Written by Joel T. Lewis
I don’t know much about video games but I know what I like. When it comes to video games I’m kind of a late bloomer: my gaming education in no way rode the wave of innovation or popularity: I had a NES console when I was 6 or 7 and could play Contra and Super Mario (and that’s about all I had) on a tube TV with broken channel knobs and wooden trim and when I was 10 or 11 my parents bought my sister and I an N64 and I played that and only that until I went to college. Even when I got to college and had some money to throw at a new console, I opted for a blocky used Xbox 360 which shortly thereafter gave me the dreaded Red Ring of Death.
So I kind of missed out on the novelty of console games with online multiplayer modes, and when I had systems capable of running them, I didn’t really enjoy them. I also get pretty intense motion-sickness from playing First-Person Shooters like Doom, Halo, Call of Duty, or Overwatch so there’s a huge swath of games I can’t even boot up. So between being a few console generations behind the curve and too queasy to play some of the most popular of today’s video games I’m by no means an expert when it comes to video games and I don’t rush out day one to pick up the latest releases. That being said, where do I get off writing a review of a video game?
Well one thing that my video game upbringing gave me was an appreciation for what has become known as the ‘Couch Co-Op’ genre of gameplay. My hours of Mario Kart 64, Contra, Super Mario Bros., and Star Wars: Racer instilled in me a profound affection for sitting next to a buddy, eyes glued to a screen, sharing trash talk and controller tossing. I don’t get that from online multiplayer. Part of the beauty of those days was that nobody had to own every single game: you just found a buddy with a different console, or different cartridges and you got to play together. Nowadays, if I want to play Battlefront with a friend, we both have to be on the internet, both have to have the game and a separate console, and if we want to play it in the same room we need two separate screens! Now I know that the PC fans among you are pulling your hair out in response to my resistance to the LAN party concept, which has been around for ages, but I’m lazy, and I don’t want to spend my time setting up a game when all I want is that old-school, Couch Co-Op experience.
Enter Cuphead: a gorgeous wicked hard run and gun action game which combines razor-precise platforming with brutal bullet-hell boss battles that you can play in a couch co-op two player mode. I’ve played this game every day since I’ve bought it. I’ve brought my laptop to two different apartments and played with 6 different partners, more than happy to start over from the very beginning of the game. But more than just scratching that Couch Co-Op itch for me, I find myself returning time and again to Cuphead because the game is so damn charming. Visually stunning, Cuphead was crafted using the same hand-painted cel animation style as the vintage cartoons that it pays tribute to with its wild and surreal boss and level designs. Demonic potatoes that spit obstacles at you who then morph into giant weeping onions and finally shift into telepathic carrots will infect your brain as your hands go numb and eyes turn blurry. And though I’ve progressed through only about half of the game, dying more times that I can count (or would like to admit), I keep hitting ‘Retry.’
The game is difficult but it is not unfair. Cuphead’s Bosses and run and gun levels do have predictable fire and movement patterns which can be learned and evaded with practice. As you progress you are able obtain power-ups and weapons which allow you to tailor your attack strategy to each stage of the game trading rate of fire for bullet spread, or disappearing in a cloud of smoke when you dash.
Everything about the presentation of this game is outstanding, from the wacky character designs and evolutions to the 20’s and 30’s era songs that accompany every boss and level. Timeless and crafted with care, Cuphead is a masterpiece.
A few quirks I did have with the game that are almost too nit-picky to mention are:
Cuphead is a Steam and Xbox One exclusive title and is only $19.99. I can tell you that it’s more than worth the price and I will be playing it, and getting my butt kicked by it, for many months to come. Until Next Time, Geek On!
Written by Zeke Perez Jr.
If you know me and my tubby self, you know food and I go together like peanut butter and jelly, beans and rice, or peas and carrots. I live by a simple motto: FOE, or ‘Food Over Everything’. So, when I heard about Hey There Fatty, my stomach grumbled with excitement. A game all about food? Be still my beating heart. The team at Chocolate Crackers, LLC (that name is fitting) brought their brand-new card game out to the Indie Zone at DreamHack Denver. It did very well.
Hey There Fatty was nominated for DreamHack 2017’s Best Multiplayer Experience Award. That is a feat in and of itself, but it’s even more amazing when considering that Hey There Fatty was a lone card came competing against a pack of video games. To throw a cherry on top of that delicious sundae of impressiveness: Hey There Fatty won the award! I stopped by the game’s booth at DreamHack to see what makes it such a great game.
The booth was hard to miss, anchored by a huge Chinese takeout box emblazoned with the game’s name. The cards were spread out on a table, next to an awesome ‘How To Play’ infographic. The game’s creators, Anthony and Cory, were also on hand to describe the game and lead playthroughs throughout the day.
You can read the full details on how to play on their site, but in essence, players draw food cards to place on their imaginary plate, which they consume when an ‘Eat’ card is drawn. Over the course of the game, players will consume and burn calories, with the goal of maintaining a healthy diet and finishing with as few as possible. Each game comes with one die, 49 junk food cards, 272 draw pile cards, and a fortune cookie.
The game is a blast for many reasons. It’s a good ol’ sit down card game with a unique story and style of play. It’s the type of game that you can revisit time after time and still have fun playing, thanks to the twists and turns that come with the draw pile cards and the unpredictability of the luck of the draw. Plus, it’s relatively easy to pick up, so you’ll have no problem showing it off to new players. The art style is silly, fun, and visually appealing, with anthropomorphized foods bringing the game to life. A very French piece of French toast, a muscular leek, and a literal chicken strip are just some of the cards that are sure to give you a laugh.
As of October 23rd, the kickstarter for Hey There Fatty is now live and wraps up on November 22nd. The game will retail for $24.99 but a ‘Meat and Potatoes’ pledge of $15 will secure it for you. They currently have a few cool products in their shop, including a ‘Leek’s Ultimate Physiques’ gym shirt that I may or may not have my eye on. If you’re looking for a new way to have fun with friends and family, consider supporting this silly and strategic award-winning game. You’re sure to have that nice, full feeling that comes after a good meal.
Written by Zeke Perez Jr.
In a galaxy far, far away…but not so far in the future! Just four weeks from today, we can hop into the expansive universe that is Star Wars: Battlefront II. The game releases on November 17th for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The follow-up to the 2015 game, Battlefront II looks to be a more well-rounded and complete game, featuring new modes and gameplay. Here are some of my impressions, both good and not so good, after trying out the beta.
The biggest addition to the game is the Campaign Mode, something that many felt Star Wars: Battlefront was sorely missing. Trailers for the single-player story mode look incredible. Visuals, cut scenes, and voice acting are all top-notch. The story itself looks really good too. You play as Iden Versio, a leader of an Imperial special forces unit called the Inferno Squad. From the looks of it, the in-game story is crafted to be a nice addition to existing Star Wars lore. A tie-in novel, titled Inferno Squad, was released in July. The novel picks up immediately after the events of Rogue One, so if the Campaign Mode story mirrors the book, you can expect to play in that era of the Star Wars universe.
Aside from the single-player campaign, not much is new as far as game modes go. Strike, Blast, Starfighter Assault, Galactic Assault, Heroes vs. Villains, and Arcade Mode fill out the list of multiplayer modes available. That being said, multiplayer wasn’t really the problem with Battlefront. While they could get stale over time, Battlefront II has added new maps and characters, as well as new systems for playing, which should keep things fresh.
Another key addition is that of character classes. Rather than hopping into the online-multiplayer world as an all-purpose character, you now choose which class you want to be in before the match starts (and you can switch between classes before respawning throughout the match). Assault, heavy, officers, and specialists are all up for grabs, each with their own styles, weapons, and upgrades. I found myself drifting towards heavy and assault, but I enjoyed my time playing as each. This move really adds variety to the experience, especially as you get sucked into playing a stretch of back-to-back games.
Heroes, Villains, and Vehicles
Heroes, villains, vehicles, and other power-ups are now more fairly allocated during gameplay. In Battlefront you could take control of a hero or a ship by finding and activating tokens throughout the map. In Battlefront II, you earn points for kills, assists, and other objectives, and you redeem those in-match points to respawn as a hero or villain, or to take control of a vehicle. I found this to be a much more effective way of divvying up the really good perks.
Visuals and Other Intangibles
As always, the game looks stunning. The maps, characters, ships, and surroundings are detailed and well-crafted. This is one game series that is as visually stunning in play through as it is in any cut scenes or trailers. It’s still a shooter that feels smooth to play, too.
Crates, Star Cards, and Microtransactions
The biggest concern I had about the Battlefront II beta was the implementation of crates and in-game currency. As soon as I began playing, I noticed I had a few unopened crates. Each came with three items, which could include Star Cards (player and ship development items), weapons, emotes, celebrations, and other items to upgrade your characters.
As mentioned, I had a few starter packs, and I noticed there were daily crates, crates earned through performance and use of specific characters or modes, and crates available for purchase. For the beta, all purchases were made with currency earned in-game, but knowing EA and some of its freemium features in other games, I worried that real cash would become a factor upon release. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. It seems many had this concern and EA has acknowledged the criticisms that came with the beta. We’ll see if they make any changes before the game rolls out.
Thoughts and Pre-Order Information
I truly enjoyed my time playing the Battlefront II beta and I’m very excited for the full game to release in a month. I think the pay-to-play aspect of it could be a bummer if it continues into the full release, but I hope it won’t hamper things too much. The story in Campaign Mode looks immersive and well-written and the mode itself should fill the void that existed in the first game. All in all, if you love Star Wars, it should be a blast!
If you’re interested in checking out Star Wars: Battlefront II, pre-ordering will get you The Last Jedi Heroes Pack, which comes with Kylo Ren and Rey outfits, access to hero and starfighter Star Cards, and instant access to The Last Jedi Millennium Falcon. You can choose between the Standard and Deluxe Edition, with the latter coming with four character class upgrade packs and the aforementioned bonuses without pre-ordering. Both editions release for all systems on November 17th. Just four weeks to go! May the Force be with you.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
It was almost a year ago that I took the plunge and downloaded my first MMORPG on my Xbox One by way of Star Trek Online and holy cow, what a difference a year makes. I truly downloaded this game in the hopes of enjoying a casual Star Trek experience to get my Starfleet fix until Star Trek: Discovery arrived on the airwaves and as it turns out, a year later…this game turned out to become so much more for me.
Sure, it was instantly a fun and exciting jaunt through the Star Trek universe, where I was able to warp from system to system and explore strange new worlds and fight the epic space battles that any Trekkie or Trekker has spent a life time dreaming of. But my casual experience quickly came to a close after I first wrote my initial review of the game because something magical happened…this game sucked me in, in ways that I never expected by becoming a powerful personalized experience for the ages.
Because STO goes above and beyond merely putting you in the captain’s chair and allowing you fire phasers and photon torpedoes and kick some stellar butt along the way. It truly immerses you in the heart of this majestic franchise thanks to top notch writing and some incredibly immersive episodes and as you learn that thinking and speaking like a Starfleet Captain allows for you to progress quicker in the game…you find yourself focused on the ideals of the Federation and there’s a strange sense of pride that comes with earning your Captain’s pips and a sense of humility that comes with being promoted to Fleet Admiral.
But in addition to finding one’s self focused on saving and protecting this digital universe, the richness and respect that this game has for every iteration of the franchise, including the 2009 reboot is nothing short of breathtaking. Easter eggs are everywhere this game, and there’s something truly magical about being able to serve alongside legends from this saga or running into a particular place or character or object from one of your favorite episodes.
All of this comes to mind, simply because of the fact that nearly a year after downloading this game…I’ve completed all available episodes and seasons and that gave me pause. Because when all is said and done…this is a dream come true for any hardcore fan. I finally got to command a starship in Starfleet, and play the hero and be a part of the universe I’ve admired through my television screen for as long as I can remember and it’s supremely satisfying to know that more adventures are on their way since Season 13.5 arrives soon and I cannot wait to see what new and exciting stories are waiting on the horizon…
Written by John Edward Betancourt
August is a special time for us football fans. After all, the NFL Preseason gets underway, we get our football fix at last and in a few short weeks, the regular season begins and our team’s quest to hoist the Lombardi Trophy and enjoy the title of Super Bowl Champion begins. But for the hardcore fans of the sport, there’s another important event that also happens this time of year, the annual release of Madden.
This gaming tradition remains a staple for football fans simply because it truly allows for an immersive NFL experience. Sure, some folks see it as nothing more than a pricey roster update; but to so many this game means so much more. Madden as a whole almost represents an escape from the spoils of defeat, a place where fans can right the wrongs that happened on the field and relish in the wonder of the championship that they help guide their favorite team to and the time to bask in the magic of this game has come around once again and let me tell you now, Madden 18 is truly a sight to behold.
For this year’s edition of the game, the folks at EA Sports made use of the revolutionary Frostbite Engine and the results of this investment are utterly breathtaking. At times, it truly feels as though you’re watching the NFL on television with uniforms that pop off the screen and the realism is further enhanced by the little things you see on the screen, such as the divots I noticed on the field that appear later in the game as the players hammer the turf beneath them.
Not to mention, the wonderful commentary system has been further revamped to the point where it is the most dynamic system I’ve ever seen in a sports game. For the first time ever, Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis say far more than the usual canned responses you’d expect from games such as these, they’re able to speak to real time stats and they reference past week’s events in game as well and adding that kind of enhancement only sucks you into the game further.
Of course, fans of this game expect more than just a wonderful presentation, the gameplay has to wow as well and once again EA Sports has added some wonderful enhancements to the action on the field to make Madden more accessible and more challenging as well. Take for example the three new game modes; Arcade, Simulation and Competitive. The first of that bunch allows for fans who enjoy shootouts and high scoring games to get what they crave while students of the game can receive an authentic NFL experience with Simulation mode and Competitive mode peppers in just enough of a challenge to keep those who love to be pushed, coming back for more.
Plus, there’s the brand-new Targeting system for the passing game as well, which gives the player unprecedented control of where to place the ball when playing quarterback. As an added bonus, for those who have always wanted to play in the NFL, you can vicariously live that dream in Longshot mode, which features Madden’s first ever story mode system wherein you take control of a former college football star’s last shot at playing in the NFL.
So, as you can see, this year’s edition of Madden is loaded to the gills with treat after treat for every football fan out there and I’m honestly having trouble putting the game down. I simply can’t get enough of the breathtaking graphics and immersive gameplay because this year’s iteration of Madden, is the finest the franchise has ever offered up and I highly encourage anyone who is a fan of the game to pick this one up as soon as they can and if you’ve ever been curious to try it, now would certainly be the perfect time, since Madden 18 is in stores now.
Written by Zeke Perez Jr.
V7 Entertainment’s Old Time Hockey rocketed to the top of my list of most anticipated sports video games of 2017, as I craved a fun, laid-back, arcade style hockey video game like those I played as a kid in the 90s. After taking some time to explore the game, I can say it didn’t disappoint.
Immediately after booting up the game, its humor began to shine through. It’s hard not to chuckle when ‘Yankee Doodle’ is the first song I heard. That tune is joined by other silly music like ‘The Can Can’, ‘The Addams Family Theme Song’, and the vulgar and delightful ‘Old Time Hockey’ by The Donnybrooks. The soundtrack pairs extremely well with the colors and sights, which are very cheesy, very cartoony, and very 70’s (in a good way!).
Diving into an exhibition game, the loading screens told me exactly what I had gotten myself into. The ‘Don’t Be a Clown’ tutorial popped up, claiming that good hockey players show respect for others, but you’re not a good hockey player so ‘play dirty, trash talk and rub it in, get some penalties’. It also stated, not at all tongue-in-cheek, that the Bush Hockey League is ‘not some pansy league like the Steel League whose commissioner is Harry Buttman’. You can tell even before puck drops that this game will be much more violent, hilarious, and nonsensical than your average modern hockey game. Shots fired, NHL and Gary Bettman!
Wild 70’s vibes continue throughout. The old-school TV look permeates the presentation, with vintage fonts and colors resonating on the pause screen, scoreboards, and in-game player identification. Everything else is dripping with nostalgia too, from the tint of the ice to old-style equipment like goals and pads.
Old Time Hockey has a varied control system. For those seeking arcade-style play, it has a selection of control options that are easy to pick up and use, including ‘Retro’, ‘Two Button’ and ‘Beer Mode’, which requires only one hand. After going head-to-head with a friend, I found the variety to be extremely useful. The options add several layers to the game. Some are better than others (Beer Mode, for instance, is a great concept but in practice takes a little getting used to), but the variety allows for individuals to tailor the play-style to what they like best.
The ‘Advanced’ controls play just like those in modern EA Sports NHL games, using the right stick and various buttons for many of the same functions. Many movements and actions, such as dumping the puck and skating backwards, must first be unlocked through a ‘Story Mode’ tutorial to be used, so it does take a few games before you have your full arsenal. Some advanced controls that aren’t seen in EA titles are dedicated buttons for slashing and hooking, as stick violence is warmly welcomed.
Above the slashes and hooks, the best parts of the game are the hits and the fights. Hip checks are to OTH what one-timer goals were to NHL ’94: staples of the game that feel powerful when pulled off. The fights are something else too. Goalie fights, stick fights, ground-and-pound punches after a KO, all out team brawls...everything the 90s-kid version of myself ever wanted when playing hockey games. It’s incredibly satisfying to go through a chain of four or five fights mid-game. Big thanks to OTH for bringing that to life.
Game Modes and Gameplay
OTH is somewhat barebones when it comes to game modes, offering up only ‘Exhibition’ and ‘Story Mode’. The ‘Story Mode’ itself isn’t especially deep either, but it is fun. You take over the Schuylkill Hinto Brews, a struggling mishmash of a team on the verge of failure. Starting out with essentially no stats and with very few controls, it almost feels like you’re Gordon Bombay taking over the hapless District 5 hockey team and trying to turn them into the Ducks that they are deep down inside. And just as Coach Bombay felt, this is frustrating at first but rewarding in the long run.
The story in ‘Story Mode’ is told solely through newspaper headlines, loading screens, and menu text. Aside from that, the games you play are only differentiated from a normal exhibition game by the required and optional tasks you complete in each. You don’t have any say on how to improve the Hinto Brews other than by playing the games. In future iterations, it might be nice to see player trades, team relocations, budgeting, and things of that nature. Nevertheless, the story is hilarious and full of hijinks and great one-liners.
Upon release, folks had issues with glitches and errors. Personally, I ran into a problem where I couldn’t progress through certain story mode objectives because required stats weren’t tracking correctly, leaving me to play the same game over and over until I was fuming and red in the face, thinking that maybe I was doing something wrong. But much credit is owed to the V7 team, who recognized some of the initial flaws with the game and have worked nonstop to issue a slew of patches to ensure everything is running smoothly.
While it is lacking a bit of replay value and some of the zaniness that made NHL Hitz such a fun game to play, Old Time Hockey finds its own lane and establishes itself as a vicious, silly arcade hockey title. This iteration of OTH truly deserves your support, and I can see future versions blossoming from the foundation laid here. It’s available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and is worth the affordable $11.99 asking price, especially if you’ve got some buddies that can help you get a little more value out of exhibition games.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
There's been many a game I've played in my day and for the most part our strong sense of nostalgia has brought back some of my favorites over the years. The entire Mortal Kombat trilogy is on my Xbox, I can enjoy Lucasarts' The Dig thanks to Steam, but some games seem to be lost forever.
One such game that I miss playing because well, the technology is no longer available to play it is one of my all time favorites, the awesome and epic, Star Trek: The Next Generation - 'A Final Unity'. Released in 1995 by Spectrum Holobyte, this game was a celebration of one of the hottest shows on television.
One thing that made this game instantly awesome was the fact that the original cast came aboard to reprise their roles. At the time, this was a huge deal and it made an already promising game that much more enriching. But it goes beyond top notch performances from the cast, the game played out perfectly like an episode of the show complete with (at the time) cutting edge cinematic cut scenes and well, the story was engrossing. It revolved around the hunt for the mysterious Unity Device, created by an ancient race known as the Chodak. This device was something of great power, able to control all of time and space.
So naturally, with a plot like that, the stakes were high in this game, leading to plenty of action and adventure and some impressive space battles, which leads to one of the other enjoyable aspects of the game, the amount of freedom you had to control the Enterprise. You could set up the game to do everything for you, or you could manually set a course, plot your transporter coordinates, hand pick the away team, and take Worf's station in battle.
The only complaint I guess I have about this game, was that you never quite had the chance to explore the ship outside of a video tutorial and that's a shame. It would have been so cool to wander the halls of this majestic ship, but it's not something that will upset you. After all the adventure is either on the bridge or on a planet and that alone is engrossing enough to make you okay with the fact you don't get to poke around Main Engineering. Either way, this is another incredible game from an incredible era and I do hope someone (looking at you, Steam) resurrects it soon.
Written by John Edward Betancourt
I've made it no secret that PC games were a staple of my childhood. They inspired me in so many ways, and today I'd like to talk about a series of games from the incredible Sierra On-line that quite frankly, managed to captivate me by surprise, Police Quest.
This is a game series that I flat out stumbled upon. During a weekend trip to the mall I just happened to see the first game in this series sitting in the sale bin at the computer game store and since the price was right, and the idea of donning a badge and the uniform in order to hunt down a ruthless drug dealer trying to disturb small town life seemed pretty darn intriguing so I picked it up with my lawn mowing money and well...never looked back.
The series saw eight games in total released over the years and it was something of note because well...it was about as accurate an adventure as one could get when it came to police work. This was through and through a total immersion into the life of a peace officer. Every game came with a manual that outlined penal codes and procedure and to advance in the game or complete it, being a gun ho Dirty Harry was simply not the answer. Sure, gunfights happened, but only when there was no other recourse available, it was the investigation that was the key.
Granted, some may not think the idea of giving out speeding tickets or doing paperwork is fun, but I certainly enjoyed it because it was a world I knew nothing about. Granted the later incarnations of the game that revolved around S.W.A.T. became far more action oriented, but the first four games were filled to the brim with sweeping adventures that showed you the seething underbelly of crime and it was a touch refreshing to see an honest everyday police detective as the hero of the story.
However, what still makes me think of this series fondly, is the fact that it held nothing back when it came to murder. Yes earlier versions of the game were quite cartoonish graphics wise, lessening some of the power and effect on the story, but by Police Quest III the graphics were quite advanced for the time and suddenly the gravity and horror of death, and the brutality of murder were front and center for the player and well, I truly appreciated the fact that a gaming company made it a point to not gloss over such matters and the many difficult things that police officers and detectives have to see on a regular basis.
Either way, this is another series that robbed my mornings or afternoons of anything productive simply because it was classic storytelling through and through and this is another series that has faded from the shelves and the technology does exist to still run it, but sadly not on every single platform that is available out there. So hopefully, there will come a day when the Police Quest series is available to the masses once again, but until then, I shall merely reminisce about these awesome games and maybe peruse the abridged L.A.P.D. manual that came with Police Quest IV...
Written by John Edward Betancourt
Growing up, gaming was a big deal to me, specifically PC gaming. At the time, the best games were only available on a computer since my gaming choices were limited to a PC or a console. Granted, some would likely say the better games were on the consoles, but for me...the best games were the ones that told an incredible story and immersed you completely and I didn't find a game on a console that ever did that for me.
During that era, there were two companies in my opinion, that made computer games that blew you away every single time, Sierra On-Line and LucasArts. Both brought incredible characters and stories to the table with every game that they released, but of all the games that I played back in those days, there is still one that sticks out in my mind as one of the finest ever made, LucasArts' incredible sci-fi adventure, The Dig.
The plot was fairly simple. An asteroid known as Attila is heading toward earth on a collision course, forcing a handful of astronauts to head up to the rock and detonate nukes on its surface to move it into a safe orbit around the planet. But instead of finding solid rock they discover that the asteroid is hollow and filled with technology from another world that transports the landing party to an unknown and deserted place. Now they are stranded on a planet far from home, and their only hope to survive is to investigate the relics of a civilization now gone in the hopes of finding a way to get back to earth.
At the time this was by no means a graphically stunning game, even though it was designed for the PC. In fact the graphics were simply okay but the story made up for any visual flaws because it stood out above everything else. It was epic, sweeping, sad and gentle all at once. Giving the player a glimpse into a world that manages to actually look alien as you sift through the ruins of a species that let technology bring about their demise.
But the engrossing story was only the beginning. Legendary science fiction writer Orson Scott Card handled much of the dialogue and Steven Spielberg himself had a hand in a game that featured vocal work by Robert Patrick and it even managed to add some pretty heavy themes, specifically how we face and handle death. Sadly the game was not a runaway commercial success as some expected it to be, and in my opinion, this is due to the fact it was ahead of its time with an engrossing story that I firmly believe would see incredible success if it were released in this day and age.
Thankfully, this ancient gem is still available to play thanks to the wonder that is Steam, and I absolutely recommend you give it a try. It harkens back to a different era in gaming where risks were taken by developers on a regular basis, the stories were always rich and stunning and the rewards for the players were endless as we were whisked away to incredible places that captivated our imagination and completely took our breath away...
Written by Zeke Perez Jr.
The first sports video game I ever owned was NFL Quarterback Club ’99 for my Nintendo 64. I was blown away by how realistic it was, marveling at seeing the players’ breath in cold weather games and similar small details. At the time, I thought that game marked the pinnacle of video game graphics. Little did I know…
I followed NFL Quarterback Club up with Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest, another instant classic. I logged countless hours on that game; swinging for the fences in the Home Run Derby, creating teams and players, running a franchise through a full season.
Following those two games, I was hooked. I had played plenty of sports games before at friend's houses, everything from Madden ’95 to NBA Jam. But having my very own was different. It felt more personal. I credit much of my intimate knowledge of sports to what I learned from playing games. Play calling, roster management, situational decision-making, you name it. I soaked it all up.
A sports video game of some kind was a perennial wish on my Christmas list. These days, nothing has changed. Each year I find myself adding a couple of the newest sports games to my collection. Here are some of the games, big and small, that I’m most excited to play in 2017.
Old Time Hockey (PS4, Xbox One, Steam)
Ohhhh…. Yeaaahhhh…. Full of bench-clearing brawls, stick fights, and profane humor, this rambunctious hockey title dives into the wild side of the sport.
The graphics and controls of the game throw things back to the arcade style of NHL ’94. The game is centered on the appropriately named Bush League, where the fights, jerseys, and players themselves wind the clock back even further to the hockey world of the ‘70s. Expect to see a lack of helmets, awesome facial hair, silly names, and vintage jerseys.
Built around an enjoyable exhibition mode, Old Time Hockey looks to be the ultimate pick-up-and-play sports title of 2017. For players seeking an even more relaxed style of play, it boasts a “Beer Mode” with a one-handed control scheme, so you can literally play with a controller in one hand and a cold brew in the other. For those who like a little more depth and variety in their sports games, it features a “Story Mode” that’s sure to be hilarious, as you follow a struggling team “in the late 1970s amidst a poor economic climate and during the peak of the disco era in the United States”.
With Old Time Hockey, the folks at V7 Entertainment are bringing back memories of the glory days of couch gaming. It definitely has a little something for everyone. Be sure to look for it in early 2017!
MLB: The Show 17 (PS4)
In recent years, the MLB: The Show franchise has taken the top spot as the best baseball game out there. That looks to remain the case with this year’s title, which is set to combine nostalgia, expansive game modes, and good quality play.
The nostalgia factor is definitely a hook for me this year. Fresh off of his 2016 Hall of Fame induction, the MLB: The Show 17 cover star is none other than “The Kid”, Ken Griffey Jr. Every little leaguer and sandlot player in the ‘90s tried at some point to mimic Griffey’s legendary swing. Every sports gamer in the ‘90s played one of Griffey’s SNES or N64 titles. It’s really nice seeing him back on the cover and as a playable character in the game. The game will also scratch that nostalgic itch with new legendary players, classic ballparks, and a “Retro Mode”, featuring arcade-style presentation and controls.
The Show is well known for its namesake “Road to the Show” game mode, where you start as a created and deeply customizable prospect working your way towards the majors. This includes everything from scout showcase days and the draft to minor league ball. From early previews, it looks as if this year’s iteration of RTTS will add a deeper story and more of an RPG feel in the player’s decision making. The game also looks to build on and polish its “Franchise Mode” and its popular “Diamond Dynasty” mode, in which you collect player cards to build a fantasy team.
The Show returns with what should be a very complete and enjoyable game. Pick it up on March 28th.
Mario Sports Superstars (Nintendo 3DS)
It has always been a blast imagining which citizens of Mushroom Kingdom would excel at which sports based on their size, speed, and other abilities. Nintendo’s Mario sports titles have always been tons of fun because of the ability to play out those dreams. Over the years, we’ve seen Mario and his squad try their hand at everything from golf and tennis to baseball and Olympic events.
2017 brings us a new title with Mario Sports Superstars. The game will feature five sports: baseball, tennis, golf, soccer, and horse racing. While we’ve seen most of these in other games, Mario Sports Superstars will provide expanded play. For example, soccer game Super Mario Strikers was a five-on-five game. The soccer in Superstars will be a full 11-on-11 experience.
In addition to single-player and tournament modes, Superstars will have local and online multiplayer. Available Spring 2017.
Madden 18, NHL 18, NBA 2K18 (PS4, Xbox One)
All three of these series are starting to hit their stride on this generation of consoles. Each game’s engine is pretty solid in terms of physics and controls. Game modes are plentiful and getting continuously fleshed out. Player, stadium, and other visual details are more perfected than they have ever been. Just a few more tweaks and these three games will be just about perfect.
Since all three of these titles drop in the second half of the year, it’s still a bit too early to know exactly which new features and game modes will be added to this year’s editions. Nonetheless, they all make the list of games to look forward to. Stay tuned for full previews of these games later in 2017!