It's a Long Way to the Top
During the fervor of the PS2 launch within RetroAchievements, we saw thousands of users flock to the lovingly revitalized console. With it being the top selling home system of all time, that was to be expected. Be it through you personally dedicating hours of time to games previously, or just seeing it in the living room used as the family’s DVD player, most all of us had crossed paths with it before; and this time we got to skip the deafening startup noise.
While we were all content to be lost and swept away in the waves of nostalgia however, others saw their moment. Perhaps they didn’t get the appeal of a new generation. Maybe the impact of another console had already enraptured them in a way no other could hope to do. Or could it be feasible, dear reader; that this user saw a chance for them to seize their position at: The Top.
Pampa50 - Currently #1 in N64 Achievement count, points, and masteries
Current Game of Choice: Super Mario 64
Never to belay a moment, my conversation with Pampa started in much the same way as my last interview; I took a calculated gamble and assumed my interviewee was earning achievements at this very second. "What do you have playing anyway?" I casually prompted "A Super Mario 64 Hack, Serene Fusion" (~Hack~ Serene Fusion) and my gamble paid off. What I didn’t expect though was a hack, in my experience those tended to be unforgiving in their nature. "Oh wow, super difficult or..?" intentionally leaving it open, "Not very difficult no". These sorts of questions tended to be opinion led and his response would let me begin to uncover the bredth of his skillset. "So have you been gaming a long time? I know lots of us probably have since childhood.", figuring the aforementioned skills were cultivated over several years. "Oh yeah, it's been a while. I've really only been gaming on RA for five years or so, but I started games really early." Knowing that some of our deepest seated tastes are born from our impactful years, I wanted to dig in. "What are some of your earliest gaming memories?" "That would have to be Mario64" Pampa delivered without a second thought. "Ahh, so there is a reason you are so drawn to the console!" giving me another piece to his puzzle, he jovially quipped "Haha! Yes, there is a reason for sure. It was my first console actually." "Great choice! Mom or dad get it for you?" what I figured was a safe assumption "Uh no actually. It wasn't for me, it was for my sister at first." an atypical case "They just didn't have an interest in it then?" "Oh no, they did have an interest in it; they just didn't grow to be uh.. as much of a fan as I was" You could hear the smirk in Pampa’s voice as he fondly recalled the sibling squabbles from years prior.
Wanting to get into the heart of the conversation, I jumped right to it, "Were you aware that you are currently leading the pack for top N64 Achievements and Masteries?" "Oh wow, I didn't think I was!" he responded with light incredulity "I think it's probably mostly hacks. Not really a lot of official games or things like that." Attempting to downplay what it means to control Mario on the N64, Pampa chose to remain humble; a class act. "Knowing this, do you plan on trying to remain competitive in the console?" interested I pressed on. "Yeah, I think it's going to come naturally" he replied in comfortable confidence, not cockiness "Whenever there is a new hack coming, I know I'm going to play it because I just love them so much" he continued "But even then there are some official N64 games that I still haven't played." Wanting to know what drew Pampa to the other entries on the console, I prompted "Anything you have your eye on?" "Majora's Mask, I know I want to try that one" (Legend of Zelda, The: Majora’s Mask) "It has a bit of a staggering set though. Damageless Majora's Mask seems ahh, a bit challenging." It appeared even Mario64 hack veterans gave pause at damageless runs, not to be dissuaded though he followed "It's something I at least want to make time for, as well as Megaman64." (Mega Man 64) "Oh, fantastic game! The 'Legends' port!" momentarily getting caught up in the excitement for a series I am preferential for. "Yeah! I've really just started my interest in Mega Man recently, just the last couple weeks actually." he said with the smile and tone that comes when discovering a new game, "Mega Man X, classic Mega Man, even went and bought some on the Playstation just to see how they hold up." Seeing as his tastes were starting to broaden I decided to throw a curveball, "So what modern games do you take an interest in?" "As of most recent Sonic Frontiers. Already have seven hours in it!" he batted the curveball back without hesitation, Pampa was well rounded.
Starting to see more clearly the scope that he liked to specialize in I inquired, "What draws you to these icons of their field? Mario, Zelda, Sonic, Mega Man - all cultural juggernauts in the gaming scene. Why them?" He took a moment, and then answered almost sagely "Ahhh, I really think it just comes down to playing what you think you might have an interest in." pausing again for thought, "I have no problem sitting down and saying, 'Hey I'm going to try this out. I'm going to complete it. Let's see how this goes'" I could sense that we unintentionally waded into talking about more than just games alone "So you try to rely on your own impressions rather than be influenced by others opinions?" A valuable lesson to be learned. "Yeah, absolutely" said with the same knowing smirk from previous; he too knew that this question’s scope extended beyond just that of games. "Did you have any advice for those who want to tackle the N64 era of releases as well?" If we were passing out wisdom, I wasn’t going to let our plate leave empty, "I'd say the most important thing is to just have fun. Don't let anyone dictate your taste, just play the things you like." something we too often forget the importance of. "..And would that go to your competitors hot on your trail as well?" I throw one final curveball, perhaps during a thoughtful moment his guard would be down. "No, to them I'd say 'Good luck, because I'm not slowing down anytime soon'" as that smirk returns and he bats the curveball clear out of the park.
Getting to sit down with Pampa was a fantastic experience and exemplified a great player, person, and competitor. I thank him for his time and you dear readers for coming along with us. Keep striving for that next great milestone, and you may be featured in a coming interview, just remember:
It’s a Long Way to the Top