Posts Tagged ‘Video Games’

MLB 2K11 First Impressions

In case you didn’t already know, we’re huge baseball fans here at gordtep.com. We’re also pretty passionate video game enthusiasts. With that said, every spring, we’re not just craving baseball, but we’re also anxiously awaiting the annual release from the MLB 2K series. Since the demo was available this morning on XBox Live, I am now prepared to give my first impressions of this year’s game.

Before we get into 2K11, I think some background is in order. I’ve been playing baseball video games dating back to the early 1980s on the Atari system. So without further ado, you get a bonus in this blog: My Top 10 Baseball Video Games

  1. BASEBALL STARS, NES, 1989
  2. MLB 2K8, XBOX 360, 2008
  3. MVP BASEBALL, PS2, 2005
  4. BASES LOADED, NES, 1988
  5. HARDBALL, C64, 1985
  6. EARL WEAVER BASEBALL, PC, 1987
  7. HARDBALL 5, PC, 1996
  8. TRIPLE PLAY BASEBALL, PC, 2000
  9. R.B.I. BASEBALL, NES, 1987
  10. ALL STAR BASEBALL 2005, XBOX, 2004

Yeah, Kev would say it’s blasphemous that I ranked RBI Baseball so low on my list. It was groundbreaking because it was the first NES game to use real players, but I preferred playing all the ones ranked ahead of it for one reason or another.

So here’s the quick and dirty review.

It doesn’t exactly knock my socks off.

HITTING

From the demo, it’s just “meh.” If the actual game allows, I’ll probably get a different camera. I just never really got into that “catcher’s perspective” view that World Series Baseball introduced in the mid 90s. If I can change that, maybe I can just go with the standard broadcast, behind-the-pitcher view. The analog hitting controls don’t really do much for me either, so I’m switching to basic which lets me time the swing better. It seems to eliminate the power swing — not sure if that means anything. Maybe it just hits home runs if you time a pitch perfectly, with the right hitter, in the right situation? Whatever. Hitting seems to be OK on the surface, I guess. I’d need to play with it some more and see how the results turn out.

PITCHING

The analog pitching is complete crap. The pitch selection, followed by the gesture is so dumb. Why not one or the other? I won’t really hold this against them though because it lets you switch back to classic controls very easily, and those work just fine.

FIELDING

I’ll hand it to them on this. The fielding felt like it was much improved. It also allows for analog or classic controls on the throwing. My preference was actually the analog here. Kudos, 2K, you got something right.

GAME SPEED

I’m not even talking about frame rate or any of that here (though that seems pretty smooth to be honest). What I want is to be able to skip all the worthless cut scenes and random nonsense that prevents me from completing a game in 15-20 minutes. The Demo does a good job of letting you skip in between pitches with a tap of the A button. However, the rest of it seems to take a bit too long for my taste. I want to move along as fast as possible after each pitch/play/inning. In previous years, they had some sort of “hurry-up” mode. That was a great idea, but I just remember that it prevented me from seeing any sort of statistics during the game. Just because I want to get through games quickly doesn’t mean I don’t want to know the pitcher’s ERA and the hitter’s batting average. I guess we’ll see about these options once the game is officially released and people can really test it all out.

FRANCHISE/ONLINE

This is all still unanswered, and it’s a critical component. For some reason, year after year, they can never get this aspect right. Here’s what we want: ONLINE FRANCHISE WITH A MIX OF CPU & HUMAN PLAYERS. Why is that such a difficult program to implement? Oh, yeah, we also want online play to actually work — not some laggy, buggy mess. The ability to condense the league and shorten the schedule would be tremendous as well. This stuff seems so simple to add, yet they avoid it and keep coming up with crappy Home Run Derby modes that aren’t even any fun.

VERDICT

I’m still on the fence. Will I buy it? I probably will because I don’t have any other options. They have the exclusive MLB license on Xbox 360, so my only alternative would be to purchase a PS3 for MLB 11 The Show (which I hear is terrific). I guess that’s an option, but my preference is to avoid stacking dozens of electronic devices that cost hundreds of dollars, ya know? It is what it is.

My Paperboy Achievement Quest

For those of you unfamiliar with the arcade classic Paperboy, it was originally released by Atari in 1984. The game allowed you to assume the role of a boy who dished out newspapers along a suburban street on his bicycle. With a unique control scheme and layout, Paperboy was successful in convincing kids to shell out quarters with the hopes of making it through an entire week without getting fired for crashing too frequently into the many obstacles along your route.

Like many popular arcade games, Paperboy was eventually ported to various computer systems and video game consoles in the ensuing years. Though I have virtually no memory of ever playing the original stand-up version of the game, I actually bought and played the Commodore 64 version 20+ years ago. The cool Dennis the Menace-style artwork on the cover was intriguing, spurring me to bring home the 5 1/4 floppy and pop it into my noisy 1980s disk drive. As fun as the game was, I found it to be overly challenging. Though I would play it from time to time, I recognized that I would never actually complete the week on Easy Street (the main objective for a standard game). A year or two later, my friend Jimmy (who is coincidentally getting married this weekend) got the game for the original NES. He was better than I was, but, as far as I know, he never actually completed the week on Easy Street.

Nearly two decades later, having not thought about the game since the early 90s, I found out that it was to be released on the Xbox 360 for just $5 via their download service (Xbox Live Arcade). So a couple years ago, I gladly purchased Paperboy once again. This time, it was a direct port of the arcade game, meaning it was even more difficult than the already seemingly impossible versions I had been accustomed to. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the nostalgia, played it a few times and basically just let it sit on my hard drive.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I felt like giving the game a try again. This time I noticed that there was an Xbox Live achievement for actually completing a week on Easy Street — the impossible dream. I thought that with a little practice, I might actually be able to beat it. The thing is, I would typically just play the game for about 15 minutes or so, and that would be it. It would be different now because I’d actually dedicate a significant chunk of time to getting good.

At any rate, after a few attempts, I was still resigned to the fact that it was probably just never going to happen. However, I had friends over last weekend, one of which was Ham City Kev. He saw that I had been playing Paperboy, and he told me of a time in college that he managed to complete the week on Easy Street. Sure, he struggled mightily with this arcade version, failing to complete a single day, but I recognized he was rusty and that it really didn’t matter because he already did what I had forever failed to do. Naturally, being the mental patient that I am, I was jealous and now more motivated than ever to find a way to do it myself. In fact, this time I’d have a tangible record of it, thanks to the Xbox achievement system which would put on record the date I officially slayed the dragon that is Paperboy.

So it was my goal this past week to “beat” Paperboy. As one might imagine, I found myself getting progressively better as I played between one and two hours a day. Within the game, you start out on Monday and have to successfully complete seven straight days of deliveries. Though I was improving, I was still consistently dying on Saturday or Sunday, raising my video game frustration level to obscene heights which included minor temper tantrums of pounding my fist against the couch and the occasional curse word. It was driving me nuts because I’d be playing flawlessly and then make a stupid mistake to blow the game. Finally, after about 10 hours of game time during the week, in a game where I wasn’t even happy with my performance, I reached Sunday with NO LIVES left — so there was no margin for error. Miraculously, I pulled it off, and I felt a ridiculous amount of accomplishment when the completion achievement showed up on the screen. The monkey was off my back. It was probably the most satisfying video game victory of my entire life… whatever that means. Sure, it’s worthless in real life, but damn was that a rewarding moment!

Now I never want to play that fucking game ever again.

Battle Mode: Video Game Characters

WIMP MATCH: GOOMBA (Super Mario Bros) VS WAYNE GRETZKY (NHL Hockey)
Wayne_GretzkyGord Tep: The Great One is on anybody’s all-time list of superior athletes. However, let’s be honest, fighting is hardly his specialty. Hell, the guy won the Lady Byng Trophy five times. Goomba may just waddle back and forth, but his goal is to kill. In fact, if he simply nicks you, you die. Gretzky will skate around trying to avoid physical contact at all costs. Since this is a fight, and Goomba seemingly goes on forever, Gretz will eventually get tired of dodging and bite the dust. #99 may be an incredibly well-conditioned athlete, but since these battles occur without a time limit, Goomba’s persistence will outlast Wayne’s attempted pacifism. WINNER: GOOMBA

Ham City Kev: Did Bowser kidnap Janet Jones? Is Goomba in Gretzky’s way? Even if that’s not the case, you gotta figure Wayne’s survival instinct would kick in during such an encounter. Since body checking is not his thing, one slap shot from the Great One should be enough to take out the Goomba. WINNER: WAYNE GRETZKY

LEGEND MATCH: MARIO VS SONIC
HCK: Gotta go with Mario here, and really, it’s no contest. He’s got too many weapons! All he needs to defeat Sonic is 2 things: first, a Tanooki Suit to dodge the Sonic attack, followed by the classic Fire Flower to toast Sonic’s ass. If Sonic wants to get cute with run-ins from Tails, Knuckles, etc, he can try it. Allowing Luigi into the battle just doubles the Mario Bros arsenal. WINNER: MARIO

GT: Is the P-Wing legal? What about Sonic’s super shoes? I always referred to them as Reebok Pumps. Luigi and Toad are worthless, and the Princess can only fly in dreams (e.g., Mario 2). I’ll say that Sonic’s high-definition graphics will overwhelm Mario’s little pixelated ass. He’ll roll through Mario in high speed like a boulder against Indy. WINNER: SONIC

CLASSIC MATCH: DONKEY KONG VS PAC-MAN
GT: This battle should take place at the Mid-South Coliseum, or the Sportatorium, or the Pontiac Silverdome, or some other old arena that held wrestling events in the 1980s and no longer exists. Donkey Kong sure has the edge in terms of brute strength, but Pac Man is an automatic victor if power pellets are legal. Pac will likely run the risk of failing a test for performance enhancers because he’ll already have eaten Donkey Kong by the time the test is administered. Ms. Pac Man could also play the Jessica Lange role and distract DK. WINNER: PAC MAN

HCK: If the great Patrick Swayze has taught us anything (and he has), it’s that ghosts are intangible unless motivated by vengeance. I imagine with names like Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde, Pacman’s ghost pals are not the vengeful sort. One would then assume that Pacman is such a wimp that he dies when touched by something intangible! Even if you don’t buy into that philosophy, Pacman is constantly getting pwned by guys named Inky, Blinky, PINKY, and Clyde, for fuck’s sake! At least with a name like Mario, one can pretend that DK’s nemesis might have connections to the mafia. One barrel from Kong is more than enough for Pacman to choke on. WINNER: DONKEY KONG

DEATH MATCH: SAMUS ARAN (Metroid) VS RYU HAYABUSA (Ninja Gaiden)
HCK: Sure, Samus has one of the greatest arsenals of any video game character in history. But Ryu’s a ninja. Samus would be dead without even seeing what hit her. WINNER: RYU HAYABUSA

GT: Saaaaamus, a word with you. If Samus is in the Samus suit, she has a chance. If that Ninja Gai-den-hay guy from the Wizard is controlling Hayabusa, he wins. I didn’t really care much for either of these games, so I’m booking a draw and going to get popcorn at the concession stand. WINNER: NONE

ICON MATCH: RYU VS SUB-ZERO
GT: I’m guessing Ryu beat Ken in the qualifying match on Raw after HBK took out Bundy. Anyway, since Sub-Zero is an actual human being and Ryu is a cartoon, the Mortal Kombat superstar comes out on top– via fatality or nudality (if somebody from Prodigy in 1995 gave a genuine code). WINNER: SUB ZERO

HCK: Ryu dragon punches waterfalls in his spare time–and he’s supposed to be afraid of some icicles? 10 bucks says Ryu is prepared to fight honorably when Sub Zero slips him up by freezing the floor. Sub Zero then tries to cheez Ryu by sweeping the leg every time Ryu attempts to stand up, but eventually the sweep is blocked. Ryu says, “oh, we’re cheezing are we?” and slips into Champion Edition mode, firing hadoken after hadoken. 30 fireballs later, Ryu stands over Sub Zero’s body and shouts, “HIER EES SUB SEERO! NOW… PLAYN SEERO!” WINNER: RYU

TAG TEAM MATCH: BILLY & JIMMY LEE (Double Dragon) VS PAUL COFFEY & RAY BOURQUE (NHL Hockey)
HCK: Both teams can take a ton of punishment, but there’s one major difference: 7 or 8 punches will knock down the Double Dragon Duo, whereas Coffey and Bourque… well, I’m just not sure if knocking them down is even possible, to be frank. Once Billy and Jimmy are down, I just don’t see Paul and Ray letting them back up. Perhaps the better matchup here would be Coffey & Borque vs the 2 Abobos in Level 3 (those fucks). WINNER: PAUL COFFEY & RAY BOURQUE

GT: “Bimmy” and Jimmy don’t stand a chance against the 77s. You can make their heads bleed in this one, Mikey. WINNER: PAUL COFFEY & RAY BOURQUE

FATAL 4-WAY, ELIMINATION STYLE: LINK (Zelda) vs LITTLE MAC (Mike Tyson’s Punch Out) vs SIMON (Castlevania) vs MEGAMAN
GT: Little Mac knocked out Mike F’n Tyson in his prime. Nobody in the world could do that. Link needs swords that shoot electric swords or candles or magic flutes; Mac only needs his fists. Megaman and Simon can battle to the back because nobody cares about them. WINNER: LITTLE MAC

HCK: Agreed (though plenty of people care about Megaman and Simon, Gordo). Simon, Megaman, and Link all have pretty straight-forward attacks, nothing Mac can’t dodge easily and counter attack. Mac over Simon, Link over Megaman, Mac over Link. WINNER: LITTLE MAC

UNSTOPPABLE FORCE MATCH: MIKE TYSON (Punch-Out) VS BOB BACKLUND (Ham City Kev’s legendary CAW for N64′s WWF No Mercy)backlund
HCK: Yeah, we threw in an inside reference for the final battle. How good was my Backlund creation? Well, all you readers remember how insanely tough Tyson was, correct? My Backlund would stretch Tyson so hard he’d shit himself. Backlund would then reach down Tyson’s shorts and force feed Kid Dynamite his own feces. You see, it’s not enough for my Backlund CAW to break his opponent’s body. He cannot rest until his opponent’s spirit is broken as well. WINNER: THE BOB BACKLUND CAW

GT: Backlund walking on his knees, making his weird bug-eyed face from the hour-mark of the ’93 Rumble. Even his maxed stats are no match for Tyson’s devastating uppercuts and jabs. Only a Buster Douglas CAW would stand a chance. Backlund might win with practice, but it takes a few times to get the timing down. Backlund could potentially win a best of seven series. There’s just no way he’s winning the first match. WINNER: MIKE TYSON

300 Bucks Damage – Episode 2 – Video Games of the 1990s

300 Bucks Damage Episode 2

snes_sys

Gord and Kev wax nostalgic over the great video games of the 1990s.

After listening to the show, check out our Episode 2 video playlist on YouTube!

300 Bucks Damage – Episode 1 – Video Games of the 1980s

300 Bucks Damage Episode 1

NES

Gord and Kev reminisce about some of their favorite classic arcade and console video games from the 1980s.

After listening to the show, check out our Episode 1 video playlist on YouTube!

Ham City Kev’s Top 10 All-Time Video Games

Let me start off by saying: I’m not a serious gamer. You will probably be looking for games on this list that you simply wont find. It could be for the reasons you expect (i.e.: I’m a douchebag who’s not too crazy about Mario 3), but it’s way more likely that the game you’re hoping to read about is missing because I haven’t played it. I’ve never played a PS3. I’ve barely touched the 360. I’ve only played 2 Zeldas, 1 Final Fantasy, and only the original Metroid after the Justin Bailey code. This is by no means a list to be taken seriously–but, you may just see a game on here that you love, and you’ll be glad it’s getting some due respect. Sit back and enjoy. Or not.

Honorable Mentions: Conker’s Bad Fur Day (N64), Contra (NES), James Bond: Agent Under Fire (PS2), Smackdown vs Raw (PS2), Sonic 1 (Genesis), Skitchin’ (Genesis), Sports Talk Baseball (Genesis), TMNT 4 (SNES), Virtual On (Arcade)

robocop-20090102045840181_640w

10. Robocop (Arcade, 1988)
It’s the game that got me hooked on going to arcades. As a young kid who loved everything Robocop, this game was the world to me. Authentic music and sound effects from the movie made this such a fun little side-scrolling shooter, and its place on my top-ten list was cemented after a nostalgic trip to my old arcade about a year ago. I found in my old stomping grounds the Gamechoice 2K, a machine that can load up just about every classic arcade game in history. With literally thousands of titles to choose from, I did not hesitate for one moment in deciding what to play first: Robocop.

9. Super Mario Bros (NES, 1986)
Do I need to explain? Fine, I’ll explain with an embarassing admission (one that I know I’m not alone on): I first played this game when I was 4. I first beat this game when I was 20. It never stopped being fun in between. That is a great fucking game–and IMHO, better than Mario 3.

8. Street Fighter series (multi-platform, 1987-present)
Pretty much the sole reason I picked up Capcom Classics Vol 2 for PS2 was because it included Street Fighter 1, a game that I loved even before its HOF sequel sparked the second great age in arcade gaming (a designation I just made up, please don’t take it literally or seriously). I can’t even imagine the amount of time I spent playing/watching SF2 in the arcades or at home on the SNES. I smile thinking back to the shock and awe I had the first time I laid eyes on SF2 Champion Edition. I’m still proud of the fact that I was able to routinely beat Marvel vs Capcom on one quarter in college. The Street Fighter series is simply the gold standard, and WAY better than Mortal Kombat in my book. If only I could figure out the Guile Gun Trick…

7. Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, 2001)
Like GordTep, I would cut class in college simply to play GTA1. It was easily one of the most mind blowing games in history. Now? The game is simply unplayable. Why? Because nobody in their right mind can stand GTA1 after they’ve played GTA3. Pretty much the sole reason I have a PS2 is because of this game. I don’t know which is more fun: playing the actual game, or aquiring 6 stars and then attempting to drive crosstown to the pay-n-spray.

n64-goldeneye6. Goldeneye (N64, 1997)
There was a month during my Freshman Year of college where this game was being played in every other male dorm room. That sounds a little embellished, but I’m honestly not sure if it is. Everyone played that game repeatedly because there was so damn much to do: Multiplayer with Pistols. Multiplayer with Automatics. Multiplayer with, by god, Proximity Mines in the Caverns stage (the holiest of the holy). And let’s not forget how fucking awesome the single-player missions were, even before you get caught up trying to score record times in each mission to unlock cheats! This game is a fucking legend.

5. Super Mario World (SNES, 1991)
Best. Mario. Sidescroller. Ever. Period. Even Yoshi’s annoying pansy ass can’t hold this icon down.

4. Super Mario Kart (SNES, 1992)
The original. Nothing beats it (though the Wii version comes close). Honestly, Nintendo could have released the racing mode and the battle mode as 2 seperate games and nobody would have flinched at buying both. SUCH an awesome game. And really, is there a better feeling than drilling someone with a green shell from 200 yards out?
Hey Nintendo! Release this on Virtual Console already!!! (Pilotwings too, while you’re at it)

3. WWF No Mercy (N64, 2000)
I know that Fire Pro has its followers, and the SD vs Raw series really took it to the next level, but No Mercy is the Grandaddy of all wrestling games. It’s just not debatable. What made it so great? Absolute perfect control and nearly unlimited freedom to make any character, do any move, have any match. Try and find someone who played this game in its time and didn’t like it. You can’t.

2. RBI Baseball (NES, 1988)
There are still RBI Championship Tournaments played these days. Are there Baseball Stars Tournaments? Sorry Gordo. Baseball Stars was highly innovative, but RBI was simply WAYYYYYYY more fun. I wish all modern baseball games had the option to go back to those classic controls.

1. Final Fantasy IV (as “Final Fantasy II” on SNES, 1991)
What can I say? You already get it if you’re a FF person. If you’re not, well… I feel sorry for you. You don’t know what you’re missing. Consider this: in June of 1996 I needed a 92 on my Biology final to avoid summer school, and instead of studying I played this game. That’s how addictive and amazing this game was! The horrifying threat of summer school wasn’t enough to stop it! (got an 82 on that final, btw, and my teacher passed me for the year anyway). I still feel guilty that I haven’t played another Final Fantasy game, before or since, considering how much I love this game.

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