Gather 'round, children, and listen to my harrowing tale of trial, tribulation, and Judgement. Long ago in a living room far, far away...
Mr. Deck walked through a dark forest with naught but the light of the moon to illuminate his path. His purpose was clear - to provide a convenient plot setting from which the rest of the story can stem. As he wandered through the forest, he came to a small clearing devoid of any life or landmarks save for a single lone man with an unkempt beard and a Mega Man t-shirt.
"Ah, right on time. Welcome to the time rift," the man said, "where all of your desires await you. First, however, you must pass a series of trials."
"Trials?" Mr. Deck asked. "I spend all day teaching teenagers and trying to live off a North Carolina salary. Isn't that trial enough?"
Looking shocked and horrified, the mysterious man responded "Oh god, how do you even manage? Yeah, that's definitely a trial, for sure...Unfortunately, the script says that I have to make you undergo these trials, so you don't really have a choice. I'm pretty sure a mob of max level Black Phantoms appear and eviscerate you if you refuse to do the trials. The best I can do it cut it from ten trials to three trials."
"Huh. Well, I'm used to being forced to do ridiculously stupid things with some nebulous promise of benefit that will likely never materialize. I suppose I'll take what I can get. Let's do this, I guess," Mr. Deck answered, used to be the butt of all of life's jokes.
"Excellent! Let us begin the first trial. My name is Colin, and despite my mysterious and foreboding attitude, I'm really just a pushover tutorial opponent who's coercing you into this ridiculous to-do."
From there, the fight progressed as one would expect of a tutorial boss - over in 10 seconds with a flawless victory for Mr. Deck. Striking a hip and masculine victory pose, Mr. Deck shouted "My victory one-liner is cool and moderately arrogant!"
Strolling aimlessly into a posh and elegant castle - breaking and entering isn't a crime in the time rift, you see - Mr. Deck saw a man wearing armor made of solid gold standing before him. "Who are you, commoner?" the man asked.
"I am Mr. Deck, teacher of history, hoarder of video games, and maker of reckless and irresponsible financial decisions!" Mr. Deck said proudly, hands on his hips in what he swears is a heroic pose. "And who might you be, gentlemen whom I suspect is infuriatingly fond of capitalism?"
Adjusting his glasses, the gilded man replied, "I am Mr. Popo, DDR champion of the multiverse and real life Scrooge McDuck." When Mr. Deck gave him a doubting look, Mr. Popo added, "No, seriously, I have a big ass swimming pool filled to the brim with money."
"Oh," Mr. Deck said, not quite sure what to make of such wealth. "Okay, well, I guess I'll be going then. Later!"
"STOP!" Mr. Popo shouted as Mr. Deck turned to leave. "I would be doing myself a disservice if I allowed someone such as you to leave here alive. I can smell the stench of public education and universal health care all over you, socialist scum." Pulling two handfuls of gold coins held like shuriken, Mr. Popo took a fighting stance and shouted "FOR THE FREE MARKET!" as he charged towards Mr. Deck.
Mr. Deck drew his weapons of choice - a sickle in his right hand and a hammer in his left - and charged to meet Mr. Popo, shouting "FOR THE WORKERS!" Between the weaponize wealth and shouted manifestos being exchanged, the castle was turned into an all out ideological brawl. As his sickle deflected coins and his hammer dented gold armor, Mr. Deck saw his opportunity.
Gathering energy from the depths of his soul, Mr. Deck took a grounded stance and channeled his power. "Marxism, third form - Democratic Socialism!" he shouted. "Go, Populist Champion!" A portal appeared, and from the singularity charged an elderly Jewish man with wisps of hair point every direction.
"NO AMERICAN WORKING 40 HOURS PER WEEK SHOULD LIVE IN POVERTY!" the massive familiar cried with a distinct Vermont accent. "HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE!" As the familiar continued to bludgeon Mr. Popo with tuition waivers and extremely affordable hospital bills, the golden armor began to chip and crack.
"No!" Mr. Popo shouted. "I can't withstand the wave of populism much longer!" With one final roundhouse kick from shoes made by decently paid workers in an environmentally friendly factory, Mr. Popo went flying through the wall and lay in a crumpled heap in the next room.
"Thanks, Bernie!" Mr. Deck said as he caught his breath. "Those tax cuts for the rich almost crushed me."
"Any time, especially for a hardworking public servant." As Senator Sanders opened another singularity to return to his tireless quest to stop higher education from being a debt sentence and prevent the destruction of the planet, he turned to Mr. Deck once more and said, "Remember, one in four corporations don't pay any taxes." With that, he disappeared back into the ether to help someone else being abused by vulture capitalism.
Mr. Deck eventually found himself walking through what appeared to be a massive refrigerated storeroom in an industrial slaughterhouse. All around him hung a variety skinned animals waiting to be turned into ground meat, sausage, and bologna. Cows, pigs, rabbits, emu, dogs, and manatees - it seemed every direction held a different species ready to be prepared for human consumption. "What is this place?" Mr. Deck asked himself as he wandered around the room. "It looks like some kind of meat factory, but with all the different kinds of animals here - most of which are endangered - it's got to be a serious bogus meat factory."
As if on cue, a bipedal monitor lizard seductively slid down a conveniently placed pole on the far end of the room. "Did someone call for me?" the lizard person said with a goofy grin.
Sensing that he would need a more agile weapon than his sickle and hammer, Mr. Deck unsheathed his ultimate armament - a massive red pen (after all, the pen is mightier than the sword) and a shield styled like a gradebook. "Who are you? Is this your bogus meat factory?"
"That's my name, don't wear it out!" the lizard said with jovial laughter.
"...wait, what? What's your name?" Mr. Deck said, his confusion growing by the second.
"Bogus Meat Factory! Duh! And yes, this is my distinctly questionable provender preparation center!" As if flipping a switch, the lizard fell into a battle stance with his claws bared and his eyes narrowed, staring into the depths of Mr. Deck's soul. "One question for you. Think carefully, though - your answer may cost you your life." Mr. Deck tensed at that threat, his grip on his pen and shield tightening and a bead of sweat running down his brow. "What," Bogus Meat Factory began slowly, "is the best game in the Dreamcast's library?"
Mr. Deck relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh, that's easy! Shenmue obviously."
Bogus Meat Factory's eyes lit up, the goofy grin returning to his reptilian face. "Correct! Congratulations, you passed my trial! You're free to go!"
"Wait, that's it?" Mr. Deck asked. "No fight or horde of enemies trying to eat me?"
"Well, I was going to eat you," Bogus Meat Factory said nonchalantly, "but that was only if you got that question wrong. I would have accepted Shenmue II as well, but since I didn't specify which region and North America, sadly, never got Shenmue II on Dreamcast, either answer works. Have a nice day!" With that, the bizarre lizard man slid back up his pole as if pressing a rewind button in complete defiance of gravity.
"Huh. Look at that."
Mr. Deck found himself back in the clearing from before where he first met Colin. "Welcome back. I see you've cleared all three of your trials," Colin said, not bothering to look up from his Nintendo Switch. "I guess that means I have to grant your one true desire. Well, what do you want?"
Mr. Deck silently walked over to Colin, grabbed the Switch from his hands, and punched him in the face. "What the hell is wrong with you? What was the purpose of coercing me into completing those trials? That was a COMPLETE waste of my time!" he shouted.
"Woah, hold on there! It'll be worth it, I swear! I know what you REALLY want. I can read your thoughts, you know. What you REALLY desire is an ass ton of anime about giant robots, am I right?"
Mr. Deck stared daggers at him for a moment before sighing and saying, "Yeah, that actually sounds pretty dope..."
"Your wish is my command!" Colin said. Before him appeared a veritable cargo container filled to the brim with anime, games, and models of giant robots as well as a handful of other miscellaneous things. "There you go! Now quit hitting me; I'm drunk, so while it might not hurt now, I'll probably wake up with a black eye AND a hangover as it is."
With his quest complete and his life now enriched with giant robots, Mr. Deck set off on his way home to continue on with his miserable life now made just a little less miserable.
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.