2010-2011 NHL Regular Season and 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs

nhl 11 CoverAs sports games trend towards delivering a true-to-life experience to players, the systems and stats behind the play system are becoming increasingly complex. The result, I've found, is a genre that is taking more control out of the player's hand and giving it to the CPU in order to keep a Cowboys/Steelers matchup in Madden from turning into an 79-3 blowout, a rather common outcome when I was playing NFL '95 on the Genesis. I can appreciate the effort to mimic the pro league norm, but I can't help but feel a bit cheated when I can do everything right in NBA Live and not go 82-0 on the season.

Oddly enough, this devotion to believability and authenticity has driven me away from the sports game genre in recent years, though I still take time to play EA's NHL series now and then. Still, I've found that I'm more interested in the peripheral modes and features than I am in the standard game options. Running simulations of season and playoff matches has become commonplace, and it is quite impressive to see just how believable the outcomes are, barring the last season sim I completed that resulted in the Columbus Blue Jackets winning the Stanley Cup with a 16-2 record in the playoffs. That's a little much to expect from a team that has only one winning season in its existence.

We're now almost a quarter of the way through the 2010-2011 NHL Season, and I've been waiting to run a simulation for the site since NHL 11 came out in September. Unfortunately for me, it took EA nearly two months to release a roster update that actually reflected accurate rosters for the season. Then it took them another week to fix it. Anyway, it's time to place some bets, people: here are your 100% guaranteed* results for the 2010-2011 NHL Season.

* results guaranteed to be incorrect

Super Bowl XLIV

Super Bowl 44 Logo

Time for the third annual First Hour Super Bowl pre-enactment! With the big game just two days away, we play the upcoming Super Bowl match-up with a football video game. Now, we could play something fancy like Madden 2010, but that's no fun (literally), so we'll be playing one of the most entertaining football games of all-time: NFL Blitz on the Nintendo 64. I have a ton of great memories of this game, mostly of last second comebacks and aggressive rubber band A.I.

In 2008 and 2009, we played the Super Bowl with Tecmo Super Bowl, the epitome of classic sports gaming. NFL Blitz has some weird limitations though, you can't actually pick who you want to play against, so the only way I could match up the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints was to start a season. Thankfully, the two teams met in only the fourth game that season, so I was able to sneak a few practice rounds in. Unfortunately, this means I was only able to play the match-up once, instead of a best of three like I usually would. But like I said, the computer will simply not allow a blow-out to occur, so the game will be close no matter what side I play on.

So here we go, first we'll do a quick look at how the teams matched up back in the days of NFL Blitz (console versions were released in 1998) and then we'll play the game. In very un-Blitz-like fashion, we'll be playing the game with six minute quarters! The default quarter length is two minutes.

Post-game update: Blitz sadly fails to come through. Not only was the final score not 87-79, but the Saints won! Maybe next year!

2009 World Series

World Series/2009 World Series Logo

The 2009 Major League Baseball World Series starts today featuring the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. It's sure to be a grand Fall Classic, but I'd like to know who will win in advance. Instead of heading to Las Vegas, however, I'll be pre-enacting the Series by playing MVP Baseball 2005 for the Xbox. It is considered one of the best baseball games ever and I actually feel a bit bad that EA lost the use of the MLB license (well, not really, considering all the damage they've done to other sports series). A few years ago I awarded MVP Baseball 2005 my "Older Console Game of the Year," an award for the best console game I played in 2007 that didn't come out in 2007 (complicated, I know).

I actually considered playing Bases Loaded 2, probably my personal favorite baseball game. I played this game so much growing up that I can still name the complete lineup for the team hailing from New Jersey. And therein lies the problem, it has made up teams and players. While that wouldn't make the results from that game any more inaccurate than playing with players from 2005 from real teams, it's just a little too far from reality than I'd like. The game actually does feature teams from Philadelphia and New York though, but both of them are pretty awful.

Like my previous pre-enactments, I'll be playing two games, one as each team, and if necessary, a one game playoff generated by the computer. As much as I'd like to play a seven game series, I simply don't have the time. Hopefully this will be enough to whet our appetites and accurately pre-enact the 2009 World Series.

Post World Series update: The Yankees have won the 2009 World Series, just like we predicted here at the First Hour. We now have two correct predictions out of three attempts.

Super Bowl XLIII

Tecmo Super Bowl CoverSuper Bowl XLIII will be played in a few days between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, so that means it's time for my second annual Tecmo Super Bowl preview of the big game. Last year, Tecmo Super Bowl and I correctly predicted the winner of Super Bowl XLII, an epic battle between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. The Patriots were heavily favored and undefeated at the time, and while nearly everyone picked them, Tecmo Super Bowl predicted the Giants would overcome, and they did!

Last year, Madden picked the Patriots, and lost. This year, they're going with the Steelers, but who is Tecmo Super Bowl picking? Remember, the teams playing are based off their 1990 counterparts! Also, don't place any bets based on this game, results are guaranteed to be as accurate as any other football video game. On with the show!

Post game update: So the Steelers ended up winning, not without drama though. Tecmo Super Bowl is now only one for two when the First Hour is involved, so I think next year I'll be preenacting with a slightly rougher game...

Tecmo Super Bowl

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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