Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Lattanzi Ten - 3/24/15

I'm back today. Thanks again to Nick for taking on the reins here at Lattanzi Land for yesterday's Ten. Being a cultural or non-current events day, I felt like covering ten video games I obsessed over as a kid. These came from different consoles, and in some cases, franchises will be treated as one...you'll see what I mean! -- J.L.

1. Super Mario Brothers (1-3) - NES

The original Super Mario Brothers was the first game I learned how to play well. I did so going across the street to watch my friend David play it when I was living as a kid in New Jersey. It's still to the point where I can beat it in ten minutes (with Warp Zones, of course) without dying a single time. World 8-3 is by far the hardest one, but if you can get through 8-2 with your firepower in tact, 8-3 is a breeze.

SMB 2 is Mario on drugs. I know they complained that the original SMB 2 (now known as "The Lost Levels") was too hard, but using Doki Doki Panic as the prototype just makes it the red-headed stepchild of the entire series. SMB 3 is the most comprehensive, but it also takes the longest to play (and thus beat). I can say I have only beat Mario 3 about a dozen times in my life. Nevertheless it is an absolutely amazing set of games that still are worth playing, even if you have to spend time blowing in the cartridges.


2. Bases Loaded - NES

RBI Baseball for the NES was fun, and I loved playing it because Mike Schmidt was on the National League All-Star team, but Bases Loaded was the game I enjoyed the most for long-term game play. If you wanted offense, you always had to be Jersey; if you wanted pitching, Hawaii or Philly it was. It was tough not to be Jersey with the player named "Paste" whose stat line lived up to the name: .467 average and 60 homers. The constant music could be annoying at times, but anyone who played it frequently could probably still hum it without missing a beat.

3. Contra - NES

If you grew up in the 80's and didn't know the Konami Code, you either were a kid who wasn't allowed to play video games/watch TV/read Nintendo Power, or you lived under a rock. The one thing I still can't do is beat Contra from start to finish on just three lives. Thirty, on the other hand, is generally sufficient. The most annoying feature is being able to steal a life from the other player in two-player mode.

4. Tecmo Super Bowl - NES

How awesome was it to play an actual NFL schedule with real teams and real players (like "QB Eagles")? One thing that people forget about the older games is that with the increasing realism of the various genres (whether sports, platform, or role-playing), the amount of time needed to play has also increased exponentially. For a game like this, a sixteen game NFL season (plus playoffs) could be played in roughly 7-8 hours total. I can't see Madden or MLB: The Show seasons being played in that short a time, unless there is massive amounts of simulation.

5. Sonic the Hedgehog - Sega Genesis

Even when I play it now, the colors really stand out. It's still a quality game and beating it isn't cheap, especially since truly beating it requires several Chaos Emeralds. Labyrinth Zone is still a difficult set of levels to beat, and the boss at the end of that zone is one of the most unique bosses out there in videogameland.

6. NBA Jam - Sega Genesis

A true icon. Anyone worth his weight can recall at least one catchphrase from this game. I remember the Big Lie of this game was that if you beat all 27 NBA teams, you unlocked Michael Jordan. On my end, I always used either the Hornets (Grandmama Johnson and 'Zo Mourning) or the SuperSonics (Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf). One of my most vivid gaming memories came as a result of losing to my brother...in triple overtime...on a court-length Hail Mary shot. I threw the controller hard and I nearly broke it. It is still the only time I ever lost to him in this game.

7. NBA Action '95 - Sega Genesis

In the heyday of Sega Sports, they made a good line of games such as World Series Baseball, Joe Montana/NFL Football, and NBA Action. The NBA game was a fairly realistic one (and by realistic, I mean I could score over 200 points in six minute quarters) and it was always fun to go 82-0 while winning by 140 points every game. What made the game extra fun was the canned reactions of a pre-recorded Marv Albert and a wide array of stats (don't laugh, this was HUGE in those days). You could even with Dana Barros playing on the Sixers (or Michael Adams playing on the Bullets).

8. NHL '95 and '97 - Sega Genesis

EA Sports ended up dominated the sports gaming environment by the mid-to-late 1990's. It's hockey offerings were probably second only to Madden in entertainment and repeatable gameplay. It didn't hurt that the Flyers were really good in those days, and especially in the 1995 edition, the wrap-around was essentially taking candy from babies. It wasn't as easy by 1997, but the one-timer was played up at that point. I would get pissed off if I allowed two goals in a game, winning only 10-2. 

9. John Madden Football (later Madden NFL Football) - Sega Genesis, PS, PS2

I have owned Madden incarnations from 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008. The early ones were fairly revolutionary in their own way - play calling, formations, and so forth. The mid-90's versions seemed to take a step back, but by 1997 and later, the game play truly was next-generation. In recent years, with NFL exclusivity, the product has slowed down a bit, as monopolies are wont to do. That being said, I can't think of any franchise of games that has matched the longevity and the cultural influence of Madden, not even Super Mario Brothers, or Sonic the Hedgehog. Thank God the recent versions don't have Madden's absolutely horrendously trite commentary:

He knew where he had to go, and he got there.

REALLY DEEP INSIGHT, YOU GUYS!



10. PGA Tour Golf 2 and European Tour - Sega Genesis

My uncle actually owned the former before I had it, and it was my introduction to golf in general. EA's golf games were pretty good simulations of what the pros had to do, even including grids in reading the greens. Dustin still owes me a million dollars for a shot I hit at Scottsdale from 145 yards out. 

I WANT MY MONEY! (Whenever you can get it to me is juuuuust fine!

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