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A welcomed return to the Queen City
Adam Krebs, Reporter - photo by Adam Krebs

Each year I plan a summer pilgrimage to southwestern Ohio. The reason? A 1991 video game: Tecmo Super Bowl.

As I’ve mentioned before, four brothers — Chris, Matt, Jimmy and Joey Vogt (plus their mom Diane) — have put on an annual retro video game tournament dubbed Midwest Tecmo. Always held in the last weekend of July, the 2020 version was the four brothers and two others putting on a 24-hour marathon of various challenges in the game. While I was disappointed I couldn’t be there, I watched astutely pretty much all day.

When Chris told me the tournament was returning this summer, I was ecstatic and signed up right away. I love going to Tecmo tournaments around the country for mainly one reason: The other players. Sure, the game is fun, but it is the chance to catch up with friends sprinkled across the United States. These are good dudes, and at Midwest Tecmo, the non-entry fee money raised goes not to the Vogts, but to the David Fulcher Foundation, which benefits those with multiple sclerosis. Fulcher, a former Bengals safety and one of the top-rated characters in the game, is a regular at the tournament. Attendees can talk shop with him, buy memorabilia and get items signed. At the end of the night, each one will tell you that Fulcher is a class act, and simply “one of the good guys.”

The 2020 24-hour marathon  raised over $6,000. This year, the numbers of attendees were low — just 18 — but between attendees and those streaming on Twitch, over $1,500 were raised.

I took my wife this year. A couple of years ago we took the kids, and decided that was “too much”. I debated going on my own again, but something better came up instead. Our kids would be watched by their grandparents for three whole nights — meaning my wife and I had our longest getaway of our relationship. 

We drove down to Cincinnati after I got off of work in the early evening July 30. Traffic in Chicago was normal, and I am willing to bet none of the traffic/construction barrels in Indiana have moved since 2018. I wish I were joking.

I had booked us a hotel with a jacuzzi in the room — fancy, I know. And the whole next day was just a “Bae Day” — we spent the morning at a spa, then ate a brand new Chino-Latino restaurant in downtown Cincinnati (I highly recommend). We took a quick jaunt into Kentucky just to say we were there, and then spent some time at the Krohn Conservatory, looking at tropical plants and butterflies. 

Who picked butterflies and plants, you may ask? This guy.

You see, one of my favorite movies of my childhood was the 1993 flick “Airborne”, in which a California surfing teen (Shane McDermott) has to spend a year of high school in Cincinnati with his weird cousin (Seth Green). A very young Jack Black is in the movie, and the film climaxes with a roller blade race down Devil’s Backbone, a course so dangerous “the last guy to tried to even walk down that hill got so messed up he doesn’t even know who he is.”

But earlier in the movie, the young protagonist eyes a shy smile of a pretty girl — and younger sister of one of the school’s tough guys. While courting her, they end up at Krohn Conservatory, and with the enhancements of movie magic and spatial relations, it seems roller blading around this building is easy with so much space. In reality, the space is quite small. But I enjoyed perusing around. The butterfly room was very fun, as were the other four rooms of various plan life on our way out. 

Why even go out of our way to this spot? Similar to the same reason I once drove through Sandusky, Ohio (home of Tommy Boy with Chris Farley and David Spade) just to see the empty factories filmed for the movie. Because I just wanted to.

Also leading up to Midwest Tecmo was a 30-day “training” I did on social media. The entire premise was tongue-in-cheek, actually. Since I’ve never had any success at this one particular tournament, I thought I would have fun with it. Instead of practice the game, I would post photos with a story about sacrificing to the gods, or clearing my mind, or needing to get in a late-in-the-game montage like in Rocky IV. The one constant through all these 30 days was I had a Yuengling somewhere in the photo — the reference being that I was “training” by drinking the beer of the tournament’s sponsor. 

Coming up with those ideas was a lot of fun, but towards the end I was simply out of ideas.

When it came to game day, though? Something happened to me.

My lone exhibition against a previous opponent that had blown me out in previous years saw me win by two scores. In pool play, I lost two games by a combined 7 points. I also won a couple of big games — including knocking off the top seed. When we went to bracket play, I kept playing as well as I ever had. 

While I made very few mistakes, my biggest problem was I constantly would win the coin flip — 7 out of 8 matchups. In these tournaments, winning the coin flip means you get to pick the matchup (the more even the teams, the better chance you stand as your opponent gets to pick which team he is from the matchup). The problem with winning the coin flip so often is I simply ran out of matchups I was comfortable with. In the game to get to the final four, I lost to my friend Joe in a nail-biter. Needing to win in the consolation bracket to get back to the final four, I had the pick of the matchup against Kevin Molnar, another top player in the country. Not knowing what to do, I went with the two best teams: SF and NYG. 

In the fourth quarter I trailed by two scores, only to score and then recover a fumble near midfield with under two minutes to play. 

I hit Mark Bavaro on a deep pass, but could not zig-zag to the end zone before Kevin caught me with Ronnie Lott. He “picked” my next two running plays, leaving me at his 9-yard line. The next play came up short, and my entire day game down to a final fourth down play inside his 10 with less than a minute to play. Seemingly everyone in attendance — players and spectators — hovered around our little 13-inch Sharp CRT screen. 

The correct pass play to pick would be Pass-4 with motion. But Kevin is a seasoned player, so I went with Pass-3 shotgun. There is no sense running the ball in that situation — there’s just too little space with defenders too quick to cover.

Kevin picked Pass 2, which has a quick fly route down the sideline, but the QB is under center. It’s usually my No. 2 play to pick in that situation, but I wanted to make sure that if he picked my play, I had that extra second to find another checkdown/hot route.

As it turns out, I got into my own head, as Pass-4 would have been the right call. I was sacked scrambling instead, and he moved on in the tournament.

I finished the day 4-4 overall, but all four losses were by less than 20 total points. That’s a good day, given the collective talent at this tournament. There are no pushovers at this level.

The night ended with Chris Vogt winning his first title, going through the consolation gauntlet to beat Tecmo Ninja Chris Hendershot. 

The entire trip was worth it — except for our hotel. The jacuzzi was dirty and didn’t run properly (and was missing buttons). The coffee machine was broken. There were still garbage and bottle caps in the room from the tenants before. 

Worse yet, one night when we came back to the hotel, we pulled in to park on the side of the building by some shrubs, only to see human legs sticking out.

Courtney wanted to “nope” right out of there, but instead we alerted the front desk. As we went back to the location, it turns out two gentlemen had been kicked out earlier that day but decided to sleep on the property anyway — 15 feet from a raccoon perched and eating from the dumpster. 

Yeah, it was weird. 

Upon returning to Monroe, we were greeted by two bats in our house. The positive in that is my kids saw me catch them both (and release outside) and declared me a superhero. That means “Super Duper” is a worthy name, now, right?

— Adam Krebs is the editor of the Times and is counting down the 50 weeks until he can return to the Queen City. You can contact Adam at or 608-328-4202 ext. 18.