Kirby’s Dream Sport

November 25, 2012 at 8:32 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
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Nintendo recently celebrated 20 years of Kirby adventures with a Wii compilation that features his main conquests through Dream Land.  Kirby’s gaming catalog extends far past his canonical platformers and these ancillary games could fill their own compilation disc.  He’s been the headliner in multiple puzzle games, a pinball title and a Breakout-style block-busting game.  Kirby has had a racing spin-off and has dueled with his Nintendo peers in the Super Smash Bros. series.  Even though Kirby has clearly been able to handle yielding a sword or spear in his own games, he has never been invited to one of Mario’s golf or tennis outings.  Despite his multi-genre flexibility, the pink puffball has only had one appearance in a sports-themed game.  When King Dedede stole all the stars in Dream Land, Kirby shook off his non-sporty stereotype to do mini-golf battle in Kirby’s Dream Course for the Super Nintendo.

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Tecmo Bowl in Monochrome

August 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Posted in Reviews | 4 Comments
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When Tecmo Bowl for the Nintendo Game Boy was released in September of 1991, the game broke the stereotypical mold for handheld sports games.  Often stunted because of hardware limitations and developer resources, portable sports gaming has always taken a backseat to its big brother on the home console.  Sculptured Software’s work on porting Tecmo’s NES classic to the two year-old phenom Game Boy did more than just mirror the NES game to four monochrome colors.  They also introduced gamers to something Sony would boast about their own handheld twenty years later
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Team USA Basketball: Olympic-sized Letdown

August 8, 2012 at 10:20 am | Posted in Reviews | 1 Comment
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The mission statement for Retro Sports Gamer World has always been to educate on the best and worst of sports gaming.  In judging and labeling a certain title, I strive to have an open mind and either eliminate or be very transparent about any bias coming into a piece.  I’ve had my mind changed from a previous perception – for better and worse – in a number of articles.  This brings me to our participation in 1 More Castle’s Review a Bad Game Day” with Team USA Basketball for the Sega Genesis.  Despite this edict of reviewing something “bad”, my approach to Team USA Basketball was no different from previous games.  I nominated the game because of a previous negative play-through (I talked about it here) and being topical and all with the current Olympics in London.  And there was even a 15-minute stretch where I found myself enjoying the game and thought I would have a different angle for this piece.  Alas, Team USA Basketball had a great premise but at the end of the day, just could not deliver an experience worth replaying or recommending.
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College Lacrosse 2012: Indie Dev Covers Ignored Sport

July 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Reviews | 2 Comments
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In the industry’s history, there has been exactly one commercially-released lacrosse game. In 2001, Blast Lacrosse, a NFL Blitz-style game, was released by Acclaim for the original PlayStation. This dearth of lacrosse interest among video game developers is what makes the work done at Cross Studio and Complex Games all the more impressive.  Fueled by a passion for the sport and video games, owner Carlos Sunseri’s initiative has yielded five lacrosse titles on the Xbox Live Indie Games scene over the last four years. This library includes three College Lacrosse games and two National Lacrosse League licensed titles, with real teams and players from the indoor league. The newest title, College Lacrosse 2012, is a game ripe with promise but flawed in a number of areas of execution.
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Mario Tennis Open: Suit Up and Serve Against the World

July 8, 2012 at 9:42 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
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When we last saw an original Mario Tennis title, Camelot and Nintendo had us traversing the halls and sidewalks of the Royal Tennis Academy in search of opportunities to level up our main protagonist in hopes of advancing through the school’s leader board of tennis prodigies.  It has been almost seven years since Mario Tennis: Power Tour for the Game Boy Advance uniquely blended the role-playing and sports genres, giving us a relatable sports narrative to go along with the already successful formula of Mario & friends squaring off on the tennis court.  With the storytelling of Power Tour not replicated in their new game, just what could we expect as progress with Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS?  And most importantly, would it be enough for gamers to want to come back?
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iOS Mini-Review: Ski Champion

April 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Posted in iOS Reviews | 3 Comments
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While the seasons have changed and the boys of summer have started the 2012 baseball season, you can still revisit winter fun with Ski Champion, a new iOS release by Majaka (Free, Appstore).  Ski Champion sits alone in the handheld skiing market but being on top of the mountain by default does not have the developers at Majaka taking the bunny slopes with this effort.  Packing in 14 different courses, tilt controls, and a leaderboard with medals and rankings, Ski Champion hits the high spots on Majaka’s first run out of the gate.

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iOS Mini-Review: NBA Jam

March 17, 2012 at 1:18 am | Posted in iOS Reviews | 1 Comment
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I remember my first handheld experience with NBA Jam very fondly.  Being a big NBA fan and playing the original game as often as I could in the arcades, I was extremely excited when NBA Jam came out for the Sega Game Gear in 1993.  Sure, the graphics were stunted but I was finally playing with NBA-licensed teams and with real NBA players!  Even on the Game Gear’s 3.2″ screen, NBA Jam translated the arcade experience well.  Since EA picked up the NBA Jam license from a defunct Midway, they’ve rekindled the flames of the classic with solid home console releases and a successful download-only follow-up.  Expanding into the world of mobile games was an obvious step for the franchise.  NBA Jam has always been easy to pick up and play, but what happens when you take away buttons and move to an iOS touchscreen device?  NBA Jam ($0.99 App Store) keeps up the tradition of replicating its classic feel across gaming platforms as EA Sports engineers the mobile version to work as well as ever.

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iOS Mini-Review: Ice Rage

February 22, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Posted in iOS Reviews | 3 Comments
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I really enjoy the throwback styles, old school graphics, and intuitive controls that can come with producing creative and original mobile games.  For every EA or 2K mobile clone of a big flagship game, there are unique titles like the 1-on-1 hockey action in Ice Rage by Mountain Sheep, Inc. ($0.99 App Store).  Ice Rage is a concoction of Ice Hockey and Blades of Steel from the NES mixed in with air hockey and pong physics.  Mountain Sheep pumps the retro up even more with the action played horizontally, something we haven’t seen a lot in sports games since the 8-bit age.  With a solid premise in place, is there enough substance in Ice Rage for it to be labeled a success?

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iOS Mini-Review: Arcade Hoops Basketball

February 18, 2012 at 1:14 am | Posted in iOS Reviews | 14 Comments
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We are all witnesses to a shift in the gaming industry.  With every Angry Birds game designed and every Farmville gift card sold, a new gaming audience is being tapped into.  Companies today are allocating large amounts of resources to focus on mobile gaming and social media gamification.  The sports gaming genre is not adverse to the clutches of casual gaming and nothing is more evident of this than the immense popularity of flick games.  Flick games are the natural result of using a device that is explicitly based on touch controls and, while I like to focus on arcade or simulation-style games brought to the small screen, casual sports games are here to stay.  With a simple premise and the most basic tenants of flick gaming,  Skyworks Interactive’s Arcade Hoops Basketball brings to iOS gaming the amusement park adrenaline of jacking (well, flicking) up as many shots as possible with the same payoff of going home empty-handed after trying to land a large stuffed animal prize.

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iOS Review: Icebreaker Hockey and NaturalMotion Games

February 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Posted in iOS Reviews | 2 Comments
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NaturalMotion Games has run the gamut in utilizing different mediums to get their sports games out to consumers. In a world where Madden casts a wide shadow, I loved that NaturalMotion took the leap and showed off their impressive game animation engine and alternative vision to the static Madden series with Backbreaker, a non-NFL licensed game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Despite mediocre reviews and only 260,000 units sold for the first-time effort, NaturalMotion supported the original game with updates and patches and then expanded on the popularity of Backbreaker’s Tackle Alley mini-game with a Backbreaker: Vengeance release on the Xbox Live Arcade. This fleshed out mini-game where one eludes tacklers with jukes and spin moves, while picking up points along the way to a touchdown, would be the schematic for future iOS releases. NaturalMotion has released Backbreaker Football, Backbreaker 2: Vengeance and NFL Rivals on iOS and Android devices to date with the latest NFL Rivals title featuring an NFL license with real teams and logos (the players’ license still sits with EA). In stepping away from the gridiron, Icebreaker Hockey uses the same blueprint and transforms the fast-paced game play to the ice as you evade defenders with dekes and spin moves, while showboating your way through 50 different levels of game play.

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