Tag Archives: sports

FGC #246 Wii Sports

GOALYou always wonder if you’ll know gold when you see it…

I don’t consider myself a videogame critic. Heck, I barely consider myself a “videogame writer” (the purpose of this site is dubious and baffling). If forced to label my relationship with videogames, I consider myself simply an avid, lifetime hobbyist (though I likely take a small pause after rereading the phrase “my relationship with videogames”). I like videogames, I’ve played them all my life, and I probably will continue to do so; however, I don’t feel like that makes me an expert on the subject. This is a hobby, and if there were some sort of “Videogame SATs”, I feel like I would fail. I always screw up on the section about block puzzles…

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I have something of a social anxiety when it comes to my videogame opinions. I want to say it started sometime around the PSX/N64 era, and it has led to this bizarre, creeping fear that one day I’ll have to pugnaciously defend my general distaste for the Resident Evil series. Other franchises that I have never absolutely enjoyed: Animal Crossing, Doom, and Fire Emblem (though I did enjoy that time Fire Emblem was actually Persona). It’s not a matter of “these games are bad” for me, either, it’s just that none of those franchises ever really land for me, and I’m left saying things like, “Sure, it’s fun, but…” or “That’s cool, but I’m going to play some trashy anime shooter now”. And, all the while, those games sell millions of copies, top everyone’s “best of the year” lists, and are eventually sold at Target for $20 bucks with a complete “all DLC included” edition. Okay, that last thing shouldn’t be a measure of success, but I don’t see House of the Dead sticking to the shelves longer than about two months. Popularity is longevity, one way or another, and the world has all but forgotten Time Gal.

PLOPSo, while it impacts nothing, I have this general unease about not being able to see a good game when it arrives. I picture myself out in the cold, huddled around a Sega 32X playing Knuckles Chaotix while all the cool kids talk about their FPSs and racing simulators and whatever the heck is popular with those damn cool kids and their warm jackets and perfect hair and showering every day. Argh! I wouldn’t know the next big thing if it crushed me under its next big thinginess.

Then again, I might be in good company.

The Nintendo Wii Launch was… basically my one big console launch. Let’s see here… the Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis were all released when I was way too young to expect anything but a birthday/Christmas present, and the Playstation (1) wound up being in the same boat. The N64 I dedicatedly saved my allowance for months to purchase at launch during the day at Toys R Us. My grandmother drove me, so it wasn’t exactly a high-octane affair. The Playstation 2 was another, much later (in my memory) Toys R Us reserve… and I ebayed that system almost immediately because of focused, teenage greed. The Gamecube, as previously mentioned, had its midnight launch opposite the premiere of the Justice League cartoon, so there were other things to do. The various Xboxes and Playstations of later generations always forced me to wait for a price drop and/or hardware revision, and the WiiU decided to be released well after my friends started having kids and jobs and reasons to actually wake up before 8 AM. But! In that tiny window of life when you and your friends have financial and physical freedom, but not all the lovely burdens of being a useful member of society, Nintendo decided to release the Wii. Hooray for one big system launch in my lifetime!

OWIEAnd “big” in this case simply means that my friends and I were all available to hang out at midnight and play the dang system immediately afterwards. Actually, come to think of it, one of my friends was working at the local videogame store at the time, so… hijinks may have ensued. A cardboard “our princess is in this castle” life-sized diorama may have been built. Liquor may have been passed around. And, not saying this did or did not happen, but, thanks to there being no “release minute” limitation on strategy guides, I may have threatened an entire line full of people with an oral reading of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Player’s Guide so as to properly inoculate a group of superfans against spoilers. What? I didn’t actually do it, it was just a warning to keep people well behaved. I swear.

But eventually the “launch event” ended (later than for most people, as we all dutifully waited for our friend that was working… and we may have also had to disassemble a castle), and we retired to my friend’s den to actually play this newfangled Wii system. While there weren’t any spare controllers available at retail (why are there limited peripherals opposite every Nintendo launch? I remember not being able to score a second N64 controller for weeks…), we were able to crack open our collected systems and gestalt together four active wiimotes. Now let’s get to playing these brand spanking new games!

Everyone was, naturally, excited about LoZ: Twilight Princess, but we were all experienced gamers, and no one has tried to make Zelda a spectator sport since that time Rich made us all watch him play Ocarina of Time and he wouldn’t even listen when we told him there’s a gold skulltula up that vine wall, we can hear it, geez when can we go back to playing Rampage. I’m a raging iconoclast, so I was most excited about the new Wii Metal Slug collection. That would have been ideal for a room full of guys anxious to try out a new system… but the damn thing got delayed. Boo. So we decided to give this Wii Sports thing a try. We were all used to the typical “game that comes with the system that is a damn useless demo” nonsense, but, hey may as well at least try this disc so insignificant that it didn’t even bother to ship in a proper DVD case.

Yay!And… it was fun. Boxing was probably the biggest hit, because it allowed all participants to spaz out like a flailing magikarp and claim that the sweet science was taking place, but bowling and tennis also saw quite a few rounds. Golf was right out. And baseball was tried, but that necessitated creating a full team of Miis (okay, it wasn’t completely necessary, but the impulse to make an entire team of Jesus Miis was there). It was enjoyable. It wasn’t an earth-shattering experience, but it was a fun way to spend 3 AM on a Sunday.

And then, the next time we all got together, we played Wii Sports again. And again. When I played videogames with other groups of friends, we played Wii Sports. When I played videogames with my girlfriend, we played Wii Sports. When I had to awkwardly hang out with my girlfriend’s friends, we played Wii Sports. When my father asked, “What’s this Wii Sports thing everybody is talking about?” we played Wii Sports. The last time my dad touched a controller, he died to a goomba on World 1-1, and never looked back. And here we were, on my couch, bowling. When you throw in office parties and family outings, I want to say that, by 2008, I had played Wii Sports with literally every person I knew. Well, except my grandma. She never much cared for those ‘intendas.

Of course, by the time that happened, everyone knew Wii Sports was gold. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was long forgotten, and even the typical Nintendo party games of Mario Kart and Smash paled in popularity to the game where you can play tennis without getting up. Even the (vast army of) naysayers had to admit that Nintendo had “won” that console generation, and it was almost entirely thanks to one game. One game that didn’t feature Mario, Bowser, or even so much as a mushroom. It was a flimsy little pack-in game, and it wound up being the most important game of the 21st century.

Huh.And did I see it coming? No. Did anyone see it coming? Maybe yes, but I can safely say that, of the people in line at that Wii launch, not a single one was on the edge of their seat for that game where they might get to play a little golf. And playing Wii Sports for the first time, was that a world-shattering experience? Heck no. But it was fun, and maybe that’s all it ever needed to be.

Maybe I’m not the kind of person that will ever be able to identify gold, but at least I’ll be able to bowl 200 along the way.

FGC #246 Wii Sports

  • System: Nintendo Wii. Wasn’t there also a “HD” version of some kind for the WiiU? Does that count? Did that ever count?
  • Number of players: Four is the maximum number of tennis participants, so I’m going to claim that’s the max number of players.
  • Track and Field: There are so many stats and “tracking” graphs in this game, but they’re all completely inaccurate. Sure, you’ve saved all my bowling scores when I played as this Mii on this Wii, but what about all those perfect games I bowled on my friend’s Wiis? See? Did you think of that, Nintendo?
  • LOOK OUTHe’s a Character: Mario and Link may have sat this game out, but Wii Sports is the premiere game for the character find of 2006, Reckless Wiimote Guy. Look out, everybody! He’s coming this way!
  • Further Wii Memories: For better or worse, I purchased a Wii system four times in five years. There was the initial launch in 2006, a Christmas gift for my (then) girlfriend in 2007 (which was a generally selfish gift, as it was purchased mainly so I could escape having to bring my Wii over every time we stayed at her place), a Christmas gift for my (still) mother in 2008 (thanks Wii Fit!), and then a Christmas gift for a friend in 2010. This is compared to nearly every other system I’ve ever owned, which have generally only gotten a second purchase thanks to hardware failure. And one extra PS2 to replace that one I ebayed.
  • Did you know? You can still go back and read old Wii Sports reviews criticizing the graphics. In other news, some gaming journalists have criticized the ocean for not also offering free smoothies.
  • Would I play again: This is the most important videogame in recent memory… but I think I might be over it. I mean, it’s not like I play with my ol’ Bop It anymore, either…

What’s next? Random ROB is back to being truly random and has chosen… Gravity Rush! I suppose I can squeeze a Vita game into some wild Switch sessions. The sky’s the limit! Please look forward to it!

DAMMIT
DAMMIT!

FGC #183 Super Punch-Out!!

Here comes... not Little MacFor better or worse, Super Punch-Out!! is the black sheep of the Punch-Out!! series.

Punch-Out!! for the NES was a surprisingly popular game. Despite the fact that the actual gameplay was more puzzle than action, it seemed like every kid in my neighborhood was playing “that boxing game”. It also had tie-in comics, King Hippo on Captain N, and a real-life celebrity/maniac endorsement. Punch-Out!! was a phenomenon back when videogames were barely considered more relevant than breakfast cereal.

Less popular but still randomly seen during the 80’s were the two Punch-Out!! arcade games, Punch-Out!! and Super Punch-Out!!. Both arcade cabinets required two screens to contain all the ferocity of the sweet science, and matches against the likes of Glass Joe and Bear Hugger were prevalent any time one could scrounge up a quarter. This was also where Nintendo seemed to start its love affair with big, colorful characters, and the original Punch-Out!! was even the start of the videogame composing career of Koji Kondo, the musician behind Mario and Zelda aka your childhood.

And then, nearly ten years after the release of Super Punch-Out!! in the arcades, we received Super Punch-Out!! for the SNES. And then no more Punch-Out!! for fifteen years. What the hell!?

Super Punch-Out!! did have a few digressions from the usual formula. For one thing, it seemed a lot more loose than the more precise NES game, which may have been a deliberate move to properly compete with the entire Street Fighter 2 thing that was taking over the world at the time. Additionally, a healthy number of the boxers don’t actually… box. I’m no sports doctor, but I’m pretty sure someone got hit in the face with a stick during at least one match, and that can’t be kosher in a more faithful match. Punch-Out!! on the NES was never realistic (very rarely is a boxer punched so hard his shorts drop), but Super Punch-Out!! Right in the kissertook it to outrageous levels at a time when gamers more and more wanted “realistic” experiences. Ya know, like Mortal Kombat.

And, oh yeah, there was no Little Mac.

There was a Little Mac-alike creature, but this rando was more intended to be a stand-in for the player (that, hopefully, is a blonde, white male) than the “hero” of the old Punch-Out!! boxing circuit. To a degree, it makes sense, as, right from the beginning, “Little Mac” was meant to simply be a nobody that, depending on the game, didn’t even have a body. And, if we established Little Mac as the man that beat Mike Tyson on the NES, then what’s he doing fighting Gabby Jay a few years later? The SNES was a time when gaming franchises seemed to being trying out this whole continuity thing, and hadn’t just resorted to “here’s level 1-1 again for the 8,000th time again” shenanigans. It makes sense that the next up and comer would be an actual new up and comer… it just was kind of disappointing to deal with this… whoever this is supposed to be.

And then there are the other boxers. Super Punch-Out!! has a number of returning opponents: Bear Hugger, Piston Hurricane, Bald Bull, Dragon Chan, Mr. Sandman, and Super Macho Man all had their start in the arcade (one way or another), and may have appeared on the NES, too. Gabby Jay is your training battle, and he may as well be the similarly named Glass Joe (assuming Glass Joe has an equally amazing voice). And other than that? Well, that’s where it gets a little dicey.

As of this writing, there has only been one other Punch-Out!! game, Punch-Out!! for the Wii. That version of Punch-Out!!, for whatever reason, only featured one new boxer out of its total cast of sixteen (and even that one newbie might be the secret reincarnation of Kid Quick). So, of the fifteen classic opponents, only one single star of Super Punch-Out!! returned: Aran Ryan, the Irish maniac. Every single other Super Punch-Out!! character, including its protagonist, got left on the curb Dancin' Madwithout so much as a reference to their collective existence.

So… why?

Some Super Punch-Out!! characters make perfect sense to be dropped. Rick and Nick Bruiser are the champs of SPO!!, but they’re more of a gimmick fight than anything. Rick is an impossibly difficult battle, and then, when you finally conquer his flurry of fists, you find the next opponent is exactly the same except even more powerful. It’s the kind of trick that only works once, so it stands to reason that the characters that are pretty much only defined as “tough twins” would be dropped for two potentially unique characters. Similarly, Hoy Quarlow, aka the old man with a stick, is another gimmick fight that relies on the fact that he’s not so much boxing as just being a jerk at all times. He “punches” open handed! That’s not allowed! So I suppose he’s disqualified for being… disqualified.

Bob Charlie, the dreadlocked Rastafarian from Jamaica is an angel hair thin stereotype in a game full of them. In a way, there’s no reason Bob Charlie couldn’t replace Disco Kid in the Wii title, but you certainly don’t need two guys based entirely on a music/rhythm gimmick. Leave that behind, and, what, is Nintendo going to go whole hog on the 4:20 thing when they can’t even make a reference to Vodka? I don’t think so. Heike Kagero is a Japanese kabuki dude that falls into the similar trap of having his mirage ability claimed by the more popular Great Tiger. All you have left is a bishounen that whips his silver hair around, and this ain’t Final Fantasy, buddy. Speaking of pretty boys, Narcis Prince is basically a younger Super Macho Man, and, oh man, we are not losing Super Macho Man for anything.

Mad Clown must never be seen again. You know why.

Masked Muscle, though, I want to say there’s some meat on that bone. Masked Muscle is a heel luchador, which, as we all learned from Lucha Libre, means that he’s a dirty rotten cheater. There’s a boxing match going on here, but don’t be surprised if he head-butts the contender right in the face. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll just spit right in his Yuckopponent’s face. That’s not good sportsmanship! I’ll admit that it’s probably not a good thing to have one Mexican boxer in all of Punch-Out!! history, and he’s the worst, most despicable character in the game. But he’s supposed to be a deliberate heel, so… is that okay? It’s a big part of the luchador culture, so it’s not that different from Super Macho Man being a giant dick in a banana hammock, right?

Though what’s most disappointing about a lack of Masked Muscle’s return is that Aran Ryan stole his shtick. Aran, in his Super Punch-Out!! incarnation, is no crazier than your average Irishman. His man gimmick seems to be a hurricane of punches nicknamed “the Irish jig”. Once Aran resurfaces for the Wii, though, his defining trait seems to be cheating. Maybe this is just his way of representing his Super Punch-Out!! pride (there are a few cheaters in the game…), but it seems a little sad that Aran had to take a heel turn and leave the real heels by the curb. Then again, that is a very heel thing to do…

But Aran Ryan does prove one thing, and that’s that everything in Super Punch-Out!! could easily be imported into the next generation. Any of the bruisers of Super Punch-Out!! could return for the next circuit (except Mad Clown), and make the next Punch-Out!! game a winner. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another fifteen years to see the next one (it’s already been seven…), but I hope it remembers to bring in some Super Punch-Out!! people when it finally arrives.

Hey, even a black sheep could make some neat looking sweaters.

FGC #183 Super Punch-Out!!

  • System: Super Nintendo, though I can confirm it’s on the Wii & WiiU Virtual Consoles, because I am all over that.
  • Number of players: Nobody could figure out how to make a two player Punch-Out!! until the Wii, so just one player here.
  • Don't make eye contactPort-o-Problems: Ya know, we’ve had the dual screen portables for years, and still no port of the arcade Punch-Out!! titles. That seems wrong.
  • So, did you beat it? Not until save states were invented! My brain deals poorly with any game where my character is suffering concussion after concussion. Some sort of 16-bit empathy?
  • What’s Up, Doc: No Little Mac, no Doc Louis. There’s still more cultural representation in this game than any other Nintendo game, but it’d be nice to hold on to Nintendo’s only significant African American biker.
  • Favorite Boxer: Dragon Chan will not hesitate to jump kick you to the mat. That takes some cojones.
  • Did you know? Glass Joe has a record for beating Nick Bruiser in time trials. I’m assuming ol’ Joe is better with a controller than boxing gloves.
  • Would I play again: Like most Punch-Out!! games, I enjoy replaying this game until I hit my first brick wall, usually sometime around the second circuit. I haven’t seen the Bruiser Bros. in years.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Milon’s Secret Castle for the NES! Okay, how do you keep an entire castle secret? Maybe we’ll find out! Please look forward to it!

Jive
Another disappointing Bob in gaming…

FGC #112 Mega Man’s Soccer

Gooooooooal2/3/20XX

My latest attempt to defeat Thomas and his blasted boy robot has failed. I knew from the beginning that coercing that incompetent Russian into my service would not be enough to defeat the bungling blue bomber, but I did not expect Proto Man to double kidnap my captive. I thought we were to be partners! I constructed a castle that looked like his face! It sits unused! I hate that guy. I am beset on all sides by do-gooding robots, so I have decided to increase Robot Master production. Once, six robots seemed enough. Then, I upgraded to eight. It has become obvious that ten will still fall short, so, at minimum, I am going to create 150 Robot Masters. That should be enough to conquer the planet.

2/9/20XX

Gravity Man is completed! To say the least, I am proud of this one’s ability to manipulate a fundamental force of the universe. One brilliant robot down, 149 to go.

2/11/20XX

There is a reason I’m the greatest scientific mind of the century.

Despite the logical contradiction, I’ve had good luck with water-based Robot Masters before, and, using some spare gravity parts, I created Wave Man. Then… nothing. I considered a Stone Man, but I wondered if that was too derivative of my own rival’s early Rock model. Then genius struck! I have been imitative before, when I cloned Mega Man back at my original castle (ah, I loved that place) and again at my third (I hardly knew ye). And I’ve used similar technology in the past to clone my own Robot Masters as a final vanguard to protect my own inner sanctum. So why make new robots when I can control an army of tried and true RMs? I’ll put Gravity and Wave on the backburner for now (Hm… “burner”? That could work), and turn each of my old bots into quintuplets.

Mega Man won’t know what hit him!

3/18/20XX

Watchin' TVAfter finally finishing production on my army, I seem to have hit a snag. My traditional plan involves taking each Robot Master, putting him in his own base (or forcing him to conquer one), and then waiting for Mega Man to approach, and, one of these days, one of those Robot Masters is going to emerge victorious. The problem has now arisen that there is simply not enough real estate to accommodate 150 Robot Masters. In the world. What’s more, through no fault of my own, the majority of these robots have very… precise ideas for locations they will call home. I do not know how that infantile Cossack found a robot dinosaur dig site or unexplored ancient tomb for his inventions, but the odds of finding another five of those are fairly low.

Even some of my more agreeable creations (like that delightful Top Man ) that don’t care about their surroundings are having issues with a lack of support staff. Do you know how much it costs to build a gigantic robot cat with tiny robotic fleas and an unlimited supply of robotic yarn? I haven’t had a plan succeed since 200X, and the coffers have shrunk smaller than a Baby Met. I was going to build a robot completely out of crystal, but now I’m leaning toward a steam-powered bot entirely because air is cheap.

It pains me to admit this, but supporting 150 Robot Masters is just not possible. I realize I am the greater man, because Thomas only maintains one combat robot while I can back many, but I believe I shall return to my strategy of only deploying eight at a time.

I suppose these extra bots are headed to the scrap heap.

3/19/20XX

Think about itI am undone by my own sentimentality. While I was able to repurpose the extra Guts Men into another Guts Tank (I may not use this one for combat, but it will certainly be an interesting way to visit Whole Foods), I have found that I am unable to merely “scrap” the remaining Robot Masters. I look into Air Man’s absurdly large red eyes, and I am undone. I must find a purpose for these extra bots, even if it means reducing the Met R&D budget.

3/20/20XX

I’ve got the Heat Men lighting my cigars, so that’s one down.

3/22/20XX

Due to an incident that can only be described as… unfortunate, there are no longer any additional Metal Men. However, my genius intellect has produced an amazing idea from this tragedy. The Metal Men were attempting to “get a game of Ultimate Frisbee going”. While this proposal proved to be genocidal to the participants, I am now considering the idea of getting my Robot Masters into “sports”. Probably a good idea anyway, as the Hard Men are looking kind of pudgy.

4/1/20XX

Winner!It is Spring, so I decided to give Baseball a try. Issues made themselves apparent almost immediately. After explaining the basics to everyone, the Crash Men attempted to grab their bats… and exploded. I realize now that drill-bomb hands are not as useful for common functions as I once imagined. The rest of the Robot Masters, perhaps disheartened by the explosive failure of their comrades, refused to play. I will have to find a way to rectify this matter.

4/5/20XX

I have revived one of my Mega Man Killers, Enker, as I realized he was the only robot I ever designed that could naturally hold a bat. His Mirror Buster is ideal for returning pitches, and, thankfully, many of my Robot Masters are excellent at throwing. I also created an All-Star Man to further encourage my creations to take the field. It didn’t take. Enker is hitting a bunch of zingers, but no one else is participating.

4/7/20XX

I finally got the rest of the gang to try Baseball after creating a green Fan Man that hoots and hollers for anyone on the field. Also, I built a giant rotating fan into the guy, because why not? It turns out all it takes to encourage my Robot Masters is a gentle stroking of their collective egos. The narcissistic cretins. I can scarcely imagine how such a glitch made it into any creations of the great Dr. Albert Wily.

4/8/20XX

Tragedy has struck again. It appears that resisting their original programming is too hard for the average Robot Master, so a few innings were played with pitchers replacing baseballs with… other armaments. In an outcome I should have foreseen, Bomb Man detonated an end to any Ring Men. Shadow Man transformed multiple Quick Men into pieces smaller than their boomerangs, and, when Top Man attempted to “defend their honor”, the Shadow posse was no more. And in the Hate 8ensuing chaos, the Flash Men broke all the Bright Men, shouting something about plagiarism. Really, I don’t blame them, as that Cossack does not have an original bone in his body. Oh, and the Elec Men destroyed the Spark Men. Just as well, they weren’t too handy, anyway.

After the melee subsided (the Dive Men were able to run off in the confusion), I realized that Baseball is not the sport for bots programmed to fire a variety of projectiles. I still like the idea of a sports team of Robot Masters, but… Hm.

4/11/20XX

Football! This will be amazing!

4/12/20XX

The Magnet Men, Hard Men, and Drill Men are dead. I… I don’t want to talk about it. Not now. Maybe not ever.

4/18/20XX

Soccer! Soccer shall be the game at which my Robot Masters excel!

4/20/20XX

Alright, all the Robot Masters are ready. Aside from a cantankerous Enker whining about missing his sword, the rest of the gang is on board and understands the rules. Each (surviving) Robot Master has been equipped with a sliding mechanism that I designed myself and is not something I stole from Thomas. Additionally, each “player” may utilize their brilliantly created by moi Robot Master Weapons during a match to enhance the power of a shot. Look out, goalie Wood Man, Fire Man has a red hot ball coming at you! Oh, this is going to be amazing!

5/7/20XX

The big manSuccess! Unbridled success! The Robot Masters have formed their own teams and leagues and, oh, it is so wonderful when my plans come together! This is the greatest day of my life! I could watch the fruits of labor forever!

5/8/20XX

Ugh, soccer is boring. Even The Enkredible Enkers have lost their shine. I want to go back to conquering the world.

5/10/20XX

I shall conquer the world with Soccer! I have decided to encourage my Soccer Masters to take over a stadium. I’ll send in the newly created Napalm Man first, wreck up the place, and then replace the World Cup with my own Wily Cup. The world will bow before me and my mastery of the sport! Take that, Thomas! I’d like to see your bearded ass conquer any sport! I built myself an exo-suit so I can dominate on the field, too! Bwa ha ha ha! The world is mine!

5/11/20XX

Thomas has decided to send his contemptible Mega Man against my expertly trained Soccer Masters. Good luck, Dr. Light! Where did you get that doctorate? Chubby college? Haha, I am on fire today. Thomas is going to have to build some manner of Ointment Man to heal these sick burns.

5/12/20XX

Mega Man appears to be besting my Soccer Masters, and recruiting any sympathetic players. This does not bode well.

5/13/20XX

Hate that guyProto Man has entered the fray. He duplicated himself and defeated The Naughty Needlers like it was nothing. I hate that guy.

5/14/20XX

Alright, there’s only one team left, The Fighting Flashers, and then Mega Man has defeated all of my Soccer Masters. That’s okay, I’m a genius. I’ve planned for this. I have my own skull-themed exosuit, and I’ll take the field with a team of robo-clones. Mega Man and Proto Man have only recruited a sliver of my army, so those still on Team Wily will wreck up the place if it looks like things are going poorly. Which they won’t. Because I am now a shining soccer god.

5/15/20XX

This did not go as planned. First of all, it turns out that I should have spent more time actually playing soccer, and not just building exosuits to win at soccer. I would be more mad at myself if I didn’t recall that soccer is a stupid game for losers, so it’s only natural that I would be no good at the sport. Speaking of losers, it turns out that soccer fans are… very dedicated to their hobby, and, when things got… heated, a riot broke-out. While Elec Man or Snake Man are perfectly suited to destroying the Blue Bomber, it turns out they’re not so great at quelling raging hooligan hordes, and… well, bright side is that I no longer have to worry about all those extra Soccer Robot Masters. I think I’m still picking pieces of Wood Man out of my hair.

On my way out of the stadium (which, I should add, exploded for some reason), Poor ToadI thought I was able to kidnap Proto Man, but it turned out to be just one of his lousy duplicates. So, the end result of this whole venture is five wasted months, a handful of new robots like All-Star Man and Fan Man, a Proto Man dummy, and a reminder why I never made varsity in high school. Bah! This is all Thomas and his wretched robot’s fault! And Proto Man! I hate these do-gooding robots! I’m retiring!

5/16/20XX

New plan! World threatening board game!

5/20/20XX

Nah, screw this. I’m just going to kidnap Thomas and frame Proto Man. Stick to what you know.

FGC #112 Mega Man’s Soccer

  • System: Super Nintendo. And I don’t think it has been rereleased anywhere, unlike every other Mega Man game. Even Battle & Chase was on that one collection!
  • Number of Players: Two, and you can play head to head or co-op against the computer. Always nice to have options
  • Just Two Players? According to data in the code, MMS was originally to support four players. Not quite certain how that would have worked. Also, where is the modern update of this game with online, full player team support?
  • What’s in a name? It says “Mega Man Soccer” on the box/cartridge, but “Mega Man’s Soccer” on the title screen. I don’t know what to believe!
  • Favorite Robot Master (this game): Wily, look at all your Robot Masters. Which would be great at soccer? Shadow Man? No. Quick Man? Nah. Toad Man? Yeah, that one, let’s watch him wobble around the field.
  • An End: There’s no ending for this game. At least normally. There are complete endings for two different modes (both translated!) and credits, but they’re completely inaccessible without a cheating device. Actually, you can see the credits through inputting a complicated sequence of command, but that may as well be a game genie code.
  • Did you know? Oddly, an episode of Captain N: The Game Master featured Mega Man playing football against Mega Man 2 Bosses. Season 2, Episode 5.
    No?

    Them’s some good lookin’ Robot Masters.
  • Would I play again? Soccer is so boring!

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Karnov for the NES! The other tubby, mustachioed hero of the Nintendo Entertainment System! Please look forward to it!

The Gaming 5 #4 Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

The main man!Why is it on this list?

So far, all the games I’ve used to define gaming have been predominantly single player experiences. Yes, Gitaroo-Man had a two player mode, and, technically, you could consider the “score” elements (item acquisition percentage, speed involved, damage incurred) of the previous games to be competitive, but, by and large, these are games meant to be enjoyed by a solitary person gradually being absorbed by a hungry couch. Sometimes, though, that couch hungers for more souls, and two player games are there to sate that desire. Pong, widely believed to be the first video game, was a two player competitive experience, and it’s only natural that much of its progeny follows the same template. Man versus man is going to be more interesting than man vs. machine most days, and what better way to highlight that fact than with a homicidal raccoon versus a hulking zombie?

Can’t I just compete through Ultimate Frisbee instead?

In the man v. man world of competition, video games are, at their core, just a complex set of rules for a game. Consider the difference between a “complex” board game like Monopoly and your average Mario Party installment: both are, at their core, the same kind of “game”, but one allows for so much more complicated (and fun!) distractions. There’s no way you could ever play a game of Risk where you settled disputes by springing up and organizing an impromptu round of finger football, but that’s basically what you do every round in Rampart. Video games, with the programmer working as inventor, organizer, and referee all in one, allow for much more I think comics are coolcomplex play experiences than anything available in the real world (unless you have amazingly cooperative friends).

You could toss on some gloves and box with your buddy, or get into a fistfight if everybody is receptive to the whole “losing a few teeth” thing, but you’re still going to get a more interesting experience when you’re pitting the Master of Magnetism against the Reploid. This is a fighting game, but that genre left behind the trappings of a simple fist to the face right around the time that dude in the bandana starting hurling chi balls across the dojo. And that’s even before you get into the fact that a significant chunk of the cast isn’t even human. Yes, it’s not as fun as growing wings of you own and assaulting a colleague with a dive bomb attack of your own devising, but until genetic manipulation finally grants us dominance over birds, it will have to do.

So why this game? Why not Ultimate Frisbee Pro 2099?

The most obvious example of a competitive video game for a lot of people would be a simple, actual sports game. People understand sports, and people understand grandslamming that puck past the three-point line and into the endzone (did I get that right?). But video game sports, try as they might, aren’t anywhere near the actual experience they’re emulating. No, I’m not lamenting the lack of body odor involved in (most) video games, or that special runner’s high you can only get from towing a basketball the proper number of meters (not really a sports guy, sorry); what I’m talking about is that, by definition, a video game is merely an abstraction of a real physical activity. You’re not throwing a football, you’re pressing the X button. Hell, you’re not even just pressing the X button, you’re pressing the X button at the right time, the right number of times, and while aiming the analog stick in the right direction. This is what video games are, and I’m not disparaging sports games for being sports games, They look so friendlysimply stating that turning a simple throwing motion into a series of rigidly defined button presses is maybe not the best way to endear someone to the medium.

And, incidentally, this is what made Wii Sports such a perennial hit: a “bowling motion” actually allowed you to bowl, as opposed to having to properly line up some abstract meter. And Wii Sports would be a great introduction to gaming if only another game in the last decade actually emulated what was so great about it. Alas.

Like proper sports games (fighting is a sport!), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an abstraction of a real dog god battling an intergalactic murderess. You can no more throw a punch in reality and get a reaction from your digital avatar than slap a puck at your television and expect your virtual goalie to move accordingly. But here, with the pomp and craziness of the UMvC3 universe, you’re already in a “weird” environment, so it’s a lot more conducive to learning the “new” controls demanded of you. You can easily throw a ball in real life, but you can’t hurl a fireball, so there’s less of a disparity between the “advantages” of reality and the video game universe.

But you’ve still gotta learn all those super moves, right?

And that leads to the other reason I chose Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: it’s kinda easy. No, I don’t mean it’s easier to beat an AI opponent than any other fighting game, what I mean is that about 90% of the roster has super moves based on variations on a simple quarter circle controller movement, or, put simply, “the fireball motion”. Punch, kick, jump, it’s all in your mind and at the push of a button; but with a little extra effort (but not too much effort), you can summon punishing lightning showers or unflinching zombie hordes. Dinner time!And the combos, an essential piece of any fighting game, are not as demanding as some franchises, but are still spectacular to behold. With just a little practice, the average player can graduate from frantic button mashing to more nuanced combat techniques. It won’t happen immediately, but video games are about improving, and UMvC3 is here to provide a plethora of “easy to learn, fun to master” options.

Aren’t there other “simple” fighting games out there?

Probably, but they don’t have Tron Bonne fighting Iron Fist. Yes, half the roster was birthed of Capcom video game hits, but the other half should be very familiar to anyone that has opened their eyes in the last decade. Let’s see here… including upcoming features, it appears that the only heroes on the Marvel side that haven’t hit the big screen are… Nova, She-Hulk, and X-23. So if you ever watched Thor, Iron Man, or Wolverine, and thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to be that guy?” Then congratulations, your wish is granted, and you can be all three at the same time.

This is not to discount the Capcom side, though, as half the fun of those guys is seeing someone interesting and then being inspired to explore their origins. Zero already appeared in one Gaming Five entry, but the rest of the gang are eclectic beyond belief, and you will get a very different experience between exploring the origins of Frank West or Mike Haggar. If part of the qualifications for these games is to create a desire to play more video games, Victory!you really can’t go wrong with a game that dares you to discover Trish’s deal.

It’s a fighting game, it’s a history of Capcom, it’s a perfect game for beginners, and it’s a wonderful way to battle it out with your friends. It’s not just a good choice for someone to learn about video games, it’s one of the Ultimates.

The Gaming 5 #4 Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

  • System: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Vita. But it’s not available digitally, because licensing is a scourge.
  • Number of players: Two. That… was kind of the point.
  • What about One Player Mode: It’s a great way to practice against an AI opponent, and you do have to do it at least once to battle the one and only Galactus. It’s kind of amazing that this is the only game where I feel like his might was properly utilized (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is second place… and then nothing). Galactus is a gigantic purple clad “man” in a skirt who wants to devour the Earth: how is he not the final boss of every Marvel game?
  • It can’t be all good: Oh, so, despite having a team of three, every run through One Player Mode only unlocks one character’s ending? And it’s just the character that landed the final blow, so if Phoenix got chumped on a bad hit, I’m out of luck? Thanks a lot, guys.
  • Dinner time!Favorite Character: The fact that Tron Bonne made it back into the fold made my bitter, twisted heart grow three sizes. I missed Mega Man Legends on its initial release, so Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was my first introduction to Ms. Tron and her adorable servbots. I still remember a friend and I trying to figure out her deal from her moveset. She throws a rock… is she related to Guts Man?
  • Did you know? Of the original, pre-Ultimate MvC3 lineup, the only character without any form of action figure/model merchandise was Mike Hagger (if you consider Sir Arthur and Maximo to be the same character… which I do for merch). With the Ultimate crowd added, there’s Red Arremer/Firebrand and, I believe, Frank West. Amusingly enough, Strider had an action figure for… Mavel vs. Capcom (he fought Spider-Man!).
  • Would I play again: Yes. Granted, I’ve logged more hours in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 by virtue of existing longer, but UMvC3 is my go-to for fighting games with friends, so it sees play pretty often. Incidentally, MvC2 might have made this list if it wasn’t balanced about as poorly as a match between a towering mutant hunter and a kitty cat.

What’s next? Mother’s Day. Please look forward to it!

Go read Hawkeye!