With all the quality reviews, delightful columns, and hard-hitting game journalism you can find here at GameCola, it’s sometimes hard to believe that the site’s written by regular people like you and me, and not a race of evolutionarily advanced superhumans. To help bridge this divide between staff and reader, we’ve set up this column so you can get a look at our staff’s personal opinions on serious issues. Serious issues like the following:
What is your favorite sports videogame?
The last actual sports game we bought was California Games for the NES back in ’87, which was fantastic in a terrible sort of way. All you need to do is watch YouTube videos to understand. Between trying to hit a seagull with a freestyle footbag, falling flat faced in both frisbee and rollerskating, and never really understanding how to get the skateboarding bit to work, there were hours of “fun” to be had. The most rewarding part of the game is when you wipe out while surfing, only to be eaten by Jaws.
(Fortunately, our parents bought us Zelda 2 soon afterwards, in which actual fun was to be had.)
(Kate is the author and illustrator of “The Gates of Life.”)
Al Gore on fire. There’s nothing else to say.
Jeddy’s Choice: NBA Jam
(Jeddy is the host of The GameCola Podcast.)
Super Baseball Simulator 1.000
I love this game mainly because it’s kind of weird, as evidenced by its name alone. First of all, I and everyone I know have always pronounced it “Super Baseball Simulator One-Thousand,” when that’s clearly a period, not a comma, making it “Super Baseball Simulator One-Point-Zero-Zero-Zero.” Or, to be more mathematically concise, “Super Baseball Simulator One”…which just isn’t true, because it’s a sequel. Then there’s the “simulator” part, which absolutely isn’t true unless modern baseball players are hitting balls that turn into bombs, pitchers are undergoing spontaneous mitosis and outfielders are jumping 100 feet straight up into the air—which, I suppose they might be, what with all the rampant steroid use that’s apparently been going on.
Christian’s Choice: Super Baseball Simulator 1.000
Star Wars Episode I: Racer
Does that count as a sports game? It’s the closest I’ve got! (I think the people on Tatooine would consider podracing a sport…) Seriously, though, there’s a special place in my heart for “Podracers” (as my family calls it), because of all the time I spent in late middle school and early high school playing it with my dad and my little sister. It came with my N64, and it must’ve been pretty fun, because we kept coming back to the game for years. In my family’s anti-videogame household, Podracers was the best generation-bridging game—for reasons unknown!—to come along since Tetris and Myst, and that made it pretty special.
Lizo’s Choice: Star Wars Episode I: Racer
(Lizo is a Staff Editor and the former author of “testgame.exe: Making the Adventure.”)
Asking the GameCola staff what their favorite sports games are is like asking a burn victim which particular flame he liked the best; but if I had to choose, I’d have to go with NHL ’94, for the Super Nintendo. Not because it’s a technically great videogame, but because it’s such a well-balanced yet simplistic game that I’ve been playing it with my family and friends for the past 17 years without once getting bored of it. Also because I can beat anyone at it, any time—and yes, that is a challenge.
Paul’s Choice: NHL ’94
(Paul is GameCola’s Editor-in-Chief as well as author of “Minus the Pudding: The Best of Xbox Live Indie Games.“)
Tecmo Super Bowl
While simplistic in gameplay compared to modern sports games such as Madden 2006 and ESPN NFL 2K5, Tecmo Super Bowl is hands-down the silliest and most fun football game I’ve ever played, without even trying. The Blitz games feature unrealism and arcade action, but because Tecmo Super Bowl attempts to be a serious, down-to-earth football game and fails, it becomes much more fun and exciting to play.
Mark’s Choice: Tecmo Super Bowl
Super Dodge Ball
My favorite sports game would be Super Dodge Ball. This game depicts some characters from the classic Kunio-kun series—better known in the west as Renegade and River City Ransom. What makes this game stand out for me is the fact that it has a plot, likable characters, and a proper ending (not a cheap-ass depressing “Congratulations!” screen at the end).
Daniel’s Choice: Super Dodge Ball
Every year, new iterations of NHL, NBA, NCAA, FIFA, and whatever else pop up for their annual “look-at-me-I’m-slightly-improved-from-last-year” appearance on store shelves. They don’t get incrementally better, and more importantly, they fail at doing one major thing: luring the interest of people like myself who don’t know a football from a fuzzy testicle. I have absolutely no clue what the hell is going on in those games; even Blades of Steel for the NES is too complicated for me. I’m simply not a sports junkie. But with Mario Tennis, you don’t have to understand a damn thing, except that you’re supposed to hit the ball away from you. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Just a frantic game of whack-a-ball. All I really want to do is whack a ball. And sure, the game’s clunky polygons haven’t aged well—they probably didn’t look overly impressive in 1999, either—but it still provides a riveting and down-to-earth experience, both single- and multiplayer. Plus, playing as a Shy Guy is…unique.
Jeff’s Choice: Mario Tennis
(Jeff is the author of “Gamera Obscura.”)
Snowboard Kids Plus
My favorite sports game has to be Snowboard Kids Plus, a PlayStation port of the Nintendo 64 racer Snowboard Kids. This port introduced many more characters, animated and spoken (albeit in Japanese) cutscenes, and customisation options such as outfits and hair color. The game has amazing music, memorable characters and courses that stay with you long after the power button is depressed. The single-player mode is an exceptionally fun romp, although the game can be beaten within a day. The real replayability is through the excessive fun that can be had in multiplayer, plus learning all the secret shortcuts and hidden techniques to boost your score and to gain an advantage during the race.
Matt’s Choice: Snowboard Kids Plus
My favourite sports game is 180—a darts* game for the Commodore 64. I chose this game because darts is by far the most beautiful sport in the world, and the Commodore 64 was my first-ever “console”…the memories bring a tear to my eye. Plus, who doesn’t love a game starring athletes such as “Beer Belly Bill” and “Limp Wrist Larry”?
*Darts IS a sport. Look it up.
Jillian’s Choice: 180
(Jillian Dingwall is a staff reviewer.)
Sanrio World Smash Ball
My favourite—and the greatest—sports videogame of all time is Sanrio World Smash Ball on the SNES, a Japan-only Hello Kitty game that plays a tiny bit like Pong, if Pong were somehow on drugs. Which is the laziest journalistic writing cliché of all time, and I should be fired on the spot for using it. I think this ironic clarification makes it OK, though. Anyway, you pick from the classic, unforgettable Sanrio characters like Hello Kitty, Keroppi and, uh, others, and you smack a ball at each other. It’s probably the best two-player game ever made, tied with Dashin’ Desperadoes on the Genesis, which isn’t a sports game but it should be so I can write about it instead. So, in conclusion, my favourite sports videogame is Dashin’ Desperadoes.
Stuart’s Choice: Sanrio World Smash Ball
(Stuart Gipp is a staff reviewer and the author of “Ctrl-Alt-Del: The Animated Series: In Review: Diary of a Madman.”)