Baseline Leaner

Happy 2009.

Fuck You Hangtime: an ode to the game we can’t beat, written to the sounds of Big Black’s Songs about Fucking

My housemate Dean and I have been recently swept into the craze that is ten year old unrealistic arcade sports video games for our Nintendo 64. Specifically, NBA Hangtime. It’s got all the accoutrements of a classic fake game – ridiculous announcers, triple backflip spinning dunks, alley-oops all the time, and the ability to create your own ridiculous character. Sounds great, right? Well, except one thing. It is impossible to win.

The game does not allow you to choose your own opponent; it is a port (translation from machine to home use) of an arcade game, so you start out playing the ‘worst’ team in the league and work your way to the best, winning 29 games in the process. This, however, has never happened. We can’t win game one against the Vancouver Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies were a pretty bad team when they played in Vancouver. They’re not much better in Memphis, but still. The talent that they run out on the floor every day against us is made up of the likes of Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, Shareef Abdur-Rahim (in his prime, no less), Greg Anthony, Anthony Peeler, and a player whose last name is Merriweather that I don’t remember actually ever playing in the NBA. Needless to say, these aren’t the finest men to ever throw a ball through the ol’ peach basket.

Our two created players make up quite a team. Dean’s character, named AAAAAA for the ease of entering it into the password screen, has the head of a wizard and stands three inches or so shorter than Dean’s actual height. My character, a dead ringer for Steve Albini, also bears his namesake, haircut, and glasses. However, at 6 foot 2, he puts the Big in Big Black.

We start the game by entering in the code for unlimited turbo, hoping it will give us a little bit of an edge on the speedy Bryant Reeves. We always lose the tip-off, and the game begins, usually with us scoring a lot and having a grand old time on the court, backflipping, spinning, and dunking our way to a nice first half lead. However, when the second half starts, all the mercy is gone out of Greg Anthony’s little hands. These dudes are all over the court.

Fun fact: Bryant Reeves and Shareef Abdur-Rahim are excellent three-point-shooters in NBA Hangtime. The second half is a shitshow; we’re the meat on their chopping block, getting manhandled like the wizard and engineer we are. Thrown around the court in our friend Derek’s “initial push” strategy, we don’t get much done, and as our ten point lead becomes a ten point deficit, we struggle to come back at the end, bringing it to within three or so points, until we inevitably lose. The computer in this game makes the Vancouver Grizzlies into a dynasty of sorts. We might as well be wearing Washington Generals jerseys at this point. It’s useless. Even when Derek enters the code to be ‘super John Starks’, it’s a wash – John Starks with extra attribute points is still John Starks. And I was a Knicks fan in the ’90s.

Oh, and the computer always makes the last shot. We don’t have a memory card, so I can’t tell you how many times we’ve lost this week, but I can assure you it’s over fifteen.

Albini doesn’t like being pushed around, but to no avail, we fail to get past the initial Grizzlies test.

Fuck you, Hangtime. You don’t make loving fun. Also, when will I appreciate Fleetwood Mac like the rest of my friends do? I’m waiting for that day. Maybe when I appreciate Stevie Nicks, I’ll also be able to shut down Anthony Peeler in the fourth quarter with some sort of Colombian Necktie strategy.

Thanks, Steve.

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