Ultimate Mortal Kombat Meet & Greet
Where - Game Terminal, Nashville, TN
When - July 24th, 2021
I don't really like Mortal Kombat. When I was little, seeing my brother and his friend play one of the games and performing intense Fatality moves left me with an extreme distaste for extreme violence and gore. Even in the original pixelated titles, a handful of the finishers leave me wincing despite the primitive visuals. Now that I've told you this, you may be wondering what I was doing at an event called the "Ultimate Mortal Kombat Meet & Greet". Well, the answer is simple! Because TruKuu! Showrunner at DaBargainBin (where this site was orignally going to be hosted, FYI) and my personal best buddy, TruKuu, told me about the event being held at a Nashville arcade, and while he was into it as a huge MK fan looking to enter the MK2 tournament and play with others on the MK1 cabinet, I was into it for different reasons. First off, I had a score to settle with one Daniel Pesina, which I'll get into shortly. Second off, I really needed a weekend off work, which is annoyingly rare for me, and spending my Saturday at an arcade full of retro classics sounded like one of the best ways to spend it. Besides, I wanted to cheer on TruKuu at the tournament.
We made the drive up on Saturday morning with TruKuu's girlfriend RizzyDizz at the wheel. I was in the back seat, next to the cooler full of Mtn Dew Baja Blast. This was a bad idea, as I ended up killing like 5 of those suckers before the trip concluded. The drive itself wasn't super remarkable, but I'm glad we didn't take my car, as the heat outside was intense and my ride sadly has busted air conditioning. After about a 5 hour drive, we pulled up to the arcade, had our hands stamped and waltzed in. I started browsing the games, and was happy to see a lot of my favorites in attendance. Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, and oh, my precious, Mappy! Most of the games were free to play, which was perfect. The only games they charged tokens for were every pinball game and I believe four other games, including the Mario Kart GP DX. I started with The Simpsons Arcade, and I was joined by some random kid, Maybe half my age. He was pretty cool. He followed me to another machine or two before presumably leaving with his parents. I also noticed their Nintendo Playchoice-10 cabinet; one of the single screen models. I wasn't impressed by just that, as I myself am (against all odds) the owner of a dual screen model. However, theirs had Mega Man III! I'm super jealous. It also contained Super Mario Bros. 3, TMNT 2 and the oddball Yo! Noid, with the latter two coincidentally being tie-ins to rival pizza chains, Pizza Hut and Domino's, respectively. Just a pointless fun fact!
After playing a few games and watching the tournament, I broke away from my party to head to the autograph signing. Again, you may be wondering why I would be interested in such a thing as someone who can't stand to keep my eyes open in the presence of Mortal Kombat. Well, a few months prior, back in April, I had discovered the original model for Johnny Cage, Scorpion and Sub-Zero, a real life martial arts master named Daniel Pesina, sells autographed prints on his eBay. With TruKuu's birthday the following month, I ordered one for him, including in the message the name I wanted it made out to. The package ended up getting lost in the mail for a full month before dramatically arriving the day before TruKuu's birthday party. I open the box, unroll the print and... it's made out to me! The guy who's hated Mortal Kombat since he was a little kid! I messaged him through eBay and he said he'd send a corrected print if I just covered shipping. I agreed, but faced a few weeks of silence. I then reached out to his business email, where I again got one assuring response followed by discouraging silence. He is a busy guy, teaching martial arts in Chicago and constantly travelling for films and various fan meetups, so it makes sense that he wouldn't have a chance to get back to me. Once I got wind of the event, though, I knew I'd be able to get to the bottom of this if I was standing right in front of the guy!
Anyway, I waited out in the hot sun to get into the signing room. At least I was entertained by a funny, lively Sub-Zero cosplayer who was in line for the costume contest. Or was it a Kostume Kontest? Either way, 30 to 45 minutes later, I was in. That is, in another line. at least it was indoors this time. When I got up to Mr. Pesina, I shook his hand before explaining that I was the one who had been emailing him about the print on eBay. Before I got too far into the ramble, he told me that he had been expecting me and pulled out the print I had ordered for TruKuu, which I should note was nearly twice as large as the prints of the same design that he was selling at the venue. I got out my phone and typed out exactly who I wanted him to make it out to so there were no further mistakes, and we arranged a little surprise. TruKuu had brought along his copy of the first Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis with the intent to get it signed by Mr. Pesina. The timing was great, as right when I got back with the group, RizzyDizz suggested they go to get the game signed before it was too late. We skipped the line this time thanks to TruKuu's VIP pass and as soon as we got up to the table, Mr. Pesina pulled the poster out and presented it to TruKuu, shouting "YOU GOT CAGED!" His reaction was worth the 3 month delay. Also worth noting, Richard Divizio, Kano's actor in the original games, was there with his wife, who was sporting a shirt designed by my other best friend, Koozbane. We told her about it and she laughed, saying that she's "the only one qualified to wear it!"
The rest of the night went about as expected. We played a lot of arcade games, stopping only to get dinner (White Castle) and check into our motel. At the end of the night, we were all pretty tuckered out. The next morning, we had the 5-star breakfast of leftover sliders and played a few rounds of Smash Bros. before hitting the road, but not before stopping by a toy store I had spotted the day before. I picked up a Transformer, a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and two little Happy Meal Dr. Robotniks, now consolodated into one working toy. TruKuu got a good bit of stuff. I don't recall his full haul but it was mostly figures from Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Oh yeah, plus Cell and Cell Junior. RizzyDizz got a Xenomorph and a few other things, and she was nice enough to turn the car back around after I realized my Transformer was missing its head! They gave me a partial refund, because I may still have the head laying around somewhere, as I had the same Transformer when I was a kid. We stopped by a Culver's for lunch (it was alright) and headed on home.
All-in-all, I had a lot of fun. The arcade was super cool and I got to spend the weekend out of town having fun with my friends. Plus, I finally got TruKuu his birthday present, just a little behind schedule. While I was at the arcade, I took a bunch of photos with my Game Boy Camera, which you'll see below. Can you name all of them? If I ever get the chance, I'd love to go back to Game Terminal. I took home one of the game tokens as a souvenir of my visit, and gave one to both TruKuu and RizzyDizz as well. That's about it, thank you for reading! G-Zone... out!