Any hardcore sports video gamer has had their share of loved ones attempting to limit the amount of playing time because they feel that it is a waste time. What gamer hasn’t heard their parents say “Those games are no good for you!” or your wife/significant other complain about the amount of time spent with your games rather than them. In fact, it’s one of the most common complaints from married couples.
What many do not understand is that when we play a sports video game we are taken away, yes like Calgon. It allows us to enter a superficial world where all we care about is the game in front of us and all the worries and problems of the day are behind us, at least for the moment.
It is our stress reliever and because we engross ourselves in a franchise, signing players, or shooting that winning basket we are able to relax and provide ourselves some much-needed stress relief.
Yes ladies, you have Yoga…we have video games.
There are certain games that have left their mark on us and continue to draw our attention away. It is very likely that these games are ones that you have seen us play…over and over again, but this is why.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! was one of the first sports games to hit the main stream. Published in 1987 it features a boxer named Little Mac working his way up the professional boxing circuits, facing a series of colorful, fictional boxers, leading to a final fight with real-life boxer, the then-World Heavyweight Champion, Mike Tyson.
While this game probably affected your parents more than anyone else, this game changed the way we looked at the sport of boxing. To many at this age we thought the actual sport of Boxing was like Rocky and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!. We would sit back and watch a young Mike Tyson blast his opponents, K.O. them, and all of this in record time!
Punch-Out!! was a the game of the late 80’s as Little Mac did everything he could to use his “star” power and defeat those like Glass Joe, Bald Bull, and Piston Honda. Knockout’s were fast and furious as rounds were full of punching and dodging in order to avoid each players special moves, it kept us coming back for more and more.
It wasn’t until we started watching other boxing matches that didn’t include Mike Tyson that we came to realize that Boxing didn’t resemble Rocky or Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! which only led us back when Super Punch-Out!! came out.
How many quarters were wasted in NBA Jam? It was your parents wallets that were really “On Fire!” back in 1993 when Midway initially released the arcade game. The game that was based on the original idea of Arch Rivals became exceptionally popular and generated a significant amount of money for arcades after its release. The typical cost to play a full game of NBA Jam in the United States ranged from $1.00 to $2.00. Nonetheless, the game was a smash hit. The original arcade release generated revenue of $1 billion in quarters and quite a few of them were mine.
NBA Jam, which featured 2-on-2 basketball, was one of the first real playable basketball arcade games. Instead of games like Double Dribble and Arch Rivals where you represent a random team and player, it was one of the first games to feature NBA licensed teams and a that players graphic. Because of this advancement we were able to play as Dominique Wilkins, Larry Johnson, and even Shaq! (Yes, Shaq has been around that long.)
A key feature of NBA Jam was the exaggerated nature of the play – players jumped many times above their own height, making slam dunks that defied both human capabilities and the laws of physics. There were no fouls, free throws, or violations except goaltending and 24 second violations. This meant the player was able to freely shove or elbow his opponent out-of-the-way. Additionally, the game had an “on fire” feature, where if one player made three baskets in a row, he would become “on fire” and have unlimited turbo, no goaltending, and increased shooting ability, until the other team scored (or the player had scored four consecutive baskets while “on fire”).
The game was filled with “Easter eggs” or special features that were activated by codes and joystick/button combination that would change the entirety of the game. NBA Jam kept us coming back for more and more and has continued to do so over the years for a number of systems. NBA Jam would also lead to NFL Blitz, another Midway creation that took a number of quarters.
NHL ’94 / NHLPA Hockey ’93
There is much to be said about NHL 94 and the introduction of the one-timer. It was also one of the first games where the game could accumulate records. The ability to try to break each record over and over kept the competitive spirit alive and gamers coming back for years. Still to this day there are many that love NHL 94 and describe it as the best sports video game ever.
While many remember NHL 94 for its game breaking play, what becomes forgotten was NHLPA Hockey ’93 featured the hard-hitting, skull fracturing, bleeding on the ice hits and featured the ability to have players fight each other. NHL 94 removed this feature which was brought to the attention of many during the popular movie Swingers.
The Tiger Woods PGA Tour series is developed and published by Electronic Arts featuring professional golfer Tiger Woods. Its realistic graphics and immense detail to the course allows the golfer in us to make-believe that we are on Pebble Beach.
One of the reasons so much time was spent on these games is because we are unable to quit during the middle of 18 holes. It’s realistic, was always my excuse. You don’t pay green fees and then walk off after only 11 holes? You finish the 18…
Things improved when Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 became the first game in which a gamer could enter his/her own face and create a replica of them. There was nothing quite like watching and designing yourself playing golf on Pebble Beach.
John Madden Football debuted in 1988 for the Apple II series of computers but is more famous for its 1990 version for the Sega Genesis system. EA Sports was set out to design a complex simulator of NFL football and year after year they have continued their quest.
As football started to take over as America’s sport so did Madden. As of 2010 Electronic Arts has sold more than 85 million copies of Madden NFL since 1988, and as many as two million in one week, for more than $3 billion in total sales.
If there was one game that girlfriends and wives agree on that cause more problems in a relationship, it’s Madden. What hard-core Madden player hasn’t been thinking about the first thing they are going to do with Madden when they get home? Play friends on-line, develop plays, create players, create teams, or even create a dynasty are just some things that you are able to do with Madden.
There is no sports game that can say they take an entire day and turn it into “Madden Day.” August 10th of each year is the Madden release day which many hard-core gamers stand in lines at night to receive the new installment of the franchise. It’s at this point where we try to incorporate our significant other by asking them if they would like to come join us, only to realize that it is the last time they will be spending with us for at least a few weeks.
Let’s not even get into the Madden Curse…
GB Bongiovanni is the owner of The Sports Blitz and can be followed @GBBongiovanni