NCAA Basketball

The 'A' is for ACTION. The other 'A' is for ABSENCE OF.
Mode 7 Things I Hate About You

FANTASTIC! ANOTHER BASKETBALL GAME! Man, it’s like Christmas came early this year and I got every single thing I wanted, assuming I wanted to get dizzy watching pixelated dudes throw a poorly-rendered basketball at one another while the screen rotated like I was spinning in a circle. If this game was what real basketball was like, the court floor would be covered with my vomit; I’d try to eat entertaining foods to make this as pleasant as possible for everyone involved. Hey look! Whole Gummi Bears! Bouncing here and there and everywhere! The contents-of-my-stomach-covered adventures beyond compare!

Great, now I’m hungry.

So apparently NCAA stands for National College Athletic Association, which I technically did not know but certainly could have guessed if I’d bothered. That means that I’m not even poorly controlling real basketball players* but merely their yet to evolve incarnations—I’m controlling them in their formative years, and their formative years are leading them to be stumbling, ball-losing motards. I’m sorry dudes, but your scholarships are on the line, and so now you will have to learn a trade. From what I’ve seen welding looks really amazing. Heat! Sparks! Sweet masks! It’s like being a really warm knight.

At some point I need to talk about the game, and this is that point: I never really felt as if I was in control of the players. I was aware that I was moving people around and maybe influencing their actions, but it was influence in the same fashion that Bill O’Reilly is influencing my opinions on anything. Like, I’m aware of what he’s saying, and I recognize them as words in my language, but they make so little sense I have trouble putting them into any meaningful context. My basketball players treat me like a drunk Bill O’Reilly, screaming at them from the sidelines about how I didn’t sort of maybe ok kinda implied they should shoot an “abortion doctor” (or some hoops).

This game makes full use of that POWERFUL TEXTURE MAPPING JUGGERNAUT known as Mode 7; I’ve never liked Mode 7, not even a little. I think it looks like crap now, just like I thought it looked like crap back when I was a kid, and will likely think it looks like crap in the exciting future of SNES games. I’ve no doubt it’s a technical achievement of some sort, I just don’t care. Personally, I’d prefer some nicely rendered static backgrounds; this is my personal opinion, but don’t let that stop you from telling me I’m wrong, since the person who first said “opinions can’t be wrong because they’re opinions” was a complete moron.

I’m the wrong person to review sports games. You probably like this game and think it’s a lot of fun—I don’t. I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you by reviewing a game I enjoy as if I hate it, and then we’ll be even and you can stop sending me death threats that you never bother carrying through since you’re too busy playing Madden or NHL 8K7B/6.

*Dear college basketball players, I totally respect you or whatever so please don’t beat me up for denigrating your game, lives, and general intelligence.

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NBA Showdown

Too many characters, too many characters!
EA Sports: offering ridiculous amounts of options since 1994.

If ever there was a case against realism in videogames, this is it.  Is real life basketball so enthralling that we should settle for a normal slam dunk over a flaming helicopter dunk?  I should go start the Church of NBA Jam already – or at least marry it – there’s not a b-ball game review goes by that I don’t profess its superiority.

So now we come to NBA Showdown, the eleventh title in this 26-strong dearth of sports-games-in-a-row.  Can you feel the struggle?  We are literally pushing on through like constipated razor blades; forced and painful though it is, we just have to get them out of our system.

It’s quite possible that once upon a time, this was the most realistic basketball simulation money could buy.  What that equates to in this day and age of whiz-bang textured polygons and bloom lighting is utter boredom.  Take that realism!

The gameplay is realistic too.  Stop-starting every five seconds because your stupid players can carry the ball over the sideline.  And you can’t even punch people over!  What’s with that?  This game was such a snorefest I fell asleep and was penalised for holding the ball too long!  Give me a break!  NBA Jam does the inbound pass automatically!  The phrase “never let the truth get in the way of a good story” never rang truer – I’m not sure if that’s ironic or not – but here’s the redux: “never let reality get in the way of a good videogame”.

Like Mike, I'd like to be like Mike (oooh, I wanna be like Mike!)
Waiiittaminute...is that Michael Jordan?!

Showdown has at least one thing going for it: it’s one of the blessed few basketball games to actually feature Michael Jordan.  That the title remains as pedestrian as it does in spite of his illustrious presence is testament to its blandness.

Where's my invisible wall, BITCH?!
Not even the God of Basketball is immune to the trappings of the Real.

We have reached the dreaded ‘N’-zone of this EveryGame journey; a veritable graveyard of iterative sports titles.  But take heart, little warrior!  I see a glorious ‘S’-bend on the horizon!

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.

Champions World Class Soccer

How dare you!

No, seriously, where do you get the audacity to give an American a soccer game to review*? Okay, so some of us do pay attention to the sport, but really, now, it’s a crap shoot, and I’m the damn snake eyes. Alright, maybe I’m more of a point, but it’s a low-probability point, like four or something. Try to roll a four again. No, really, go for it. What…nine? Alright, fine, try again. Seven? Yeah, that’s what I thought. No pass for you.

I mean, the most exposure I’ve had to soccer video games would probably have to be the couple times or so I’ve played Fifa 09, usually with other people (honestly, the only way you really should have to play most sports video games), so I don’t have much with which to compare this. Actually, I have trouble playing sports games on the Super Nintendo in general. I just can’t seem to care much.

The whole ordeal between myself and 16-bit sports games could probably be summed up as follows:

  • Most Super Nintendo games of a given sport are fairly similar.
  • Sports games in general have very specific controls, and for the most part, I have no manuals to pull from, so it’s a bit of experimentation while I try to figure things out.
  • My attention span with most SNES sports games is usually limited to around five to ten minutes, after which if I haven’t already figured things out, I’ve lost interest and drifted back to episodes of Top Gear or something equally more interesting.

So in conclusion, I’d recommend watching Top Gear over playing this game, any time.

* Sorry, I mean “football” for those of you who come from countries where you don’t play football with your hands.