Friday, March 05, 2004

Judge Kozinski: Game Theorist

Today, as part of my larger Finals Procrastination Project, I decided to dig up some old Wall Street Journal articles Judge Kozinski wrote. After all, my relationship with Judge Kozinski, like my bonds of affection with Abner Mikva or the mutual admiration Ben and Carol Mosely Braun share, is deep and abiding (I shook his hand once). So I thought I would throw a little press his way for old times sake.

These articles cover a subject of great interest to the nation, and of particular importance to me. No, the subject isn't Rush, but close. Here are some clips:

Alex Kozinski, Guide to Nintendo Shopping, Wall Street Journal, January 31, 1990

"So you went out and bought yourself a Nintendo. Using the throngs of Christmas shoppers for cover, you snuck into the Toys `R' Us and picked up one of those little video machines you've been coveting. 'It's for my nephew,' you muttered to the grinning clerk, 'he's five.' You then spent the holidays zapping Koppas and Poloboos on 'Super Mario Brothers,' knocking out Glass Joe and King Hippo on 'Mike Tyson's Punchout,' and perfecting your home runs on 'RBI Baseball.'"

I know the feeling, Judge K. I get the vibe from some of my classmates that we're not supposed to be doing this kind of thing anymore. I even get the "why aren't you taking yourself too seriously, like me?" look sometimes. But then I overhear Dean Levmore talking about Halo in the hall again and I know I'll be alright.

Kozinski goes on to provide some pretty insightful reviews of Zelda, Metroid, and "The Legacy of the Wizard," a game I don't remember. This observation is particularly astute:

"Incidentally, don't confuse 'Zelda' with its lackluster sequel, 'Zelda II, The Adventure of Link.'"

Amen. You can also tell he actually beat Metroid, based upon his use of gender-specific language to describe Samus:

"The action unfolds inside the planet Zebes, the breeding ground for the evil Metroids, flying jellyfish that are preparing to invade the galaxy. One shudders at what might happen if they succeed. Fortunately, you are on the scene as Samus Aron. Samus must weave her way through a honeycomb of tunnels looking to destroy the Mother Brain (Ma B, to the cognoscenti), controller of the Metroids. Particularly ingenious are the various powers Samus acquires, and the ways she can use them to reach seemingly inaccessible places. This is one game you can't complete without careful mapping, so keep pencil and graph paper handy."

He signs out with this:

"Mr. Kozinski, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, uses his three small sons as excuses for his videogame forays."

Other WSJ articles include "Puzznic and Other Video Enigmas" (March 20, 1991), in which his Honor provides the cheat codes for "Lolo" and "Solomon's Key" ("up" plus "A" and "B" after you die, apparently), and "Trouble In Super Marioland" (July 27, 1990), in which he predicts the fall of Nintendo, albeit a decade too early (for example, he notes that a sign of cooling public interest towards Nintendo is the Game Boy, which turned out to be the best-selling video game system of all time). He also wrote a book review of David Sheff's "Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children" (May 11, 1993) which is now is now in it's second edition and entitled "Game Over: Press Start To Continue." Interestingly enough, the Amazon link I provided includes a quote from Kozinski's piece in its Editorial Reviews section, though it doesn't mention him by name. He's everywhere!

If you'd like to learn more about Judge Kozinski, check out this link. And be sure not to miss the picture.

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