Boxing has been
around since the dawn of video games. So why do so many people remember
this classic over the others? Probably because it rules! The first game
to feature boxers with real personality, young Little Mac (who is such
a wuss that he wears a shirt in the ring) has to face off against such
eccentrics as hunky Super Macho Man, mysterious Don Flamenco and the rotund
King Hippo. Each fighter, including Tyson himself at the end, has special
improbable moves (including Bald Bull's Bull Charge attack and Flamenco's
uppercut barrage) that Mac has to counter with the variety of basic punches
he has at his disposal. In-between rounds, the fighters exchange such witty
banter as "Do you like my new trunks? They are size XXX large! Ha, ha,
ha!" If only real boxing was so interesting. Tyson's NES game has aged
far better than the beleaguered boxer himself.
NES' library is chock full of genre definers, and the sports field is no
exception. Video football's been popular ever since the 2600 days, but
it took Tecmo Bowl for the possibilities to truly be realized. Most previous
games erred on the side of either fast action or deep strategy; Tecmo Bowl
hit the mark dead-on, with only four different plays and full control over
all 11 of your players. Most importantly, the game moved fast, allowing
two players to have a blast shooting through several NFL matchups in one
sitting. The sequel, Tecmo Super Bowl had extra coach and season modes
and is still played today in colleges across America. Not bad.
who's played this game before remembers it instantly--how many other titles
do you know that simulate dodgeball deathmatches like Super Dodgeball?
Playing the captain of the six-man US Dodgeball Team, you have to defeat
eight international teams, climaxing in a decisive battle against the fearsome
Russians. You might have played this game in elementary school, but I doubt
you could do the special moves these players can--hooks, curveballs, even
funky inviso-balls that reappear just before they slam you in the face.
Sports games should all be this funky.
Hockey satisfies all three rules of classic sports games: the title is
the same as the sport it simulates, the rink is shown from an overhead
view but the players are drawn from the side, and the crowd consists of
patterns of people who flash colors whenever a goal is scored. If you don't
let that bother you, you'll find a great multiplayer game that has a reputation
for starting fights around the office. Real NHL players? Substitutions?
Pulling the goalie? As if! The only hint of strategy in Ice Hockey is the
ability to choose the size of your four players, balancing your team between
speed and checking power. The right combination (one of our favorites is
one skinny dude and three fat guys) can spell success and victory against
the Russians in the championship. Realistic? No. Fun? Yes!
foray into the extremely crowded world of NES baseball (with over a dozen
different offerings) was the first to offer a real owner/manager mode,
allowing you near total control over your team. You can still play good
ol' arcade baseball if you want, but the League mode, which hands you a
decrepit team (or your own custom-made one) and some dough and challenges
you to win the pennant in a simulated season, is near legendary in NES
circles. Throughout the season, you'll get the chance to trade and get
rid of players, as well as buy new talent from the draft pool. As the season
wears on, your players will fall into streaks and slumps, and you'll have
to decide who stays and who takes a walk to balance your budget. The game
gets pretty easy once your players are powered up, making Baseball Stars
accessible to nearly everyone. Nice.