The Triple Rock Social Club is Minneapolis’ premiere punk rock venue. In fact, it’s so punk rock that NOFX wrote a song about it (“Seeing Double at the Triple Rock”) and Lagwagon will be stopping by in October. But on Sunday, August 26, there was very little punk rock in sight, as the Triple Rock was completely overtaken by gamers for Tipsy Pixels’ Mario Kart 64 tournament.
So what exactly is Tipsy Pixels? Well, I talked to the guys behind the concept, Pete Basgen and Art Allen, to find out. (Tipsy Pixels is on Facebook, by the way. Check that out.) Here’s how Basgen explained it to me:
We do this sort of regular thing where we go and have drinks and just brainstorm ideas, concepts for stuff that we can do as events and goofy business ideas. We were sitting in the bar one night and just talking about playing videogames back in high school and college and even before, and it occurred to us that some sort of organized LAN party for grown-up people who love old school gaming and who love to drink could be a thing. And now we’re here.
The Triple Rock wants us to do this here every month, at least once a month. Our plan right now is to do a new old school game as the focus every month, and then just kind of rotate over the course of the year.
Future games Basgen and Allen are looking at include Street Fighter II, Super Smash Bros., and Tecmo Super Bowl. But the focus for August 26 was Mario Kart 64.
The first 32 contestants to slap down five bucks (which wasn’t a bad deal at all, considering it came with a free drink ticket) were entered into the competition. Shortly after 8PM, the races began, with four players at a time battling it out while the game was displayed on a projection screen on the Triple Rock’s stage.
The tension was high, but so were the spirits of those involved, with onlookers offering encouragement through chants, cheers, and all-out hollering. Some of the contestants clearly had more experience (and less to drink beforehand) than others, as some were able to skillfully dodge red and green turtle shells while others struggled to finish. In fact, one player even spent an entire race going the wrong way around the track, despite Lakitu’s signpost and condescending finger wave. It was all in good fun, even though there were some sweet prizes at stake.
During the first two rounds of play, scores were tallied, and a third round was required to narrow the contestant pool down to four. While the first three rounds were all your standard Mario Kart races, the final round was a free-for-all balloon battle.
After a fairly drawn out battle that ended in an epic showdown between Bowser and Wario, the match was won and the tournament decided. Zach Pint was declared the winner, taking home a Nintendo GameCube console and four games donated by Rusty Quarters Retro Arcade & Museum.
Of course, even for those who didn’t participate in the tournament, there was much fun to be had. Retro gaming consoles were set up for anyone who wanted to play classics like Contra, Super Mario Bros 2., and Sonic 2. And, of course, there were plenty of drinks to be purchased at the bar.
As Tipsy Pixels’ first event, I would definitely consider the Mario Kart 64 tournament to be a huge success. I can’t wait until September 30, 2012, when they bring Super Street Fighter II Turbo to the Triple Rock. If you’re in the Minneapolis area, you should definitely stop by.
In the meantime, though, here’s a slideshow of images from the Mario Kart 64 tourney. Enjoy!