Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A video game review that is only 23 years late

For the last two weeks I have been spending the majority of my nights crashing at the places of friends gracious enough to have me. While I fully appreciate that they are doing me quite a favor it is only natural for me to critique each domicile I spend some time in. For example:

Place A has a dog that I am allergic to while Place B has a cat I'm allergic to.
Place A is roughly 200 steps from a Dunkin Donuts while Place B is at least twice as far away.
Place A has a glorious bathroom with soap that makes me want to eat my hands while Place B as the most poorly designed toilet placement I have ever seen forcing me to sit "side saddle" while taking a shit.

Yet there is one factor where Place B shines that is making me consider staying forever and ever. Place B has a working NES.

So it is only natural that I have spent most of my free time over the last two days playing the Lord's finest invention Tecmo Bowl. Tecmo Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl cause me to experience such intense feelings of adoration and love that I guarantee no human will ever be able to replicate them. Yet as I cozied up to Tecmo Bowl for the first time in years I was shocked to learn that all I could see were it's flaws. As much as I loved weaving up and down the screen as Walter Payton scored yet another touchdown it irritated me that such an idiotic tactic worked. Even more annoying than that was that there were D lineman closing in on Payton 50 yards down field. Now, I don't want to besmirch the late Payton but I'm pretty damn sure that the small handicap of death wouldn't slow him down enough to let a D lineman catch him from behind. From this point there was a bit of a snowball effect as I found every little part of the game to be flawed.

One particularly egregious flaw has to do with the cut scenes included after touchdowns. I get it, it was the 80's and they couldn't put in a special little dance for each player. Yet as I watch the two players high five each other I can't help but cringe at the fact that they are white. Look, I'm not saying that the game needed to show the attention to detail to have different cut scenes depending on the race of the player involved. It just seems so jarring that the guys are white because it's damn near impossible to score with a white player in the game. Unless you are using Steve Largent (and who the hell would pick Seattle?) chances are that the player scoring the TD is black. The only other notable exceptions would be when a quarterback runs it in or if, God  forbid, you stopped using Walter Payton and spread the ball around to Cap Boso. As a quick aside about Boso, his wikipedia page references a play in Tecmo Bowl that allows you to easily score with him. Way to go champ! I digress. If the cut scene was two black players instead of two white ones it wouldn't have become the butt of many ill thought out jokes. 

I became even more infuriated when the computer went into "F You" mode against me. F You mode has become a common thing in video games over the years. If you play the computer and beat up on them for long enough it will eventually have enough. It's sort of like when Skynet becomes self aware. At this point the game will seemingly cheat in order to finally beat you. This happened while I was 10-0 with Chicago (I'd call them the Bears but Tecmo didn't get the rights from the NFL so they are just Chicago, kind of like when Old Style would release the "Chicago Football Can" w/ the Bears schedule on it) and hoping to go undefeated on the season. For those not in the know when you are on defense you attempt to guess the play of your opponent. If you guess successfully all of your players are unblocked and the play is almost always a loss of yards. The computer did this to me not once, not twice but twelve times in a row. I was even doing stupid things like calling a run when it was 4th and 25, something no actual football team would ever do. Yet the computer guessed it because it would not let me win. This of course led to me turning off the game and going to bed furious. I even ended up dreaming about Tecmo Bowl and the same damn thing happened. It was awful.

The last little flaw I want to bring up is really just silly, I don't even think I'm that angry about it. When a team is kicking a field goal it is possible to tackle the holder. . . and the kicker will still make the field goal. Earlier today I kicked a field goal with the holder and a defensive player lying on the ground no where near the kicker. I giggled and spit out a little Mountain Dew because of it. Actually this flaw is pretty rad. I withdraw my complaint.

All in all it was nice to be reunited with Tecmo Bowl. Sure, the old girl put on some pounds and has a few more wrinkles now than she did years ago but I know that I'm no spring chicken myself. More importantly she still allowed Bo Jackson and Walter Payton to run roughshod all over the place and I shall always love her for that. That is until she goes into F You mode again. 

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