April 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Posted in |
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While the seasons have changed and the boys of summer have started the 2012 baseball season, you can still revisit winter fun with Ski Champion, a new iOS release by Majaka (Free, Appstore).  Ski Champion sits alone in the handheld skiing market but being on top of the mountain by default does not have the developers at Majaka taking the bunny slopes with this effort.  Packing in 14 different courses, tilt controls, and a leaderboard with medals and rankings, Ski Champion hits the high spots on Majaka’s first run out of the gate.

April 9, 2012 at 1:12 am | Posted in |
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In the mid ’90s EA Sports hit their stride.  Their ongoing NHL Hockey and Madden franchises were winners, they struck gold with NBA Live ’95, and FIFA Soccer was a big hit.  College Football brought in money with the Bill Walsh College Football series of games, which then spun off from the (then) Stanford coach’s license and became College Football USA.  On the hardwood, college basketball wasn’t a yearly lay-up for the guys at Electronic Arts.  In 1995, they wisely took their incredibly successful NBA Live engine and created a college basketball counterpart.  Coach K College Basketball was a one-time unique enigma in the 16-bit sports universe as the game came out for just one console and had no yearly follow-ups.  With the white cover branding of EA titles of that gaming generation, Coach K College Basketball had real universities (32 teams plus 8 classic squads) and real college players (just with numbers instead of names – similar still to restrictions today).  This was the first attempt at any type of college basketball simulation that didn’t have generic state-named teams with made up players and EA delivered the complete NCAA basketball experience on its initial try.  When the game was first released, I was ecstatic that one of my favorite teams, Villanova, was in the game.  I knew all the player’s real names and played through a full season before being shockingly bounced out of the tournament by #1 ranked Arkansas in the Regional Final (Elite 8).  While I played the game for years after that stunning loss, I never played another season nor took my beloved Wildcats through another tournament run.  My thirst for nostalgic revenge was the motivation for this Retro Replay Diary.  It was time to dust off Kerry Kittles and friends and make another run at the college basketball championship.

March 17, 2012 at 1:18 am | Posted in |
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I remember my first handheld experience with NBA Jam very fondly.  Being a big NBA fan and playing the original game as often as I could in the arcades, I was extremely excited when NBA Jam came out for the Sega Game Gear in 1993.  Sure, the graphics were stunted but I was finally playing with NBA-licensed teams and with real NBA players!  Even on the Game Gear’s 3.2″ screen, NBA Jam translated the arcade experience well.  Since EA picked up the NBA Jam license from a defunct Midway, they’ve rekindled the flames of the classic with solid home console releases and a successful download-only .  Expanding into the world of mobile games was an obvious step for the franchise.  NBA Jam has always been easy to pick up and play, but what happens when you take away buttons and move to an iOS touchscreen device?  NBA Jam ($0.99 App Store) keeps up the tradition of replicating its classic feel across gaming platforms as EA Sports engineers the mobile version to work as well as ever.

March 2, 2012 at 12:36 am | Posted in |
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Video game collectors often overlook the sports game genre and it is easy to understand why.  First, as talked about in the Retro Sports Gamer World gospel, the number of retro sports collectors and gamers is a small percentage of hobbyists.  The ratio of memorable and replayable retro sports titles is considerably smaller than that of classic role-playing games or platformers.  While the laws of supply and demand can deflate the prices of even the most popular retro sports game titles, the sports gaming marketplace is not void of games that are rare and valuable.  The Nintendo Entertainment System is stocked with a large number of 8-bit sports games thanks to the success of the system and growth of the industry overall.  As you’re sorting through stacks of games at the next convention or flea market, here are the ten most valuable NES games to keep an eye out for.

iOS Mini-Review: Ice Rage

February 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Posted in | 3 Comments
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I really enjoy the throwback styles, old school graphics, and intuitive controls that can come with producing creative and original mobile games.  For every EA or 2K mobile clone of a big flagship game, there are unique titles like the 1-on-1 hockey action in Ice Rage by Mountain Sheep, Inc. ($0.99 App Store).  Ice Rage is a concoction of Ice Hockey and Blades of Steel from the NES mixed in with air hockey and pong physics.  Mountain Sheep pumps the retro up even more with the action played horizontally, something we haven’t seen a lot in sports games since the 8-bit age.  With a solid premise in place, is there enough substance in Ice Rage for it to be labeled a success?

Continue Reading iOS Mini-Review: Ice Rage…

February 18, 2012 at 1:14 am | Posted in |
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We are all witnesses to a shift in the gaming industry.  With every Angry Birds game designed and every Farmville gift card sold, a new gaming audience is being tapped into.  Companies today are allocating large amounts of resources to focus on mobile gaming and social media gamification.  The sports gaming genre is not adverse to the clutches of casual gaming and nothing is more evident of this than the immense popularity of flick games.  Flick games are the natural result of using a device that is explicitly based on touch controls and, while I like to focus on arcade or simulation-style games brought to the small screen, casual sports games are here to stay.  With a simple premise and the most basic tenants of flick gaming,  Skyworks Interactive’s Arcade Hoops Basketball brings to iOS gaming the amusement park adrenaline of jacking (well, flicking) up as many shots as possible with the same payoff of going home empty-handed after trying to land a large stuffed animal prize.

February 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Posted in |
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NaturalMotion Games has run the gamut in utilizing different mediums to get their sports games out to consumers. In a world where Madden casts a wide shadow, I loved that NaturalMotion took the leap and showed off their impressive game animation engine and alternative vision to the static Madden series with Backbreaker, a non-NFL licensed game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Despite mediocre reviews and only 260,000 units sold for the first-time effort, NaturalMotion supported the original game with updates and patches and then expanded on the popularity of Backbreaker’s Tackle Alley mini-game with a Backbreaker: Vengeance release on the Xbox Live Arcade. This fleshed out mini-game where one eludes tacklers with jukes and spin moves, while picking up points along the way to a touchdown, would be the schematic for future iOS releases. NaturalMotion has released Backbreaker Football, Backbreaker 2: Vengeance and NFL Rivals on iOS and Android devices to date with the latest NFL Rivals title featuring an NFL license with real teams and logos (the players’ license still sits with EA). In stepping away from the gridiron, Icebreaker Hockey uses the same blueprint and transforms the fast-paced game play to the ice as you evade defenders with dekes and spin moves, while showboating your way through 50 different levels of game play.

January 27, 2012 at 10:03 am | Posted in |
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With the technology we have today, the natural progression of bowling video games has been to use motion controls. Wii Sports first enabled gamers (and non-gamers) to imagine they were at an actual bowling alley as they held their controller close to their chest before twisting their wrist as they completed their simulated motion of rolling a bowling ball. Before we had to worry about inadvertently smacking our pets while following through with a controller strapped to our wrist, bowling games relied solely on positioning, timing and physics. While there have been bowling games attempted on home consoles going back to the Atari 2600 (the aptly named Bowling – a game I remember fondly), SNK’s League Bowling was one of the first arcade games to be centered exclusively on the recreational activity (or sport; at least it uses a ball). Available outside of the original 1991 Neo•Geo MVS or AES carts with a NeoGeo Station release on the PlayStation 3, League Bowling ignores the 21-year handicap to titles of today and delivers a simple, but engaging arcade experience.

January 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Posted in |
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Off the heels of releasing as a download-only title, EA Sports has dusted off another former Midway license and brought back the original NFL arcade masterpiece, .  An arcade hit in the late ‘90s, the series spawned console releases for six straight years before sequel fatigue led to poor sales and an eventual cancellation.  No stranger themselves to arcade football titles like the NFL Street series and a Madden Arcade download-only game, could EA resurrect the NFL Blitz franchise to its previous glory?

December 30, 2011 at 12:39 am | Posted in |
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Midway’s NFL Blitz piggybacked on the fun, over-the-top atmosphere of NBA Jam and rocked arcades and home consoles in the late ‘90s. Unique in a crowded marketplace with its fast-paced arcade 7-on-7 NFL action, NFL Blitz spanned numerous systems during its run and sold millions of copies. Unfortunately, the series would suffer from poor sales, sequel fatigue, and an eventual loss of the NFL license, resulting in the franchise stepping away from the virtual gridiron. When Midway went bankrupt in 2009, Electronic Arts purchased the license for NFL Blitz and now, some three years later, the first true NFL Blitz offering since 2002 will be debuting on January 4th, 2012 across the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. There is palatable excitement as a series reboot is always looked forward to by gamers, especially as the NFL Blitz name once carried some serious prestige. As we get ready for a new release, let’s take a look back at the history of the franchise and how we got to where we are today.

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