Which sport has the best video games?

, Monday, February 16, 2009 at 11:43 PM Comments (2)

No one knows who this is, but scientists are relatively certain its not Ron Jaworski

Like many of you, I enjoy sitting down to a nice relaxing half hour of video game entertainment every now and then. During a recent session, I got to thinking about which sport translates into the best video games. So, in order to have some kind of objective way to look at this, I thought I might examine each type of game through the following criteria.

1) NBA JAMocity – This category refers to the relative ability of the computer to seemingly create incredible successes/failures regardless of what you do. Any video game player will know what I am talking about. It is the moment that you lose control. It is that moment where you actually start to think that the computer artificial intelligence is alive and out to get you. For many, this is the part of video games that can actually cause blind uncontrollable rage. More on this later.

2) Flashing star analysis – This category, named after the invincibility item in Mario Brothers focuses on how easy it is to become so good at the game that it no longer becomes fun.

3) Fun factor – Simply put, is the fun of the sport at all transferable to a video game? For example, beer pong is a lot of fun, but is there anyone that would play a beer pong video game? Exactly.

4) NHL 97 wraparound factor – Are there too many easily identifiable bugs or tricks in the game that ruin it?

Now, some ground rules. I will not be focusing on one particular title in any given sport, but will instead be focusing on the entire body of work. Points will be awarded for development and elimination of problems over time, but the larger focus will be on the genre itself. Also, I will not be focusing on nerd porn items like graphics, processing speed, frame rate, or whether or not the flux capacitor was really capable of producing 1.21 Gigawatts. We will focus on fun, and only that (for the most part). Also, I will not consider “arcade” games like NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, or other games not designed as true simulations.

Today’s analysis will focus on America’s obsession, FOOTBALL.

1) NBA JAMocity – Football is a terrible offender in this category. Regardless of whether you are talking about Tecmo Bowl or Madden 2009, every football has entirely too much control over your fate to be trusted. (Speaking of Tecmo Bowl, check out this video of someone with way too much time on their hands, or for you Patriots fans out there, check out this one) The primary dirty, despicable, underhanded, and corrupt cheating tactic utilized by the computer in football is the fumble. It is completely random event which you have almost no control over that can dramatically affect the outcome of the game. Now, when it happens three or four times in a game, it can cause the uncontrollable rage I referenced earlier. For many years, Bill Simmons has referred to this as the “F U game”, and I think we will stick with that moniker. I would bet you that if you asked 1000 males between 13-40 if they ever had an enraging experience in a football video game, two things would happen. One, 900 of them would say yes and be able to relate the story, and two, of those 900 stories, 897 of them would involve a fumble or fumbles. Honorable mention to the fumble: the triple tip interception, the offensive line that suddenly couldn’t block an arthritic cheerleader, stone hand wide-receivers, and players that avoid being tackled better than this guy (go to the 2:50 mark to see what I mean).

2) Flashing star analysis – For football, there is only a moderate flashing star factor. In current games, most of the simplistic strategies have been eliminated, so it is not very easy to become unbeatable. Also, in football games of the past, how good you were was very dependent on the personnel you had (think about the advantage having L.T. to block every extra point or field goal was in Tecmo Bowl). With today’s sophisticated games, personnel is even more important. Try playing Madden with a crappy offensive line and see how far you get. There are still go to plays that seem to work all too often, but all in all, there isn’t much invincibility factor in football video games anymore.

3) Fun factor – Very high. For people that never played football on a serious level, video game football has everything except the pain associated with getting drilled by a ginormous human being like Ray Lewis…and that is o.k. Football transfers wonderfully to a video game because the key elements of speed, drama, struggle, and accomplishment aren’t lost in translation. They only things missing are pain, injury, and practices in 100 degree heat. Furthermore, in video game football, you get to be the coach and the players, an experience far greater than in real life. In real life players are at the whim of the coach’s play calls and coaches are at the whim of the players abilities. While this is true for all video game sports, nowhere does it play out with more pleasure than in video game football. The fun factor in football is higher than in any other sport.

4) NHL 97 wraparound factor – Originally weak, but vastly improved. Long gone are the days where dropping all the way back to the goal line and throwing it up to the open receiver was a sure thing. Bo Jackson isn’t walking through that door. Warren Moon isn’t walking through that door. Lawrence Taylor isn’t walking through that door. QB Eagles isn’t walking through that door (cause Randall Cunningham was a jerk and wouldn’t join the NFLPA marketing agreement). Except for a minor blip with an overly talented Ron Mexico a few years ago, the game has balanced itself and eliminated many of the big bugs. After Tecmo Bowl, the worst offender was the year that you could catch your own kickoff in Madden. Overall, football earns a high rating here.

Overall comparison will be done last. Check back shortly for an analysis of basketball.

Thumbs DownThumbs Up (No Ratings Yet)