Troy Aikman NFL Football

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Words cannot express the alienation I feel when I play an NFL game. So I thought I’d make a Jason Rohrer game about it. I call it “Troy”:

OHGODOHGODOHGODOHGODOH
WHATAMIEVEN--
Oh.
OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH

Fin

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Super Play Action Football

“Super, Play Action Football,” said his mother. Super obeyed.

“Super Play; Action Football,” said the commentator, colourfully. He said it because he had just seen what he believed to be a super play, and wanted to clarify that he thought that the football he was watching was action packed, which it wasn’t.

“Super Play-Action Football,” commanded the football expert, who wanted his football team to feign a running play, and then pass instead.

However you spell it, Super Play Action Football is not about foodball. But it should be. Imagine: the pitcher hikes the watermelon and everyone has a slice. The passer passes the pizza-pie and everyone has a slice. The runner runs fifteen yards with a with a cloning device and everyone has a splice. Excellent.

Football Squeezed Cheese

But instead of following the advice of countless cooks and bakers, Football (a subsidiary of Kraft Cheese Slices: “Everyone Has a Slice”) has yet to adopt a more omnoms friendly theme. And I suppose that’s ironic, since it is owned by a cheese company. Instead, it involves men crashing into each other, each attempting to touch, even once, what I’ve been told is the skin of a dead pig. Now, that would be all well and good if that dead pig had been prepared as a plate of awesome bacon, because then everyone could have a slice. But it’s not. In fact, it’s just been stuffed full of nitrogen, oxygen, and other gasses, and chucked around a field made of fake grass. Further, I would like to add that football is exceedingly violent. Once, I saw a man cursing at the screen about how he wanted to kick some poor man’s teeth in such a way as to make them appear, as corn is likely to, in the young man’s stool. Perhaps this gentlemen was confused about the nature of human to human contact in the 21st century. As a concerned parent, I am of the mind that sexual behaviour of any kind is preferable to angry bumping, which I often have to tell my child to avoid. Instead, I want my child watching hardcore pornography at all times. After all, isn’t the point of life procreation? Yes, my friend. Yes it is. So I propose that football become, instead of an orgy of violence, an actual orgy, in which all the players would engage in wonderfully consensual sex for several hours in a stadium of roaring fans (so that they don’t get too hot).

In any case, this game is great, if you like foodless, sexless football. And I really don’t. And this raises an important question. As a reviewer, am I required to look for the objective through the subjective? Should I give a game a good review, even if I don’t like it, based on its so-called objective merits?

Here’s an example: if there was a game that involved attaching electrodes to oneself so that, when you were shot in the game, you would feel real pain in real life, would that be a good game? Would it be worthy of a good review? It does exactly what it sets out to do, but is it any fun? Does it fit into our collective conception of what good is? I don’t know.

So, is this game good?

I can see that it does what it sets out to do handsomely. But I cannot, for the life of me, find this game fun. So, is it a good game? Is a game in which you stare at a blank screen and try to enjoy yourself a good game? Is it art? Is it worth ten minutes of an already short life?

I don’t know.

Sports Illustrated Championship

It’s exciting to get to play a game that was spun off into such a successful long running TV show. Who knew a game based solely on watching sports and then writing up news stories for Sports Illustrated magazine could be so much fun. CBS did! That’s who!

In the game you play Ray Romano…..I mean Ray Barone, a successful sports writer for sports illustrated. The object of the game is to watch a sporting event of your choice. With endless options like football and baseball it is really hard to choose at times. I decided it was best to try both options to keep this a fair and honest review.

Ray is a lucky man. His job is to watch sports all day long AND he gets some of the best seats in the house. In the baseball version you actually get to stand where the first base coach does. Being this close to the action you won’t miss any details for your article. I swear Pierre McGuire must have played this game to get his idea to sit between the benches.  The challenge during the sporting events is to stay awake because all games are played in real time. Watching fake athletes the like of R. Alvomar and D. Bright takes dedication and stamina. If you miss any key plays in your write up after the game then you lose serious points. So you are best to get a beer and a comfy chair and enjoy the show.  A short game can last as little as three hours.

Ray Barone says You're OUT!

Once the game is over you have the fortunate ability to work from home. OR SO YOU THOUGHT! Little did you know but your parents live just across the street! And your Sasquatch of a brother is a cop and drops by all the time. You need to somehow balance your family life such as pleasing your wife sexually and raising twins all the while still making your deadline. Once again action takes place in real time so while you may have a week to complete your article most of your time will be taken up by nagging women and Neanderthal brothers.

Just before every deadline you must complete a series of challenges as mentioned but at the end you must complete the boss battle. Hints to who the boss will be are normally hidden around your house. For example once I noticed birth control pills on the bed side table. A few days after the pills ran out for the month I had to engage my wife is hand to hand combat before darting off to the office to hand in my article.

When you finally do hand in your article for the next issue of Sports illustrated you get a letter grade to tell you how you did. I never did very well because I spent most of my time failing to please my wife which meant I had to constantly play the “masturbate in the shower” mini game.

I highly recommend this game to anyone whose life sucks worse than the one I just described.

Capcom’s Soccer Shootout

Do…do you feel it? In the air? It’s nearly here…

IT’S WORLD CUP FEVER, BABY!

And what better way to celebrate the upcoming tournament with a retrospective look at Capcom’s Soccer Shootout for the Super Nintendo?

Wait…no, don’t answer that.

Soccer Shootout (or, as it is known in Europe, umm…also Soccer Shootout) lets you and up to four other players compete as one of 12 international teams in an effort to kick a ball into the other team’s goal more times than they manage to kick the ball into your own goal. It may sound easy, but keep in mind that you’re also not allowed to use your hands. This frustrated the hell out of me at first, but it turns out that this rule doesn’t apply when you’re playing a video-game version and not the real thing.

MOVING ON…

I don’t really have much soccer video game experience with which to compare this to, so I’ll leave you with these thoughts: while Capcom’s Soccer Shootout is by and far a better soccer game than this chicken burrito I had for lunch, the chicken burrito was much more delicious and filling. Despite having completed the burrito in less than ten minutes, I can almost guarantee I will purchase another in the near future as I have done so in the past, perhaps many more times over the upcoming years. In all, the chicken burrito has far more accessible controls, a much more widespread appeal, and tastes multitudes better than Capcom’s Soccer Shootout.

NFL Quarterback Club

NO GIRLS ALLOWED

Do you remember that Christmas episode of The Simpsons where Bart is caught stealing a copy of Bonestorm from his local supermarché?  When his mother finds out, she practically disowns him and leaves him to his own devices.  He has to drop his own marshmallow in his hot cocoa, which inexplicably swells to the size of the entire mug to become a marshmallow ‘loaf’ of sorts.  Bart casually cuts the loaf into slices and consumes it prior to “hitting the hay”, as he puts it.  Marge doesn’t tuck him in.  The next morning he wakes to find that his family have created snowman-representations of themselves.  Bart wants to build his own snow-self, but there’s precious little snow left in the front yard.  The rest of the family move back inside and inform him there’s some slush beneath the car that he can use.  Snowman-Bart slumps over and melts on the lawn, a fitting metaphor for his diminished status in the family.

That’s how I feel playing NFL Quarterback Club.  Like I’ve walked in on something that’s already started without me.  The game practically plays itself.

"WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdouuuUUU-gug-gug-gug-gaaAGGH!!"

The Quarterback Club is an exclusive club.  An elite band of gamers that can glance at an array of crosses, circles and lines and not feel immediately alienated, and, more than that, actually *select* one based on their perceived strategic value within an extremely brief period of time!  Later they retire to the parlour to smoke fresh tobacco.

Better than a well-constructed club sandwich? I should think not!!

NFL Football

I don't know. This is the truth.

Here we are, deep in a desert of Ns and no end in sight.  At this point I feel as though there is little need to even play the game to write the review; they have blended into a shapeless, colourless muck, like the food they served in elementary school.  Actually they didn’t even serve food at my elementary school; I was probably just eating dirt.  From the ground.

This game is going to be like eating dirt.

Let me simply describe to you what it is like, for me, to play a football game for the SNES.

Well, let’s boot it up.  “NFL Football.”  That sound promising, doesn’t it?  “National Football League Football.”  That’s like “ATM machine” or “PIN number.”  

This game is fairly ugly.  When I press up or down on the team selection menu, I am unable to move only one team up or down the roster, as it flips through three or four at a time.  This is a minimal problem, as I will be selecting one at random regardless.

Oh look, my quarterback is an A, as is my offensive line. These are superior to his letter grades.  However, his running backs, defensive backs, defensive line, and special teams are superior to mine.  As far as I know, this means I should attack him from the front, wielding a retard.

The referee is running down the 50 yard line in agonizingly slow Mode 7 rendering beauty. He has flipped a coin; the Cowboys will receive.

Wait, which one am I again?  I guess I’ll find out soon.  I have kicked the ball, so I am the team that is not the Cowboys. I do not remember which team this is.

Now someone has been tackled; I am assuming it is someone from the other team.  The announcer tells me it is a big tackle.

There are now playbooks on the screen.  They have words in them.  Also images.   I select one at random.  The teams line up, and someone throws the ball.  It might be me.  I mash the controls.  Someone is tackled again.  “He’s got it.” I turn the game off.

And that is NFL Football.

NCAA Football

I think that everyone, at some point in their life, should have to bust out of one of those big circular pieces of paper. I think ideally this would happen when we come out of the womb, maybe with the aid of a small catapult or bungee device.

I’m not an NCAA fan.  It doesn’t matter what sport we’re talking about.  I attribute this to being Canadian.  I have a hard time getting excited about University allegiances for schools I know nothing about.  Despite this, I do have some Canadian friends who pay attention to NCAA Basketball, and I know what March Madness is, and I completely understand the appeal.

I’m going to put this bluntly.  NCAA sports are more important or interesting than most major league sports.  This is likely counter-intuitive.

“Mike (err, lineout),” you say, “this is preposterous!  Major league professional sports are the pinnacle of athletic competition!  Why else would we pay them millions of dollars to go out there and put a round thing into a square area?”

But NCAA sports are played by guys and gals who are basically auditioning, all the time, for the next level.  They have everything to lose.  There are scouts in those stands from major teams during every one of their season and post-season games.  A few faulty performances could mean the difference between being drafted in the first round or fading into local obscurity as the guy who “coulda gone pro” but never found work with that communications degree and now works at the gas station.  Dreams are broken at the collegiate level of play.  Since so many of those players have dedicated their lives to the sport at the college level, it’s often too late to turn back the clock and persue something more attainable.

Unsurprisingly, there is no "Ring on it" play from the television series Glee. This is because time travel doesn't exist, and because that play was bullshit and they would have gotten like 10 penalties on that play and lost the game as a result.

In the NCAA, players are literally playing for it all. They’re playing for the dream (or their dream, anyway).  Sure, when guys are playing for the Stanley Cup they are also playing for a dream, but the difference is that many of them will still have a job next year.  They’ve made it.

What’s more, NCAA sports are more interesting to follow politically and socially.  I was just reading an essay by David Sedaris in Me Talk Pretty One Day where he talks about how, growing up in North Carolina, it mattered to people if you were a UNC fan or an NC State fan.  The former blue, the latter red.  Your allegiance said something about you to different social groups.  Sedaris wasn’t interested in football so his description ended there, but my boss at work is from North Carolina and I mined him for details.  He claims that NC State is almost a technical school filled with Engineers and other tradesmen/math folks/whatever.  UNC, on the other hand, has more of a liberal arts backing.  So, supporting NC State would be like supporting the engineering department and all the meathead anti-intellectual bravado (which is weird, considering how much math/science they would know) that goes with it.  Supporting UNC would be like supporting a team made up of philosophy students.

This is why NCAA sports are inherently more interesting than professional sports.  Major league sports usually base their allegiance on little more than geographical location.  You root, root, root for the home team.  NCAA sports teams come with added political and social subtext!  You’re not just picking a set of colors but, symbolic or not, you’re picking an ethos!

I happen to think that’s pretty awesome.

When you combine these ethos-based battles with the mentality that every game matters to the lives of the athletes playing, you get a product more exciting generally than pretty much anything except post-season professional sports.

This game, though… piece of crap.  Honestly.  I really didn’t think I’d find a worse football game than Capcom MVP Football and here it is.  I was really spoiled by the alphabetical precursor of Madden ’96.  Side-view?  What is this, an LCD handheld?  Bah!  Also, it baffles me that more of these games didn’t have in-game control layout screens.  I mean, sure, books were more important in those days, but when you’d rent them sometimes the photocopied version of the book you got was covered in juice and detritus and you didn’t want to touch it and then HOW THE FUCK WOULD YOU KNOW HOW TO PASS THE FUCKING BALL HONESTLY WHAT THE FUCK.

I would have done much better if the Tarheels hadn't built their field on what is apparently marshlands.