This weekend OMSI presents the U.S. debut of Game On 2.0, the world’s biggest celebration of video games—a hands-on history of joystick-jerking, button-pumping 8-bit whizbang that runs the gamut from Pong to cutting-edge immersive toys yet to be unleashed on the gaming public. Yes, you should go to check out rare consoles and controllers, get schooled on the impact of gamer culture, futz around with 125 games from the past 40 years and gawk at the “Virtusphere,” a 10-foot hollow-sphere gaming thingy that boasts a user experience the Discovery Channel compared to Star Trek’s Holodeck, we shit you not. But, before that, we’ve pressed pause to honor the beloved games of our own staffers’ childhoods.
Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters, PC and 3DO, 1992
Why it was the best game ever: One of the most wildly imaginative space operas in any medium, full of villainous spider creatures, loan-shark blobs, cowardly insects and a seemingly infinite universe to explore, Star Control’s combination of interstellar adventure and maddeningly difficult combat made it the first game I played for 16 hours straight.
Fatal flaw: Those 16 hours consisted mostly of watching my starship explode, crash into a planet or drift, powerless, into space. The game was really, really hard. BEN WATERHOUSE.
Blades of Steel, Konami, 1987
Why it was the best game ever: This was the first game I played on a regular basis—in 2002, when my college dorm RA set up an NES on an old TV in the basement commons. The contests lasted the better part of two hours, though most of our energy was exhausted on making the little hockey goons fight, then collapsing in hysterical laughter when the fisticuffs ended in someone’s disgrace. It was a Christian college. We weren’t allowed to drink or fuck.
Fatal flaw: About every fourth game, the console would freeze when a player scored from the crease; this meant starting the whole thing over. Also, it was a Christian college. We weren’t allowed to drink or fuck. AARON MESH.
Quackshot, Sega Genesis, 1991
Why it was the best game ever: One of the great platformers of its time (and one of only a few not developed directly by Nintendo or Sega), Quackshot oozed elegance just like the Carl Barks Donald Duck comics from which it drew inspiration. The game’s levels and bad guys were gorgeously designed, and Donald’s plunger-gun was an endless source of entertainment for 11-year-old me.
Fatal flaw: The game’s unnerving difficulty level combined with its unlimited continues make it a classic controller-smasher. CASEY JARMAN.
The President Is Missing! Commodore 64/PC, 1988
Why it was the best game ever: It had it all: dossier reading! photographic analysis! It even came with an audio cassette containing hidden clues to decipher via Morse code. That’s right: fucking Morse code!
Fatal flaw: There isn’t an actual ending. You were expected to assemble your findings into a report and mail it to the developer, who would then let you know who had abducted the president. MATT SINGER.
Harvest Moon, Nintendo 64, 1999
Why it was the best game ever: A video game about running a farm may seem boring, but it went way beyond milking cows. A love story thickens the plot, forcing you, the farmer, to pick one of the five young women living in town to spend the rest of eternity with. Add in the subplots of magical mountain beasts and evil forest nymphs, and you have one brilliant piece of virtual role playing.
Fatal flaw: I mentioned Harvest Moon’s captivating game play of love to the other fifth-grade guys at recess. As soon as I mentioned the girls and the nymphs, my status on the playground, as well as my sexuality, were challenged. They still tease me about it. Now I only play NBA 2K. REED JACKSON.
Star Tropics, Nintendo Entertainment System, 1990
Why it was the best game ever: The best part of this game wasn’t the robots, aliens and monsters that had to be conquered to save archaeologist Dr. J (why would I want to save Dr. J?). It was driving a submarine and making protagonist Mike Jones run into walls.
Fatal flaw: A snowman doll that freezes the enemy was only one of many asinine weapons in this game. The only weapon that made any sense to me was the baseball bat. KAREN LOCKE.
GO: Game On 2.0 exhibits at OMSI, 1945 SE Water Ave., 797-4000, omsi.edu. 9:30 am-7 pm Saturday, July 2, through Sunday, Sept. 18. $9 youth (3-13), $12 adult.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 29
[WHAT'S UP DOC?] MEL BLANC DAY
The city has proclaimed June 29 will now belong to the Portland-bred voice actor who brought Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn to life. May we suggest a Looney Tunes drinking game? Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave. 7:30 pm. Info at melblancproject.wordpress.com. Free.
THURSDAY JUNE 30
[MOVIES] GIRLS ROCK!
Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen are back (did they ever leave?) to shoot a second Portlandia season and, tonight, they introduce this heartfelt documentary about the Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls. Connection: Brownstein is a girl, and she both rocks ’n’ rolls. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd., 493-1128. 7 pm. $15-$50.
FRIDAY JULY 1
[MUSIC] FOOD WARS 4: TRAGEDY503, COOL NUTZ, LUCK-ONE AND MORE
Last year, Food Wars gathered 1,600 cans for Portland nonprofit Impact Northwest. This year the goal is 20,000. That number may sound crazy, but with a lineup sporting some of the brightest stars of regional hip-hop, it’s a dream Food Wars just might achieve. Bossanova Ballroom, 722 E Burnside St., 206-7630. 7 pm. Free with canned food donations. 21+.
[COMICS] WITCH DOCTOR NO. 1
PDX graphic-novel duo Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner introduce Dr. Vincent Morrow, Sweeney Todd-coiffed cross between House, M.D., Constantine and Jeffrey Combs’ deranged Re-Animator Dr. Herbert West. Bridge City Comics, 3725 N Mississippi Ave., 282-5484. 6-8 pm. Free.
SATURDAY JULY 2
[MUSIC] MODEST MOUSE
It has been more than two years since indie-rock-turned-mainstream-success-story Modest Mouse played to its adopted hometown. A new record is still in its early stages, but as long as the group can fall back on its classic The Lonesome Crowded West record, who cares? Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey St., Troutdale, 669-8610. 6:30 pm. $44 advance, $48 day of show. All ages.
MONDAY JULY 4
[U.S.A.] WATERFRONT FIREWORKS
Crackle, fizzle BOOM-BOOM. That’s the sound of the largest fireworks display in Oregon, people. Watch it from the lawn at Waterfront Park with a patriotic soundtrack as part of the Blues Fest (for a fee) or gawk for free from anywhere near the river. Downtown Portland waterfront. 10:05 pm. Free; $10 donation and two cans of food for entry to Waterfront Blues Festival.