Off topic Friday!
This Friday, I’m going to babble about some of my favorite, and most hated video game athletes ever. For the most part, I’m going to avoid mentioning some of the really obvious ones (with a few exceptions) like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl and Jeremy Roenick in NHL ’93. Everybody talks about those guys, we need to cover some different ground here. You’ll notice that most of these games are old – really old. That’s because I’m getting old, and don’t really play too many current sports games anymore.
Anyway, these are the guys that I have the most vivid memories of:
Tom Chambers – Lakers vs. Celtics – Sega Genesis:
My love for Tom Chambers knows few bounds. He did one of my favorite dunks of all time in real life. And in this game he does things that defy the laws of physics. At about 1:38 in the below video, you will see him go from a dead stop with a defender in his face to throwing down a huge dunk. From right inside the free-throw line. From a dead stop. Nobody ever accused this game of being realistic. Side note: It was either this game, or Pat Riley Basketball, also on Genesis, that featured a Rick Fox character model that had a black body and white head. We used to love that.
Paste – Bases Loaded – NES:
I cannot state how emphatically enough how awesome Paste was in Bases Loaded for the NES. He played an indeterminate position for “Jersey” (yeah, not even New Jersey, not sure if something was lost in translation). Now stats were pretty primitive back then, but his line was 60 home runs and a .467 average. Given the era (the game was produced in 1988), that probably translates to a crazy WAR value like 14 or something. The guy would hammer pretty much everything for a home run, and the only real way to stop him was to bean him, which would prompt him to charge the mound and get thrown out of the game.
Any wide receiver in John Elway Quarterback – NES:
For some reason that totally escapes me, John Elway’s Quarterback for the NES featured a glitch (or possibly a design feature, who knows) where any wide receiver running the reverse play would run significantly faster than the other players on the field. It was to the point where you could literally run circles around the defense, for the entire quarter if you wanted to. This clearly was kind of a game breaking feature, and most house rules disallowed the reverse play or limited the number of times you could use it in a game. Failure to comply would usually result in thrown controllers or a fight.
Blue Guy – Basketball – Magnavox Odyssey:
When I was very young, my Dad had a Magnavox Odyssey, which is so old that I’m sure most people are unaware of it. The graphics were remarkably primitive, but we didn’t know any better. Basketball featured two players who could move left to right on a 2-d court, and who would shoot at openings in the side of the screen. That was it. I liked the blue guy, although I don’t think he was any different than the red guy. Cut to about 1:15 in the below video.
Don Beebe – Super Tecmo Bowl – NES:
What, you thought I was going to choose Bo Jackson? The Bills (who, sadly, are my real-life favorite football team) were loaded in Super Tecmo for the NES. The game came out in 1991, so this was in the beginning of their Super Bowl run. They had Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed, among others. But Don Beebe was the secret weapon. You could take a 40 yard drop with Jim Kelly, launch the ball up top to Don Beebe, and he would almost always leap and come up with the ball.
Sadly, I cannot find any video of this on Youtube, and if I had a Nintendo and a Copy of Super Tecmo, I would personally rectify this matter.
Shawn Bradley/Matt Geiger/Gheorge Muresan NBA Live 2000 – PS1:
There was a time during college when the only thing my roommates and I had on TV was what we termed “the blue screen.” See, it turns out that in return for supplying cable programming, the cable company expects to get paid, and at the time we were more about purchasing beer than paying bills. When we weren’t freeloading TV from our neighbors, we were mostly playing NBA Live 2000. Anyway, I logged a ton of hours on this game, mostly when I was busy not attending class. Under the control of my roommate, any of these three players, would routinely mess around and get a quadruple-double (to paraphrase Ice Cube). I still have the occasional Geiger-related nightmare.
Honorable mention: Dana Barros. The man could knock down a three. My favorite tactic was to run out a lineup consisting of Barros, Kenny Anderson, (I love) Walter McCarty, Paul Pierce, and Antoine Walker. Then I would proceed to jack up three all game. Great fun.
Of course, no footage of any of this seems to exist (at least not that a cursory 10 second Google search turned up). Instead, enjoy this footage of Shawn Bradley dunking from the free throw line in NBA Live 96.
Nolan Ryan – RBI Baseball – NES:
I believe RBI Baseball was the first (or possibly just most prominent) baseball game to feature real players with real stats. It seems primitive now, but was ground-breaking when I was nine. Anyway, Nolan Ryan was able to throw a 103 MPH fastball and could pair it with a 66 MPH changeup. It was pretty much unfair.
Fat Guy – Ice Hockey – NES:
Pre-Blades of Steel, this was the hockey game to play. It featured no real teams or players (remember this was 1988). It had three different character models, fat guy, medium-sized guy, and skinny guy. Seriously. Here they are:
Anyway, fat guy, while slow, was dominant otherwise. The best part was that you could configure your team any way you liked, so it was possible to run a lineup of all fat guys out there. I’d love to see an NHL team embrace the all fat guy lineup. Sure, they’d go 0-82, but it would be entertaining.
Devin Hester – Madden 2008 – PS3/XBOX 360:
It’s been a few years since I’ve really been any good at Madden, but there was a time that I could hold my own against most people. Devin Hester was the first guy in Madden to have a speed rating of 100, and he was even more unstoppable in this game than he was in real life (in 2006 he had 6 punt return/kick return TDs). The below clip displays just how dominant he was:
Mike Vick – Madden 2004 – PS2:
I HATED Mike Vick in this game. More specifically, I hated the people who used him and the Falcons. Never has there been a more unrealistic, cheaper player than Mike Vick in this game. Want to scramble thirty yards backward and throw a 70 yard bomb off your back foot across the body for a TD? Vick could do that. He could do pretty much anything. Playing the Falcons in this game could inspire a kind of blind rage that would make you want to punch someone in the face.
Mike Tyson – Mike Tyson’s Punchout – NES:
You had to know this was coming. I never beat Mike Tyson. I never even hit him. Only once in my entire life did I witness someone beat Mike Tyson in this game. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would not think it possible. The victor was someone who was a friend of my friend’s older brother, and he became a veritable neighborhood celebrity after beating Tyson. I have no idea what that guy has accomplished in the intervening 25 years since this game came out, but I bet none of it eclipses beating Tyson. I recently played this game on a Nintendo for probably the first time in 15-20 years. My reflexes have degenerated to the point I couldn’t even get past Soda Popinski.
Here’s a video of somebody beating Tyson. It is possible:
Joe Montana Football – any kicker returner – SEGA:
Don’t remember this one? I’m not surprised, I had to reach out to a childhood friend to figure out the name of this game. In any case, there was a glitch where if the returner hit the hurdle button twice prior to receiving the kick, one of two things happened: 1.) he would become unstoppable and score, 2.) your team would fumble – and continue fumbling – until the ball was turned over.