Bert, Side-Scroller Wannabe

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Who is Bert? Okay, bit of a long story here. We’re going to take a trip back to the late ’80’s. Yes, I’m a child of he 80’s. Okay, born in 1976, but Ronald Reagan is still the first president I remember. And a good one at that. But that’s not what we’re here for…

Do you remember, “A Different World” — that Cosby Show spinoff that ran in the late 80’s and early 90’s? There was an episode where one of the main characters Dwayne Wayne was talking about how he was going  to be a famous video game designer. The running gag throughout the episode was him appending part of the name, “Nintendo” to the end of someone’s name. So, the big video game he wanted to make was going to be called, “Dwayne-tendo.” And later in the episode he “complimented” Claire Huxtable by saying he would name a video game after her: Claire-tendo.

I saw this episode back at a time when my main aspiration in life was to become a video game designer. So, being the impressionable little guy I was, I came up with my own, similiary-inspired video game, but called it “Pretendo,” intended as a pun on “pretend” and, of course, “Nintendo.”

The key ideas behind the game were that it was going to have a very creative, imaginitive setting. The main character would be a boy around 13 or 14 who had a skate gun and a laser blaster. He would go around the game trying to stave off the monkey-bats. They were a pixelated version of those flying things the Wicked Witch of the West ordered around in the 1939 classic film version of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz.

I never did program the game, and I never planned out more than a few of the levels — all the paperwork for which has probably crumbled to dust in a landfill somewhere. But, I remember my initial character design for Bert pretty well, and having lately been thinking back to the days where side-scrollers were all the rage (they’re still my favorite type of video game), I sat down and snapped this rendition from memory. Okay, okay, he may not be as cool as a turtle-tossing plumber … wait … okay, so maybe a teenager with a skateboard and a laser blaster is pretty cool, after all. Well, I liked him. I’d say that deserves a trophy. Maybe a pizza trophy.