“Don’t worry, guys,” called Shade. “I have a spell that will teleport us out of here.”
“Good to know,” replied Build.
“INTRUDERS! DIE!” boomed a robotic voice. It was Robotron! He fired on us as we took cover.
“Someone needs to stop him!” I called.
“He’ll shoot us the instant he sees us!” replied Sengoku.
“I got this!” announced Jake. He gulped down a soda and turned invisible!
“Of course!” I realized. Sengoku got the idea and we drew out the Batman i.d tags.
“Batman Steel!” announced our belts as we donned the image of the Dark Knight. We then followed suit with Jake and attacked Robotron before he teleported to another level, near an air hockey table. We then crept up on him and attacked again! He teleported to a lower area, then we followed and attacked. He teleported to the highest level by a pair of pinball machines until we attacked again. He fell and we found Robotron’s game
“Robotron: 2084!” cheered Jake. “I love this game! Quick! Save the last human family!” Jake got to work playing it until he earned 10,000 points. The wizard appeared again.
“Robotron: 2084,” he revealed, “was first introduced to arcades in 1982. In total, there are 40 enemy waves hard-coded into the game. After Wave 40 has been completed, Waves 21 to 40 are then repeated until 255 waves have been beaten in total.” He vanished again.
“Okay, he’s gone,” muttered Build, “but what about Caan?”
“I’ll check,” called Shade. She cast a spell on the doors which allowed us to see through it. Caan had long since abandoned the area. “Okay, we’re good. Now, all I need to do is…” the doors opened by themselves. Gandalf was sitting by the doors, puffing on his pipe! “H…how did you do that?” asked Shade.
“There’s a button marked ‘Open’,” replied Gandalf as he pointed out the button with his pipe. Shade smacked her head.
“If Mom finds out, she’ll never let me hear the end of it!” she groaned. “Right, this way.” We left the room and went to the other side of the arcade where a knight was riding an ostrich and holding a jousting lance!
“STAB! KILL!” shouted the knight. He then charged us! We got out of the way and Build stepped on one of the Dance Dance Revolution machines. He heard a noise and saw that it was from a box shaking on the ceiling. He then saw another switch next to him that looked like it had a timer. An idea then formed in his head.
“Jake, do you have something that can increase your speed?!” he asked.
“I have a speed soda, why?!” replied Jake. He then saw the timer and pressure switches. “Okay, I can see why you would ask about my speed, but how will we keep the knight sufficiently distracted?! It’s taking most of us to keep him at bay!”
“Don’t worry, I have a Best Match for that!” assured Build. He then took out two more Fullbottles, one purple and one yellow. The purple one had a shuriken on it while the yellow one had a comic page on it. He then replaced the Rabbit Fullbottle with the purple one and the Tank with the yellow.
“NINJA! COMIC! BEST MATCH!” announced the Build Driver. He turned the crank and the piping came out again. “ARE YOU READY?!” asked the Build Driver.
“Build Up!” replied Build. The piping then formed the suit and slammed the sides onto Build. The red was replaced with purple, the Rabbit eye turned into an elongated shuriken, and he got a purple scarf. The blue was replaced with yellow and his Tank eye was replaced with a pen over a set of explosive panels. Surfer rock music played as the Build Driver announced the form.
“SHINOBI NO ENTERTAINER!” (The Stealthy Entertainer) NINNINCOMIC! YEAH!” announced the belt. Build then held his hand out as piping formed a sword. The sword had a pen tip on top and there were four panels that made up the blade. The one nearest the hilt had multiple ninja like characters, the one above that had a ninja making an explosion, the one above that had a ninja making a circular wind, and the one at the top, just below the pen tip of the sword, had a ninja vanishing in a puff of smoke. “4KOMA NINPŌTŌ!” (Pronounced Yon Koma, means 4 Panel Ninja Sword) called the belt. He pressed a button on the handle once and the bottom-most panel lit up.
“BUNSHIN NO JUTSU!” (Art of cloning) it announced. At that point, three more Builds came into being. Jake got the idea as the clones stepped onto the pressure pads and drank the speed soda. He ran onto all four timer switches and the box fell, revealing another knight on an ostrich. The knights made eye contact and they rushed at each other; lances ready. They knocked themselves out at that time. Build then dismissed the clones as Jake found the game the knights came from. It was Joust! You flew around on an ostrich jousting enemies off theirs and collecting their eggs.
“Haha! Yes!” cheered Jake. “Classic Retro gaming at its finest!” He played until he got 1,000 points. The Wizard appeared again.
“Joust was released in 1982,” he lectured, “and was one of the earliest arcade games to feature two-player cooperative gameplay. The whole game is based around armored knights riding ostriches jousting against enemies on giant buzzards. This idea was conceived from wanting to create a flying game that wasn’t set in space.” He vanished again.
“Then, why not use dragons?” asked Build as he took the Fullbottles out and cancelled his transformation.
“Why use those wicked things?!” protested Gandalf.
“Wicked?” asked Ex-aid as he closed the Gamer Driver.
“GACHON!” it announced. He then took the Gashat out. “GASHUN!” Ex-aid went back to being Emu. Sengoku and I became Hiroki and Livia again.
“Well, in Gandalf’s world, dragons are ALL evil,” I explained. “Bred by Morgoth, Sauron’s old boss.”
“I see,” muttered Sento. I then noticed that Shade didn’t cancel her transformation.
“Er, Shade?” I asked.
“Not yet,” she replied, guessing my question. “Not until these events settle themselves. For now, we need to get to the basement.” We took Shade’s advice and headed downstairs. We could see the rocket from Defender patrolling the back, trapped behind a boiler.
“I got this,” assured Jake. He drank another soda, then shot lasers from his eyes like Superman! It freed the rocket, then it fired on us!
“Well, how’s THAT for gratitude?!” I hissed. Emu jumped up and brought the rocket down. At that point, we found the Defender game.
“Defender!” called Jake as he started playing. “Classic space shooter! 1981 arcade release!” Once he got to 2,000, the rocket vanished and the Wizard came back to give us more history.
“When Defender was released in 1981,” he commented, “many people were cautious of its complicated control scheme and high difficulty level. Ultimately, it was these very elements that made it such a huge success as they helped it to stand out as something different within the busy arcades.” When the Wizard vanished, we then noticed a buzzing noise. We turned to see a tiny car racing around a track! Jake got an idea.
“Guys, you turn over the oil drums when I say so!” he called. “I’ll lower the crossing bar, then we herd it towards the tiny garage!” We got into position. “Ready?” he asked. The car approached the oil drums. “NOW!” yelled Jake. We turned the oil drums over and spilled the contents over the track, causing the car to lose control, then Jake lowered the bar once the car was near him, then we herded it towards the tiny garage. It was stuck.
“I think that car came from Super Sprint,” I mused.
“Oh, cool!” cheered Jake. “Super Sprint! Released in 1986 to the joy of everyone! Anyone else want a turn at these things? My fingers are getting numb.”
“I’ll handle it,” I called as I found the Super Sprint machine. I won a race and the Wizard came up again.
“The arcade machine for Super Sprint,” he lectured, “released in 1986, featured three wheels as a way of controlling the cars and also allowed for three players to race each other at the same time. If the player managed to reach Race 85, a bonus track could then be played.” As he vanished, he started glitching out and we could see a trail leading into a back room. It was guarded by a security camera that shut the door whenever it saw us, so Jake went invisible and he snuck through, killing power to the door. At that point, we were attacked by the Wizard and the rest of the Gauntlet heroes.
“I guess we beat them first!” mused Emu as he got the Gashat out again.
“MIGHTY ACTION X!” it announced. Sento brought out the Rabbit and Tank Fullbottles, shook them, and put them into the Build Driver.
“RABBIT! TANK! BEST MATCH!” it called. Sento turned the crank and the piping appeared. “ARE YOU READY?!” Hiroki and I drew our i.d. tags.
“Henshin!” we all announced
“GASHATTO! GACHĀN! LEVEL UP! Mighty jump! Mighty kick! Mighty! MIGHTY ACTION X!” shouted Emu’s belt.
“HAGANE NO MOONSAULT! RABBITTANK! YEAH!” called the Build Driver. All Riders were back into our suits and we went on the offensive. It involved a lot of punching, but we managed to subdue them.
“I think it’s your turn, Sengoku,” I offered.
“Gladly,” replied Sengoku. He started playing Gauntlet as the warrior character.
“What IS this game?” asked Build.
“This is Gauntlet,” answered Jake. “It was released in 1985 and it is THE most fun a quarter can buy!”
“DAMMIT!” swore Sengoku.
“You died?” I asked.
“Er, can I get some help?” quizzed Sengoku.
“Sure thing,” called Jake. Ex-aid, Jake, and I joined in the fun. Sengoku stayed as the Warrior, I picked the Valkyrie, Jake picked the Elf, and Ex-aid picked the Wizard. We soon netted 3,000 points and the characters we fought recovered from their haze. The Wizard recovered first.
“Thor?!” he quizzed. “Thyra?! Questor?! Were we all possessed?!”
“It would appear so, Merlin,” replied Questor, the Elf.
“How did we end up in the real world?” asked Thyra, the Valkyrie.
“I’d say Vortech had a hand in it,” I called. We explained our situation to the Gauntlet heroes.
“Well then, you have our everlasting gratitude,” thanked Thor, the Warrior.
“You say you beat our game?” quizzed Merlin, the Wizard. “One last bit of history before your final battle here. Our game, released in 1985, featured drop-in, drop-out gameplay for up to four players. With four people playing at the same time, it was seen as the answer for struggling arcade manufacturers to create extra earnings whilst creating a very fun game in the process.” We heard something buzz. “Ah, that would be your way up,” mused Merlin. “Farewell and good luck.”
“You’re not coming?!” yelped Jake.
“You guys beat his game,” answered Shade. “He and the other Gauntlet heroes are going back into their electronic slumber.”
“It was good to meet you, my friends,” called Thyra. We all shook hands with them, then they faded into pixels and returned to their game. We headed out to the elevator and took it all the way to the roof. There, we saw Caan speaking to Heather!
“You’re making a mistake!” insisted Caan.
“The Apocalypse Driver will bring me back with a fully functional body!” argued Heather.
“You seem to be missing the big picture about the consequences,” snarled Caan.
“And you idiots seem to forget about your enemies!” I revealed. At that point, Caan smirked and pulled out the device the Thief used to turn himself into a Bugster!
“The Gashacon Bugvisor?!” called Sengoku.
“Baiyō,” announced Caan as he used the blaster end of the device to spray Jake with orange pixels. Jake started spasming, then morphing until he became George from Rampage! “Quite the Bugster, wouldn’t you say?” asked Caan.
“Bingo!” cheered Heather. She punched Jake’s monstrous form and got out a quarter circle. It had a canister’s image on it. “Two parts down, three to go,” she mused. She then fled through a rift!
“NO!” I shouted. Too late.
“Won’t do her any good,” mused Shade.
“Never mind the talk!” snapped Sengoku. “Jake just became a Bugster!”
“I’ll remove it!” replied Ex-aid as he closed the Gamer Driver.
“GACHON!” it announced as Ex-aid went into his level 1 form. He went on the offensive to keep Jake back.
“Now, for you,” hissed Caan. He pulled out a version of the Build Driver that was done up in the colors of a Dalek’s shell. The gear was replaced with a Dalek’s eye. He put the belt on.
“DAL DRIVER!” called the belt in a Dalek’s voice.
“A vastly superior version of the Build Driver,” boasted Caan. “And this,” he took out a can with a dome on top, “is my Pure Dalek can.” He shook the can and turned the dome so a Dalek eyestalk could come out and the speech indicators would pop out. He then put it into the Dal Driver as it took up both slots.
“PURE DALEK!” it announced. Caan then turned the crank and piping came out, forming parts of a suit behind and in front of him. “ARE YOU READY?!” asked the Dal Driver.
“Henshin!” called Caan. The suit slammed onto him, giving him a distinctly Dalek appearance. He had shoulder pads that looked like half of a Dalek’s neck, boots that resembled a Dalek’s skirt, and a blue light in the center of the head. His eyes took their cues from Build, the left giving the appearance of the Dalek gun, the right giving the appearance of their plunger. The left forearm looked like the gun and the right had a sleeve similar to their plunger as well.
“THE UNSTOPPABLE KILLER!” shrieked the Dal Driver. “PURE DALEK! EXTERMINATE!”
“Kamen Rider Dal!” droned Caan in his old Dalek voice. As he spoke, the eyes flashed like the lights on a Dalek. “You will be exterminated!” More piping formed a pistol with a Dalek gun on the end.
“DAL GUN!” announced the Dal Driver. He caught the gun in his left hand. We dodged the blasts as Shade assisted Ex-aid. Gandalf helped us keep Dal at bay.
“You may win this universe,” boasted Dal, “but Shocker Rift will win the entire Multiverse!”
“Not gonna happen!” I declared.
“I have foreseen it!” replied Dal. “It is inevitable!”
“You can’t win!” I insisted.
“We’ll stop you!” called Sengoku.
“You do not have the capacity to do so!” shouted Dal.
“EX-AID! NOW!” yelled Shade. Ex-aid hammered George and managed to separate Jake from George. Jake was…lacking…in clothes aside from his tighty-whities. Jake got out of his haze, then felt the draft around his legs. He covered his crotch and sidled off. “I got you,” assured Shade as Ex-aid went to Level 2 again. Clothes came back onto Jake.
“Thanks!” called Jake.
“KIMEWAZA!” announced the Gamer Driver. “MIGHTY CRITICAL STRIKE!” Ex-aid then did his Rider Kick and knocked George silly.
“My turn!” called Jake as he found the Rampage machine.
“NO!” shouted Dal as he leveled his gun at Jake.
“RIDER CLASH KICK!” I announced as I delivered my kick to his head. Dal recovered as he turned the crank again.
“READY, GO!” shouted the Dal Driver. An orangish hologram of a Special Weapons Dalek gun enveloped Dal and targeted us. “PURE DALEK FINISH! EXTERMINATE!” announced the Dal Driver as the hologram fired Dal in a flying kick before it faded. We ducked out of the way and Dal hit a wall, just as Jake finished the first level of Rampage. That was all that was needed to put George back. Build then turned the crank of his Build Driver.
“READY, GO!” it called as an energy chart trapped Dal in its dotted line. “VORTEX FINISH! YEAH!” Build then flew down the line and drove his right foot into Dal’s head. There was an explosion that knocked Dal backwards and made the Pure Dalek can pop out of the Dal Driver, causing him to revert back to Caan.
“Pitiful creatures!” he hissed as he picked himself up.
“Caan,” I called, “you REALLY need to drop this whole Dalek business. One of our allies did and her life is for the better now.”
“I’m familiar with the Ex-Dalek that the Doctor nicknamed Rusty!” snapped Caan. “She is weak!”
“Hardly,” I argued. “She’s stronger than any Dalek fleet. She’s allowed diversity to enter her genetics and it made her stronger. If you promise to drop this notion of purity, we can grant you asylum. What say you?”
“Vortech, I require a rift back!” demanded Caan. A rift to Foundation Prime opened for him and he went through!
“NO!” I called. “Accidenti a lui! (Damn him!) We could have used him!”
“I think the ONE Dalek we have is enough,” replied Sengoku.
“Caan is not someone who gives up his Dalek ways so easily,” confirmed Shade.
“In any case, we failed our mission,” I sighed. I contacted Vorton. “X-PO, we need a ride home.”
“Coming up,” called X-PO. A rift opened for us and Shade , Ex-aid, and Build started following us.
“You’re coming with us?” I asked.
“You’re my only way home,” replied Ex-aid.
“And I want to see your base!” cheered Build.
“Besides, I’m needed on Vorton,” replied Shade.
“Fair enough,” I conceded.
“What about you, Master Jake?” asked Gandalf. Jake looked around and still saw video game characters running around.
“I think I’ll stay here for a bit,” he mused. “The world still needs the Gamer Kid!”
“Then, farewell,” I bid. “And I hope we meet again.” We went through the rift after that and left Jake to take on his new mantle as the Gamer Kid.