Monthly Archives: August 2014

Let the Gaming Begin

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Madden NFL releases at 12:01 AM 8/26. Courtesy: EA Sports

Right now NFL gamers are concocting their best lies so they can call out sick from work, while chasing down alibis to verify their stories as they prepare to get lost in the newest version of EA Sports Madden NFL 15—it releases Tuesday at midnight.

As my own excitement builds about the latest installment, I can’t help but to reflect on how far sports games have come in the 29 years that I’ve been playing, going back to when I was a five year old kid playing my father’s Atari and Coleco Vision. The graphics, realism and sophistication in bringing the most realist simulation of the on field action blows my mind with these seventh and eight consoles (PS3, XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, PS4, XBOX One and Nintendo’s Wii U). But also, it gives me a chance to look back at the hit games of yester-year that captivated my imagination even though graphically they’re Stone Age.

The nostalgia of the classic 16, 64 and 128 bits are the ones most tout as their favorites mostly due to the time period of their lives when they played them, but are also considered the best because of the simplicity of them. So with that in mind, here are my best (favorite) football video games of all time. You’ll notice a common theme with some, competition with Madden, which has none now and many feel that’s hurting the series.

Tecmo Super Bowl (Nintendo) ~ This wasn’t the first football simulation, it wasn’t even the first in this series, but it’s the one everyone who grew up in the 1980’s talks about. The LA Raiders (yes, Los Angeles for you young kids) were led by the most potent running attack in gaming history, Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson. It was hard enough for opponents to catch Jackson, that even if they got him in their grasps, he’d still break away. Without a doubt he was the best player in Tecmo Bowl history. Then there were the dominate teams; Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers, the up and coming Triplet led Dallas Cowboys and the incarnation of the Jim Kelly Buffalo Bills that eventually went to four consecutive Super Bowls. These teams and others didn’t have over hyped players with unrealistic ratings like in today’s games. The best teams were just the best teams, but unlike reality—and today’s games—you could win with every team.

Tecmo Super Bowl is the game most true football gamers still hail as their all time favorite. Of course it has it’s flaws. It’s not a true simulation and is very arcade, but go play it now and you’ll still get the same enjoyment you got over two decades ago. That’s why the last gen consoles attempted to update the game with better graphics, but without a licensing deal with the NFL, the rosters were filled with generic names playing for generic teams.

Courtesy: Numb3rtw3enty

College Football USA 96 from EA Sports (Sega Genesis) ~ Although there we two previous College Football games in this series, many would point to this one as the true birth of the NCAA College Football series we all fell in love with that has since been terminated (Thanks Ed O’Bannon!)

The was the first game with all 108 Division l-A teams—at that time. It was also the first time the big four major bowl games (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Rose) were involved. The series introduced windowless passing and the 96 version in particular brought in a new passing mode that allowed gamers to choose from five receivers on every play. Speaking of plays, there were 400 to choose from, as well as new key features such as substitutions, injuries, audibles, spins, hurdles, dives, blocked kicks, interceptions and laterals that are extremely important video games or reality.

Courtesy: psuzeppelin5

NFL 2K (Sega Dreamcast) ~ Thanks to EA Sports decision not to publish the Madden Series on the Sega Dreamcast, NFL 2K from Visual Concepts, made a splash on the brand new Sega console which was first in what was called the sixth generation of consoles (Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Nintendo GameCube and XBOX). Madden which was the runaway popular choice, found it a formidable foe.

Helping to usher in the new era of sports gaming, 2K sports a relatively unknown, gave us the blueprint of what was to come. Oh and Randy Moss—the 2K Cover Boy—who’s Sunday performances were video game like, was just as great in the game. This game got me through many of nights in my sophomore year of college, and cost me several valuable study time.

Courtesy: Courtesy: IGN

NFL Gameday from 989 Sports and Interactive Studios America (Playstation 1) ~ The game that was Madden’s top competition in the mid-90’s. I remember Gameday for it’s jarring hits, that if completed during a game played in the rain, would light up the field as if lightning had struck the victim. I would say this is what eventually led to the hit stick that Madden made popular. The game broke ground with the 1998 version, becoming the first to introduce 3D polygonal graphics.

On the negative side, I do remember the players being extremely bulky with everyone from QBs to O Linemen having the same build; Plus, the players moved awkwardly, but like in anything in life, it was nice to have other NFL gaming options outside of Madden.

Courtesy: drummerboygamer

NCAA Game Breaker by 989 Sports (Playstation 1) ~ Like its NFL big brother Gameday, this series was the alternative to the EA Sports NCAA Football series. The gameplay was similar to Gameday, and produced high quality animation and presentation. It was a precursor of what was to come at the turn of the century with the arrival of Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2 and the Xbox.

Courtesy: Encyclopegames

I Guess LeBron Does Love the Pressure

See what I did there?

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LBJ now heads a younger, more talented Big three in Cleveland.

Now that the deal that’s been done for two months is OFFICIAL, we can finally discuss, criticize or ridicule, what this means for Cleveland and more importantly LeBron James.

When James announced his triumphant return to the Cleveland Cavs as a free agent on July 11th, one sticking point in his fantastic, impassioned essay was that his goal was to bring one championship to his title starved home area. He went on to say he knows it’s going to take time, because of the inexperience of the Cavs roster, it’s coaching staff and his experience from his first season on South Beach. But you can throw all those sentiments into Lake Erie now.

Fans, media and even LeBron haters were honestly happy with Him for returning home. There were those who were willing to let him off the “Jordan Quest” hook he’d been on since he entered the league in 2003. Many people said now all he has to do is win one Larry O’Brien trophy for this city that hasn’t had a winner since 1954. There would no longer be comparisons to Michael Jordan and his six rings, because as LeBron said, one ring in Cleveland is worth more than one anywhere else. There were those that were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, that has been thrown in the Cuyahoga river.

With the acquisition of Kevin Love and a stable of veterans with Championship experience—Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and eventually Ray Allen—and chemistry with LeBron the expectations have risen. Vegas has the with the best odds to win the 2015 NBA title and many “experts” are all ready to hand them at least the 2015 Eastern Conference crown. In Love, James has by far the most talent teammate he will have played with in their prime—with respect to Dwayne Wade. With Kyrie Irving, he’s the only player James will have played with that can more than adequately relieve him of all the ball handling and distributing responsibilities.

Now that the organization has exported the youth to import some experience, the message is clear, the Cavs aren’t willing to wait for that one title LeBron hopes to bring. They want it now! That’s going to create a pressure equally or greater than the kind felt when LBJ promised eight titles in Miami. Where there once was no expectations, now they’re great expectations. LeBron may have exchanged the humid tropical climate of South Floroda for the harsh bitter cold winters of Northeast Ohio, but he brought plenty of Heat with him. I did it again, I can’t help myself.

Pros or Collegiates, Which Should Play for Team USA?

N.B.A. players should no longer be questioned when they decide not to play in international competition.

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George was injured in the 4th quarter of Team USA’s scrimmage Friday night.

When Kevin Love and Blake Griffin withdrew from Team USA this summer, many in the media questioned their real motivation for doing so. But after seeing the Paul George injury during the Team USA team scrimmage Friday night, my thoughts immediately went two places. One, Griffin and Love look really smart right now. Two, should Team USA go back to using college players in international play. ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Let me explain my position. Pro players have guaranteed contracts and receive the best medical attention money can buy. You can bet your life’s savings that Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers brass have their medical staff on a flight to Las Vegas as I write—if they aren’t there already—to be involved in the entire process surrounding George’s medical needs and treatment. Eventually as he progresses, George will be monitored and aided by the best trainers in sports.

If Paul George’s injury would’ve happened to a college kid playing for Team USA while on summer vacation from school, I’m not sure he would get the type of medical attention George will receive from this point moving forward. While some top collegiate programs—like a Kentucky, Duke, Ohio State and a Kansas—have highly qualified medical and training staffs, that wouldn’t be the case for all the student athletes participating. Think about the ones from your mid-majors where their athletic departments don’t operate on the same budget. A top flight training staff isn’t high on the priority list. What if this would’ve happened to one of them? Could you also imagine the out cry over the damage to his future?

Which brings me to this, while money wouldn’t be the first thing on your mind after a potential catastrophic injury as this, you’d have to think you could kiss that high draft selection with the multi year million dollar contract goodbye. Pro Athletes are scrutinized for trying to get every dollar they can, injuries like this are why. They must maximize their earning potential while they can. A college athlete would never get that opportunity.

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I’m confident George will bounce back and have the productive career he was headed towards because of the resources available to him, I couldn’t say the same if this happened to a college kid. Don’t believe me, go ask former Louisville guard Kevin Ware.

Reaction from around the league:

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