Samuel “Acegamersam” Girard owns a lot of video games. The 32-year-old Québécois has a vast library of classic console titles, including complete collections of North American Dreamcast and N64 games. Five years ago, with a fledgling Twitch channel, Girard began streaming the Nintendo titles to a tiny audience. That audience quickly began to grow as he set out on his goal to complete all 296 of them, a feat no one else has claimed to have done before.
As of last week, half a decade later, Girard has completed this monolithic task. Based on rules agreed on by a Discord community of others attempting this completionism task, the streamer has beaten every Nintendo 64 game released to North American shelves. Yup, even including Superman.
Acegamersam’s interest in collecting retro games began in 2009, in irony: It was triggered by the first time he parted with any. “I just sold a couple of retro games I wasn’t playing anymore, and I felt heartbroken to part ways with games from my childhood,” he told Kotaku. “I figured I’d rather find and keep my childhood games.”
In attempting to refill those gaps, Girard discovered he took great pleasure in the act of seeking them out. “I really enjoyed the process of looking for games online, or visiting retro game stores. Two or three years later, I already had a couple hundred games, and I kept going!”
Focusing on the NES, SNES, N64, Master System, Genesis and Dreamcast, the emphasis at that point was on the gathering, rather than the playing. And as with any attempt to complete a collection, there are games far harder to find than others, or at least at sensible prices. For that complete N64 shelf, Girard told me, “It took me a while to find good copies at reasonable prices for Clay Fighters Sculptor’s Cut, Stunt Racer, Super Bowling, Worms Armageddon, and Transformers Beast Wars Transmetal.” But once he had them all, he figured it’d be fun to play them on Twitch.
“I started playing games like Super Mario 64, Sonic games from the Sega Genesis, and a couple of Disney games. Mostly games from childhood. Super Mario 64 brought me some viewers who were fans of the Nintendo 64 growing up.” During these streams, Girard mentioned to viewers that he’d gathered a complete collection, and started getting requests from people that he play their favorite childhood games. “After a couple of games,” Girard explains, “I decided to create an official challenge where the viewers would request games for me to play.”
This then morphed, as such things so often do, into a challenge to complete the games. But as Sam Girard told Radio Canada, the viewer suggestion format meant he was only getting through the most popular titles. “I was going to...end up with the bad ones for the end.” He created a points-based incentive for his handful of viewers to suggest more obscure games.
But of course, “completing” a game is not often cut-and-dry. Sure, you beat the final Bowser fight in Mario 64 and the game is done, but how does it work for, say, International Superstar Soccer 64? In order to establish such rules, a Discord group of other players would discuss and debate the agreed criteria. I wondered how the others responded when it became clear that Acegamersam looked likely to be the first to achieve this arduous record.
“Our Discord is a fantastic place,” Girard responds. “All people with the same passion for completing console challenges. There wasn’t at any point a competition between members from the team. We all share our knowledge and everyone beats games at their own speed.” There’s no race to it, he explains. “The important thing is to all reach the same goal at the end.”
Of course, combining this extraordinary marathon with trying to offer something worth watching to a viewing audience is no simple feat. I wondered how audiences were maintained during the dullest, or worst games. It turns out, that wasn’t an issue at all. “People love to watch someone suffer on a bad game on Twitch.” He’d send out a social media message saying how “awful or hard” a game was, and people would flock in to see his reactions. “I got some of my best [numbers] playing the worst games for the Nintendo 64. It’s a good thing, because it kept me going through the worst parts of the challenge.”
296 is an awful lot of games, and while some would be a slog, there had to be others he’d never have played otherwise that really surprised him. “I had the chance to play games that I never had as a kid, or [had] never heard of before,” Girard told me. A list, in fact, including Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, Winback, Mischief Makers, Jet Force Gemini, Ogre Battle 64, Goemon’s Great Adventure, and even Paper Mario 64.
So, with this crazy task complete, he’s done, right? Surely? Well, nope. Girard now intends to start a new challenge: To complete all 200 games featuring Sonic. Which sounds fun, until you realize that means multiple re-releases of the same games, and, you know, the 3D ones. “I’m scared to discover games like Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic and the Secret Rings, or Sonic and the Black Knight,” he tells me, as well as spin-offs like Sonic Labyrinth and Sonic Shuffle. “The last part that scares me on this challenge is that I included official compilations, if at least one Sonic game is included. That includes a game like Sega Genesis Classics, that includes over 50 Sega classics. That will take way too many hours to complete!”
It doesn’t appear to be deterring him, however. Yet he’s fully aware how bad it could get. “There are many more games I don’t know, so I may still find more awful games along the way.”