It’s been a year since Adam “MCA” Yauch died from cancer-related complications. It’s still hard to believe that he’s gone.
That’s no pretentious statement designed to make me seem like the world’s biggest, longest mourning Beastie Boys fan. Instead, the Beasties Boys — like fellow hip hop pioneers RUN-DMC — are legendary personifications of my home town, New York City. They are equal parts hip hop and rock. A little bit of West 4th, Rucker’s Park, St. Marks, and South Bronx.
Fire Pro Wrestling, a series with a hardcore lineage and fan base that few series can duplicate, is now on Xbox Live Arcade. It’s awful.
I say this as a Fire Pro hard body. The latest incarnation is a watered-down, casual-friendly travesty that nixes skill-based combat for barely-there move sets and dumb luck. When something as godly as Fire Pro falls from the heavens with such a plunge, it hurts. Badly.
I’ve been a Fire Pro fan the instant I saw it nearly 20 years ago. Fire Pro Wrestling first entered my life sometime in 1996, but not in video game form. Human Entertainment’s Fire Pro Wrestling S: 6 Man Scramble had just hit (or was about to it) the Japanese SEGA Saturn market and O.G. Die Hard GameFan magazine ran a blurb about the title in its import section — and I was blown away.
I have a new favorite sports game. It’s Death Ball.
Never heard of it? Not surprising. Death Ball isn’t an annual, big budget licensed release that aims to be the digital representation of a real life competition. No, Death Ball is the very opposite of that. It’s one of Anarchy Reign’s many multiplayer modes and it’s a decidedly Platinum Games spin on hockey and American football.
And it’s grand.
EA Sports may have dropped the ball on virtual hoops for a third consecutive year, but Visual Concepts and 2K Sports continues to push forward with NBA 2K13. The series’ latest title builds upon what NBA 2K11 and NBA 2K12 established with delivering tight gameplay, hardwood classics renditions, and several overall improvement to its buzzer-beating formula. This isn’t to say that NBA 2K13 is perfect, it does have issues, but the game manages to solve its more apparent problems by serving up a jam-packed package.
Every year EA Sports releases a new Madden and every year it makes slight improvements. Some are improvements that survive to a bless later iterations like Franchise mode, Audibles, and Hit Stick. Others are gimmicks that have gone the way of the Dodo, like the horribly implemented QB Cone and the seldom-used player weapons from Madden NFL 08. But after playing the Madden NFL 13 demo at E3, I knew that I experienced a radically different improvement–a good one. EA Sports has marketed and touted the greatness of its new Infinity Engine, an engine that allows infinite collision animation possibilities. The Infinity Engine captures jarring collisions extremely well, but it’s not without small faults.
For baseball fans, warm summer days are inevitably tied to bats, caps, balls, gloves, and larger than life heroes, the five elements that compose the great American pastime. Gen X baseball fans have a particularly unique connection with the sport that spans beyond idols such as The Rocket, Donny Baseball, The Bash Bros., Pudge, and The Kid; we were the first generation to grow up with relatively realistic depictions of the sports in video game form.
Baseball has seen many electronic conversions in video games industry’s roughly 40 year existence, but few have impacted console gaming as SNK’s Baseball Stars. To properly judge Baseball Stars’s importance, one must analyze the console sports video gaming landscape in 1989, the game’s release year. Atari, NES, and Master System gamers didn’t have the likes of Accolade’s Hardball (1985). Instead, we suffered Nintendo’s clunky Baseball (1985), the fondly-remembered-for-no-reason-other-than-its-license RBI baseball (1987), and the LJN-published Major League Baseball (1988). Only Jaleco’s Bases Loaded (1987), with its broadcast TV-style presentation and excellent pitching-batting dynamic, came close to delivering a truly excellent video game baseball experience.
I still fondly remember my time with the original Tony Hawk Pro Skater. It’s the game that allowed me to live my dream of landing perfect 900s, and mix it up with other kids in the neighborhood as we battled for high scores and bragging rights. Most importantly, I simply remember it as an amazing game.
Yet, I was apprehensive upon first booting up Robomondo’s HD remake. I wasn’t sure if the gameplay held up 12 years later, or if the soundtrack was as good as I remembered. Thankfully, my worries were laid to rest when Goldfinger’s “Superman” blasted from my television set–I instantly became a kid again. I’m happy to report that this HD remake plays almost identical to the classic Hawk titles, which, in my opinion, is a great thing.
The score’s 10-7 with three minutes left in the fourth. Philip Rivers has picked my defense apart in the last two minutes and the Charger offense is 15 yards away from scoring again. My opponent decides to pass the ball when free safety Michael Huff picks the pass and runs into his teammate Aaron Curry. Then something incredible happened.
EA has taken major strides in mending its relationship with scorned gamers. EA Sports has been heavily criticized for releasing copy and paste titles (the Madden series), dropped its basketball series due to incompetence, and angered core gamers with its focus on casual and social titles. After today’s conference, however, I believe we can begin to look past the companies recent blunders. EA came out swinging and had one of the strongest showings in recent memory. There’s a lot that EA did right at its press conference.
I chuckle with a certain sense of irony at Supremacy MMA Unrestricted–the moniker for the PS Vita’s first mixed martial arts title–as it places multiple unexpected handcuffs on video game fight fans. Although Supremacy MMA Unrestricted has a rock-solid fight mechanic that lets you mix it up with a computer or online opponent in tension-filled matches, there’s no true career mode or a way to create your own personalized fighter–a major ball-drop for a sports game of any type.