Technical difficulties be damned; the show must go on! We salvage a rough night with some casual conversation about our earliest gaming memories, pinball, Mega Man, and more. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim "Yeah, I Have Pac-Man, Let's Make Out" Spaeth.
Tim Spaeth: Well, hello, everybody. It's Tim Spaeth; how nice of you to join me. What you're about to hear is technically episode 43 of our podcast, but it's not the 43 we intended to record. You see, a slew of technical and tardiness issues forced us to scrap the original plan, and honestly, we weren't going to do a show at all. But we figured: "Hey! We're on Skype; we love each other dearly; let's just rap about games for a while," and that's what we did. Old games, specifically, and pinball. Oh, sweet, sweet pinball. So here are some excerpts from that casual, low-key rap session with my good friends Chi Kong Lui, Mike Bracken, and Richard Naik. We will be back in one week—one week—with a proper show. But until then, I hope you enjoy this little diversion. Filipe, how about some theme music?
Richard Naik: I'm going to talk about pinball.
Mike Bracken: I love pinball. Like, real pinball.
Richard Naik: Have any of you guys ever played Sonic Spinball?
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Richard Naik: That old…for the Genesis. Yeah, the one where they take one of the most frustrating parts of the Sonic games and make a whole game out of it?
Tim Spaeth: I played it on the Genesis Collection, and it's horrible. I played it to get the Achievement, and then stopeed. I hate everything Sonic, but that in particular was bad.
Richard Naik: Well, see, I generally love Sonic, but that was pretty terribie. The reason there are only four levels is that you can tell the developers eventually just got to the point where they're just like: "All right, fuck this. This is awful. We're not doing this anymore."
Chi Kong Lui: I do enjoy the occasional pinball game, which included all the Pokémon Pinball games. Back in the day, I used to play Epic Pinball on shareware.
Tim Spaeth: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah! That's right.
Mike Bracken: I loved Pokémon Pinball.
Richard Naik: Epic Pinball was awesome.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Epic Pinball was really good.
Mike Bracken: Did you play real pinball, too, Tim?
Tim Spaeth: I grew up with pinball in my basement. We had three tables.
Chi Kong Lui: Wow! Really?
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: That sounds like fun.
Tim Spaeth: Probably when I was six or seven, my dad bought one table, which was a machine from the late '60s. And then a couple years later he bought two more. We had those through…he sold them when I was in college. I came home from college and they were gone, and I was like: "What?! Where are the pinball tables?!"
Chi Kong Lui: "Why didn't you sell them to me?"
Tim Spaeth: Exactly. Of course, I would've just kept them in the basement while I was at college.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: I never quite understood why he sold them, because I think he wanted to put a weight machine down there or something.
Mike Bracken: Oh, no.
Tim Spaeth: I was like: "Weightlifting is not cooler than pinball."
Mike Bracken: No.
Tim Spaeth: I don't care what your doctor tells you.
Chi Kong Lui: Do you equate your general love of gaming to starting off with pinball at that time, or anything like that?
Tim Spaeth: My dad was responsible for it, because he was an accountant for many years. One of his clients was an Atari games distributor, so they would pay my dad in pre-release Atari games.
So every other week, he would bring home a game that wasn't out yet. The big one was Pac-Man. I had Pac-Man before anyone.
Mike Bracken: Lucky you.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, I know. Seriously. Back then, you didn't know better.
Mike Bracken: Did you get E.T. before everyone, too?
Tim Spaeth: I had E.T. I don't remember if my dad was still working for this guy at that point. Pac-Man, I remember taking the box to school and just casually having it in my backpack and leaving the backpack open so that people would walk by and see it.
Just to try and improved my popularity, and it worked briefly. But I remember playing Pac-Man, and being bored with it in four minutes.
Mike Bracken: Oh, God. Dorkiest gaming confessions.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, that's definitely one of them. But he definitely, my dad was just a huge part of that. We had just [a] quantity of games that he would just get for doing his accounting work.
Richard Naik: My earliest memory—and this is going to sound incredibly cliché—was actually Super Mario Bros. I got a NES for Christmas when I was six years old and it came with that Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt…
Mike Bracken: Ugh, six.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter]
Tim Spaeth: That makes me sick. Six years old.
Mike Bracken: Christ, I was in high school when the Nintendo came out.
Richard Naik: I'm sorry I wasn't born ten years earlier. The Reagan era was just so appealing, I just couldn't resist.
Chi Kong Lui: I'll try not to hold it against you, Richard.
Richard Naik: [Chuckles] So I got that for Christmas one year, and then it came with a Zapper and that Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt on the same game—
Mike Bracken: Combo cartridge, yeah.
Richard Naik: So that was actually my first game, which sounds incredibly cliché, but that is actually true.
Chi Kong Lui: So were you ever a coin-op kid at all?
Richard Naik: I was, but it was actually after that is when I started playing coin-op games. I didn't really play much of the Street Fighters as much as the side-scrolling beat-em-ups, like the Final Fights, that Simpsons game that THQ [put out?].
Mike Bracken: Umhm. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Richard Naik: Yeah. I put $6 into that Simpsons game one day and finally beat it on my own.
Chi Kong Lui: The worst one to play.
Mike Bracken: The Avengers was one of my favorites for a long time.
Tim Spaeth: [Many announcer voice]: America still needs your help!
Mike Bracken: Yeah. And then I remember the first fucking day they had the X-Men cabinet at the arcade. Oh, my God. That was like Christmas.
Richard Naik: Oh, that was amazing. What was best was when they had two of them hooked up together, and you could have [unknown] people playing.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah. That's the way I saw it originally, yeah.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: You just had to play just for the sheer size of that thing.
Richard Naik: But the final boss in that Simpsons game is ridiculous. It's Mr. Burns in this gigantic robotic suit, and it takes forever. I think I spent well over 30 minutes on just that part alone.
Mike Bracken: Wow.
Chi Kong Lui: Those games were the embodiment of that time limit of how they need to take your quarter, approximately a minute and a half into it.
Mike Bracken: Yup. They were coin-munchers.
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] You just could not survive. You were just sometimes pouring the money rignt into that thing.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: And then by the time you got to the boss, you felt like you sunk so much money into it, you were already invested. You had to see it to the end, so you kept sinking more money into it until you finally fucking beat it.
Richard Naik: See, I didn't care. I was saving up my allowance for at least three weeks, trying to put that money in there so I could specifically beat that game.
Mike Bracken: [Laughter]
Chi Kong Lui: No, I'd loathe myself after being suckered into it. [Laughter]
Richard Naik: See, I considered that a worthwhile investment, to be totally honest with you.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, it never really bothered me.
Chi Kong Lui: No, I come from that era…Did you ever play Mat Mania on the coin-ops? It was an old pro-wrestling game.
Mike Bracken: Nah, I never played that one.
Chi Kong Lui: Man, that game. There used to be this Latino music store by our neighborhood, because we lived in a very ethnic neighborhood, you could say. And they used to have video games in the back of this place.
Mike Bracken: He was Chi Sanchez.
Chi Kong Lui: So while you had all this Hispanic music blazing in the background from these gigantic speakers, they had three coin-op games in the back. I remember the earliest ones were Space Ace, Mat Mania, Russian Attack and Gauntlet and a few other one of those. You could play Mat Mania the whole day. You'd spend one quarter and play the whole fucking day. It'd never end. They'd have to throw your ass out of their store and pull the plug on you, just so that you'd leave. So I always equated value gaming with that game. A quarter should last half the day, if you're really good.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: And games like Simpsons and those fucking Konami games were just the exact opposite of that. No matter how good you were, it was going to take your money. So I always had a loathing thing for those games.
Richard Naik: What was the name of that cop-shooter game? It was the one with the light guns?
Mike Bracken: Time Crisis?
Richard Naik: No, it wasn't Time Crisis. It was the older one.
Tim Spaeth: Virtua Cop?
Chi Kong Lui: Lethal…?
Tim Spaeth: Lethal Enforcers.
Richard Naik: Lethal Enforcers. That was it.
Chi Kong Lui: Right, right.
Richard Naik: It was the very first Lethal Enforcers, and I remember once you got to it was either the last level or the second-to-last level, there were just so many enemies on the screen, it was essentially impossible to kill them all. So you had to keep putting quarters in to keep playing, so those last two levels were just such huge quarter-sucks. Those games were obviously designed to make a profit, in more ways than one.
Mike Bracken: I remember the arcade at the mall had Hogan's Alley. I used to play that a lot, and then it came out on Nintendo.
Tim Spaeth: Arcade Hogan's Alley.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Huh. I knew there was an arcade Wild Gunman from the Back to the Future movie…or Back to the Future [unknown], but I didn't know there was a Hogan's Alley arcade game.
Mike Bracken: Uh-huh. Yep. And I [unknown] had one.
Chi Kong Lui: That was all about the reflexes, right? There wasn't much aiming if you're shooting that stuff in the arcade. [Chuckles]
Mike Bracken: Right, right. Yeah, it was all reflex: "Don't shoot the wrong person," and "Shoot them fast enough."
Chi Kong Lui: Right.
Mike Bracken: That was it.
Chi Kong Lui: Do you remember Crime Wave, Tim, for the PC?
Tim Spaeth: Was Crime Wave…? Who made Crime Wave? That wasn't a Dynamix game, was it?
Chi Kong Lui: I don't think it was. It was an early—
Tim Spaeth: Or Access Software, or something?
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah, I think it was Access. Yeah. It was one of those early, full-motion-looking type games. It actually ran really well for a PC game. Or was it called Crime War?
Tim Spaeth: So, Chi, was Mat Mania your earliest…? It couldn't have been your earliest video game.
Chi Kong Lui: No. Yeah, it wasn't officially my earliest one. I think my earliest one would be waiting for a bus to go to church on the weekends, so we'd wait at this designated spot, around the corner of our block, which was outside of a gas station. Inside the gas station store, they'd have Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Centipede, all the old classics. So we would play them and then the church bus would pull up. We'd be like: "Oh, shit! It's time to go to church!" and we'd have to leave the games. That was always very painful. So I remember that. [Chuckles] As well as spending a lot of time wandering Penn Station. Anyone ever go to Penn Station in the early '80s in New York? They used to have these really nice arcades there.
Richard Naik: Never actually been to New York, so no.
Chi Kong Lui: Ah. So I had a lot of early memories of that, as well. I remember seeing Space Harrier there.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, Space Harrier.
Chi Kong Lui: I always still enjoy every time you put that music there, Tim. It still brings back fond memories of me being in the old Penn Station arcade.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: Although you are getting very lazy, Tim.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, there's no question. Yeah, I was going to say: It's great that you appreciate that, but be aware that it's because I don't feel like finding new music.
Chi Kong Lui: You've been going to the well one too many times on that one.
Tim Spaeth: I know; I know. I grew up in Ohio, so every summer we would go to Cedar Point, and I haven't been to Cedar Point in years, so I don't know if they still have this. But basically in the middle of Cedar Point, there was this warehouse-sized arcade with countless arcade machines and a wall of pinball machines. So we would assemble with our aunts and uncles and cousins every summer, and my dad and I would go and we would basically just work our way down the pinball machines. And he would finance the entire thing, because obviously, I didn't have an income beyond my allowance. But we would start on the left end, and I would be on one machine and he would be on the machine to the right and we would just keep moving down.
Mike Bracken: [Chuckles]
Tim Spaeth: The goal was to not get to the end. Of course, with pinball, you are rewarded for good play with potenitally extra balls and free games.
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Tim Spaeth: And you would get that giant wooden clunk!
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: That knocker that goes off when you get a free game, and, oh, is there a more glorious sound? There is not.
Mike Bracken: Nope.
Tim Spaeth: That's the one thing you lose with video pinball. Well, it's two things. You don't have the physicality of thrusting your hips into the machine.
Richard Naik: Are you in sexual congress with the machine, Tim?
Tim Spaeth: It's not quite sexual congress; it's not quite Too Human.
Mike Bracken: It's rough sex, yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: It's actual sex.
Tim Spaeth: It is actual intercourse just to get the right amount of English on the ball.
Chi Kong Lui: That's a whole new way to use that fucking coin return, dude.
Mike Bracken: Yep.
Chi Kong Lui: That's something I never considered.
Tim Spaeth: Yeah.
Mike Bracken: Work that plunger.
Richard Naik: I remember the only big arcade that was in my area growing up. Did anyone else have a Tilt closeby to them? Or was that just a St. Louis thing?
Mike Bracken: Yeah, I hadn't had one of those.
Richard Naik: Well, it was in a shopping mall, and it was this big arcade. I went there a lot when I was young—six to ten, I guess. That's where I played the Simpsons game, Lethal Enforcers, all that fun stuff. Then over time, it started to become a gang hangout.
And as a result, the arcade, and really the mall…Going to the mall now is really sad, because all the stores and everything is gone. It's just this gigantic empty husk of something that used to be a lot of fun and enjoyable. But I remember during its decline, I would still go to the arcade sometimes and occasionally there would be machines shut down that would have four [unknown] on them, and every now and then, you'd see a machine that actually had bulletholes in it or something like that.
Yeah, eventually that place closed down. The building is still there, and I think the only thing in the building is a shoe repair shop or something. So going there now is actually extremely depressing.
Chi Kong Lui: Aren't there a couple of legendary spots, like when you saw that King of Kong documentary, those Twin Galaxies people? They always mention a couple of those places.
Mike Bracken: There's a place in the Bay area—I think it's down in Santa Cruz—that's the Nickel Arcade or something, where they have a bunch of classic cabinets. I think they're only a nickel a game.
Tim Spaeth: The place to be, apparently, for classic arcade action and pinball is Austin. Austin, Texas.
Mike Bracken: Really. That fucking figures.
Tim Spaeth: I was doing some research for the pinball segment, and there's a place opening in Austin this month called Pinballz Arcade. It's 13,000 square feet of pinball heaven, and if you go to PinballzArcade.com, there is a list of the machines they have and it's just….Oh, my God. [Laughter] It's all the pinball games I love.
Chi Kong Lui: So did we want to get Mike's story on his first gaming experience and then go back to pinball? Or even just end it there, really. [Chuckles]
Tim Spaeth: Well, yeah. Why don't we do that? I heard Mike mention Pong. Was Pong really your first video game experience?
Mike Bracken: Yeah, it was, actually. I must've been three or four; video games were just getting to the point where you could get them at home. Sears had their own spinoff Pong console, and it was this godawful shade of yellow. And [my parents] bought one and had it in the living room, and that was the first thing I ever remembered playing. Yeah, we had that. I vaguely remember playing it. I was not old enough to really conceptualize what was happening, but I liked it.
And then after that, when I got a little bit older, we got a Magnivox Odyssey 2, which was the weird, poor man's Atari. [Chuckles] It had the keyboard and shit and had the rip-off Pac-Man game and everything.
Richard Naik: Did you ever have a ColecoVision?
Mike Bracken: Yeah. Yeah, I had a ColecoVision later. But, yeah, my favorite for the longest time was the 2600. My grandparents had a 2600 at their house that we played, and that's when I really, really got hooked.
Tim Spaeth: What was your go-to game?
Mike Bracken: Space Invaders. Yeah, I loved Space Invaders. I would sit there and play that, and I forget what the score was, but after a while you would reach the point where the score would flip and reset. [Chuckles] I could flip that thing all the time. You could do that with Asteroids, too, back then.
Chi Kong Lui: Did you guys ever beat Raiders of the Lost Ark?
Mike Bracken: No, but I had it.
Richard Naik: No.
Chi Kong Lui: I was actually proud to say I beat that game.
Tim Spaeth: Really.
Chi Kong Lui: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: With just solo play and luck, or—?
Chi Kong Lui: No, no. I totally had to read something that explained it. [Laughter] Even after they explained it to you, it was still fucking hard.
Mike Bracken: Yeah, it was still hard, right?
Chi Kong Lui: [Laughter] It was still hard, yeah. But then I just started doing that on a regular basis: "Let me go beat Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Tim Spaeth: I remember playing that. I had a friend named John, and John had a baby brother. I don't know when this would've been—fourth grade, maybe? '84? '85, it sounds like? So we would play Raiders of the Lost Ark, having no idea what we were doing. No clue. We just knew that getting bitten by the tsetse fly was bad.
Mike Bracken: Was bad. [Chuckles]
Tim Spaeth: Don't get bit by the tsetse fly. But there was a screen, it was a blue background with the yellow mesas, and there was a way to make something flash on the mesa, which would give you the location of the map room or something.
Chi Kong Lui: Right. The crazy thing about that game is that it was actually just like the frickin' movie. Just like Indy does it in the movie, you got to get the staff—
Mike Bracken: The staff.
Chi Kong Lui: —go into that room and then shine, and then wait until the sun goes up on it. Yeah, the place where the actual, I don't even remember what's supposed to be there, but in the mesa that you're talking about, you actually have to find the right one. Then you parachute down and fall into it. And that was always tricky, because you could potentially die by missing that parachute. [Chuckles] Your whole game would be over and you'd have to do it again. [Chuckles]
Mike Bracken: Ugh.
Chi Kong Lui: I can't believe games would make you do that. That was pretty hilarious, but I'm sure it all made perfect sense to the developer. [Chuckles]
Mike Bracken: Yes.
Chi Kong Lui: It was actually pretty frickin' brilliant, but the graphics were so abstract that—
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: —you had no idea what you were looking at, from a pure gameplay standpoint.
Mike Bracken: Well, it wasn't nearly as confounding as E.T. was. I remember we got E.T. and just trying to even figure out: What's the point of falling in the holes?
Chi Kong Lui: Right, yeah.
Mike Bracken: You only have so much power, and then you're stuck in the hole and you can't get out, but the game doesn't end. Ugh.
Tim Spaeth: I'm looking at screenshots of that Atari game, and I'm being flooded with just memories of frustration and resentment. Juat looking at screenshots of the map room and there's the mesa screen. It's making me angry, just seeing it. Oh, my God. I'm going to have to watch a playthrough, though. I'm dying to see how it plays out.
Chi Kong Lui: And you know how I found out the solution to that game? There was this kid back then who liked to procliam himself the world's greatest game player on Atari 2600, and he wrote a book of some sort. I remember borrowing this book at the library, and he explains how you beat this thing. That's how I got it. [Chuckles] Who knows what this kid turned out to be? It's just kind of funny that this kid would just proclaim himself the world's greatest game player.
Mike Bracken: I remember when Final Fantasy VI came out on the Super Nintendo, back in the days before there were strategy guides and GameFAQs—when you used to have to call up the fucking 900 number tip line at $1.99 a minute.
Richard Naik: Oh, yeah.
Mike Bracken: God. I ran up a little bit of a phone bill on that game at the time.
Richard Naik: I'm proud to say that I never actually used the phone support. I either just powered through it or just stopped playing or [unknown].
Chi Kong Lui: [Chuckles] Just gave up, right?
Richard Naik: Being six or seven years old probably helped, when I did not have access to a steady flow of cash, but still.
Mike Bracken: Yeah. I just remember there were a couple things in Final Fantasy VI. I remember you get to the town that's destroyed, and you have to set the clock. I must have skipped through the dialogue, because there was probably a hint for what time you were supposed to set the clock to, but I probably skipped through it and I had to fucking call. I sat there for three hours, trying to figure out how to set this clock: what time it was supposed to say. It was so annoying.
Tim Spaeth: [I had] a sleepover at my house, and my friend brought Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!
Mike Bracken: Oh, yeah.
Tim Spaeth: And we got to Mike Tyson, and Mike Tyson obliterates you.
Mike Bracken: Right.
Tim Spaeth: My friend was like: "We have to beat Mike Tyson; can we call the Nintendo hotline?"
It's pretty presumptuous, given it was my house, but he talked me into it. So I called the Nintendo Fun Club hotline, and we got the game counselor, which is the greatest name for that job—the game counselor.
Mike Bracken: Right; right. Could you hear him flipping through his little finder to get to the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! page?
Tim Spaeth: Exactly. It was a woman, and I said: "How do you beat Mike Tyson?" and she goes: "We don't give out that answer."
Richard Naik: That's classified information.
Mike Bracken: Oh, are you serious?
Tim Spaeth: I'm like: "What? It's $2.50. At least tell me something." She's like: "No; we think, for the final boss, that you should"…I don't remember what she said, but it was like: "you should experience the trials and tribulations of defeating Mike Tyson yourself, because you'll feel more rewarded for it" or some nonsense like that. I'm like: "No. I have to justify this expense to my parents. Please, tell me something." But I got nothing out of her.
Mike Bracken: She wouldn't tell you anything?
Tim Spaeth: Wouldn't tell me anything. What a bitch.
Richard Naik: There was a story I read a while ago, and I can't remember where I saw it. But they were talking about how the most money that Nintendo ever made off of those support calls was about people calling in trying to get advice on how to beat Gutsman in the original Mega Man.
Mike Bracken: Oh, yeah, that makes sense.
Chi Kong Lui: Really.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Tim Spaeth: Really?
Richard Naik: Yeah. It was the first time ever [that] a game enemy had actually had a seismic attack, where when he hit the ground, I can't remember if you took damage or if it just stunned you for a second. Apparently it was so ridiculous that people couldn't handle it.
Mike Bracken: It was confusing.
Richard Naik: And they're like: "Why can't I just not suddenly move? This makes no sense."
Mike Bracken: [Chuckles] Too funny.
Richard Naik: Yeah. I don't know if that's actually true or not, so I could just be talking shit.
Mike Bracken: I don't know. I would believe that.
Chi Kong Lui: The funny thing is, probably as a reaction to that they made Mega Man 2 ridiculously easy.
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Richard Naik: Was it? I don't remember it being ridiculously easy, compared to the first one.
Chi Kong Lui: Oh, it was totally easy. That was one of the first games that I spent hardcore money to purchase, and after I beat it…I almost tried to slow myself down to justify the expense, as a kid. I'm like: "Man, this can't be this easy! I spent way too much money on this." [Laughter]
Mike Bracken: Yeah.
Chi Kong Lui: And I beat it, and it kind of made me upset that I beat it so quickly. I'm like: "Holy shit!" This may be the first time I felt a little ripped off. Although the graphics were mind-blowingly great, it was still so fucking easy. I never played the first Mega Man, actually, and then I went bsck and rented it. It was harder—definitely harder—but it still wasn't that hard. I remember still plowing through it pretty quickly.
Richard Naik: The first Mega Man I ever played was Mega Man 4. I had just gotten it, and my grandfather, my mother and I, we went on a road trip to Florida. My grandpa had a van that had a TV in it, so we just brought the Nintendo with us, hooked the Nintendo up so I could play it in the car while we were driving to Florida. Missouri to Florida's a very long drive. So I would play the game sometimes; sometimes I would read a book, sometimes I would sleep. I got to Wily's castle in Mega Man 4 but it was right before we got back from that trip. So I had left the game by accident in my grandpa's van, and then a couple of weeks later he wrecked it.
Mike Bracken: Oh, no.
Richard Naik: And my game was destroyed. I think I was nine, maybe. I had always felt kind of sad that I never actually got to beat that game. It wasn't until…it must've been almost ten years later, when I was in college, when I finally picked it up again and beat it. So I know Mega Man 4 is known as one of the less spectacular Mega Mans, but it holds a bit of a special place for me, just because I was able to finally fulfill that ten-year-long quest to get to the end of Wily's castle in Mega Man 4.
Tim Spaeth: You never forget your first Mega Man.
Richard Naik: No, you don't.
Tim Spaeth: We rented the original Mega Man, a friend of mine and I. At the local video store there was nothing but that little white sheet of paper that had a paragraph describing what you're supposed to do. So we didn't know that you could switch weapons. I might've told this story before, but we got as far as you could get in Mega Man without switching weapons. We thought it was the hardest game ever made. If you run through that with a Mega-Buster, it pretty much is one of the hardest games on the NES. And it wasn't until a Nintendo Power article revealed the secret of switching weapons that we just were ashamed and vowed never to speak of it.
When you hit the Select button and the list of weapons come up, we just thought it was an inventory of the levels that you had beaten. [Chuckles] We didn't realize that we…because we never hit the Down on the control-pad to actually switch the weapon.
Richard Naik: You just thought it was a trophy list?
Tim Spaeth: Yeah, exactly. It was like: "Oh, yeah. We finished those levels."
But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).
Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.