Leonardo, who was an average character, but felt stronger because he was the leader. Billy Lee, since blue has always been my favorite color, and Billy always seemed like the perfect name for an ass-kicker. Rash, who was player one's character in the original. Blade; brown undead beast; Mayor Haggar; Michael Jackson; Collossus; Gilius Thunderhead; Axel; and Homer Simpson.
These are the names I will be known as to countless children, grown now like myself.
The punks from the arcade by the beach in Seaside, where Final Fight always had a long line and Moonwalker was more popular with the older kids. There would still be sand between my toes and I'd itch like craze from the salt water I'd recently swam in. All forgotten when I'd find Bubbles, tranform in robo-Michael and fill the screen with lazer blasts.
I can still recall the orange haired kid: dimples, freckles and glasses. I saw him from the corner of my eye watching the game and thought nothing of it. I loved watching the games when I was out of quarters myself. When the game ended and I reached for the quarter I had placed near the joystick I knew what had happened. I found him again playing Final Fight, he had chosen Guy (they always do), but all I did was watch. It was only when he quickly died, ignoring the pipes and food on the ground, that I became angry. What a waste of a quarter.
Wunderland, the nickel game arcade, required you to pay admission to get in. So it was only for birthday parties or other special occasions that you got to go there. Back then it was always my favorite arcade, since it was always packed with kids. Sometimes you could jump into a beat 'em up right near the end of the game. I always had to beat the games before moving on. The more nickels I saved, the more games I could beat. Once, I kept a record of how many games I was able to beat, and with how many nickels. I couldn't tell you now though.
The Simpson's, X-Men, Golden Axe, they were all at Wunderland. They were always there when my friends and I went back in the 90's. So a few years ago, during summer break, and after a few beers, we had to go back. Gamer nostalgia is the worst and the best. We shouldn't have gone back though. My friends, who I could call Rash, Michaelangelo, Cody, and countless other names, would tell you the same. Gone were the games we all remembered, in their place were DDR machines and other odd contraptions. They all required five nickels to even start, and often stood so tall a child could never reach the controls. We played the games and smiled, but it wasn't the same. It smelled like dirt and mold. It wasn't until we were leaving that a friend noticed Altered Beast, pushed back into a dark corner.
"Rise from your grave!" he whispered. None of us have gone back; I've heard it has closed down.
I can't remember their faces, Striker and Raphael, but two girls used to live across the street. They often traveled the distance and we would play Bad Dudes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, arcade of course, on my Nintendo. I remember the areas I would have to beat on my own specifically. They never could get the timing right for the little mouser robots bursting from the sewer walls. We moved when I was in the second grade, but I hope they've grown into proud gamers.
Double Dragons though, I only played with my Dad. He was always Jimmy, just as I was always Billy. It might have been the only video game he was better than me at. It might have been the only video game I didin't have to persuade him to play with me.
"She's not going to rescue herself!" he would say. There was always someone to rescue in a beat 'em up. And we did rescue her, and we would rescue April as well, him as Donatello and me as the leader in blue. He helped me rescue everyone in the other games too, after all it was his quarters and nickels that kept me playing.
Striker and Raphael, who were the girls across the street. Red Archer, Bart Simpson, Cyclops, and the Castle Crashers, who are my oldest and best of friends. Guy, who was a jerk and a crappy gamer. Moui, Albedo and Takako, who in a world empty of beat 'em ups, make me remember the best of times. Jimmy and Donatello, who are my Father.
These are the names I will remember, grown as I am, for the rest of my life.