Love/Hate

Ice HockeyI am probably the only guy in the Unwinnable crew to actually own and play sports games (well, other than UFC Undisputed). I love sports, I love sports videogames and since the day I first played Ice Hockey for the NES I have never strayed far from the great league licensed titles.

Recently, however, my love for the genre has begun to fade.

Every season, the new release of our favorite franchise sports game is met with dread, not because our nine month old copy has just become inferior, but because it’s anybody’s guess whether the new features will result in a better game or a broken one. Worse, more and more of them are implemented because they are supposedly more realistic. Where do we draw the line with sports games—how real do they need to be?

Madden 11Developers love talking about how much closer their great new game is to the action than the previous installment. “It’s like being in the action!”  Well, let’s see, with 22 annual installments of Madden, each closer to the action than the last, it’s safe to say that by now the game should be more real than being at the game as a fan. But if that’s the case, how come I’m just confused and tired?

Dear Developers: you are blowing it. Concentrate on making the damn game good. I don’t need to see CGI player introductions or teams walking down the hallway to get to the ice. That’s about as thrilling as a spinal tap. Like most cutscenes these days, it is entertaining the first time I put in the game but, sure as shit, I’m hitting the “A” button to skip it every time after that. I want to get to the hard-hitting action. I don’t want your advanced features taking up my time; I have other things to do!

In fairness, I understand wholeheartedly why this sort of thing is done. You get over the attention to detail pretty quickly, especially when you’re losing. I already have my friend trash-talking in my ear and don’t need to see his players CGI celebrating! (This, of course, is hypothetical, however, since I never lose).

NHL 10If I wanted the most realistic experience I’d go see (or play) the real thing. I play videogames to suspend my disbelief and pretend that I am a 6’2″ 210 lb machine of destruction who scores 104 goals in a season and never loses a fight. Most of the new features get lost the more you play the game anyway. I never notice the fans banging on the glass or waving towels (a feature of NHL 10) when I crush my opponent against the wall (a feature of NHL 10), yet I sure as hell notice when my goalie gets stuck behind the net clearing the puck to the other team for a goal (not a feature of NHL 10).

Get the game right, then add in the new features later. Take that original Ice Hockey game for NES, pick your teams, pick your players, and go. It still holds up. It is still just as competitive, but without the towel waving.

 

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  • http://japanesedudegirl.blogspot.com/ Chuck

    I always felt as thought cut scenes in sports games were avoidable to the point of unnecessary.

    If Dave wanted food without any flair, he certainly would not go to Japanese style hibachi barbque.

    Games of strict competition do not need extended visuals outside of core game play.

  • http://japanesedudegirl.blogspot.com/ Chuck

    NES Hockey was awesome.

  • GeoffPrecious

    The only "sports" game cut scene that was pretty cool was NHL 94 for Sega CD. I was a non-believer in the new games, but I have to break down and admit that NHL 10 is pretty F**kin awesome…although I've never gone past the "Play Now"

    And Chuck, the sad part about these games is I think they are no longer of strict competition…perhaps we 3 are the only ones playing them correctly. :)

  • http://www.donbecker.org Don Becker

    Personally, I blame Sony. They bring out a controller with eight buttons, and suddenly EA thinks they need to use all of them. I for one would love to go back to the days of the Sega Genesis, especially with Madden.

    Thankfully, I'm not alone. nhl94.com has been hacking the Genesis NHL 94 ROM every year with updated rosters and teams. It's an emulation lover's paradise…

  • Pete

    "Ice Hockey" for NES is the greatest hockey game ever created. Me and my buddies were drinking and threw it in before we went to the bar and got so into the game we ended up getting drunk and playing it all night instead of going out haha…

  • http://Unwinnable.com Ken Lucas

    I miss NHL Hits!