Extra Life 2022 Recap

By Brian • 8 February 2023

Welcome back, bad enough readers! After a long stress/illness/holiday-inspired hiatus, the Bad Enough Dudes are back and ready for another year of stuffing your eyeholes with reams of gaming-related ramblings!

I wanted to start things off with a quick (well, maybe) recap of our 2022 Extra Life charity video game marathon, held on Saturday and Sunday, November 12-13, 2022. I started marathoning for Extra Life in 2015, and, in subsequent years, successfully conned many of my coworkers into the same annual tradition. It is, without question, one of the most fun and fulfilling things I do every year, but it comes at the cost of much preparation and sleep deprivation, typically before and after the event. (Also, it turns out I was sick this year. I thought I was over a cold from earlier in the week and was only suffering from my seasonal allergies. But, nope, sick. A belated apology to my coworkers for breathing all over you and the office for 24 hours straight. I spent the week after the marathon expelling more snot from my body than imaginable—a truly unnatural volume of bodily fluids.)

However, since getting involved with Extra Life in 2015, our team has raised somewhere in the vicinity of $7,000 for our St. Louis Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, facilities that have directly benefited the families of coworkers and friends alike. It’s a great cause, easy to participate, lots of fun, and a perfect excuse to play games for 24 hours and revisit many of my retro favorites. I also have to note that 2022 was our best year yet, with over $2000 raised by the team as a whole.

Anyway, I thought recapping the games I played over the course of the 24 hours would be a good way to get back into blogging shape, so let’s get to it.

Bionic Commando (NES)

Despite being one of my top ten (probably even top five) favorite NES games, I hadn’t played Bionic Commando in quite a while. At least five or six years! Fortunately for me, that good ol’ muscle memory kicked in, resulting in a breezy, but fun-filled playthrough. I had a little trouble with the grappling sequences in the first half of the game, but I worked out the bionic kinks by the latter half. The action and swinging mechanics still hold up, fluid and fun, and the ending still elicits a genuine emotional response. An 8-bit masterpiece.

Ducktales (NES)

Ducktales won the award for “game I most underestimated” during this marathon. Another game I haven’t played for a good number of years, I booted it up expecting the same quick-and-easy experience I got from Bionic Commando. Not so! The Amazon Rainforest level’s mid-air platforming sequence ate up a costly number of lives, which led to a game over about halfway through the game. I forgot Ducktales doesn’t have continues, and a trip back to the beginning of the game taught me my lesson. Ducktales: fun as ever, way harder than I remember.

Kirby’s Adventure (NES)

A late-era NES game that pushes the limits of the hardware, Kirby’s Adventure sprawls across seven worlds of power-stealing, puffball-infused action. It’s another easy experience, but the joy I find in playing Kirby’s Adventure is driven by great visuals and music, experimenting with different powers, fun mini games, and trying to find all the secrets throughout some really great level designs. The final boss was much less difficult than I remember it being, so maybe some games do come easier to me in my old age.

Xeno Crisis (PC)

I played Xeno Crisis for the first time ever during this marathon. It’s like Smash TV mixed with James Cameron’s Aliens. I intended it to be a quick palette cleanser after the rather-lengthy Kirby’s Adventure, but I found myself reluctant to stop playing, blown away by my first experience and wanting more. Alas, I had to move on to the other games on my list. It’s immersive, super fun, and delivers a rocking soundtrack alongside an arcade-worthy experience. That being said, it is, of course, unforgiving in its difficulty, and the continues are limited. Good luck—you’ll need it!

The next three games played were chosen by the donors. I started a new donation incentive during the 2021 marathon, in which I asked donors to pick one Mega Man game, one Castlevania game, and one Mario game for me to play during the marathon. The one game from each series that raised the most money got played. It went well, so I did it again this year, but I eliminated the three games I played last year (Mega Man 6, Castlevania II, and Super Mario Bros. 3) from consideration.

Mega Man 2 (NES)

While I have certainly played Mega Man 2 more than any other Mega Man game (it has appeared in multiple Extra Life marathons, as well), it still proved a welcome addition to this year’s lineup. The only downside to such a great game is how easy it has gotten over the years, as the Metal Blade is one of the greatest video game weapons in the history of the medium. Still, it never feels wrong to fire this one up and give Dr. Wily his much-deserved comeuppance.

Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES)

Whereas Mega Man 2 falls into the “too easy” category, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse will forever occupy the “too difficult” category. The final three levels of this game have, and ever shall be, three of the toughest levels in any game, an unholy trinity fitting of the evil Count, himself. Everything went really well, even the first of those final three levels. However, the last two got me just like they do every time I play, and I was stuck on them for probably 45 minutes. It’s a fantastic game, among my favorites on the NES and in the Castlevania franchise, but enjoying such a good game means absorbing its punishment, as well. A blessing and a curse. (Ha!)

Super Mario World (SNES)

This was a rare instance in which I did not try to find every exit in Super Mario World. It’s such a good game that it’s difficult for me to not want to see all of it. However, it was getting late in the evening, and I knew I still had a fair number of other games I wanted to play, so while I still visited all of the worlds, I took the most straightforward path possible to clear each one. I still had a lot of fun, even though I didn’t see the whole game.

One additional note: bad enough friend Melissa (who was watching and moderating the stream) and I had a lot of fun with the name of the lava-based enemy seen in the screenshot above: Blargg. Blargg, indeed.

Super Punch-Out!! (SNES)

I think Super Punch-Out is something of a diamond in the rough. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out gets so much (well deserved) praise that one can’t help but overlook Super Punch-Out. And while it’s not quite on the same level as its predecessor, it’s a perfectly cromulent timing, memory, and reflex-based boxing game in its own right. I hadn’t played it for many years, so I struggled with my opponents in the later circuits, most notably Mad Clown, Super Macho Man, and Rick Bruiser, all of whom notched multiple victories against me. Oddly enough, Rick’s brother and final boss, Nick Bruiser, went down in our first fight. The reflex-intensive gameplay helped wake me up for the overnight shift.

NES Open Tournament Golf (NES)

This was a special request from bad enough friend Matt, and honestly, I think I’m just going to add a round of 18 to all future marathons. It’s relaxing, a nice change of pace from all the action-oriented stuff that encompasses most of the marathon, and I think it’s a really decent golf game of its era.

Godzilla: Monster of Monsters (NES)

Godzilla was another game I hadn’t played in years. While I was excited to pick it up for the first time in a long time, it proved to be a less-than-great marathon game. I genuinely like it, but it’s quite repetitive and slow-paced, the latter of which makes sense, as the player controls a lumbering, radioactive dinosaur. Luckily, I played it in the dead of night while only two or three people were watching the stream, limiting the amount of boredom endured by the viewers.

The Guardian Legend (NES)

Another marathon first for me,The Guardian Legend combines vertically scrolling shooting segments with overhead action RPG segments, resulting in a compelling experience greater than the sum of its parts. I can see people possibly getting bored watching this one, too, which is why I played it in the early morning hours—it was more for me than the audience. I was at my most tired here, and I struggled against a good number of the bosses, so I think my exhaustion showed. I still had fun, but between the lack of sleep and my cold (or whatever it was), motivation was low.

Legend of Zelda Randomizer (NES)

I knew I wanted to do something fun, silly, and possibly chaotic to close out the marathon, so I thought a randomizer would be a good idea. Initially, I planned to play the Super Metroid/Link to the Past randomizer combo, but I couldn’t get it to work, so I settled for a Legend of Zelda randomizer, instead. It scrambled all of the dungeon, cave, and item locations, so I had to don my explorer’s boots and spelunker’s gear to check out every known entry to the underworld to find everything. My first (and biggest) mistake was to not take notes on what I found—as soon as I needed to retrace my steps and return to a location, I couldn’t remember where it was. So, I just did the best I could in the remaining allotted time. I think I beat one dungeon? Otherwise, the whole thing was kind of a blur. Given that it occurred during the last hour of the marathon, that does not come as a surprise.

So, there you have it! If my marathon experience sounds interesting to you, feel free to check out our 2023 marathon, coming to you in probably October or November. If I have time, I’ll try to blog about it later this year, and maybe provide some links to get you where you need to go. Until then, we’ll be blasting you with more video game banter throughout the year. Thanks for reading, and see you next mission!

Screenshot Credits: MobyGames