It's a Long Way to the Top
It is the Spring of 1991, right around noon. You are at school and the lunch hour has come. As you scramble down to the cafeteria for a serving of whipped lumpy potatoes, covered in far too gelatinous gravy, and what they claim to be cubes made of turkey meat - you snatch a bowl absent-mindlessly. Occupied thoughts – the taste (or lack thereof) barely registers through for you have other priorities. You have a treasure waiting to be unleashed the likes your friends have rarely ever seen hiding in your backpack, a tool to whisk you all away from school at the press of a button.
It is the Spring of 1991, right around noon. You are a mother to an energetic child you couldn’t love more if you tried, one you affectionately refer to as “little shit” with a tongue-in-cheek grin and more than a heaping spoonful of heartfelt knowing. The house offers a brief fifteen-minute reprieve from the ever-present duties a mom has, and all you’d like to do is take a moment to catch up on the mid-day news while you have a quick snack. Reaching for the remote to turn the television on, though you notice it feels starkly lighter and isn’t engaging the picture; “That little shit”.
Back in the lunchroom you fire on the powerhouse to rival CERN, your 6 AA battery eating machine; the Sega Game Gear. Sorry mom, time to start my journey to The Top.
Nydaxn – Currently #1 in Sega Game Gear Achievement count, points, and masteries.
Today I bring you the current leader of Sega Game Gear Masteries and Achievements, Nydaxn. Having spent a bit of time with him previously recording the podcast, I already started with a bit of inside perspective; but this gave me an opportunity to scratch the early memories and what built the foundation of the man. A prevalent name in the community involved in many media and art capacities, while being more than happy to contribute time to efforts of passion, finding where he could take the opportunity to maintain this lead was a huge interest to me.
"We discussed a bit of our childhood experiences with games during the Podcast, but what is your earliest memory involving games?"
With both of us being in our 30’s the possibility for similarities was on the table, and I wanted to relate better. "Well, you see – My family got a hand-me-down NES with a handful of games. As the story goes, and I'll never be allowed to forget it because my mom still calls me (lovingly) a 'little shit', her and my sister were playing through The Legend of Zelda and were on the second to last level. I was so young and apparently was drawn to the red light – well I'm not sure if you know this but there is a specific combination of the reset button and power button where if you fail to hit it before powering off, it will wipe the cartridge data." My heart sank and a cold sweat threatened to form "Oh no no, please." "Yep", he confirmed with a semi defeated smirk. "Their entire save file was gone." A moment of silence for mom’s save file.
His console of choice was a unique one, and he held a considerable lead. "So what ended up drawing you to the Game Gear of all things? It isn't typically something you'd see someone specialize in." "Childhood nostalgia most likely haha – I was drawn to RetroAchievements after playing an old game from when I was a kid called 'Crystal Warriors'. I had gotten about halfway through the game and noticed an option for turning on achievements. 'ooo what's that?' I didn't know anything about hardcore mode or savestates at the time; and I was already about halfway through the game. After I finished it though I noticed that the badges were.. well they could be improved. I had a want to contribute to this game I loved growing up, so I decided to redo the badge set. Finding it enjoyable I just started to do more, and more – then started getting approached to do other badges for people."
Like most of us here at RetroAchievements, we are frequently drawn in initially by the tempting games of our youth. A way to experience them with wiser eyes. Slower reflexes, but higher patience. A tempered determination, yet less time allowed by our life responsibilities to use it. Here is where Nydaxn can capitalize on the gaps presented to their day. "You currently have 73 games played, and 73 games mastered. On initial glance that seems to me a pretty tall order – how are you able to manage to keep up with the sets and completing everything you play?" "Portability has played a huge role. Being able to take it with me and play on my phone or Fire Tablet go a long way. Plus lots of these games can be played through in 30 minutes to an hour – if I have downtime at my job or if I'm walking around it's a great way to keep my mind busy. I walk around my apartment complex for about 5 miles a day, and with the Game Gear offering a lot of strategy games the touch screen works out well – Also I don't have to rapidly respond or things like that." Being able to keep the body engaged is valuable when time isn’t as available as it used to be, especially when trying to keep up with hobbies that typically keep you seated.
I wanted to get a little perspective on how he tackled the games he chose, to get a little insight and knowledge for the rest of us. "Do you have any advice for people who'd like to see themselves perform better, or who are looking to improve their Game Gear ability?" "Well, you see – if you want to be like me and breakout a spreadsheet" he laughs "but no – I would suggest doing some research on the set. See where you can eliminate one category of achievements per run. With the games being short it will only take you a few sessions to knock out a game. So if you have one that wants you to do damageless for instance, don't try to combine that with the hard mode playthrough unless you are sure you have that ability." "So it comes down to 'plan, condense, and execute'?" "Yeah, I'd say so." And for those on his heels I had to ask, "And for those who aren't looking for advice but are rather coming for your crown, any words you want to give them?" a pause, a smile "Well, if they are trying, they sure aren't doing shit!"
Getting to sit down with Nydaxn was again, an absolute treat. Finding the inside perspective from another earner at The Top is always valuable, and finding a solid respectable person behind that earned position is all the better. So far, a common trend I’ve found is that, perhaps not through intent but more byproduct; if you are the type to hold a position at The Top, you are also a person who carries themselves with a quiet humble courtesy, and encouraging spirit of competition. I think 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