was a collection of 4 horror stories that really weren't all that horrific, but
still pretty damned entertaining. One story was about a lady leaving the
house late at night for groceries while a killer is on the loose. Another
is about a priest who loses his faith and is stalked by a car driven by
Satan. And the final one is about a family with a very large rat problem.
While all of those stories have their moments, none stick out in my head
like the second story - The Bishop of Battle.
it's going to be an awesome tale from the get-go because the soundtrack is
filled with all sorts of great old punk music such as "Let's Have a War"
by Fear. Emilio Estevez, powered by the sounds of punk on an
ancient Walkman, is a video
game master named J.J. Cooney. He and his little pal Zock (who you might
recognize from a couple episodes of "The A-Team" or "The Bad News Bears"
among other things) traveled far out of their town to a new
arcade to try and hustle some of the locals in some video game matches. I
have to say, "Zock" is about the best goddamned name ever. If any of you
are pregnant, please consider naming the kid "Zock"... whether it's a boy
or a girl.
they find a sucker. But this isn't just any sucker, this is a member of
the Bloods... or the Crips... or the Bloody Crips... or the Crippled
Bloods. Well, whatever gang he's a part of, they like wearing hairnets
and/or bandanas and back then, that meant you were tough, ok? Plus,
he keeps calling J.J. "Esé" in a horribly fake Mexican accent. I
swear he calls him Esé at least ten times during their conversation. So J.J. let's
the guy win a few games to build up his confidence, and then they play a
whopping $25.00 bet on a game of Pleiades (a great game, but not
too easy to find these days). And now it's time for J.J. to get busy.
All of a
sudden, he becomes completely serious as he puts on his headphones and
blasts that punk rock music. It's kinda like how Stallone turned some
inner-switch on in "Over The Top" when he put his hat on backwards, only
much cooler. Well maybe not. I mean, Stallone made truck driving look
pretty awesome in that movie. Nonetheless, J.J. is now in the zone and
wipes the floor with gangbanger boy.
one of the little gangbangers in training recognizes J.J. and tells the
other gang members, "That's J.J. Cooney. He's the best there ever was. You
bein' hustled!" Fortunately, just when they're about to give him a
beatdown, a cop walks into the arcade, so J.J. and his pal escape
unharmed. Next stop, the Fox Hills mall.
like these bring a tear to my eye. The arcades of yesteryear, where every
game was a quarter and a shitload of fun to play. Starhawk, Venture,
Pacman... this arcade had all the classics (and yes, that is Moon Unit
Zappa playing the Starhawk game). But one game in particular makes this
arcade standout from the rest. That's right, this arcade is home to The
Bishop of Battle. Emilio, er, J.J. is determined to make it to level
13 of the game (the final level). Everybody tells him nobody has ever made
it because level 13 doesn't exist, but he swears some kid out in Jersey
reached it twice. Some kid out in Jersey... that's all the motivation J.J.
needs. He's gonna beat this game if it kills him!
Now here at
the Fox Hills mall, J.J. is a part of arcade gaming lore. He's a local
legend. His gaming skills are so respected that when people see him enter
the arcade, they gather around just to watch a master at work. Even
better, if a kid is playing on the machine he wants to play on, they have
no problem tearing the kid away from it. He's like the Godfather of video
games. Now imagine watching a story like that when you were 10 years old
and you too would think J.J. is the coolest person on earth. I wanted to
be J.J. when I grew up damnit. And I must say, I play a mean game of Ms.
Pacman. Wanna bet 25 bucks I can beat ya, Esé?
pops in a token and it's time to go head to head with the Bishop! Gotta
love how those headphones stick out... I remember when the only way to be
cooler than the next guy was to have a bigger set of headphones. I'm sure
there was one some guy out there who wrapped a pair of 16" subwoofers
around his head just to prove how badass he really was. So just remember
that, the next time you shove those puny iPod buds into your cowardly
little ears... nancy boy.
"Greetings Earthling. I
am the Bishop of Battle — master of all I survey.
I have 13 progressively harder levels. Try me... if you dare."
have it, the pinnacle of arcade game graphics. It just doesn't get any
more impressive than that. So, from what I can tell, the object of the
game is to survive each level of increasing difficulty as you encounter a
variety of enemies. You're trapped in a circular maze, and the walls are
the only thing between you and them. It kinda reminds me of the classic
game "Nightstalker" for the Intellivision, just without the
annoying Bishop who talks shit to you in a condescending voice after each
level. Then again, maybe it did talk shit to you, but I sadly never owned the Intellivoice™.
thought, maybe the game is just like Pacman, only with a gun and a really
badly drawn maze. Well whatever the case may be, J.J. isn't about to let
that stop him. So he cranks up the punk rock and goes to work on the
Bishop of Battle. Now why is this game supposedly so impossible? By the
looks of it, you'd think it was pretty basic. I did too, but then I
discovered the secret behind the bastardly Bishop...
Worst. Configuration. Ever.
It all makes
sense now. The trick isn't in the game itself, it's the machine's
controls! First off, you have a gun, which would be fine and dandy if it
wasn't anchored to the machine. You can't lift it up, you have to angle it
up at the screen. And I have to say, it's a pretty shitty looking gun. If
a classic Star Trek phaser took a shit and then that shit magically mated
with an old muffler and their offspring then vomited into a plastic mold,
you'd have something slightly better than the gun that The Bishop of
Battle provides. As if that's not bad enough, you have a KNOB.
That's great for moving left and right, but how the hell was he making his
character move up and down too? Oh, maybe the secret of moving up and down
lies within one of the four multi-colored tiny square buttons that reside
above the knob! They don't show it in the movie, but I'm pretty sure there
was a button on the back of the machine too that you had to have a friend
press for you whenever you wanted to duck.
"You are good Earthling, but not good enough. Insert Coin."
even the power of punk can't save J.J. from succumbing to the vicious
arcade control setup. It's ok J.J., you gave it your best shot. The kid
who was yanked away from the game earlier on seems to be amused. It's a
small victory for the kid. But his biggest victory would be later in life,
when he became the leader singer of Weezer.
to play the game again, but it's closing time at the local arcade. The
owner tells him it's time to go home, and J.J. gets extremely pissed off.
"I'm you're best customer, you shouldn't treat me like this. I'm gonna
get back at you! I mean it man!" Sorry J.J., but if this guy is only able to afford
to bring crappy games like the Bishop of Battle into his arcade, he's
already paying big time. Leave the poor guy alone.
J.J. MAKE IT TO LEVEL 13?
WILL J.J. TRADE IN THAT OLD WALKMAN FOR A CD PLAYER?
WILL THE RAMONES HELP J.J. CONQUER THE BISHOP OF BATTLE?