Capcom’s MVP Football

cmf01
Definitely not the MVP of Football games. Not even close.

I was listening to this story on the CBC this week about this guy who grew up in East Germany during the Cold War.  He talked about the fall of the Berlin Wall and how one of the things people were the most excited about, besides reuniting families after decades of seperation, was shopping.  This was because in the former German Democratic Republic (it wasn’t really either of those things but whatever), there was only ever one brand of anything.  If you went to the store to get butter, you had one butter to choose from.  In the West, however, people could chose from all sorts of butter!

So the controvercial thing I’m saying here is that in terms of sports games we have reverted to a Soviet-approved system based on a complete lack of competition.  That’s pretty remarkable considering how much we’re apparently scrambling to keep capitalism together.  There is only one football brand, Madden, thanks to an agreement with the NFL Players Association.  Other football games, like Blitz, rely on almost football with no recognizable named players (I should note that growing up, we didn’t care about this, but now we’re spoiled).  Any other football game worth mentioning (NCAA or NFL Pro Street) is still made by Electronic Arts.  But back in the day, we had so many choices!

cmf02
I'm totally digging the Windows 95-style menu screens.

What’s even more crazy about this is that history seems to be teaching us that a lack of competition actually makes for better games.  How’s that for irony?  Madden games improve every year despite a vacuum in terms of real competition (arguably because they have to do more than a roster update because they will aggravate their rabid, semi-literate fan-base), but when we had twenty-five different football games, most of them were garbage.  I call this sports-game-based inverse-capitalism the Greater Madden Theory of Gaming Economics.  The GMToGE (gimtoge) simply states that in a market filled with competition, all competitors can produce a mediocre product and most people will buy it because it has the word “Football” on it and all they know is that they want a Football game, but if there is no competition, those people demand a better product on which to spend their hard-earned dollars and might just opt for last year’s version or not purchase any football games (oh noes!)

So anyway, Capcom MVP Football was terrible, and if this were the former Soviet Union it probably would have had a tarp laid out for it and the bill for the bullet sent to its creators.  That’s all I’m trying to say here.

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John Madden Football 93

jm93game

John Madden, you wily son of a bitch, where’s the throw button?

I played this game for a whopping 12-14 minutes and played through two possessions, always picking passing plays (I can tell the difference). And, wevery time, I ran DIRECTLY AWAY from the defense and pushed every button I could think of to throw. I spun a bunch, mostly. A couple times I fell down on my own. And the other team got a bunch of sacks.

I don’t like these football games that are opaque and irritating and borderline useless. And I blame John Madden alone. John Madden, you’re dead meat.

jm93dead

I dunno how I’m gonna do it yet but I’m gonna. I’m going to put poison in a chicken which I will put in a turkey and feed it to you, maybe. I call it TURDIOXIN. Aren’t you hungry, John?

Or maybe I’ll put a little bug in your head primed to explode if it hears you say anything brutally obvious (eg. “Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest guys on the field, they’re bigger than everybody else, and that’s what makes them the biggest guys on the field.”). You’d have to constantly think of things to say that aren’t dumb. It’d be like a race: would your brain fail first, causing the tiny C4 nanoterror to annihilate your brainstem, or would your heart give out due to the sheer effort you need to output to not say something painfully evident?

I have no shortage of awesomely diabolical supervillain ideas to get you, John Madden. Carpet bombing your house with pigskins (which are, in turn, filled with carpet bombs)? Eye on the sky, MAD-DEN! Or maybe you’d like it if I filled you with a deadly disease and put the only antidote on an airplane (oh yes, I read Wikipedia and found out you hate planes! Your weaknesses are EXPOSED TO THE WORLD!)?

John Madden, my name is Brilliam. But you can call me Death.

jm93sack

John Madden Football

John Madden Football

John Madden Football
John Madden Football

Let me just go right out and say it: I hate sports games.  I especially hate football games.  It doesn’t help that I greatly dislike the sport of football as well.  I’m much more of a fan of refined-skill games like soccer.  Or should I say real foot ball.  Fucking Americans polluting the namespace.  That’s right.  I went there.

Fake left, dodge right, long, cut-in chicken leg, hook deep run pass, with a cherry on top.  Who cares?  You're just going to be sacked by the computer bee-lining for your QB anyways.  Why bother?
Fake left, dodge right, long, cut-in chicken leg, hook deep run pass, with a cherry on top. Who cares? You're just going to be sacked by the computer bee-lining for your QB anyways. Why bother?

Sports games always try too hard to simulate the experience of some sort of fantasy league.  I guess that’s great if you’re the type who likes fantasy football.  I can’t stand it.  If I’m going to play sports games, I’d rather play games that consider the sport, its rules, and the related management as loose parameters to apply to a game that is primarily designed to be fun.  Good examples are any Mario sports games.  They’re not really sports games.  They’re fun games that happen to use the rough parameters of whatever their title sport is.  Another good example is the classic NES World Cup Soccer.  It was ridiculous and silly, which made it tremendous fun.  It didn’t care that you were breaking every rule of soccer.  It was interesting.

The visuals are rather mundane.  And I'm not asking for life-like realism here. I'm asking for something interesting.  It was done in the NES era so hardware isn't the issue.
The visuals are rather mundane. And I'm not asking for life-like realism here. I'm asking for something interesting. It was done in the NES era so hardware isn't the issue.

So how does John Madden Foodball fare?  Well, it makes good use of the expensive franchise that went on to sell over 16 sequels and counting.  I assume when he dies, they’ll start selling Posthumous John Madden Football, where he comes back from the grave to say his cliches for the voice-overs.

Verdict: It’s a sports game! What?  What do you want me to say?  You are either in that niche target market and drop $60+ every year for the newest and greatest football game, or you’re a gamer.  They’re all the same.  That’s all.  End of discussion.

Emmitt Smith Football

esf1
Emmitt Smith thinks he's bigger than football, huh?

Man!  I sort of wish the days when pro athletes got their own games never ended.  Bo Jackson had games, Wayne Gretsky, Emmitt Smith, Ken Griffey Jr., Brett Hull… this sort of thing just doesn’t happen anymore.  I think there’s a real market for it too.  I mean, think about it, it doesn’t even have to specifically be about the sport they played.  You could have the Pete Rose Gambling Challenge or Rick Tocchet’s Beat the Spread.  How about Michael Vick’s Canine Showdown?  You could have a Tom Brady japanese dating game called Brady Nails Another Supermodel.  Oh!  Bret Favre’s Final Retirement 2009 where you try to raise anticipation about your retirement to a fever pitch and then announce that you’re signing with another team after building a legacy mostly because you’re indecisive.

Roger Clemen’s Plausible Deniability.  That would probably be a little like the Phoenix Wright games.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

esf2
Emmitt Smith probably talks about himself in the third person to this very day.

Anyway, I’d like to review this game except I threw up all over the place during the hideous mode 7 twirling effect during kickoff.  It was pretty brutal.  It’s like that flashlight that makes you hurl.  Chunks everywhere…

esf3
BLLLEEEOOOOOORRRRRGHHHH

Oh, but then I fumbled the ball after a big hit and my guy lost his helmet (filled with vomit) and then Emmitt Smith chirps up with douchebag commentary “Ooh! That must have hurt!”.  Fuck you, Emmitt Smith.  Let’s see you catch a pass when you’re dealing with durfnose.  Maybe they should make that a game too… Emmitt Smith’s Piss off your fans by being a Fuckface Challenge.  Or maybe Emmitt Smith’s Super Fuckface.  Anyway, it’s a pretty shitty football game compared to the Madden competition.  I’ll take John Madden’s deranged barking to this smug jackass anyday.

esf4
My touchdown celebration was to puke on my own ass. It's not important how.

In conclusion, no.