Saturday, July 31, 2010

EA's First Soccer Game

In 1993 EA published there first soccer game for the Sega Genesis. Since I'm fortunate to have both the Genesis and FIFA International Soccer I took it for a spin.

Not a terrible first effort, considering there were not too many soccer games around at the time. It plays out as more of a kickball game. Controls are very simple and pesky rules such as fouls and offsides can be turned off. It's up and down. Goals can be scored from anywhere on the pitch (practically). It is meant to be played with four people, and in that, succeeds.

That said, it does have some game play elements that are taken for granted today. For example: Formation selection, Replay, Tournament Mode, and Substitutions. It has crowd chants and goal reactions. Lots of things that make soccer unique. It is a very well done first effort.

Let me brush off the old 2606Films skills here:

video

The music is Starscream (The Future, and it Doesn't Work) and the magic happens in the video where the hula girl dances. 2606 is still in here... some, where.

So where does it fall on my ranking scale? Overall, pretty low.

25

But, ranked higher then many sports titles on current generation of consoles. The average off all my rated sports games (I rank them low) is 34. So it is right in the middle.
ALL OUT!

1986: Only From Pontiac

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

GM File Under

I pull for GM. There are lots of things I don't like about them, but I pull for them to do well but nary a week goes by where I'm not slapping my head in disbelief in something they have done or said. I've posted some of my feelings about things on this blog. I still think the worst promotional thing I've ever seen was the Volt Dancers. I do believe that a high ranking employee was demoted after that got out (Susan Docherty).

Anywho, a couple more things to add now. First up is a question GM posted on Facebook a couple days ago, which read:

"Today's question, have you ever driven in hot
weather without air conditioning, now or even before cars were equipped with
it? Fill us in!"

I'm not going to dwell here on that because the ignorance there is striking. I know that the forum for which the post was made is for a younger crowd, but the elitism of the question is shitty. Maybe I'm overreacting I guess. But on the road after I read this post I asked Audrea to play a game with me. Whomever saw a "foreign" car with there windows down got a point. It was a hot summers day here in Columbus and we where tooling around town. We had to make it "foreign" cars because about every 5th American car had their windows down. To me, on a hot day in the mid 90s meant; windows down = no AC. We had to change the rules to foreign because we saw so many Grand Am's and Cavaliers with windows down.

The question GM asked makes the assumption that everyone is like those who work within their corporate universe. It makes me angry.

Not a scientific approach at all. We drove about an hour that day. We saw 2 foreign cars with windows down.

File #2 also stems from the web over at http://www.facesofgm.com/ where they profile exactly what it says. Today's profile is that of Ann. Ann is an intern. Ann doesn't know anything about cars but Ann is pretty. Ann must be upwardly mobile. Ann says:

"I don’t know that much technically about cars, so I can’t talk shop (yet). But I have listened to countless episodes of Car Talk on NPR and sat through a couple of Top Gear marathons on BBC, so that has to count for something."

The Hell it counts for something. It counts for horse shit (dirty word twice in this post). Personally... I'm here humping it everyday in a warehouse with 150 other folks driving rusted out 1985 Buick's, in the industrial capital of the United states, where layoffs are a part of everyday life. Where people can't walk after the age of 50 because of being on there feet everyday and have heart attacks at 60, live -

and I hear that shit.

And it doesn't stop there. Another post on the same website profiles Leroy. Leroy is a nice fellow who has been working for GM for 42 years. He had to learn what microns were, so that's good. The most telling thing about it was a response which read:

"I had to retire at 55 because of a back problem. I miss the thought of something to do but don’t miss the grind it took from my body. I had 31 years but this guy needs to retire and let some younger person raise his family on G.M. pay. There is more to life them G.M. RETIRE!!!"

Books could be written on that post. In fact books have been and are being written on it.

Pull the head out of your asses GM. You are a manufacturing company. Get your hands dirty and stop living in lala land.

It's not all bad though. I am ranting a bit and I need to simmer down. GM has yet another post profiling Carl working on LS9, LS7 and LS3 engines. Go to the link to see something great going on at GM. It only fuels my love/dislike for GM. Carl is what it is all about. Carl should be running GM. Is it that so hard GM? sheesh.

For the record. The only car I have ever owned with reliable AC is my Honda. My Honda made in your damn backyard in Marysville, OH.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

English League Two

Cheerleaders?

Still playing the heck out of FIFA 10 and loving every minute of it. I read a good article over at a site http://www.epltalk.com/ where they go on and on about soccer catching on here in the US. A lot of good responses. Most of which focused on picking some teams to follow. I am happy and surprised to report that I think I have a couple. Getting pretty excited about it.

Stoke City Potters and Northampton Town Cobblers.

The NHT will be more difficult to follow being in League Two, but I'm committed. There are a couple good places to follow teams around the web. One being the team site itself (where there is an video player) and the other that frat house called ESPN. They actually have some up to date stuff on lower leagues. It can be found here. I gotten very familiar with the Cobblers. I unwittingly put them in a huge custom league in FIFA 10. I picked a bunch of random teams from all over the world. I'm something like 40 games in. I don't think I've every played that many games in a sports video game for a very long time. If ever. It is endlessly entertaining with so many teams and different ways to customize leagues. It's one of the only sports games where I actually feel and can see a drastic difference in players ability. Strengths, weaknesses. For example; Seb Harris for Northampton has a nack for getting the ball, just can't control it on the dribble and doesn't have the speed of some of his teammates like Liam Davis. He is also a good shot if he can get is foot on it in the box.

Another good feature in the game is the create a player. While it may only be one you have to build up your skills like a RPG instead of just assigning ratings to them. Never have I been a fan of this in the past but it works very well here.

Anyway, lots of homework to do on both the Premier League and the lower leagues. More then enough information out there to read up on and I need to quick, season starts in a couple weeks!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Game Review Shake Down

Changed my little Excel sheet that scores my games in my collection. I still have the same categories:

Story
Objectives
In Game Design
In Game Artwork
Music
Audio
Gameplay
Emotional Impact
Longevity
Package Design
Package Artwork
Historical Significance
xFactor

The "xFactor" has truly become a x. It is now a multiplier. I've decided that enjoyment of the game should be. It hasn't changed the scores too much (on right), but enough to notice. I taken time of the past three years to review 82 games. On the right side is only a sampling.

The argument to myself for adding the multiplier was that a game should be heavily weighted towards someones enjoyment of it. Great story or design need to come together and form an enjoyable experience. It separates a technically good yet bland game like Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts from a very enjoyable game like TMNT in the arcade (which has more then a few faults, but it crazy fun).

Here are some games that are the lowest on my no fun xFactor scale:

PS2: Prince of Persia: Two Thrones
GEN: Winter Challenge
PS2: Rise of the Kasai
360: Red Faction Guerrilla
360: Table Tennis
360: Madden 09 XX
XBX: The Simpsons Road Rage
360: MLB 2K7
GEN: Mickey Mouse: Castle of Illusion
360: Thrillville
360: Madden 08
SAT: Machine Head

It's interesting to see so many 360 games on there. I think if my PS2 collection were larger I may see more from that platform. Newer games may be at a disadvantage here because of the money ingredient. If I'm paying 60 bucks I expect more, but I do try and look at it that way with other games too. Games during the days of the Genesis were 50 bucks too.

The games on this list are not very fun to me. Doesn't mean they are no fun to everyone though. Hardest one to defend on here is the Simpsons Road Rage. It has all the elements of fun from the Simpsons world, but just isn't fun. Red Faction is also a tough one. I really wanted to like it and enjoy it and there is something in there with destroying structures, but for me, ultimately fell short.

Anyway, off to scour thrift stores today for more!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Consoles still selling

I've been an active participant of the game console buying public as far back as I can remember. I read something over at Dubious Quality today that got me thinking... all three, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are still selling their now four year old consoles at an incredible rate.

Nintendo is up 16% in sales over this month last year and appears to be the clear winner in this generation. But what is striking is that the 360 is up 88% over last June and Sony 85%.

Here are the to date totals:

Wii: 29,571,000
360: 20,572,200
PS3: 12,717,000

Craziness. It's been sometime since so many years of gone by without much of a hint or substantial leak of a new next generation system. In a way this may be beneficial to game players. Time has been utilized by developers to take advantage of the consoles ins, outs and capabilities.

In fact, in just taking a quick look back in time, I think all three just be approaching the longest console cycle since the NES to Super Nintendo days (7 years). Sega never seemed to be able to make it longer then 3 years save for the Dreamcast which was 4 years from the launch of the Saturn. If you sprinkle in other console makers in the past I guess it always seems that something new is on the horizon. With the current crop it seems that the market is more predictable I guess. The oddity here is that all in the generation seem to be doing pretty well. Not one company is claiming failure by discontinuing it's product for a new and improved one.

Anyway, good for everyone I reckon.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Crew Wins, Henry Watches

A beautiful night in Columbus to catch a Crew game. The Crew dominated the game winning with two beautiful goals. Thierry Henry was there in one of the spectator boxes. The stadium was about 70% full and there were more then a few Henry jerseys. Chatter after the game was about people trying to catch a glimpse of him. Frankie Hejduk for the Crew had a standout game playing in the back and making some runs up the sidelines. He was red carded in the 89th minute for an aggressive play.

All three Crew fan clubs seemed to be there, sitting in the Nordecke. The Crew Supporters Union, La Turbina Amarilla, and the Hudson Street Hooligans. I've come across some folks from the Union. They use to set up camp at Claddagh (where I caught some of the games) but had a falling out during the US v England game there when the pub expected 600 people and 2,600 showed up. Now they congregate down the block from me at Jimmy V's pub.

Crew Stadium is a great place to watch a game. It's also unique being the first soccer specific stadium in the country. Of all the sporting events I've been to it remains one of my favorite places. Easy to get in, fans are great, team is good and easy out. Doesn't hurt to have warm and breezy mid-western summer evenings either.


video

EA Sports: England 4 - 1 Northampton


My one goal against the England national team.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

VG Creation Next Level

EA FIFA 10 is a great game, but FIFA 11 is right around the corner. September 28 to be exact.

This year EA is adding something I've been dreaming about since the internets was around. That is... to create and edit online custom players and teams (with a mouse and keyboard). There is only so many times I can thumb through a virtual keyboard on my TV to enter in Ole Moses, Paul Chewbacca, and William Sasquatch.

Francis Huntington, Larkin Tysor, Breck Smith.

It's just so much easier. EA dipped its toes in it with FIFA 10 and the create a player. But I want more and more is what I'm getting.

Mark Ragase.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spain Win

The team that wanted to play soccer today defeated the team that wanted to destroy it.

What the heck Netherlands? Trying to intimidate as a means to victory isn't something I really see much of in soccer (maybe I just don't watch enough). I know it happens, but never was it so blatant this year during a game. In any sport it is usually the tactic of a less skilled team, but I did not think going in that Holland was much less skilled then Spain. I don't get it. The English ref could have tossed up two red cards in the first half against Holland. What made matters worse for them later in the game is that Spain has no problem flopping.

Spain controlled the game very early on but Holland did really turn the game into a mess towards the end of the first half and it went on from there till extra time. So maybe the tactic did almost work. Holland did have a couple great chances. Had they gotten a goal I do think I would have been disappointed because of the way they played the game. I am saying this from a fairly neutral point of view (maybe even a little slant towards Holland at the start). As the game dragged on I unwillingly started pulling for Spain because of the way Holland played. I even started to think that the ref knew what was going on and started dishing out yellows to just about everyone on Hollands side. He did so fairly and did everything in his power not to send off anyone early so as to "ruin" the game.

Soccer can be cruel and unfair but I think I now have an understanding when someone who follows the sport says "the right team won".

Ultimately (in my most humble voice); Cesc Fábregas came on late for Spain and really made a difference. In just looking at the Spanish team from a distance I would seem they have firepower to spare, but they won their last few games this year with 1-0 score lines and loads of possession. 63% possession in this game. That's a FIFA 10 like possession on the "amateur" skill level while controlling Barcelona against the Kaiser Chiefs. Pretty incredible.

----------------------

So the 2010 World Cup is over. I have to say I enjoy this one quite a bit. I feel a little bad for the Nederlands. Not just for the way they lost today but for how I all but avoided mentioning them here. Even going so far as using x instead of their country name. More of a luck thing, that.

Congratulations to Spain. A new World Cup winner!!! I was satisfied in that because of the fact that I was writing so much before the tournament about how leagues have so few winners. Go new winners.

I would have said the same for Holland had they won. Maybe they can get one in the next European Championship or in Brazil 2014. Preferably by keeping their cleats on the ground and not in someones chest.



------------------------

Howard Webb. Referee to a difficult game.

The English fans (myself included) were gushing with pride that he was chosen to call the final. And those same English fans are lining up in defense of him. I remember after England got knocked out, Martin Tyler mentioned that Webb may be called upon to do it. He offered that as a comfort to the fans. Sort of sad but I have to say there was a since of pride there. Along with Webb were assistants, Darren Cann, from Poringland, Norfolk, and Michael Mullarkey, from Exeter.

Is Mullarkey an unfortunate name for a ref? Only in England.

Also, when speaking of English pride... I'll try not to over do it because it should be noted that the only four referees that are paid full-time refs at the WC, officiated the final.

What?! Says me after finding that out.

Needless to say; FIFA is looking into that for the next World Cup. A least, let's hope so.

Spain's Team

They all play in Spain, save for one. Pepe Reina plays with Liverpool. Out of the 23 players on the team 15 of them either play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. It's actually pretty remarkable. Germany comes close with 8 players teaming up on Bayern Munich.

The team they are playing today has players scattered all around the world on other teams. Eight of them do play in Holland, but of those only two team up together on Ajax. They actually have more players playing together over on Bayern Munich (4).

So for me, todays game will be interesting in that we have once side full of Spaniards playing in Spain on the same two teams against a Dutch team who have players who have only really come together for the World Cup.

My current addiction to EA's FIFA 10 has shown me that a team that plays longer together and is more familiar with each other wins. At least this year that seems to be the case. Spain and Germany have figured that out it seems. I'm guessing I don't need a video game to tell me that, but it did help me notice it.

I don't expect today's game to be a high scoring affair. However... If it is, say, a 3-2 game? Holland (or Netherlands, whichever you prefer) will win. Low scoring and Barcelona/Real win.

We shall see. It should be a great end to a great World Cup!

Germany gets 3rd

Bastian Schweinsteiger played as well as anyone at this WC. Diego Forlan was one of my favorite players. His goal in the game yesterday where he froze Germany's keeper, Butt, was one of the best of the tournament.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Go Away LeBron

The following is part of Paul Jackson's excellent article about 10 Cent Beer Night in Cleveland.

"Any rumination on Cleveland's fortunes in the '70s must include the woeful state of the Cuyahoga River, which ran a winding course through downtown. In 1952, it caught fire for the ninth time. Years and years of absorbing liberal amounts of industrial waste had turned the Cuyahoga into something more than just a waterway. The fetid river burned with Stygian fury, destroying $1.5 million in property. Despite the significance of the incident, it didn't attract much national news coverage. But in 1969, when the Cuyahoga caught fire again, flames reached five stories in height and burned for almost a half-hour. Still, they did little more than scorch a rail bridge, and the damage cost just $50,000 to repair. In Cleveland, this was viewed as improvement. Between '52 and '69, however, the national attitude toward flammable bodies of water had changed."

Cleveland once became the 5th largest city in the nation. These days it is ranked around 45. They have not won a professional sports title since 1964. A history written in loss. "The drive"... "The shot".

Cleveland has been taking a beating in the press as of late. Not in a overt call to arms way, but in a subvert sick and evil way. Comments about the city followed by chuckles.

LeBron James has created a something I've not ever seen in sports. From him playing locally for his whole life to this fiasco he is calling "The Decision". It reeks of someone who cannot win on the playing field so he brings the hype. It is something akin to what an aging superstar does at the end of their career. He just doesn't have the fire in the belly to win anything. From a teammate having "relations" with his mother to him tanking a game in the playoffs. This bum is a bum.

At this point I find myself wondering if he can prevent himself from becoming a villain. What could he possibly say tonight to prove to his hometown fans otherwise? If he wanted to stay in Cleveland he would have done what Jordan did for Chicago; just fax a letter to team owners stating... "I'm back".

It's lose and lose for James. Stay in Cleveland and never win (which I don't think he can on his own) or move away and attach himself to better players and win playing second fiddle. The whole thing drives me nuts.

I'm not an NBA fan by any means, but Ohio is in a tizzy about this whole thing. Conversations at work are all about it, local news, national news, all my precious WC commentary brushed aside. My message to LeBron?

Take your documentary filming crew somewhere else. And ESPN? Shove it up your ass.

If there is one thing I've learnt about Cleveland... If you scorn them you will never, ever be welcome back. The folks up there have been through more then any other place in this great country. Jordan made a choice not to ever return to Kinston, NC. Fortunately for you, if you leave, the folks in Cleveland will make that choice for you.

This whole thing is impossible to avoid from where I am now. The Cleveland sports fan is really something special. I've learned that. Boy, have I learned that. From the quiet person that breaks out the old school "Brownie Fairy" shirt to the bombastic "this is our year" fan. If you ever meet one... sit down with them and talk to them. They have earned that. From all I have learned about these leagues and only a select few winning year in and year out... just talk to them. It's a special thing.

Lebron? While you may just be one of the most physically gifted athletes in the world... you are just another small part in the epic story of a Cleveland sports fan. I hope you know that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More more more

Need... more... soccer.

As far as I can tell, the Fox Soccer Channel is not in HD, which is too bad.

Looks like more then a few teams from overseas are getting ready for their seasons by taking on some MLS teams.

- Friday, July 16: Celtic v Man United, ESPN2, 7pm
- Saturday, July 17: San Jose Earthquakes v Tottenham Hotspur, ESPN, 4pm
- Wednesday, July 21: Celtic v Sporting, Fox Soccer Channel and FoxSoccer.tv, 8pm
- Wednesday, July 21: Philadelphia Union v Man United, ESPN3.com, 7:30pm
- Thursday, July 22: NY Red Bulls v Spurs, New York Football Challenge Tournament, Fox Soccer Channel and FoxSoccer.tv, 8.30pm
- Friday, July 23: Man City v Sporting Lisbon, Fox Soccer Channel and FoxSoccer.tv, 8.30pm,
- Sunday, July 25: New York Football Challenge 3rd place match, Fox Soccer Channel + FoxSoccer.tv, 1pm
- Sunday, July 25: New York Football Challenge Final, Fox Soccer Channel + FoxSoccer.tv, 3:30pm
- Sunday, July 25: Kansas City Wizards v Man United, Fox Soccer Channel, 6pm
- Wednesday, July 28: MLS All-Stars v Man United, ESPN3.com and ESPN2, 8.30pm
- Saturday, August 7: LA Galaxy v Real Madrid, Fox Soccer Channel, 10.30pm
- Sunday, August 8: Community Shield, Chelsea v Man United, Fox Soccer Channel, 10am

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Northampton Town

The Cobblers. Northampton Town Cobblers are 15 miles south of where my mother was born (Kettering, England). I've been playing a bit of the FIFA 10 and I was happy to find three leagues in England represented. The Cobblers were in the third league last year (which, I think this year is going to be the nPower League), which would be kinda similar to Double A minor league baseball here in the US. I say "kinda" because the more I look at the info page on the Cobblers the more I start to think; "Does everyone in England play soccer?". Even a third tier team like the Cobblers have a Reserve team (guys the stay in shape playing other reserves), a youth team, a ladies team, the Northampton Town Girls under 12 Player Development Squad, a multidisabled team, and finally... a fan team.

Their stadium; Sixfields is beautiful. It's as good as any University stadium I've seen in the US. It seats about five thousand. Smaller then the Columbus Crew stadium, but somehow... more elegant.

It's hard to wrap my head around all this really. With all the soccer hullaballu going on around the WC, it's exciting to think about planning a trip to England this fall to watch me some Cobbler football. Heck, they may even throw a 'random American fan day' for me, if they can fit it in. They have events for everything else. Click HERE to find out everything you want to know about Cobbler Football.

So, back to FIFA 10 (PS3 version). Excellent, excellent game. Been playing a lot this July 4th weekend. There is so much in this sports game, it's hard to beat. Live leagues; meaning they will compare what you do to what 'really' happened. In real time. You can create a pro player. Make your own tournaments. There are more teams and leagues then any game I've ever seen. It is mind boggling. It makes Madden look silly.

I'm up to playing on the second lowest difficulty. I created a league of 32 strong teams to pit against my Northampton Town. I'm toiling around against the likes of Roma, Chelsea, Barcelona.

My last bit of message here is about the bigger picture in regards to English Football... It's not going anywhere. Calm down. It is so woven into the fabric of your culture. While you may not be the best team year in year out. You will always have a great team to pull for for a long, long time. The very existence of Northampton proves that.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Not to be Forgotten


The Suarez hand ball to save the game for Uruguay. Hero and cheat wrapped together all in one.

So We Are Set


Should I have capitalized every word there? Yes I Should Have.

Germany v. Spain

XXXxxx v. Uruguay

The final teams ready to play next week. Only one with a WC championship history.

Germany appears to be the strongest side. Uruguay, the weakest. What a thing it would be to see Spain v. Uruguay in the final, but low... it probably shall not be. Spain had to play a painful game verse Paraguay today. Let's us not forget how well Paraguay played this WC. Well done.

Please forgive me here; But will it be the 17th century all over again? Will the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie be re-staked this year?

It just may be.

Germany.



Brazil Goes Down!

Brasil goes down!