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Published July 29, 2011

Justin: Two hundred episodes, produced over the past four years. We’re as self-deprecating as it gets, but we must admit that we’re proud of this milestone. It doesn’t seem that long ago when Kaz and I were listening to “1up Yours” and thinking aloud that we could do (something like) that, too. Shortly thereafter, Nick and Tom added their voices to the project, and suddenly, “ROFLcopter Down” was a real show. It was rough, it was hard to find and we spent half of each episode talking about NBC’s “Heroes,” but we were finally putting our hours of thumb-twiddling to good use.

After graduating in May 2007, none of us were really sure what form the show would take. Instead of the cushy, padded recording booth in the CWRU library, we would suddenly be chatting through Skype with hundreds of miles between us. Luckily, we were in it for the long haul. We rebranded ourselves as The Rumble Pack — Kaz’s non-copyright-infringing suggestion, I believe — brought Tony on board and here we are now.

There have been a few bumps along the way; my year in China, Tony’s first year of medical school and of course Nick’s new Sony gig all come to mind. Even so, the inside jokes, gaming anecdotes and crappy movies have made our weekly gatherings worth all of the hassles. If nothing else, the past 200 episodes have provided countless memories, and below, we share some of our favorites with you.

Tom: One of my favorite Rumble memories is kind of a cop-out — it doesn’t include the entire cast and it didn’t even happen while recording an episode. However, the feat detailed herein is too heroic to remain untold. Consider it a Rumble side quest.

King Tony and I had decided to attend a local meet known as the Cleveland Classic Console & Arcade Gaming Show for the first time after hearing about it in a local newspaper; to call the event a “show” would be erroneous. After arriving and paying our $3 entry fee we were shepherded into a room at a local VFW containing long tables stacked end to end with merchandise. Each table was what you secretly hope for whenever you stop for a garage sale in an unknown neighborhood: the chance to buy someone’s shattered childhood dreams for pennies on the dollar. Instead of typical garage sale fare like baby clothes and worn-out shoes, the treasures we found must have come from some dethroned supernerd’s coffers. Arcade marquees, game carts in all shapes and sizes, posters and pretty much every cheap piece of plastic to ever have a mustachioed plumber’s face grace its surface were all available. Pale, bearded men stood wringing their sweaty hands behind each table ready to haggle away this precious nostalgic cargo. And haggle they would…

Earlier in the morning, Tony and I had gone to a large local market to procure goods for a cookout later in the evening. In truth, we had purchased whatever silly edible errata caught our eyes, including apple fritters larger than our heads, popcorn in every color of the rainbow and an enormous bag stuffed to the brim with all matter of gummy confection. No, I’m serious — you think you know what I’m talking about because you’ve seen a gummy shark or eyeball before, but you can’t comprehend the sheer amount of bullshit crammed in here. Penguins, spiders, motherfucking gummy fried eggs — all bets were off in this cornucopia of jiggling oblations.

As we passed the threshold into the show, already sick of the candy after eating so much in the car, Tony’s eyes lit up. The eyes of a man who is wise to the blessings of forgotten gods that follow him wherever he roams — a man who knows that charisma should never be used as the dump stat but celebrated and manipulated to achieve feats other mortals only dream of.

In that moment of inspiration he proclaimed, through a mouthful of colored gelatin, “On this day I will find a mighty wedding gift suitable for my sworn brother Accordino. In this arena,” he gestured in a sweeping arc around him at the heaving tables, stacked end to end with loot, I will trade gummies for glory.” Much like the quest whose alpha is a humble Cucco egg and omega the great Biggoron’s Sword, the lofty goal for the day had been set.

Tony, donning the demeanor of a shrewd merchant, began to scuttle from table to table offering a taste of his delicious wares to coax the beginning of trade. One by one, each vendor present had to ask himself or herself a question. When a Paul Bunyanesque figure seemingly waltzes right from the pages of legend to offer a sun-warmed bag glittering with exotic gummy jewels, do you humor him? Can you afford to? I’ll be damned if Tony’s charisma didn’t begin to facilitate trades. One by one, items entered and left his possession in a frenzied blur. Somewhere in the maelstrom I caught sight of a tarnished floppy disk labeled “Ultimate Erotic Pinball” before it too was frittered away, gummies remaining the universal currency that lubricated all trade agreements.

After being declined a copy of Timothy Leary’s Mind Mirror for the Apple II, Tony set his eyes upon the ultimate prize: a cardboard “Dragon Ball Z” poster with which our soon-to-be-married comrade could decorate the walls of his man cave. With some distrust, the owner of the poster extended a trembling hand to sample from the somewhat depleted bag of gummies. The blissful contact of sugar upon his tongue signaled victory, eradicating all trepidation. The poster was now ours, held aloft by Tony in a beam of heavenly light. Distantly, the Zelda “New Item” fanfare played on a set of tinny speakers. The day had been won. Accordino would be pleased.

Kaz: My greatest Rumble memories occur almost every week without fail, which sounds like even more of a cop-out than Tom’s answer but it’s the honest-to-goodness truth.

The moments before and after each show as we catch up with each other, taunt each other and generally pal around are the best reasons for doing what we do. The podcast may have started as a glorified excuse to imitate “1up Yours,” but it quickly became the best lifeline I’ll ever have to the best group of friends I’ll ever have.

Every week we record a podcast about video games, and every week you listen in and hopefully laugh along. But the dirty secret behind it all is that we are cheating you. Between the inside jokes and borderline idiocy that we share, I sometimes wonder if anyone could possibly laugh along with us. If you do laugh along, I hope you enjoy the same little slice of nostalgia and friendship that we do.

That’s why those little moments before and after the show sometimes “accidentally” end up crawling from the cutting room floor back onto the reel. And that’s why they’re my favorite moments.

Justin: Like every other gaming podcast out there, we’ve tackled most of the big issues. Are games art? How long should a game be? Is Activision mean?* But most of my favorite Rumble moments were those in between the standard industry stuff. Tom and Nick especially are quite adept at picking apart the minutiae of video games, and while that doesn’t always make for the most enlightening discussions, we’ve certainly had some fun with it. The example that leaps to mind would be my epic battle with Nick over the Devil May Cry‘s Trish in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. For the record, I still stand by my impassioned argument that she’s a generic fighter and takes up a roster spot that could have easily gone to somebody from Power Stone or Rival Schools (among dozens of other series). But honestly, did that ever even matter? No! At the time, the total headcount in that game was 38, and her presence was just a minor complaint leveled against an otherwise wonderful game. Yet somehow, Nick and I spent a 15 minute eternity arguing about this, using comprehensive lists and flowcharts to make our cases.

*”Ugh” to all three.

Skype or not, the tension in the “room” was palpable. I could feel the sweat on my brow, and I’m pretty sure Nick would say the same thing about himself. If ever there was a rivalry among our core cast, it was forged in that incredibly stupid moment. But after some reflection, it dawned on me just how ridiculous — and hilarious — “Trishgate” truly was. That a Devil May Cry supporting player could drive a wedge between us is the height of our absurdity. Apparently, many of you agree; whenever friends of mine admit to listening to the show, they always cite Trishgate as a “classic.”

If we want to talk about more favorite pointless discussions, I could also direct you to our in-depth analysis of “The Room,” Louie Anderson as the Halo announcer, the infamous B&T and countless others. But we’ve also used the show as a platform to talk to some our industry idols. It started with Nick Suttner back when imploded, and since then we’ve had guys like Runic Games’ Max Schaefer and Gaijin Games’ Alex Neuse. I’m always shocked when the gaming gods come down from the heavens to speak with us, but over time,  it’s gotten so much easier to reach out to people. My personal all-timer though goes to our interview with Roger Craig Smith, voice of Ezio, Chris Redfield and “Say Yes to the Dress.” It may not have been our best conversation — we were rookies then, even though Smith was a great sport — but that session did result in that amazing intro, in which “Ezio” performed our trademark opening. “Leonardo, you didn’t tell them about the Rumble Pack, did you?!” Priceless.

Oh, and one more special shout out for Tom’s amazing Link’s Crossbow Training custom box art. He took my somewhat crummy Secret Santa idea and turned it into something terrifying. That Link’s hideous, leathery visage will forever haunt me.

One Comment

  1. I have so many Rumble memories. I loved listening to the listing of all the GI Joe members in Ep98. Another was three episodes 86-88 where Justin taught us how important knowledge of human anatomy and annunciation is. Listen to those if you haven’t. They are hilarious.

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