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The Bishop Of Battle!

"Nightmares" 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.

P to the U to the N to the K

You know 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.

Whatchoo want, Esé?

Sure enough, 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.

Incredible technology! YEAH BOY!

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.

Uh oh! J.J's in trouble guys! Better make a quick break for the mall!

Problem is, 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.


Man, scenes 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!

Sorry kid, you're good, but you ain't no J.J. :(

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?

I once found a token in Hoboken. Ok, I'm jokin' MAN SIZE HEADPHONES

Anyway, J.J. 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."

There you 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™.

Fire up the rock! YOU CAN DO EET!

On second 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.

Nice moves. SUCKER!
"You are good Earthling, but not good enough. Insert Coin."

Sure enough, 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.


J.J. wants 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.



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