I was just watching the Patriots/Cardinals game and this commercial came on.  Hooray for video games continue to be shown in mass media!  This one was pretty funny and is referencing the NES game, Tecmo Bowl.  Bo Jackson was a very popular player back then, until he injured his hip, which took him out of football and baseball.

 

Football games – John Elway’s Quarterback

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  NES

I am a HUGE (American) football fan.  The regular season kicks off tonight, so to celebrate it, I thought I would discuss a football game I played as a kid – John Elway’s Quarterback.  Previous to this, the only football games I had played were ones that my uncles owned – Mattell Football and one of those vibrating football tables:

I was only a kid – maybe 5-9 when I played those two older games.  I didn’t really know how football worked at that time.  My knowledge was pretty much limited to touchdowns, field goals, sacks and interceptions.  The fine details of the game were a bit beyond my interest.  Those two electronic games were perfect for that because that’s all they focused on.  John Elway’s Quarterback for the NES really helped to teach me more about the game.

In this game, similar to every game now, you had to be familiar with those fine details.  You needed to understand receiver routes and plays, but you were really more the head coach.  You called the plays and your team tried to carry it out.  This is the screen where you made your decisions:

john-elway-play-2

As a kid, it didn’t make too much sense, but it did the more I watched football on TV.  As I look at this now, however, it’s very basic stuff.  I really did enjoy this game and I got to be pretty good at it.  I like these older games better than the current-day football games.  They are just too complicated for my liking.  I miss the days of the simpler play.  There were many other football games on the NES as well and they were all fairly similar.  We just happened to have had this one and so it’s what I knew.

 

Hidden Gems – Mario Golf World Tour

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  3DS

I don’t really like golf.  But I do seem to like golf video games for some reason.  You probably can’t really call any game with Mario in the title “hidden”, but this one was off my radar for a while.  I popped it in my 3DS one day before a several-hour flight and played for several hours.

The golf game itself is solid.  It’s not too challenging and is easy to learn.  There are subtleties which will make you a better player overall, but it’s not completely necessary to play the game well.  The act of driving the ball is fun and you get rewarding graphics and sounds when you make a solid hit.  Putting is a little tricky at first, but once you figure it out, you’re on your way to birdie after birdie.  You will have to contend with environmental factors such as wind and your typical golf hazards.

While Mario is on the cover (as usual), you can play with any of the major Nintendo characters.  I typically pick Luigi as he is always in Mario’s shadow and is a bit goofier than his famous brother.  And I like green.  (Have you ever noticed that it’s the Mario brothers, indicating Mario is their last name?  So are they Mario Mario and Luigi Mario?)  There are many different courses to play on and they increase in difficulty.

As you play through, you earn coins which you can spend in the pro-shop for better items such as clubs.  Mario golf has been around since the NES days with a game simply titled “Golf”.  He’s come a long way and has improved dramatically.  If you like golf games, check this one out.

Oldies but Goodies – Summer Games

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  Commodore 64

It’s that time again!  The Olympics started this weekend and I thought it a good idea to showcase one of my favorite Olympic video games – Summer Games on the Commodore 64.  This was a decent compilation and looks pretty good considering it was released in 1984.  My cousin had a Commodore and we used to play this there.

You have a decent selection of events to play.  There’s pole vault, running relay, running single event, swimming relay, swimming single, diving, skeet shooting, gymnastics and rowing.  My favorite was pole vault and I remember it being quite challenging.

You had maybe 8 countries to choose from.  I always picked Brazil because my 8 year-old self thought they had the coolest flag.  There were opening ceremonies to watch and medal ceremonies.  Each country had its national anthem represented.  For its time, it was a comprehensive game and the graphics were quite good.  If you’re looking for an Olympic game to play, look this one up!

Oldies but Goodies – Slalom

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  NES

I am heading on vacation for a few days in Colorado, so I thought a fitting last post for a few days to be Slalom for the NES.  I’m not going to be skiing, of course, but it’s the first mountain-themed game I thought of. There are a lot of new things to talk about in the video game world and I’ll discuss them when I get back.

I played this at a friend’s house in middle school and thought it was a lot of fun.  The idea is pretty simple – you are a skiier going down the slopes in the mountains.  You need to fly down the hill and weave your way between poles, trees, other skiiers and sledders. Whoever keeps these tracks should be fired because there are so many things that get in your way.  When you finish, your guy gives a victorious, although somewhat pained-looking celebration.

The thing I remember most about this game is that it was HARD, just like so many old games.  There weren’t any continues, so you just had to start over each time.  The graphics were pretty good but static.  The background never moves, but that’s probably good here because you really need to focus on the course.  There was no story or anything, you are just a dude skiing down a hill.

Hidden Gems – Kinect Sports Gems

Genre:  Sports
Platform:  XBox 360

The Kinect is a highly under-appreciated device on the XBox 360 and XBone.  It’s a very innovative device and allows for voice commands and movement tracking.  It works really well, too, even on the first-gen 360s.

Kinect Sports Gems is a suite of games available from the XBox 360 arcade.  They are purchased separately, so you don’t have to get the games you don’t want.  I believe they are $2 each and are very much worth the money.  These games got me off the couch and made me work up a sweat!

I have completed 10-Frame Bowling and Field Goal Challenge.  In each game, there are 10 ranks.  You rank up by completing specific tasks in each game.  For example, in 10-Frame Bowling, there was a task to alternate hands every throw in the game.  You gain stars for each task, and get more stars for the more difficult tasks.  I also have Prize-Driver Golf, Three Point Challenge, Ping Pong, Reaction Ralley, Penalty Saver and Darts vs Zombies.

I have enjoyed each game so far.  They are quick games and are a lot of fun.  Field Goal Challenge has been my favorite and it made me feel like I  was the star of the stadium.  It’s amazing how into these games you’ll get.  Before you know it, you’ll be waving to the crowd and posing for the camera.

Game play is fun and the Kinect is very responsive to your movements.  It had a little bit of trouble with my ceiling fan when trying to navigate through the menus, but it didn’t affect game play at all.  My dog’s constantly-wagging tail did, however, and that made for some interesting game play.  Also make sure that your play area is clear.  I kicked a cat more than once during Field Goal Challenge and gave my poor dog an uppercut while bowling.

If you’ve played the Kinect sports full games, these are very similar to some of the mini games there.  For $2 each, though, I would still strongly recommend picking them up in the arcade, too.

America’s True Pasttime – Bowling games!

Bowling Atari

Matt and I started our real-life bowling league last week, so I figured I’d celebrate by talking about some bowling video games through the years.  For the record, I’m a much better real-life bowler than video game bowler.  As usual, I’m only focusing on games that I’ve actually played.

My first video game bowling experience was called “Bowling” on the Atari 2600.  That’s the image above.  It was pretty simple.  Line up your bowler and throw the ball.  It made some interesting sound effects and the ball moved about as fast as a 5 year-old can throw it, but it was bowling.  I don’t think this game was able to keep my attention for too long.

Bowling Zombie

Next up we have Zombie Bowl-a-Rama for the PC.  This was a fun game where you could inflict all sorts of carnage on zombies walking your way in an alley.  The “bowling” aspect of it can be applied loosely as you’re really just throwing stuff at zombies.  It might look a bit bowling-y, but it seems to lose something in all of the fire.  Still, it was a fun game to play once.

Bowling Rocket Bowl

Next is Rocket Bowl on the XBox 360.  I really enjoyed this game and still play it from time to time.  As you can see in the image above, it’s not your typical bowling game.  The lanes are warped, there are water hazards, hills and collectibles to get as you play.  You don’t even have to hit the pins on the set you’re aiming at, either.  The “rocket” comes from the fact that your ball can be motivated in a rocket way in different directions.  Fun!

Bowling Wii

This wouldn’t be an article about bowling games if we didn’t include Wii Bowling.  I did have a Wii for a while and I did enjoy this game.  The motion controls were new and innovative and just worked well with bowling.  True story.  A friend and I created a local Wii bowling tournament for senior living facilities and everyone had a blast.  Here’s a video of our event.  Yeah, I still have the shirt:

My final bowling game of the day is Kinect Bowling for the XBox 360/One.  I am terrible at this game.  I can never seem to aim in the correct spot.  It’s still fun and uses motion controls, but damn I suck.

Bowling Kinect

Are there any bowling games that I’ve missed that you have enjoyed?