Game Planning for NFL Blitz: A Retrospective on the Series

December 30, 2011 at 12:39 am | Posted in Features | 6 Comments
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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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The Holy Grail of Madden Football Games

December 23, 2011 at 12:19 am | Posted in Reviews | 13 Comments
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Pre-owned Madden football games are everywhere.  When you have a series that has been churning out a title every year for twenty years, there are a lot of discarded games to be peddled.  The picked-through seller at the flea market is guaranteed to have a stack of PS2 Madden titles to sift through.  Your neighbor’s garage sale is going to have recent versions for next-to-nothing prices since everyone only wants to play the most recent iteration.  With a massive supply built across almost every console for gaming generations now, the previous editions of Madden football have an almost nonexistent resell value.  Outside of this mass production, there is one title that is not common and is one of the few sports titles that hold value for collectors.  John Madden Football Championship Edition was a rental store exclusive released in 1992 for the Sega Genesis and it is the Holy Grail for retro sports gaming collectors.

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SNK’s Cure for Touchdown Fever

December 14, 2011 at 12:51 am | Posted in Reviews | 7 Comments
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SNK’s Baseball Stars is one of the most popular baseball franchises in video game history. While best known for the Neo Geo and some of the best arcade action ever, SNK also dabbled in the home console market with a number of NES releases. The original NES Baseball Stars game is always a trendy choice in debates about the best baseball game ever because of the customization and options the game provided. Baseball Stars gave you the ability to create your own players and teams, and boasted the ability to earn money by winning games which could then be used to upgrade the attributes of your created ball players. It was essentially a sports game / role-playing hybrid that stood out despite the familiar look of 8-bit baseball titles at the time. With Baseball Stars a hit in 1989 and with a precedent now set for success in sports gaming, would SNK make a successful foray into the North American Football market with Touchdown Fever?

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Twenty Years of EA’s NHL Hockey: A Look Back at the Original

December 1, 2011 at 12:30 am | Posted in Reviews | 11 Comments
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EA’s NHL Hockey franchise turned twenty this year but does anybody else out there care? While the video game industry celebrates Sonic the Hedgehog’s 20th birthday or the twentieth anniversary of the Super Nintendo and Super Mario World, EA’s franchise and groundbreaking hockey game isn’t even a footnote. I was perusing my free subscription to Game Informer (Yes, I frequent GameStop and am a Power whatever it’s called) and they recently ran down all the big milestones in gaming for the fall of 2011. Twenty years of relevance is an impressive feat and 1991 was really big in the history of video games so the list was substantial. I put my finger on the page and skimmed down, hoping to see some kind of acknowledgement or tip of the cap to EA and found nothing. I was so upset I even tweeted (follow me @retrosportsgmr) my disdain at the oversight to Game Informer (We actually follow each other now – it’s cute). Turning to Google, surely other video game writers would have blazed the path of commending the NHL Hockey lineage, like my man Jon Robinson over at ESPN (formally Johnny Ballgame at GamePro), but nary a word was to be found outside of EA themselves putting together a cool retrospective video. I will champion this accomplishment along with you EA! In getting it all started, NHL Hockey and EA Hockey for the Sega Genesis and (Sega) Mega Drive, respectively, were out of this world compared to the other hockey games in the early nineties and set the tone for the franchise with great 16-bit sprites and fast and fun game play.

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