I never professed to be a master of video games. Living with my brother Hesh, he was giving me daily whompings on every game on every system we owned. This changed the day I discovered Tetris. We all know the game, its been ported to a hundred platforms and mimicked in many ways.
I feel confident (not cocky) enough to declare that I POWN this game. I just have a knack for it, and have displayed it to many people (worldwide on Tetris online system) and amongst people and friends who have challenged me.
I do have a fave story though….
In the fall of 1998 I attended the University of Saskatchewan (why out there, whole other story). Nice campus, but the best thing was they had a full swinging arcade! Sorry dad, I spent a whack of tuition on those games:)
One day they are changing the machines up and I notice when they move one of the newer machines, my god, there is an old Tetris machine sitting in the corner that I have never noticed before. I rocked this machine every spare minute I could, but as I filled every placement in the hi-scores column with “DAL” (my initials), there was one dude I could never beat, the infamous “TOS” who always held the hi-score #1 slot .
Time passed and my anger grew each time I came close to getting “DAL” in the top position. One day I decided that I would attend my nightly Sociology class that I chose never to go to (just read the book, got a 90%, sociology is a joke) and decided to drop a few quarters into the Tetris machine.
As I sauntered into the arcade, Mountain dew in hand, and silver quarters sweaty in the other, I see this old Asian gentleman, like really old, like maybe 75-80 at least, and HE’S ROCKING OUT THE TETRIS MACHINE!. This dude had skills like I had never seen.
I’m impressed but also am angry that I have to wait to play, then he turns to me and points at the second player handle and in some broken English says something to the effect, “Want to play?”.
I do, desperately, and accept his offer. I felt like the karate kid, tetrinome on, tetrinome off. We played a game so long that I missed the first half of my class, so I decided to admit defeat before i missed the second half. Its hi-score labelling time. He kicked the stuffing out of me by at least 50-75 lines, it was a long time ago now, so its hard to remember exaclty, but it was brutal.
The one thing I did remember thought were the initials he put in…..”TOS”. I damn near shot Mountain Dew out of my nose, it was him! The hi-score #1 slot holder! It wasn’t some young savy comp geek, an arcade eagle, a quarter slot quareterback, it was this old Asian fellow who hardly spoke English.
I shook his hand and said I was finally glad to meet him, and I pointed out the “DAL” on the score screen and he realized that it was me all over the list. We couldn’t have much of a convo due to the language barrier, but we both had a good laugh. He said his name was “Toshi” hence the “TOS” but I’ll never forget what he said to me as he was leaving, that was the clincher:
“You stick to Donkey Kong boy!” he smiled, and walked away.