EA’s NHL Hockey Series Through the Years – Infographic

September 13, 2012 at 11:15 am | Posted in News | 2 Comments
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With NHL 13 now released, EA’s NHL Hockey series has amassed 22 titles since debuting in 1991 (23 when you include EA Hockey).  Justin Bourne at http://www.thescore.com blogged an awesome infographic highlighting different pieces of trivia about the series.  The tidbit about NHL Hockey debuting on the Mega Drive is technically incorrect (was released on the Genesis in North America only but would work on the Mega Drive) but that’s just nit-picking.  Seeing all the covers next to each other brings back a lot of memories.  Did you know that NHL 95 had 24 players with a rating of 100?  And if you were ever curious about the geographical background of all the cover athletes, well, this infographic is for you.
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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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Retro Replay Diary: Coach K College Basketball

April 9, 2012 at 1:12 am | Posted in Features | 4 Comments
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In the mid ’90s EA Sports hit their stride.  Their ongoing NHL Hockey and Madden franchises were winners, they struck gold with NBA Live ’95, and FIFA Soccer was a big hit.  College Football brought in money with the Bill Walsh College Football series of games, which then spun off from the (then) Stanford coach’s license and became College Football USA.  On the hardwood, college basketball wasn’t a yearly lay-up for the guys at Electronic Arts.  In 1995, they wisely took their incredibly successful NBA Live engine and created a college basketball counterpart.  Coach K College Basketball was a one-time unique enigma in the 16-bit sports universe as the game came out for just one console and had no yearly follow-ups.  With the white cover branding of EA titles of that gaming generation, Coach K College Basketball had real universities (32 teams plus 8 classic squads) and real college players (just with numbers instead of names – similar still to restrictions today).  This was the first attempt at any type of college basketball simulation that didn’t have generic state-named teams with made up players and EA delivered the complete NCAA basketball experience on its initial try.  When the game was first released, I was ecstatic that one of my favorite teams, Villanova, was in the game.  I knew all the player’s real names and played through a full season before being shockingly bounced out of the tournament by #1 ranked Arkansas in the Regional Final (Elite 8).  While I played the game for years after that stunning loss, I never played another season nor took my beloved Wildcats through another tournament run.  My thirst for nostalgic revenge was the motivation for this Retro Replay Diary.  It was time to dust off Kerry Kittles and friends and make another run at the college basketball championship.

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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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NFL Blitz Returns: Does the Comeback Fall Short?

January 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Posted in Reviews | 2 Comments
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Off the heels of releasing NBA Jam: On Fire Edition as a download-only title, EA Sports has dusted off another former Midway license and brought back the original NFL arcade masterpiece, NFL Blitz.  An arcade hit in the late ‘90s, the series spawned console releases for six straight years before sequel fatigue led to poor sales and an eventual cancellation.  No stranger themselves to arcade football titles like the NFL Street series and a Madden Arcade download-only game, could EA resurrect the NFL Blitz franchise to its previous glory?

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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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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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EA Sports Gets One Right: NBA Jam: On Fire Edition Lives Up To Its Name

October 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Posted in Reviews | 51 Comments
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As a retro video game collector, downloadable titles would seem to conflict with my passion for the hobby. I love games that can be displayed in my office complete with their box and manual, representing my own personal archive of video game history. I do not have my head in the sand though. Downloading full games and additional game content is 100% the future of where gaming is going. We’ve already see it with the available titles on the Playstation Network and Xbox Live and possibly may with entire systems like the Playstation Vita (its predecessor, the PSP Go was full download only). As a sports gamer, there is potential with the avenue of download-only games but to date the execution and selection has been pretty poor. Perusing online marketplaces, your options are normally limited to darts, bowling, fishing or PSOne snowboarding titles. There have been attempts before to release unique standalone titles (we’ll explore them here at RSGW), but overall most are re-releases like Baseball Stars 2 or poor original arcade attempts like Madden Arcade and NHL 3-on-3 Arcade. Like a beacon in a storm of sports shovelware, EA Sports’ NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is exactly what downloadable sports gaming should be, and the results of their recent endeavor are glorious.

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