Sunday, April 19, 2009

The face that launched a thousand enranged throws of the controller

Over the course of a life, one makes enemies. My life is no different.

When those enemies are made in childhood, the grudges can fester. Grow. Their evil can seep into the soil and bring forth blooms of seething, spiteful hatred. Again, my life is no different.

And over the course of two decades, that hatred -- unchecked, unabated -- can become monstrous, an animal no longer controllable or consolable.

Even if the target of all that rage is a drunken pink cartoon boxer.

soda popinski

You motherfucker.

When I was kid, I played Mike Tyson's Punch-Out a lot. A lot. I didn't have my own copy of Zelda yet, and I'd beaten Mario fifteen times by then. Getting to -- and then defeating -- Iron Mike was my sole focus for a good long while. My cousin Brian, he had a post-Mike version of the game, and again, the quest for victory over Mr. Dream consumed me. But I never beat Tyson, or his white-bread revisionist counterpart. Because I never got there.

Because of Soda Popinski.

Pop is your second opponent in the World Circuit, which actually consists mostly of rematches. Piston Honda shows up to fight you again, and in the interim he's learned how to duck. Not exactly a stunning revamp, to be certain, and he's easily dispatched.

And then: Soda Pop. The fucker.

I couldn't beat him when I was little. Couldn't, ever. I returned to the game briefly in middle school, and found that, if my timing was just right, I had no distractions, and the gods smiled in the heavens over Maryland, then I could actually beat him...once out of every, oh, ten tries. The other nine: defeat -- shameful, ignominious.

Remember that fucking dog we talked about, from Duck Hunt? Remember his laughter when you'd miss? Soda laughed, too. A strikingly similar sound, though a little rougher, I think. Deeper. Callous. Evil.

The fucker.

When I got my big batch of NES ROMs a few years ago, I fired up Punch-Out. And guess what? I still couldn't do it. I cheated, even -- used save states to keep my place just before the big fight. It took me hours, and I finally got him. Once.

There are myths and legends that speak of rivalries like this. I've written of them of myself, even when it comes to old video games -- remember Fester's Quest? My continued failure, followed by righteous triumph and victory?

Last night, we bought Punch-Out from the Wii's Virtual Console. I started it, remembering my Fester's triumph and picturing a similar story unfolding. Surely, I would achieve victory. Surely, I would put those old demons to rest.

"I don't think so," Soda Pop said. "And don't call me Shirley." fucker.

Urge to kill rising.

1 comment:

  1. Soda Popinski wasn't so bad. My nemesis was Mr. Sandman.