They just don’t make them like they used to. …Too clichéd of an opener? Not as clichéd as Madden 2012 will be, I can assure you.
I know there isn’t much sports chatter here @ GameCola, but sports games are a great chance for non-athletic types to juke, putt, dunk, slide tackle, punch, headbutt…whatever your taste may be. In the olden days, sports games weren’t simulations; they were what started the idea of “arcade” style, meaning you could sit down with a group of people and play a sport in an unrealistic and fun way, but still stay true to the basic nature of the sport’s rules. There’s not really that many videogames that do this anymore, and I don’t understand why. Such games have a wide audience of both sports fans and multiplayer-game fans, and they’re so damn fun to play. If you want a realistic sports game, just watch a real-life sport!
Let me give you a rundown of a few of my favorite less-realistic sports games.
Nintendo World Cup
From Technos (the guys who use the same sprites in all their games, like River City Ransom) comes Nintendo World Cup. You don’t need to know much about soccer to do well in this soccer game, other than passing and shooting. Your team can perform five super moves per half by doing a bicycle kick or headbutt and blasting the ball into the goal, generally knocking out the goalie. The game also lets you do shoulder charges and slide tackles to hit your opponent. Eventually, a player will get so weak that they’re lying face-up on the field. There’s literally unconscious players lying around on the green. The players all have stereotypical appearances and names similar to those in Punch-Out, so that’s a nice slice of Americana. You can also play on Grass, Rocks, Ice, and other field types. Check out the great action below.
Oh, and I had no idea they made a single cart with Super Mario Bros., Tetris, and Nintendo World Cup on it. All three games for $50? Nice.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
A lot of people consider MTPO to be an early rhythm game. And by a lot, I mean me. You learn the punch patterns of your opponents, who are twice your height, and you try to win the championship belt. Goofy sound effects, boxers with bandaids over their guts—this was a really fun game to play. Modern boxing games like Fight Night just don’t do it for me.
MTPO was also laden with stereotypes and absurdity that really made it a gem. Will Honda give you a TKO from Tokyo? Will Soviet slugger Soda Popinski mesmerize you with his cone head and Russian ‘stache? Will Super Macho Man make you run away screaming with his pulsating manboobs (see 0:09 in the video below)? Pop it in and give it a go.
The first Tecmo Bowl had four plays for offense, and that’s it. Nothing for defense; the defense just picked the play they thought the offense would do. If they guessed it right, they’d get an instant sack. If not, then get ready for a crazy zig-zag running play, or a huge 100-yard bomb (regardless of stats). This game was off-the-wall unrealistic, but it was great for having the NFL license. The game also had some sweet cutscenes. You can read more about it here.
Robots. Baseball. Machine guns. Jean-Luc Picard’s floating head. Need I say more?
Mutant League Football/Hockey
Robots not quite your thing? Check out these titles. I, unfortunately, couldn’t when I was younger, as I didn’t own a Sega Genesis.
Was the NFL hit with a mutagen that turned your pigskin patriots into monstrous maulers with explosive footballs, or was this league founded to cover up the “Secret of the Ooze“? I’m not too sure, but be sure of this—you don’t want to be around when this thing goes off:
Arch Rivals was the precursor to NBA Jam. While there was no slamma-jamma yet, you could openly punch your opponents, and the court sometimes had pieces of garbage you could trip on. Oh, and the cutscenes when you scored were pretty silly, especially this guy giving you the shifty eye. NBA Jam took away the ability to punch, but they did add the classic “He’s on fire!” mode, and also let you key in cheat codes to play as Bill and Hillary Clinton, and possibly Ross Perot? I remember fondly as a lad helicopter-dunking as Grover Cleveland on two non-consecutive occasions.
So what happened? What happened to cause these raunchy titles to stop being produced? The NFL Blitz series was created to have some zing, but it wasn’t the same, really. Some of these titles can be played on the Virtual Console, but at least with Tecmo Bowl, they removed the players’ names, as there were some legality issues with the NFL Players Association. They didn’t even substitute the names; they just blanked them out. What the crap? If I’m running as Tecmo Bo Jackson, I want it prominently displayed on my TV screen, bub.
But there is some shining light. Released in April 2010 on XBLA and June 2010 on PSN was Tecmo Bowl Throwback: a re-polished Tecmo Bowl with online play, and sweet graphics for $10. I haven’t played this game as I’m a bit reluctant without a demo, but I’m hoping to pick it up soon to support this dying breed.
Tecmo Bowl is the Clint Eastwood of videogames. Now matter how much crap is coming out of Hollywood, Clint is still there to put a barrel in your grill and remind you why you started here in the first place.