Just about every hardcore gamer
has pulled off an all-night thumb jam to earn the world's-highest kill count, learn the ending to a gripping story or impress anonymous 9-year-olds with little parental supervision.
Patrick Contri, a classic gaming critic and chronicler better known to his viewers as "Pat the NES Punk,"
didn't just endure 28 hours of gaming to get through one title. He finished over 750 of them.
Pat owns the entire Nintendo Entertainment System library of games
, and in honor of its 25th anniversary
, he played them all from A to Z in one weekend. The marathon attracted over 77,000 online viewers and raised more than $8,000 for Child's Play
, a nationwide gaming charity that provides children in hospitals with toys and video games.
Pat offered his advice and experiences on how he found all of the games for his collection and how he managed to stay awake for more than 40 hours without plunging a syringe full of 1-Up juice into his aorta.
Step 1: Scour the Ends of the Earth for the Games
You can't have a gaming marathon without a large collection of games. Luckily, Pat spent more than $2,000 collecting every playable piece of the NES legacy, from the cartridges to the most hard-to-find peripherals.
"I would go to flea markets or swap meets and start buying games," he said. "At first, I'd buy the cheap games, and then I'd go online and find obscure games like the 'Wisdom Tree' games that were like a series of seven Bible-themed games ... Getting the last 150 games was a lot harder than the first 600. They are very hard to find. You're going to have to hunt them down."
Step 2: Clean the Cartridges First
Pat and his friend and fellow player Ian Ferguson spent at least 20 hours before the marathon cleaning, dusting and blowing into the cartridges, which are known for locking up and refusing to start if a modicum of dust sits on the data chip. Once they started playing, however, they discovered that having to stop and re-clean games made their original goal of finishing in 24 hours impossible.
"The system gets dirty and the cartridges get dirty and it was just a vicious cycle," says Pat. "We had to recycle and re-clean systems on the fly. The whole thing was about 31 hours. We thought it would be about 28 and at least three were re-cleaning games that we thought would work on just the first try."
Step 3: Get Some Fans to Cheer You On Through the Sucky Games
The event attracted an audience of more than 1,000 viewers who cheered Pat on through the good games and ridiculed the bad ones. Pat said he tapped into that energy to get through some of the less engaging titles.
"The crowd was going nuts for 'Color a Dinosaur,'" Pat said referring to an extremely obscure children's title
that featured one of the earliest works of gaming music maven Tommy Tallarico
. "That was a pretty weird moment."
Step 4: There Is No Conditioning (or Crying) in Gaming Marathons
Pat actually laughed when asked how he "conditioned" himself for his marathon.
"You can't really condition yourself for this," he said. "It took its toll. I was pretty out of it for the next few days."
In fact, Pat stayed up for at least a few more hours after the marathon to post a thank-you video
to his fans who donated to the fund-raising effort. In it, his voice is as coarse as sandpaper from shouting at the screen for 28 straight hours.
"(After the marathon), I went to a friend's house for dinner. I ate my dinner and five minutes later, I fell asleep at the dinner table," he said with a laugh. "So I went home and went to sleep. I didn't even bother to brush my teeth."