sports

NBA 2K13

Full Review

nba 2k13 CoverVisual Concepts’ NBA 2K series has been a heavy hitter in the basketball simulator game since the Dreamcast days, and in 2010 when Visual Concepts and 2K Sports became the first to grab the rights to feature Michael Jordan himself in their games, the 2K brand soon became the must-have in basketball sims. NBA 2K11 featured the ability gamers had only dreamt of, to soar and jump-shot like Jordan. As if sales weren’t evidence enough to display the 2K series’ dominance in the field, competitor EA soon sealed the 2K series’ role as the one to beat when they canceled their own NBA Live and NBA Elite. NBA 2K12 would soon be released, featuring even more NBA Legends and a new mode. Yet again, one year later NBA 2K13 is released with even more features, and completely Jay-Z-efied. Here is my review of NBA 2K13.

NBA 2K13 was released earlier this month and the Xbox 360 version provided to us by 2K Sports for review.

Pocket League Story

Full Review

Pocket League Story CoverI find soccer boring. It has its exciting moments, but those usually happen when I’m getting a snack. On the other hand, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed lots of soccer video games over the years, starting with Nintendo World Cup for the NES and peaking with the insane Sega Soccer Slam on the GameCube. There’s just something so simplistic and fun about kicking a ball into a goal, especially when that ball is on fire.

So truthfully, I like arcade soccer, the kind of stuff displayed in the movie Shaolin Soccer. But when I discovered I was four games behind on Kairosoft’s Android releases, I decided to start with the soccer simulator: Pocket League Story.

In the same vein as Game Dev Story and Grand Prix Story, Pocket League Story has you guiding a soccer team from the dirt pile in your backyard to the top of the world. There are lots of numbers and tons of crunching, but most refreshing, every soccer game plays out in front of your eyes. If you thought watching your cars race in Grand Prix Story got me excited, well, you should have seen me when my first 11 versus 11 match played out. Here’s my review of Pocket League Story.

Mario Strikers Charged

Full Review

Mario Strikers Charged CoverProfessional athletes who excel at multiple sports are understandably rare. The ideal body proportions of an offensive lineman and a power forward are basically inverse. The abilities and skills required by a closing pitcher and a starting goaltender are worlds apart. And who could possibly have enough time to devote their training and competitive passion to two separate sports seasons that last six months or more each year? Ask a sports buff if any athletes have made an impact on two different sports, and they'll probably answer with Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, and possibly Michael Jordan with a sneer.

Ask a gamer, however, and the only answer will be Mario. Ever since the platforming plumber took up golf in 1991's NES Open Tournament Golf, Mario's been blazing a trail across athletic endeavors that none could possibly match, serving up scorchers with his tennis racket in one hand and palming a basketball in the other. The Italian even competes under his own personal flag in both the Summer and the Winter Olympic Games. And next year, Mario will be adding Dodgeball to his list with the launch of Mario Sports Mix, which will also feature the gaming icon's return to Volleyball, Hockey, and Basketball. Even with his talents spread so thin, critics have mostly praised Mario's spinoff sports titles for their sufficient gameplay and charming Mushroom Kingdom aesthetic.

Somebody forgot to tell Next Level Games about that Mushroom Kingdom charm, however, as the Canadian developer decided to go a drastically different route for their take on Mario playing Soccer, Mario Strikers Charged. Sure, Mario and his assortment of friends with mustaches and crowns all show up, as do the requisite mushrooms, shells, and stars, but something seems to have deeply upset the usually benevolent bunch: smiles turn to scowls, frilly dresses are traded for form-fitting battle armor, and the good-natured teasing is replaced with some outright lewd gestures. The tone may have taken a turn for the drab, but there is still plenty of fun to be had with this bizarre Mario Sports title.

Major League Baseball 2K10

Full Review

MLB 2K10 coverAnother year, another sports game.  Gamers hear this every few months when the newest Madden is coming out, or the next iteration in a 2K series, or even for the Tiger Woods series.  Sure, you updated the roster, but what did you really spend the last 12 months on?  That is the eternal question for series with annual updates, and it's always one someone is forced to answer.

For 2K Sports' MLB series, 2009 was a rough year.  The series was switching developers and reactions from the fanbase was generally bad.  With Sony's rival series, The Show, growing stronger and stronger with every iteration, it was not a good year to take two steps back.  2K and Visual Concepts desperately needed to show that they still worth the MLB license they paid for: 2K10 needed to be the Comeback Player of the Year.  If you believe Metacritic, they have definitely improved.  2K9 has a metascore of 64 with a user score of only 5.2, whereas 2K10 has a metascore of 76 but even more importantly, a user score of 8.0.  The MLB 2K series seems to be back on the right track.

But I never played a previous iteration of the series, let alone 2K9, so I'm coming into this season as a rookie.  I'm still expecting a lot though, my favorite baseball games are more arcadey, like Base Wars or the Ken Griffey Jr. series.  Those games were just pure fun and the gameplay was great not because it was great baseball, but because it was a great video game.  MLB 2K10, however, is realistic and trying to not let you realize that it is a video game.  Quite a bit different than what I'm used to.

So here's my full review of MLB 2K10, this was a review copy provided to me by 2K Games.  You can see read my "first hour review" of the game that actually follows me through about the first 10 hours of the game.

Major League Baseball 2K10

First Hour Review
Mlb 2k10 Cover

While I love baseball, I don't play a lot of baseball games anymore. The last baseball game I played was MVP Baseball 2005 from EA, and before that it was Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr. I also grew up playing the Bases Loaded series and Base Wars on the NES along with a smattering of sims on the PC such as Earl Weaver Baseball. An erratic and interesting history, to say the least.

So when 2K Sports offered me a review copy of their newest baseball iteration: Major League Baseball 2K10, I jumped at it. I really have very little idea how the baseball genre has evolved over the years, but I like the direction 2K10 is taking it. MLB 2K09 was generally panned by reviewers and let Sony's The Show really grab the spotlight. So developers Visual Concepts really had a lot to prove with 2K10, and while I'm not totally sold on the entire game yet, I do like the My Player mode.

My Player mode is new to MLB 2K10, and let's you create a baseball player and guide him from AA baseball in the minor leagues to the Major Leagues and maybe eventually election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's curious that this feature is just being added to the series since The Show has featured this since the series was introduced in 2006, but I'm really glad it's there because it is all I've been playing. My Player mode only let's you play as the character you created, so games move quicker and you really feel like you're part of a team effort.

This isn't going to be a typical first hour review where I play 60 minutes and describe the action, but instead I'm going to describe my experience of trying to make the Major Leagues. The road to the Show (sorry, can't help it) does take a few hours, but it is a unique and fun experience to someone who's picking up their first baseball video game in a while.

Pixel Boarder and winter sports gaming

Gaming Nostalgia
Pixel Boarder Cover

I've played hundreds of games in my lifetime, but most of them are long forgotten memories. But sometimes those memories can be dislodged from the deep to remind you of something. Maybe it was just about how simple games used to be, or how they invoked the imagination so much while doing so little, or that games actually used to be difficult.

Pixel Boarder is one of those games. I'll be completely honest: I'm not very good at this game at all. I always forget which to push the joysticks to rotate in a particular direction, and I never seem to have enough speed to do anything cool. But that is really not that big of deal to me right now, mostly because of how much nostalgia this game was able to produce in such amount short time.

I'll spend a few paragraphs talking about Pixel Boarder and then explore my past history in winter video games.

Mutant League Football

First Hour Review

Mutant League Football CoverMutant League Football is a football game released for the Sega Genesis in 1993. This isn't your typical football game though, as the players are mutants, monsters, and skeletons, and the field has firepits, mines, and going out of bounds means getting sucked into space. Mutant League Football was developed by EA and released at the same time as the early Madden Football games, but you can tell the development team really had some fun with the game. A few of the team names are mocking real teams (Sixty Whiners instead of 49ers) and there are a couple of parody players such as Reggie Fright (Reggie White) and Bones Jackson (Bo Jackson).

This game really reminds me of The Rookie, a podcast novel written by Scott Sigler that I read last year. In that book, there's an intergalactic football league played by a variety of alien races and includes much death and destruction. A great listen. Let's get to the review now, oh yeah, this is my second post-apocalyptic game review in a row after Fallout, funny how those things run in streaks.

Tecmo Super Bowl

First Hour Review

Tecmo Super Bowl CoverTecmo Super Bowl is a classic football game for the NES. With the real Super Bowl airing tomorrow night, I've decided to post my first hour review of Tecmo Super Bowl a few days early. This won't be a typical review though, as I've played the game to death, I'm going to perform some Super Bowl predictions with the 17 year old game and pit the New England Patriots against the New York Giants. This is tomorrow's Super Bowl matchup but obviously these teams are very different than what they were when this game came out, so don't place any bets off the outcome!

Post-game results: Tecmo Super Bowl predicted the winner! Not even Madden picked them right!

A little about the game before we get started, Tecmo Super Bowl was the sequel to... Tecmo Bowl, and though that game was very good, Super builds and improves on the original in nearly every way. We now have 30 man rosters instead of 20 and Tecmo Super Bowl also featured 11 men on each side of the ball for every play, where Tecmo Bowl only had 9. It also was one of the first games to use real players and real teams, quite the feat back then as they were breaking new ground (actually, quite the feat now too since EA has a crappy monopoly on the NFL and the NFLPA). Anyways, Tecmo Super Bowl is a great game and I have some wonderful childhood memories of it.

Doing a little research, I've found something interesting: there are only a few players in the game that are still active (five to be exact), and two of them are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday! Junior Seau played for the San Diego Chargers in Tecmo Super Bowl and now plays for the New England Patriots; and Jeff Feagles played for the Philadelphia Eagles and now is the punter for the New York Football Giants! That's pretty amazing the longevity these guys have (and the great timing of their careers).

Let's get to the game now, here's the first hour of Tecmo Super Bowl and a pre-enactment of Super Bowl XLII. By the way, I am well aware I can download updated ROMs with current rosters but I'm trying to review the original game just like it was meant to be played. In my commentary though I'll replace the old timers with their current counterparts, just to make things... interesting.

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