Archive for Thursday, June 16, 2005

Column: Tecmo Bowl used to be the king

June 16, 2005

As I sat and played a recently purchased boxing video game, I was amazed at how realistic it was, and it got me thinking about how sports video games have changed over the years.

Last week, I bought Fight Night Round 2 for my X-Box. As I kept playing the game, I was simply shocked at how realistic the hits and the characters looked. In between rounds I had to work on my boxer's face and the realism was almost scary.

It may sound like I have never played video games, especially recent ones, but that's not the case. I have been playing video games my whole life and now own about 15 X-Box games, many of which are sports games.

When I was a kid, my family first owned the Atari. There were some good games for it, like Frogger and Space Invaders, but not any sports games. I soon advanced on to the Nintendo Entertainment System, a.k.a. the original Nintendo.

This is the system that I remember playing the most, partly because of the games and also because I still own it to this day. This system produced some of the best sports games ever, such as Super Tecmo Bowl, RBI Baseball and Mike Tyson's Punchout.

Tecmo Bowl was and always will be my favorite game, simply because of how much fun the ridiculous gameplay is. In this game, the quarterback can throw the ball the entire length of the field and if done right, an offensive player can outrun the defense by zig-zagging down the field.

If you have ever played the game, you know that Bo Jackson was the greatest player and could never be stopped. I have always been a Raiders fan, so of course I played with them and took full advantage of Jackson.

I also still own this game along with RBI Baseball and Punchout, and I still occasionally play them. But needless to say the graphics on the eight-bit machine were not very good. Nothing looked real and players didn't really have faces on many games.

But then the Super Nintendo Entertainment System came out in the early 1990s. This was a 16-bit machine, that I also still won, that improved the graphics and capability of games. One of the most popular games for the SNES was Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball.

The SNES had a rival in the Sega Genesis, but the graphics weren't much different on it.

As the 90s progressed, so have the video games. Some of the machines included Nintendo 64, the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Dreamcast. All three of these machines started making the games look more real and the graphics at the time seem incredible.

But the new millennium brought us the PlayStation II and the X-Box. These systems made video games so realistic, many professional athletes use them for training.

Many NASCAR drivers use the games to learn the tracks and learn how to improve their car.

I heard many friends of BHS graduate Micah Mason were trying to influence him to attend the University of Kansas, so they would be able to play as him on one of the NCAA Football games.

A sporting video game now looks so realistic, you can sit back and watch the game and think you are at the stadium watching the real thing. Some of the cut scenes in games can easily be mistaken for real footage.

Video games will always improve and will continue to look incredibly real, especially when the X-Box 360 comes out in November. Just make sure you understand the difference between video games and reality. You could be in trouble if you can't distinguish them.

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