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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 92: Sports Games

Richard Naik's picture

In the absence of one Brad Gallaway, the GC crew is finally free to delve into our sports fandom and how it relates to gaming. Join us as we discuss traditional sports and video games, our past memories of the genre, and how it suffers from the same "AAA diesease" as the rest of the industry. Featuring Richard Naik, Chi Kong Lui, Mike Bracken, and Michael Cunningham.

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Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3   Nintendo DS   PC   PS2   PlayStation   Nintendo 64  
Series: Triple Play   Tecmo Bowl   NBA 2K   Madden  
Genre(s): Sports  
Articles: Podcasts  

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I haven't heard the whole

I haven't heard the whole podcast yet, but just want to point out a couple of things:

- The topic of sports games is great for discussion and I'm happy to hear you guys having long histories and strong links to it. I'm sure some regular listeners will be put-off since - like Brad - there are gamers who simply do not find sports interesting, even in gaming format. That said...

- As a Brit (and much like the rest of Europe), I don't particularly care for baseball, American football, basketball or ice hockey. With this in mind it is kinda disappointing that there isn't someone on this week's podcast with experience of non-US centric sports and sports games. For example, I like football (as in, proper football ;p) and would've liked some input from someone who has played football titles for a long period (e.g. my football gaming experiences began during the Genesis/Megadrive era).

Again, I haven't listened to the whole podcast yet so shoot me now if other sports are discussed, but from what I can tell it is all based around the sports I've already mentioned (along with wrestling, which is a whole other area).

Beyond that, though, thanks for another podcast and I look forward to the return of Brad and general gaming topics in the next episode!

Sports!

Great to see a sports game podcast on the site. Finally something to counteract the Anime podcast of a while back :P

As a Sim gamer (the more realistic the depiction of the sport, the better), I was a bit shocked to hear that you guys all favoured more arcade type stuff. The big push in sports games each year is to make it more realistic, not less, and I hadn't considered that viewpoint at all. So that was interesting.

You are correct that there is a massive barrier to entry for current gen sports games, and some publishers are becoming aware of this. For example every time the controls have changed in MLB The Show, the old control scheme is still available beside the new, so you can mix and match until you find a comfortable scheme (so pitch with the buttons but swing with the stick, or use the meter for pitching and the buttons to swing). There are a lot of customisation options on top of that, where you can let the CPU control fielding, baserunning etc. I play the game with the highest difficulty pitching, but one of the easiest difficulties for batting, as that is where my strengths lie. The Show also introduced a Beginner mode this year, where the batting timing window was subtly extended based on your ability, making it easier to hit. So this type of flexibility can help a lot.

There are a lot of challenges involved though - for example, baseball is a sport where the most successful batters get a hit 3 times in 10, so making that exercise in frustration attractive to a new gamer, while also trying to remain somewhat realistic as regards stats, is difficult.

I am shocked and appalled that every single one of you goes for it on fourth down. You are the very worst :P

It is time consuming to learn or play these games - note that very few play a whole baseball or basketball season - you dip in and out for big games during the season and sim the rest.

Finally, I think Michael would be right at home in the modern sports game, as all of them now include a role-playing career mode where you take your guy (with your own face if you want - I use Freddie Krueger's face myself) through his career. No loot as such, but plenty of levelling up and passive skills involved.

Finally, here's a nice video featuring the evolution of video baseball: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTUArx4lvrU

Nice show guys, thanks.

@Crofto They are like the

@Crofto

They are like the Xbone people - nothing exists outside of North America :P

Football. Fusball. Futebal.

Football. Fusball. Futebal. We love football - king of sports. Billions of fans, countless legends, 90 yards of turf, 22 players, 4 officials, one ball, one FOOTBALL.

The world is football mad! Nudge nudge wink wink - get with the programme GC!

Micheals point about bro

Micheals point about bro gamers not being represented on the internet is dead on, its why you cant take the feeling from the internet as a forecast when it comes to things like game sales and the more recently, the massive negativity against the xbox one.

Listened to the full podcast

Listened to the full podcast now so will offer further comment for discussion!

I'm the same as Pedro in that I prefer more simulation above accessibility. Ironically enough, whereas you guys believe Madden and NBA titles etc. are getting more hardcore, I believe football titles like FIFA are still way, way off the pace as far as realism goes. As an avid football fan, I find the pace, fluidity, physics, animations, AI, and tactical and strategic elements of modern FIFA titles to be disappointing. If anything, FIFA still represents the kind of semi-realistic fully-accessible sports titles you guys seemingly want more of. It's a shame that football is something that does not compute for you American folk ;p

But yeah, I think we need to be careful about potentially criticising titles like Madden for being too hardcore. At the end of the day, there are clearly enough sports fans and gamers who enjoy simulation-like titles, so it would do more harm than good to seek to 'nerf' such games in order to make them more accessible. I think the efforts being made with spin-offs is worth acknowledging (which Mike did), but I also appreciate the frivolity of such titles (e.g. FIFA Street being the football equivalent) being off-putting too. There is a middle-ground to be found, but compromising fundamental traits of modern sports titles is not the way forward, for me.

Heh

Crofto,

Not sure if I ever said it or not, but I was planning to mention that we did a whole sports show without once mentioning soccer (sorry, there's only one football, and that's the kind played with the pigskin... :p). I knew with as many readers/listeners we have abroad that someone would mention it.

Sorry for the oversight. Soccer is not my bag at all. If someone said you can watch soccer or you can watch NASCAR, I'm looking for a gun. :p

Mike Bracken

Crofto wrote:

As a Brit (and much like the rest of Europe), I don't particularly care for baseball, American football, basketball or ice hockey. With this in mind it is kinda disappointing that there isn't someone on this week's podcast with experience of non-US centric sports and sports games. For example, I like football (as in, proper football ;p) and would've liked some input from someone who has played football titles for a long period (e.g. my football gaming experiences began during the Genesis/Megadrive era).

Baseball, ice hockey and basketball as well as boxing and MMA, are all international sports, but yes we committed the cardinal sin of not including the ONE world game, football/soccer.

Mike Bracken wrote:

Crofto,

Not sure if I ever said it or not, but I was planning to mention that we did a whole sports show without once mentioning soccer (sorry, there's only one football, and that's the kind played with the pigskin... :p). I knew with as many readers/listeners we have abroad that someone would mention it.

Sorry for the oversight. Soccer is not my bag at all. If someone said you can watch soccer or you can watch NASCAR, I'm looking for a gun. :p

The irony is that we've had some serious football/soccer fans in our staff over the years. The first pro-soccer game I ever attended was with none other than Ben Hooper when we met at E3. We decided to catch a LA Galaxy game one evening after E3 ended for the day. Thom Moyles was also another soccer diehard.

Pedro wrote: As a Sim gamer

Pedro wrote:

As a Sim gamer (the more realistic the depiction of the sport, the better), I was a bit shocked to hear that you guys all favoured more arcade type stuff. The big push in sports games each year is to make it more realistic, not less, and I hadn't considered that viewpoint at all. So that was interesting.

Thanks for listening as always Pedro.

I did want to clarify one thing. I think we all tried to emphasize at one point or another (Mike and I in particular), we are not saying all sports games need to be more acadey. While we expressed fondess for the fun and accessibility of games like NBA Jam and Mario Sports games, it didn't always work for us like NFL Street and at the end of the day (despite Mac always going for it fourth down), we are all huge sports fans and do appreciate the respective sports and want a large degree of realism.

The problem is that the developers only focus on the realism and don't try to surprise us with perhaps something new and different that might appeal to us beyond just pure realism. I think a better balance between realism, gameplay and accessibility while lowering sales/marketing expectations would go a long way for many sports titles not named Madden.

Bowling RPG

Cheers Chi,

I definitely took the point you and Mike were trying to make there - I just had to do a bit of generalisation about arcade vs sim style or my post would have gone on forever. I agree with you mostly.

We had a discussion on the forum a while back and wondered why indie developers didn't try and use the old sports games as inspiration for making fun, accessible games - a modern Sensible Soccer, or a golf game where you wrestle alligators during your round, or a Bowling RPG:

Quote:

an amateur league bowling game that would incorporate rpg elements including, but not limited to: drunkenness, people hitting on your g/f or b/f, and social situations that would affect your skill and power. Plus, you could include old arcade cabinet games as minigames and have a jukebox

Too busy making endless platformers and being precious, no doubt :P

Pedro wrote: We had a

Pedro wrote:

We had a discussion on the forum a while back and wondered why indie developers didn't try and use the old sports games as inspiration for making fun, accessible games [...]

Here, to be precise:
http://www.gamecritics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19382

When listening to the podcast this forum thread jumped into my mind straight away. My favourite football game is still Nintendo World Cup on the NES, which completely ignores most rules in football. But who cares, if you can play on ice or in the desert and beat the other team by knocking them all out? A golf game with alligators or a new version of Ninja Golf on the Atari 7800 would also be appreciated.

Mix of sim/arcade

Hey GameCritics,

I was away from the community for a while, but now I will come back strong with the hype of PS4 behind me!

Anyway, I am not a huge sports game fan, even though I play a lot of sports and watch a lot as well.

I remember an NHL game called NHL Hitz 2003. I am not an avid follower of hockey, but I believe this game blended a simulation season experience with an arcade play style. As the name suggests, the game is similar to Blitz in the way you can cause big hits and has other fun aspects to it. I only played it for a week or two, as it was a rental from Blockbuster, but that playtime sticks in my mind so vividly.

Maybe a couple of you guys would want to try it out as it should be real cheap now as it is 10 years old.

Cheers,

Leucrota

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