Has there been a more fun sports game than NBA Jam? Being a huge basketball fan since my childhood years, NBA Jam was always on my radar as one of the best sports games I've ever played. It was a welcome break from the constant pursuit of realism that the NBA Live series was all about. Sometimes I just didn't have time for salary caps, trade deadlines and 48 minute games... sometimes I just wanted to pick up a controller and see how many windmill dunks I could do in one quarter.
Hitting 3 shots in succession and igniting your player was the main goal of any Jam session. Easier said than done, when street tactics like shoving was allowed. The game had a massive impact culturally, popularising the phrase "HE'S ON FIRE", and making Midway a ton of cash in the arcades in 1993.
The game has benefited hugely from the HD remake treatment. The players are amusingly rendered with heads slightly too big for their bodies, making them slightly resemble bobbleheads. The power ups are there, as well as a deep campaign mode and online play too. Classic players can be unlocked, but still no Jordan or Barkley though. Come on guys, why would you not want to be included in the most legendary hoops series of all time?? There are plenty more unlockables and cheats to keep players interested for a long time.
But for me, the best thing - BY FAR - about this remake, is the commentary. It's not often a videogame makes me laugh, but NBA Jam OFE does it consistently. I've been playing this game , on and off, for months, and still hear funny quips by the commentator that I've not heard before. Here are some of my faves:
"Like my wife's top drawer, nothing but nylon!"
"Uncool dude, you shot blocked me!"
"And the leprechaun was sitting on the rim for that one"
After the end of the third quarter: "And that's the game!!... [long pause] No it's not; that's four quarters!" [The next quarter starts] "Well, it looks like we'll be playing FIVE quarters of basketball tonight!"
"The rim should have an airbag for accidents like that"
"All your dunk are belong to us"
NBA Jam - don't ever change :-)
Videogame Skills Lead To Real Life Skills
Hollywood has shown us that videogames are more than just games; they are training equipment for heroes. The leader of the human resistance against murderous machines, John Connor, can be seen developing his war skills on a Missile Command arcade cab in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). That kid could also hack a cash machine with a stolen card and an Atari, so he was always destined for greatness. In The Last Starfighter (1984), aliens acknowledged the correlation between gaming ability and real life ability by using an arcade game as a recruitment device for finding the best gunners throughout the galaxy. Military aircrew applicants these days need to pass computer-based aptitude tests of hand-eye co-ordination, multi-tasking and reaction speeds, so perhaps the writers were ahead of their time. Too bad they couldn't write aliens that don't come off as irritating Star Wars rejects who happened to wander onto the lowest budget sci-fi set in Hollywood...
Skills you have learned through gaming can also get you out of some rather hairy situations. In Tenacious D In The Pick of Destiny (2006), Kyle utilises hours of playing a racing game to successfully complete a high speed chase with the cops, and, even more ridiculously, in Snakes On A Plane (2006), the plane in question is landed by a guy whose only flying experience is on Playstation 2 flight simulators. To quote the film, “All praises to the Playstation”. Marty McFly was a pot shot at Wild Gunman in Back To The Future Part 2 (1989), and these skills won him a gun on a real shooting gallery in Back To The Future Part 3 (1990). He may have been ridiculed by local children for using his hands to play an arcade machine (“That's like a baby's toy”), but that just goes to show that kids these days (or in 2015) don't know they're born. More realistically, in Shaun of The Dead (2004), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost utilise their FPS teamwork to fend off a zombie attack in the local pub. It doesn’t take them long to find out that real life marksmanship bears little resemblance to the home console experience.
Games Based on Movies Generally Suck
Most gamers should be able to relate to the feeling of getting the game adaptation of the latest big film and being fairly disappointed when it doesn't live up to the expectations set by the movie. Children are especially vulnerable to this sad phenomenon, as they are less likely to read reviews, and more likely to buy something based on the movie character shown on the box. These are games like Back To The Future on the NES, which is like a Paperboy clone, but without any of the fun, and without anything that actually resembled anything in the movie. The problem is that these games are often rushed out to meet a movie release date, and they generally fail to recreate the vibe of the movies they are based on. Like the Friday The 13th (NES) game that failed to scare or be fun to play. Or the Atari 2600 E.T. game that was so unplayable that it has been blamed, by some, for the videogame crash of 1983.
There are exceptions to every rule however, and some movie licenses have resulted in brilliant games being produced, such as Goldeneye (N64) and The Chronicles of Riddick games (PS3, Xbox 360, PC). With adequate time and budgets given to designers of movie game licenses, tragic wastes like E.T., Jaws Unleashed and Enter The Matrix could be avoided in future.
Movies Based on Games Generally Suck
For some reason, when a film studio buys the rights to convert a videogame into a movie, they feel the need to change everything about the original property, often for the worse. Epic storylines get compressed, characters' stories get changed, and fans get angry. Producers realise that by casting a big star in a recognised title, big money can be made. Even better if it is a female star, who is willing to wear her characters' trademark sexy outfit. Examples include Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider films (2001, 2003), Milla Jovovich in the Resident Evil series (2002, 2004, 2007) and most of the cast of D.O.A. (2006).
Low budgets, poor writing and bad casting - apart from Bob Hoskins as Mario in Super Mario Bros (1993); that was pure genius - have left us with a buttload of movies that generally suck. Not much more needs to be said about the standard of these films... if you need further evidence then take a look at the following list of some more terrible movies (in my opinion) based on games:
Double Dragon (1994)
Street Fighter (1994)
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Mortal Kombat Anihilation (1997)
House of The Dead (2003)
Alone In The Dark (2005)
Max Payne (2008)
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (2009)
As previously mentioned, there are exceptions to every rule, but finding examples here is tricky to say the least! Announced upcoming movies based on games include popular franchises like Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed – let’s just hope Uwe Boll, director of House of The Dead, Alone In The Dark and Bloodrayne, isn’t allowed near either of them.
Games Have Practical Applications In Everyday Life
How many times have you been trying to control the Statue of Liberty, but not had a clue how to get her moving? The answer was finally revealed in Ghostbusters 2 (1989): use a Nintendo Advantage joystick. Who knew that Lady Liberty had built-in NES ports? Sometimes you just need to fool a criminal into thinking that you're holding a bomb detonator in your hand. In this kind of situation, K-9 (1989) shows us that a Nintendo Game & Watch will do nicely. That is until the game ends and the constant beeps turn into manic computerised laughter! Other times you get digitised, sucked into a giant computer and forced to compete in gladiatorial games against software programs. Tron (1982) showed us that in order to deal with this ever-increasing problem, you basically need the knowledge that can only be gained by programming all these games to begin with. If you didn't program them, unlucky.
Child Gamers Are Brilliant/Geniuses While Adult Gamers Are Immature/Undeveloped
Kids in movies can always beat adults at videogames, FACT. They also often have amazing computing skills in general. The little girl in Jurassic Park (1993) managed to learn the Park's IT system in roughly 2 minutes. This is fully believable though, as earlier on in the movie she claimed to be a hacker. She was good, but Hollywood's greatest hacker will always be David Lightman, played by Matthew Broderick in Wargames (1983). Lightman was not only a computer whiz, he was funny too (when challenged by his irritable science teacher, “Alright Lightman, maybe you could tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex”, David replies, “Um... Your wife?”). Unfortunately, while his computer hacking skills allowed him to sample new video games early and change his school grades, they also allowed him to inadvertently trigger a countdown to “Global Thermonuclear War”. Not so smart after all.
Probably the best example of videogame mastery by a child is in the film/Nintendo advert, The Wizard (1989). Jimmy Woods has the amazing ability to be awesome at videogames (“You scored 50,000 points on Double Dragon?!”), so his brother decides to abduct him and run away across America to compete in a games contest. Along the way his Dad is converted to (Nintendo) videogames, they meet the only kid in the world to ever enjoy his Nintendo Powerglove, and many Nintendo games get played and namechecked in the script. While the movie crashed and burned at the box office, Nintendo laughed all the way to the bank.
Kids are allowed to play videogames, but Hollywood hasn't been too friendly on adult gamers over the years. From 40 year old man-child Dale Doback playing Guitar Hero in Step Brothers (2008), to the 40 year old virgin playing in his gamers' chair in, um, The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), adult gamers are generally either undeveloped or immature, and usually male. Older gamers seem to cling to their retro games, like Mickey Rourke's character Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler (2008), who still plays against a local kid at an old NES wrestling game (created specifically for the movie), despite the child's obvious boredom with the 1980s technology. And who could forget the sight of Steve Wiebe in The King of Kong (2007), sat at his Donkey Kong arcade cab in his garage, on the verge of breaking the high score record, while all his toddler son can do is scream “Stop playing Donkey Konggg!” and tell him to come wipe his butt. Kids!
Videogames WILL Make You Kill
Spike Lee's drug crime drama, Clockers (1995), shows a young boy growing up in a New Jersey project, playing a virtual reality-esque game called Gangsta. The boy ends up shooting the local psychopath, possibly due to the environment he grew up in, but definitely due to the violent videogame. Just like in Juice (1992), when a game of Street Fighter early in the movie clearly inspires Tupac's character, Bishop, to become a homicidal maniac. The alternate ending where Tupac hurricane-kicks Omar Epps off the roof to his death has yet to be included in the DVD. Boyz 'N' The Hood (1991) is a movie chock-full of gun crime and gang related murders, all of which is a direct result of the scene where Nintendo's Duck Hunt, a game which shamelessly promoted gun use and duck murder, is being played.
WARNING: Strong language, violence towards wildfowl, and a jheri curl feature below:
Alternatively, Videogames Will Kill You
This article wouldn't be complete without mentioning that classic horror movie, Stay Alive (2006). Featuring an idiotic plot about a cursed underground survival horror game that somehow kills its players in the same way they die in the game, it is more of a comedy than a horror. Unfortunately for the makers of the film, this is completely unintentional. Viewers waiting for the Frankie Muniz death scene will be left unfulfilled, as he somehow survives, despite dying in the game. A low budget, poor acting and lame computer effects make this one of those films that is almost so bad it's good. Almost. Full review coming soon!
Retro gamers everywhere are familiar with the GameGadget, for all the wrong reasons. For the uninitiated, here’s how it’s described on their website:
GameGadget is the European Dingoo ("style") open source, retro gaming console with the power to play every retro game you ever experienced and is fully compatible with MAME!
Why they put “style” in parentheses and brackets, I don’t know. Anyway, this is what it looks like:
This handheld was probably the biggest controversy to be discussed on the Retro Gamer forum last year (SNES Vs Megadrive has died down finally), and I have to say I found the whole thing
fascinating. In a couple of months it managed to generate over 50 pages of disappointment, anger and frustration. For those with time to kill, you can read the whole saga here, but here’s an overview of what was promised: an “iTunes-style” experience in games shopping, with a legal alternative to using ROMs, and over 100,000 titles available across multiple platforms. Regular
updates and full support was offered. What customers got was an unfinished handheld that was rushed out to meet the release date, poor customer service and no games in the online store, bar a few freebie Megadrive games that the company (Blaze) had licensed for their Sega handheld clones.
Needless to say, the price was cut by £40 soon after release, the forums on the official website were heavily censored by the mods (and have since been removed completely), and fake reviews were posted on Amazon by Blaze employees in a sad attempt to boost sales. (Amazon have since removed the offending reviews, and the GameGadget currently has a well-deserved 1 out of 5 star rating). Blaze’s failure to secure licensed games available for download was highlighted publicly
when they Tweeted Sir Alan Sugar, asking about Amstrad games. They are still awaiting a response.
Nowadays, after management changes in the GameGadget project, it is sold purely as an open
source console for emulators and ROMs. Apologies have been made about broken promises and poor customer service, but the whole episode will be forever remembered as a massive missed opportunity.
And for your amusement, here is my Amazon review:
I was getting tired of my collection of outdated, bland-looking paperweights when I stumbled upon the GameGadget. Somebody told me it was created to play retro games on, without needing to download illegal roms. "The iPod of retro games" was how it was being sold. While I liked the retro design of the paperweight, I didn't want to buy something that had an alternate use - that would be a waste, and also detract from the primary use of keeping paper from blowing off of my desk. So I looked the product up and thankfully, the iTunes store that was promised to users actually contains no games! The reports of terrible customer service and favourable Amazon reviews written by Blaze employees would be of no consequence to me, as I was only in the market for a niftily designed retro paperweight. Whew, I thought, as I clicked the "Buy" button. This is will look great holding down my latest copy of "Gadgets That Don't Function" while I play roms on my modded PSP.
16 of 17 people found that shit useful!
Someone on Twitter pointed me in the direction of this list of gaming documentaries today:
I've seen a few of them, but am keen to work my way through the rest!
Just a few bits and bobs have been moved into the games room, it's starting to look nice and geeky! (Click pics to enlarge)
TV and a couple more consoles will be moved in next months, and posters will start going up once all the frames have arrived. Looking forward to some gaming!
Do your friends look at you differently once they've seen your stash of old consoles? Are you labelled a weirdo and persecuted for your love of oversized cartridges, wired controllers and systems that, heaven forbid, don't even connect to the Internet? Many a retro gamer has fought such prejudice this and lived to tune another SNES into the TV. But why do retro gamers forsake the norm – online play, FIFA, Call of Duty – in favour of games from our younger years?
“Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this”
Biggie Smalls was rapping about the current generation of consoles in 1994, in the song Juicy, but this illustrates my first point nicely. Gaming can be an expensive hobby. The fact is, retro systems are generally cheaper than the latest consoles, and the Internet makes them incredibly easy to find. Everyone loves a bargain, so if you're not fussed about HD visuals and super powered hardware, a Sega Megadrive complete with games for less than £30 delivered is very attractive, especially to someone with fond memories of playing it in their youth. As gamers have grown up and started to earn disposable incomes, all of a sudden the games they couldn't afford as children are available again, at greatly reduced prices. This is the reason I have 13 consoles and piles of games I may never get round to playing. This is the problem with having a cheap hobby... it can be easy to get carried away.
The flipside to growing up and having more money to spend on a hobby such as gaming is that you now have far less free time to devote to it. Gone are the days of getting in from school and playing games until dinner, which you didn’t even have to cook yourself. Now you get in from work late, tired and with a bunch of boring tasks to complete before you can enjoy leisure time. Real life can seriously impede a gamer.
I'm fairly sure my console stockpiling is a subconscious effort on my part to never be bored again. I'll be ready next time I'm sick off work or too hungover to get out of bed. This is acceptable, but when you start calling in sick at work and brushing off your friends in order to play videogames, you may have a problem...
Retro games are so accessible now, it's almost too easy to get hold of them. It literally blows my mind that you can download and play games on a portable telephone. I'm sure I must have inadvertently walked into a DeLorean or crossed the streams or something at some point, because all of a sudden I'm living in Star Trek, where people speak into blueteeth, Walkmen have shrunk (yet somehow contain way more music) and everything is wireless and magical.
Technology is great, but complicated consoles have a knack of creating complications. I know my old brick-shaped Game Boy never Red-Ring-Of-Deathed on me. While it couldn't play DVDs (or actually display games in colour, for that matter), it did withstand many a drop to the floor, and many years of good gaming without dying. So the next time a Sony or Microsoft fanboy turns their nose up at your Dreamcast, explain to them that a game doesn't need the latest graphics or downloadable character costumes to be great. Many games from previous years have yet to be surpassed in terms of quality, and this is why I'll be a generation or two behind for the foreseeable future.
Here is Get Lucky by Daft Punk, arranged on Mario Paint. Uploaded by jeonghoon95
I love this song!
Yesterday I played the remake of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse on PS3. I was always a big fan of the original game on the Megadrive, although I have heard that this is one of those rare games where the Master System port is actually superior. However, no matter which system you play it on, Castle of Illusion is a wonderful platformer that captures the spirit of the Magic Kingdom brilliantly.
The remake starts off slowly, with a semi-animated intro that shows the wicked witch Mizrabel appearing and mouse-napping Minnie away from Mickey. To be honest, the intro went on a bit, and I stopped paying attention after a while. Something about 7 gems to collect or something? Basically, I assume there are 7 levels. Anyway, once the game starts, a narrator explains things in the mandatory training level. Why do games have to spoon-feed us these days? Back in the day we used to just press all the buttons to figure out what they did, and only if we were really stuck would we read the instructions! But I digress…
Once you’ve (re-)learned the basics, you’ll be throwing apples at enemies and collecting gems in no time. The game doesn’t seem to have added much innovation to the genre (admittedly I’ve not played it all yet), but what it does, it does very well. The platforming is particularly fun. Mickey’s jumps can be controlled with great precision, and even in the early stages there are times when it gets a bit hairy as you hop from falling leaf to falling leaf in an attempt to reach more stable ground. I particularly enjoyed the part where Mickey has to run towards the screen in an attempt to outrun a giant apple rolling downhill, in an amusing nod to Raiders of The Lost Ark.
I’m looking forward to playing more, and it’s got me in the mood to revisit the original too. I’m not looking forward to the toy levels though – I could never get past the annoying part when the screen flips upside down and all the controls are inverted!
Super Mario, by Retr8Bit
I stumbled upon a profile on Twitter recently that caught my attention. It was a user who sells bead art of retro game sprites and images. I'd only ever come across this once before when I bought a couple of Super Mario bead sprites from @Retr8bit at a comic convention in London, and I thought they were really cool. (See for yourself on the left). I liked them as a little gaming oddity and thought no more of it.
However, when I stumbled upon @PixelBead, I rediscovered the awesomeness of bead art. Beads just work so perfectly with retro game sprites, that the results are like mini works of art. Check out some of these pieces they have on their website:
The jewel in the crown for me has to be this Outrun piece though:
I NEED it for my games room! Isn't it awesome? Anyway, I just wanted to share these pieces of retro art with you, and no, I'm not affiliated with either of the companies I mentioned, I just like sharing cool stuff I find online!
Not a lot to report, other than the purchase and construction of another bookcase, and another glass display cabinet.
Note the previously mentioned third DeLorean, and also the boxed Mega CD and PS1. More systems, games and artwork to be moved in, stay tuned!
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.