The Skillful

I love classic video games. They remind us all of a time when you had a D-Pad and two (or maybe three or four) buttons to use and you had better quit your crying and make something with it. It was when we got all of our favorites like Mario and Sonic, and all of those other mascots that faded into obscurity as soon as they emerged. It was a vicious time. Game series were like movies; the first would rock the market, and the sequel would suck so bad that the series would end.

Today we’re up to what, “Final Fantasy 47,582 and a half: You’re running out of money but we can keep this up for another 20 years”, “Pokemon Burnt Orange with Green Stripes”, “Super Mario Extreme Snowboarding”, and “Sonic The Hedgehog: More Worthless Characters”?

I’m not here to make fun of today’s games. I’m here to ask you only one question:

“Do you have the skillful?”

I found myself at the receiving end of that question while I was looking for stuff to buy at a “local” trade center. One of the shops I came across was selling those pirated “5,000 games in 1” systems, which is really like 4,990 Mario Bros games, and 10 other shitty ones. I had time to waste so I decided to fool around with the ones they had on display. Lots of different models were here; they sodomized all sorts of controllers with NES games. There were Frankenstein’d Nintendo 64 controllers, Genesis controllers, and even Dreamcast parts (who the hell even plays that anymore).

I was enjoying a few rounds of Super Mario Bros. (since that is the only game on there) when the shopkeeper came up to me and asked if I liked what I saw. I was honest with him, I told him they were pretty cool but my little brother already owned one and I was just having fun. He was a nice old guy. He didn’t know much about what he was selling (since he often spelled games wrong on his advertisement flyers) but he’s just trying to make a buck… or thirty-five. Whichever.

He asked what I was playing and I said Mario, and he asked if I knew about “The Cheat Button”…

“The cheat button?” I asked.

He walked outside of the booth and I handed him the controller. “Yeh mang the CHEAT button here wach.” (Pardon the errors as I type in a racist Mexican accent.)

He pressed some of the extra buttons on the controller and went from World 1-1 to World 2-1, 3-1, 4-1, all the way to 8-1 and he stopped. Then, he dared to press it again and something completely unexpected happened. World 9-1. I’m sure he’s done this before, but it seemed like a complete mindfuck to him.

“You can only get to dese levels if you have the SKILLFUL.” He said. “Do you have the SKILLFUL?”

I knew 9-1 didn’t exist and its scrambled appearance just kinda cemented that thought but I didn’t know about the cheat, so I obviously did not have the “skillful”. I replied, “I didn’t know about these so I guess I don’t have it!”

He seemed real energetic and said “Well hey mang go and try it out, but hey mang check it out when you keep pressing cheat button it goes to letter worlds mang. Press it until it goes to O world mang.” I complied and went to World O-1 and was greeted with a black water level with randomized coins. He was playing it and said “See mang dese are the levels that the Nintendo didn’t want you to see mang. You can only get here with the skillful and cheat buttons.”

I watched him play the the level, and after he passed up about 20 random coins the level was just empty, so I asked what was up, since I don’t think he knew that the game was just calling for random information that didn’t exist. I don’t think he had the “skillful” to understand that concept, so I didn’t mention it. “Where’s the level?” I asked.

He pasued the game and said “After the coins mang there INVISIBLE walls mang. I play so much though I know where ALL DEM at.”

Completely plausible.

Unfortunately. I was getting hungry and I was actually supposed to have been on my way home so I had to cut this brilliant conversation/experience short, but rest assured. If you have the skillful, then you damn well better beat the levels the Nintendo didn’t want you to see.

– Dracophile

[Editor’s Note: The device in question was a “Power Player” system containing several hundred NES games built into the shell of a Nintendo 64 controller. The so-called “cheat button” was one of the two C-buttons that did not stand in as turbo options for A and B.]