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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Games: DJ Boy



The empire of arcades was strong in the late 80's-early 90's, and the force strong within it. Back then a social retard with a pocket full of quarters had a plethora of escapes from society, and I made it my mission to understand and exploit all of my options. A five block radius around my home served as my operating area, because my mom would only let me ride my bike that far. 

The places available were a pretty deep well of good times. There was Scoops ice cream shop a block up and on the corner. It had Golden axe in there, but didn't begin to truly interest me until Street Fighter II showed up in early 92'. The combination of ice cream and competition won me over. 

Majicade was a fully stocked, real deal arcade located about five blocks up, complete with funny smell, sticky floors and, sketchy dudes that would stand behind you and completely ruin your game of Outrun by saying "Aww shit turn mayn" until the car either flipped or slowed to a stop right around the rocks area that I could never seem to pass. 

But Majicade also had the misfortune of attracting the hoods worst representatives like moths to flame, and in our little network of arcade cockroaches whispers of other kids getting their bikes stolen and asses kicked in the parking lot became way too frequent for that place to stay the local H.

Four blocks up and east you had the Am/Pm run by the honorable Mr. Knobby Batswai. He let you play the two Neo Geo standups he had for as long as you wanted, as long as you had bought something first. So, as long as you had a cup of soda in your hand, Samurai Showdown was yours. Good show, sir. But the place where I spent the most time was five blocks west and across the parking lot from Knobby's. Grapevine comic shop, Mecca for the ADD set. 

The person that ran it was an old surly Japanese lady named Ruth. All day she sat on a stool behind the glass rare comic/candy display case glaring at us kids like rats let loose in a cheese factory. She also had a disturbingly effective good cop/bad cop dynamic with her husband, who served as the comic guru and dungeon master of the D&D group that occupied the fold out tables in the middle of the room. 

Comics were in the back, and to the right of the entrance were a row of Arcade machines. She imported titles that the were way ahead of the stuff that we would see at the other joints. But the title that I remember to this day is a game called DJ Boy. It was a co-op side scrolling beat-em up and the story involved a dude on roller skates fighting to retrieve his boombox from a gang of thugs.

The games interface was in Japanese, but the host of the affair was an all too American disk jockey named Wolfman Jack (Japanese/American mix match boxes replaced Demon Kakka with Wolfman Jack as if it would help). He would randomly shout Gibberish like "Get em' all up on their hind legs!" or my personal favorite, "Kick em' boy!" 

And the enemies were another type of event altogether. I was a young kid an had no understanding of the fact that at the time Japan saw American urban culture through some kind of weird blurry goggles. What these goggles saw, if one wanted to use this game as an example, would either turn out to be Alex Haley's TV movie Roots, or a very creative stripper. 

The game had you fighting a black lady that seemed to have jumped out from an Aunt Jemima bottle into real life. her attack, if I remember correctly, was either a flaming fart, or she would throw one of her many children at you, overhand like a MLB pitcher. When you hit her, she would fall on the ground, ass up, and moan Aww Lawwwwd! Brilliant. 

Another worthy enemy was a guy that would begin the battle laying down, dressed as just another bum. But when you got closer he would jump up like a man possessed, rip off his clothes, and display what he was wearing under them. A fucking Chippendale's outfit.

 He would then commence to chase you around screen shaking his junk until you beat this half naked dude to death. It is during this battle that the Wolfman Jack audio that states, "Get em' on their hind legs," gets incredibly uncomfortable for a child to hear. 

Arcades are awesome, and I hope they come back in some form because without them everyone is just at home playing games, and not being exposed to full breadth of gaming culture. Some shit is better off not being seen at all, yes. But when it as all said and done, every type of person needs a spot to congregate. Even us nerdy types.

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