8 Highlights from the Worst Nintendo Tutorial of the 80s

A Complex Strategy for a Complex Game

My favorite tip comes from John Elway's Quarterback, where the programmers cleverly hid a very secret bonus. Select the "Reverse Play" and your guy runs three times faster than the defense. You don't need to hold down left and button W on controller 3 while you select it. All you have to do is call that play, and every time you do it, your players get super powers. And since there are only about 9 plays you can call in this game, it seems like most kids would have found this secret on their own in 9 or less downs.

But it's a secret. So don't tell anyone.

While supergamer Jim is showing us how to do this complicated trick, he runs his player up and down the field and around in circles for a few minutes. It's confusing why they showed this already, but then it gets worse. While he's doing it, a video of his face gets inset on the screen. I don't know why they did it. Were they trying to make children cry, or did they just want to make it very clear that he wasn't enjoying himself? A football player running aimlessly in circles, a close up of a half dead mutant kid staring at a game he hates... it's like East German surrealistic filmmaking meets the production values of a local used car commercial.

He doesn't actually say it out loud, but someone watching the tape will say this for him: "Duhhhhh..."

Things Really Go to Shit

The Super Dodge Ball tip is where the tape falls apart even more. It's not just a train wreck anymore. It's a train filled with radioactive explosives hitting a guitar-shaped boat full of nuns. Donn shares his Dodge Ball mastery with you by showing you "a special technique" to perform the "killer throw" in case you covered your game manual in something you don't want to touch. First, you push twice on the joystick to run (the camera zooms in on his controller for this in case you haven't come across the words "push" or "twice" before). Now press the A button (Yes. They show you how.) when your guy's at the middle line. If you do this right, the ball glows.

Donn does not do it right.

Then he doesn't do it right again. Then again. And again. By four screw ups it starts to reach a hilarious point. By five the laughter stops and it turns tragic. When six happens, it gets unbelievable, but by seven straight failed "killer throws" it gets to that point where he seems retarded enough to need a hug for trying. I don't know why they didn't edit this out, and I don't know why the U.S. video game teamer was having trouble with hitting one button correctly. All I know is that I hope he has another National title for something he's actually good at. He is a groundbreaking artist, this is the first How-To tape I've seen where the person giving the instruction openly can't even come close to doing what he's helping us with.

Even in victory, his teammates are ashamed.

Things Really Go to Shit

The ending credits are broken up with a bunch of clips of someone in Wizards in Warriors hopping in a corner while bats chew them to death. Sometimes this takes up to 30 seconds. Each time they finally die, a bong sound effect goes off and they go back to the credits. I've thought about why they might have done this for two days, and I've decided that there is no acceptable reason for it. Those fucking insane bastards could walk up to me in their uniforms and tell me they did it because Jesus personally asked them to, and it still wouldn't be good enough.

Not a single drug in the world could make them - No. I refuse to think about it anymore.

The final screen invites us to send in our own hint. I can't imagine what they didn't cover, but if you think you have something for their next video let them know.

If this Video Was a Saturday Night Live Skit: It would be one of the painful ones thrown on at the end about a character with something hilariously wrong with them that starts with a jingle about them. Something like "Mr. Can't Make Change! This week's episode: Mr. Can't Make Change gets a job as a store clerk!" WAH-WAH-WAAAAAAAH

Yeah, they pretty much all work.

You know, I spent two hours and a bottle of vodka coming up with all those theories about the US National Video Game Team, and all it takes is one email from a dude in a jumpsuit to fuck them all up. After originally publishing this article, I got this actual letter from a US Video Game Team Representative:


Hello. Thanks for taking the time to post all that stuff about the team. I'm lmao at all that.

FYI - some background info on The U.S. National Video Game Team and the tape(s) there were three, yes, three of the god awful things, hehe.

It really did exist (not created by Jim or myself) and was sponsored by Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard and (later) Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine. It's now back in the hands of TGIS, I think. You can read more about it in the book "Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records" by Sunstar Publishing. It has the complete history back to the early to mid-80's. We competed against other teams from around the world (mainly the UK, Japan).

(I'm also listed in the book about 18 times for records as well as the Guinness Book of World Records (1985-87 US edition) eight times including, get this, being the third person listed in the Video Game Hall of Fame as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Record (1985 I think), haha. So I can play.) As a matter of fact, the next big competion is June 1 and 2 at Weirs Beach, NH (Fun Spot arcade).

Donn, the one writing the email, is on the left. He continues...

As far as the lame video tapes - Our boss calls us up and sends us to the studio with a box full of games. No real clue what we're there for. There was no script and as you mentioned absolutely no editing (I guess they thought it would be fun to show us play from start to finish). I mean we did have to play up to certain levels and show the trick, but instead of just showing the trick they included all the footage for some unknown reason, which was lame. And if you thought those suits were god awful, you should have seen the other ones they had for us, holy cow were they bad.

Thanks again,

Donn Nauert

PS. My name is Donnell, hence the extra "n", hehe

After the credits

Sometimes at the end of a movie or a show, they'll have funny outtakes like flubbed lines, one of the actors hitting the other one in the crotch with a pie, or Jackie Chan cracking his face open on the front of a moving train they lit on fire. At the end of the Video Game Team's videos, they smash together whatever the fuck they have on tape. In this case, it's three nerdy kids acting like they're seeing something amazing off camera. In fact, one's so amazed he has to pantomime wiping sweat off his forehead.

Incidentally, he had the exact same reaction when he saw his first real life boob. At age 37.

I think they're probably amazed that the Guinness Book actually gives a fuck about video game high scores, but like Donn showed in his letter, every single time I come up with a theory about the US Video Game Team, I'm completely wrong. Also in this video: team member JIM! whines incoherently about how he screwed up his Double Dragon tip and a useful hint on how you can fuck up your Nintendo by yanking a game out while it's still on.

I wish I was joking.

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