Gartwo's Main Event-More fun than a stroll down Badstreet!
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When it was a Game- While forced to kill some time at the Mall a few days ago I came to a startling realization: The world of video games has passed me by, leaving me and my NES Zapper Gun in a cloud of dust. Usually when i'm in the video game store the first place I head to is the "bargain bin" where they keep all the old, games that people bring in and abandon in favor of the new, flashier ones. On this trip, though I was there during school hours so all the little kids who usually hog the playable video game systems were in class somewhere learning about long division. So, I figured I would take this opportunity to try to play some of these games. Now, don't ask me what game I played, or how good I did, because between the 35
Special Feature #2 5/02/03
buttons and 7 joysticks I couldn't figure out how to do much of anything, except get so aggravated that I left. This experience got me to thinking about the good ol' days of video gaming, and I thought i'd take a while to play and write about some of my favorite old wrestling games, starting with World Championship Wrestling for the NES.
--------This was the first wrestling Nintendo game my brother and I ever got. I was always a WWF fan first and a WCW fan second, so that made this game seem a little less special to me back then. If it didn't have Hulk and the Ultimate Warrior on it, it wasn't much of a game to me. But now when I play it I think it's probably the best wrestling game ever for the old NES. There are 12 wrestlers to choose from: Sting, Lex Luger, Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, Rick Steiner, Mike Rotunda, Ricky Steamboat, Eddie Gilbert, Kevin Sullivan, Michael PS Hayes & Steve Williams. By the time we got this game at Christmas 1990 over half of the wrestlers on it weren't even in WCW anymore. Nevertheless, we played the heck out of it. This game meets the two main requirements to be a "Gartwo Certified" great game, it's easy to play & it's fun. Not like these new high-tech wrestling games in which you have to study a lousy player's guide full of diagrams, charts and seemingly endless button combinations in order to play them. Each wrestler on WCW has his own unique move list from which you got to pick four moves to use before each of your matches. During the match you could throw your foe outside and bash his face in with a wrench that just happens to be lying around. Each time you excecute one of your moves on someone, you power bar gets a little higher. When it gets to a certain height, you can then put in your dreaded specialty move, like Sting's Scorpion Death Lock, seen above applied to Animal. The object of the game on one-player mode is, of course, to win the World Title and I was determined to get back to the top of the mountain one more time! After all, if Hogan can come back in the year 2002 and win the WWF title, surely I can make a triumphant return to the WCW Video Game and relive my past glory once more. But first I had to actually get the stupid Nintendo to work, which required a lot patience...and hitting. About a half hour later, that old familiar title screen finally showed up and I, as The Stinger, was set to go kick some 8-bit tail. My first opponent was Freebird Michael P.S. Hayes and I quickly found out that my old Nintendo joints aren't what the used to be. This game requires a lot of rapid button pushing and my thumbs were worn out by match two. So I decided to take the easy road to the top and hook up the bad mother known as the "NES Advantage". For those who don't know, it's a big joystick type controller with Turbo controls on it, so instead of repeatedly pushing the buttons over and over, I can simply hold them down. Call it cheating if you must but I wasn't there to fool around, I was there to win. I steamrolled through the first 8 matches but met stiff competition in one Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat.
We had an epic match which saw Steamboat kick out of the Scorpion Deathlock as the time limit expired! The rematch went inside the final 30 seconds, but The Dragon eventually gave in after 2 Deathlocks. I then advanced to compete in a classic title match versus "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. It looked like it was going to be a repeat of the first Steamboat match as I locked a Boston Crab in on Flair with only 5 seconds left, but, at the 1/2 second mark Flair uttered the words "I give up" and the WCW Minor Title was mine! Now I was halfway to paydirt. I had the Minor Title, but I had to go through the entire roster yet again to get my shot at the World Belt I so coveted. After a foolish double-countout draw with PS Hayes (I was in a brawling mood) I went on an impressive winning streak all the way back to Flair. It would again go down to the final seconds,
Ricky Steamboat piledrives Gartwo, as Sting, in an epic encounter.
and "Naitch" put up a good fight, but I was a man on a mission (no, not Mo or Mabel) and victory was Sting's yet again! But wait...there seems to be one more opponent left on Sting's road to Glory, but who could it be? I've already defeated all 11 other wrestlers twice! Oh no, it can't be...it's The WCW MASTER! Yes, folks the dreaded WCW Master. Flashback to the days when my brother and I first got this game: We weren't sure what to expect once we made it to the match with the "Master". On his bio screen, where his photo should be, there is simply a dark shilouette with a question mark on it. Who was this mystery grappler? That was the question as we fought our way through this game for the first time all those years ago. For some reason, we were under the impression that the "WCW Master" was going to turn out to be an actual wrestler once we got there. He's over 7' tall, so perhaps it was El Gigante? "Maybe it's Andre the Giant?" we thought, even though I knew that would be impossible considering this was a WCW game and Andre was a WWF wrestler. It turned out The WCW Master's identity was simply some fat guy in a mask. After all the speculation, he was just some plain ol' generic guy. We were a bit disappointed for a moment, until one of us hopefully suggested that maybe you have to beat him first, then you get to see him unmasked! Unfortuantely, for the 10 year old Gartwo and his younger brother, that was easier said than done. The WCW Master was impossible to hurt! None of the regular moves worked on him,
so we had no clue how to take the guy out. If i'm not mistaken, we may have even talked Dad into letting us call that rip-off "Nintendo Helpline" to try and get some advice. It was long distance, so it costed a little to call, but every now and then when I would get to that impassable part of certain games, I would persuade my parents to let me dial up the folks at Nintendo for advice. And I almost always got the same lousy answer: "practice". Lousy fraud, I don't think they even knew there was a WCW Nintendo game. It's kind of like the time Mean Gene said he had news about the Ultimate Warrior making a comback on his WCW Hotline. My mom reluctantly gave me two minutes, so I called and listened to Gene rambling about the flippin' USWA, for
It's the WCW Master!
two minutes before I had to hang up. Gene Okerlund owes me three bucks. Anyway, back to the game. The WCW Master gave us fits until we got a new game, and the unbeatable WCW game was pushed aside in favor of a new adventure. It would be 5 or 6 years later before I would take down the Master for the first time, thanks to my pal James who I let borrow the game over the summer. He discoverd that the way to beat the Master was repeatedly hit him off the ropes. It doesn't appear like it's hurting him, but it is. It comes down to the wire, but if you hit him enough times, you can pin him before time expires. Back to my present battle: With James' timely advice still in mind, I hit the dreaded Master wide open with clotheslines and shoulderblocks aplenty! It's no easy task by any stretch, it took a couple of hours of losses and time limit draws to get my exact rythym down, but eventually it all paid off as I  toppled the huge masked man one final time for the three-count and the WCW World Championship Gold around Sting's waist! In all, I spent about 5 hours battling my way back to the top of WCW, but it was definitely worth it. It was an enjoyable experience, especially after being away from this game for several years. It was like being introduced to it all over again. As for ever finding out the true identity of the WCW Master, I have my suspicions. Maybe he was the guy driving the Hummer? Or the guy who raised the briefcase? Perhaps he was the one behind GTV? Or maybe, just maybe, he knows something about those pictures of Dusty Rhodes that Baby Doll had? You never know...
Hey ! If you'd like to relive some old memories, or play these great games for the first time, but you don't have an old Nintendo, try downloading an emulator! With an emulator you can download and play practically any old video game you'd like, right on your PC! Just search around the net for emulators (I use Jnes) & roms, find a good site, download the proper files and play like it's the 80's all over again. Keep in mind, though that downloading copies of video games you don't actually own isn't the most legal thing to do, so you didn't hear it from me...wink, wink!
Jamie Noble has been to my House...really.
The pros & cons of President Warrior.
email Gartwo: robertga@concord.edu