When you have brothers and sisters, you learn the harsh lessons of sharing early-on. One of the harshest wasn't fighting over a beloved toy or our parents' affections, but was much, much worse: having to trade off who got to pick the video game at the rental store. This is the ultimate test of patience and humility to an eleven-year-old kid.
It would have been tolerable if my little brother picked out any decent games, but he was constantly picking out the worst of the worst, despite my constant reminders about his track-record of terrible choices. I'm talking like Back to the Future 2 & 3 bad. Or some terrible racing game like Indy 500 where he'd get a couple laps in, get bored and abandon it before we even saw a checkered flag.
Of course, I always picked the good games that we could both play. But the younger ones never really appreciate these gestures and sacrifices until you're much older.
Sometimes picking a single player game was inevitable. With games like Mega Man and Prince of Persia, we'd invoke the "Die or Pass a Level" Rule. It's pretty self-explanatory: if you die or pass a level, it's the other person's turn. Simple, balanced, fair.
Nothing steamed my broccoli more than when I'd come back from a quick bathroom break (usually caused by chugging one too many Yoshi Berry sodas) only to see something was seriously wrong. I could have sworn we had eight guys left. Didn't we? How do we only have seven now? Oh what the
did he use one of the Energy Tanks I was saving for when it was my turn!?
He was notorious for breaking this most sacred of doctrines. And I couldn't complain to the 'rents; I could only grin and bear it or risk having our video game privileges revoked for the rest of the weekend.
My mother coined the term "Nintendoitis" for when my brother and I would play games and our rivalry would escalate to the point of hoarse screaming, brutal taunting, and hot, angry tears. Whenever we reached Nintendoitis, she'd pull the plug on the whole operation. No, literally, she'd unplug the Nintendo despite our promises to get along ("Mooooooooom, you're going to ruin it!").
99.9% of the time, this was brought on by my brother's cheap-ass moves on Street Fighter 2. He'd always pick Guile and do the same combo over and over. He'd laugh his pre-pubescent giggle and I'd be in my intense standing position, playing with my whole body, blood about to spurt from my eyeballs at any second while struggling to find any means to Dragon Kick out of the corner.
Whatever dude. Is that all you got? That one lame combo? A true world warrior would have more in his arsenal.
In my college days, I'd pack up my PS2 and haul it back home with me to help aid in the process of the ultimate summer chill sesh: erasing all the meaningless statistics I had to cram into my brain for finals.
One year, I was struggling to beat the last challenge in God of War's Challenge of the Gods; which today remains the hardest achievement I've ever encountered. I burned through many a precious study hour trying to beat it while towering beeramids of Keystone Ice accumulated around me. It's the cruelest challenge of all time. And victory was almost in my ash-white grasp. Yet, try as I might, I could not reach that damn platform and drink from the chalice of gaming glory.
Of course, when I brought it home that summer, my little brother beat it with ease. All I could do was sit and try to pick my jaw up off the ground.
The Gods were clearly against me.
Some of the earlier Versus games didn't allow two players to pick the same character it was always a race to make sure you didn't end up with the crappy runner-up. My little brother had an uncanny ability to pick the best characters faster than I could. If we loaded up Super Mario Kart, he'd pull some quick-draw-mcgraw maneuver and somehow manage to land his cursor on our beloved Toad while I was stuck with Koopa Troopa.
Not to mention, anyone-who's-anyone knows the National Team on NES' RBI Baseball is the best team in the game. And every time that square white pixel would soar over the digital stadium and shitty fireworks would spell out "Home Run!", I'd think of another way to exact my revenge (see: hiding his beloved Ultimate Warrior Wrestling Buddy pillow in the attic).
I'm calling it that this is the absolute worst move your sibling can pull. In the original Super Mario Bros., the second controller could "pause" the first player's game at any time. Don't believe me? Try it yourself.
My brother would always hit "pause" right as I was jumping over at that first pit. And when I'd shriek at him to unpause it, he'd do so and my plumber would meet his untimely demise by tumbling ass-over-teakettle into the bottomless chasm. People always say that the Hammer Bros were the hardest baddies on that game. Not true. A vindictive little brother will always be the unrelenting headache in Super Mario Bros. In our version, Mario and Luigi weren't brothers that joined forces to tackle a common goal
they were brothers in direct competition with one another.
Of course, I would return the favor when it was Luigi's turn to play. Needless to say, my little brother and I could spend an entire afternoon playing Super Mario Bros. and never move past World 1-1.