then darkness. Only darkness. For the rest of eternity.

“Gotta enslave ‘em all!” exclaimed the man.

Sadistic laugher reverberated through the dank room, leagues beneath the extraordinary kingdom of mushrooms, and miles away from justice. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Get Ready, Fighters!" Evo 2016 schedule, predictions for SFV

Evolution Championship Series (Evo), the Super Bowl of the fighting game world, is punching its way onto your computer screen Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 17, 2016. This year featuring nine top fighting games from Street Fighter V to Super Smash Bros. Wii U, Evo brings together the best of the best players from around the world in a dazzling exhibition of skill.

The schedule is as follows:

Links to the streams on Twitch:

History and Personal Ritual
Evo began in 1996 as “Battle by the Bay,” taking on the Evolution moniker in the early 2000s, and slowly becoming the massive tournament that is today.

I first began watching Evo in 2011, during the height of Super Street Fighter IV’s popularity. But I didn’t develop my current Evo ritual until 2014, which was thanks to commentators James Chen and David Graham – and overinsistent advertiser, Mountain Dew. After being reminded to drink the summer-only Baja Blast flavor over and over again, I finally cracked, walked out of my office and to the nearest store to buy some. Ever since, it’s been my little tradition.

Tweeted at Chen and Graham with the caption "This is all your fault."

Predictions for top eight
Here’s my person prediction for players making the top eight in Street Fighter V, in no particular order: Daigo, Infiltration, Tokido, Momochi, PR Balrog, Justin Wong, and two unknowns.

My personal favorite has always been PR Balrog, and he never misses an opportunity to let me down. But damn, if he isn’t the best Balrog player alive, I don’t know who is.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Video Vignettes - "Return of the King"

Video Vignettes are 500 to 1000 word short stories about one or more video games. "Return of the King" features elements from Earthbound, Super Smash Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Silent Hill 2, as well as some inspiration from American pop culture. 


Mist cascaded over the small plot of land. A dank, earthen stink permeated the air.

The shovel sliced through the ground, again and again, before sounding a loud “clank.”

The man in the red hat stopped for a moment, contemplating. His striped yellow t-shirt clung to him like Saran wrap and exposed his jiggly belly. His shorts barely contained his bottom and ended seven or eight inches above his knees.

He knelt down near the hole, tossing the shovel carelessly behind him. His long, straggly hair hung so low it nearly brushed against the ground.

He reached into his decades old yellow backpack, once cute but now caked with grime, and removed an old, shattered baseball bat. Around it he placed several candles, creating the shape of a pentagram, and lit them.

“Michael, you look so peaceful,” he said. “Forgive me for waking you. But without you, I just can’t go on. No one has needed me since 1995. I’ve had to fight in illegal underground tournaments for the last 20 years just to make ends meet, and I’m tired of it. With you, I can bring back the past. People will remember what life used to be like. And I can go on another adventure.”

He stood. “The old Gods haven’t left this place,” he said, “and they still grant power to those who venerate them. Power to defy even death. The power of revival – for both of us.”

The candle flames leapt higher, tickling the brush around them and producing an eerie green glow. After some hesitation, the man tossed the final piece of the ritual in the center of the pentagram. For a brief second, the side of the rectangle object was illuminated as it fell, revealing the words, “Sonic the Hedgehog 3.”

The flames burst into the sky, and for a moment, the night seemed to give way to day.

“This is going to be a real thriller,” the man hissed.

A rhinestone-gloved hand burst from the hole, breaking through the coffin that had entombed it. Through the mist, the tattered body emerged. The moonlight reflected from its shiny, red jacket.

“This is it!” the man exclaimed, punctuated by mad laughter. “The King has returned!”

The body growled and lurched forward. For the first time, he could see the creature’s face, pale and decayed. The lips had long rotted away, revealing stark white teeth. The eyes were dead and yellow. Only the nose remained, in perfect condition, as if it were made entirely of plastic.

“This is bad! This is dangerous!” shouted the man, stepping backwards in disbelief. The creature followed, knocking over the several of the candles and kicking open the box labeled “Sonic the Hedgehog 3.” Out fell a small, disc-shaped object, on which was written “Sonic Boom: The Rise of Lyric.”

The man stared at it in terror. The sacred ceremony had been compromised! Also, he had been ripped off on eBay.

The creature grumbled a single sentence: “Beat…it…”

Scream after scream reverberated through the trees and into the night, trailing off miles from the nearest ear.