FDS Video Games Tourney: Thundercats Division

As you all know after reading the rules and overview of the Fourth Down Stand Sports Game Championship posted yesterday, I am holding a tournament to determine the best Sports Video Game of all time. Today marks the first day of what should be a very exciting and amusing week of posts filled with flashbacks of neon signs, leg warmers, Starter Jackets and over-played Madonna tracks. So sit back, relax and enjoy a free trip down memory lane.

Note: If you really want the full experience of this series, put on your parachute pants and throw this on repeat in the background.

How it works: Through feedback from friends and family and hopefully some of you, games will advance through their brackets until I have reached a single game that will be crowned the Fourth Down Stand Sports Game Champion. I will create a post about one division every day, reviewing key ‘games’, announcing the winners of each round and finally crowning a divisional champion. Thursday November 10 I will write about the Final Four, and will crown the Fourth Down Stand Sports Game Champion on my birthday—Friday, November 11.

First, here are the divisions, named after a few of my favorite childhood cartoons and followed by the results of the Thunder Cats Divisional Games.

The Thundercats Division:
Round 1:

NFL Blitz, Nintendo 64, 1998 (4)                          vs.
Ken Griffey Jr. Presents MLB, SNES, 1994 (4)

While Ken Griffey Jr. was both Andrew and my favorite athlete growing up, there’s no denying the impact that NFL Blitz had on arcades and living rooms everywhere. Real smash-mouth hits, lightning-fast gameplay, no penalties and players that looked like they roided up with Tokka and Rahzar from TMNT II all made Blitz an overnight sensation. The commentary was hilarious, the hits provided hours of fun, and gamers of all ages loved it. The Blitz franchise became wildly successful, but inevitably died off. Just as it was beginning to look like a one-hit-wonder, Blitz: The League debuted for Xbox and brought the bone-crushing hits to life, along with a much-needed jolt to Midway Games.

Winner: NFL Blitz
Edge: New Concept, Addicting Nature

NBA 2K1, Sega Dreamcast, 2000 (4)                   vs.
NHL Stanley Cup, SNES, 1993 (4)

This matchup was a toughie for me. Anyone who knows me IRL will tell you I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I can thank NBA 2K1 on Dreamcast for a majority of my league knowledge. Never before had I played a game with a franchise mode and it changed what I would look for in video games forever. I love everything that goes into building a dynasty—making trades, studying the draft, even moving a team, and NBA 2K1 gave me my first taste of that. On the other side of the table, there’s NHL Stanley Cup for SNES. I have a special spot in my heart for this game, as it was one of the games I spent hours playing with my Dad (back when he knew how to press 2 buttons and use a directional pad). He always played with the Calgary Flames and consistently beat my ass up and down the ice. There wasn’t much to the actual content of the game; it was SNES, after all. Regardless of substance and it’s failure to advance to the Sweet 16, NHL Stanley Cup allowed for a lot of good bonding time with my dad, and for that it will always be held in reverence.

Winner: NBA 2K1
Edge: Franchise Mode, Realism

Virtua Tennis 2, Sega Dreamcast, 1999 (4)              vs.
Nintendo World Cup, NES, 1990 (4)

I don’t know what it was about tennis games being included in system bundles, but I wasn’t complaining. Virtua Tennis 2 was hands down my favorite game when we got a Dreamcast for Christmas—not because it was that much better than other games, but because it was the only game we got with it! Turned out to be lucky for me, because had I gotten a different game I probably never would have given it a chance. Instead, VT2 would just have to do, and do it did. I learned more about a sport that had been looked over by my generation and it gave me a true appreciation for the game, so much so that I learned how to play and still regularly play tennis with friends. As for Nintendo World Cup, I wasn’t into soccer growing up, and really didn’t even gain respect for the sport until watching the World Cup in 2006. That tournament, coupled with later-released FIFA games, has turned me into a soccer fan. Unfortunately for NWC, I didn’t enjoy soccer enough to give it a fair chance back then, and because of my prejudice Virtua Tennis wins by default.

Winner: Virtua Tennis 2
Edge: Life-Changing

Fight Night Round 4, Various, 2009 (4)                 vs.
Excite Bike, NES, 1984 (4)

The Fight Night games are no-doubt the best boxing games since Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, and they took it to a whole-nutha-level in Fight Night Round 4. The revamped controls, improved career mode, and useable blocking system have all combined to make Fight Night Round 4 the purest boxing simulation ever. No more button-mashing, no more throwing controllers because you can’t figure out what to press to block, just controls that actually feel natural. Those of you who have actually played this game won’t be at all surprised to learn that it’s my upset pick for the Final Four. Excite Bike, however, was as simple and addicting as you could get in the 80’s. I mean, what’s not to love about a dirt bike that leaps over obstacles using unnaturally steep ramps and has the best shocks ever created? Let’s face it—Evel Knievel and his son Robbie had Americans glued to their T.V.’s from ABC’s Wide World of Sports in the early 70’s until as recently as New Years Eve 2008, Robbie’s most recent jump, and now everyone could try to duplicate it from the safety of their La-Z-Boy recliners. Unfortunately the game was short and almost a little too basic as it lost my attention about as fast as it gained it.

Winner: Fight Night Round 4
Edge: Natural Controls, Amazing Realism

Round 2:

NFL Blitz, Nintendo 64, 1998 (4)                          vs.
NBA 2K1, Sega Dreamcast, 2000 (4)     

Winner: NFL Blitz
Edge: Amusement, Game Pace, Arcade Style

Virtua Tennis 2, Sega Dreamcast, 1999 (4)            vs.
Fight Night Round 4, Various, 2009 (4)                 

Winner: Fight Night Round 4Edge: Natural Controls, Career Mode, Graphics

Round 3:

NFL Blitz, Nintendo 64, 1998 (4)                           vs.
Fight Night Round 4, Various, 2009 (4)                 

Division Winner: Fight Night Round 4

Aaaaaaand the winner of the Thundercats Division is Fight Night Round 4! The phenomenal realism, accurate controls and in depth career mode gave FN the edge over Blitz. Oddly enough, the biggest downfall this game has is that when creating my fighter, I couldn’t enter my full last name, a measly 9 letters because the game only allows for 8. Welcome to the Final Four Fight Night.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Division:

Tecmo Super Bowl, NES, 1991 (1)                          vs.
MLB ’09: The Show, Playstation Systems, 2009 (1)

NBA Jam, Arcade and Various, 1993 (1)                 vs.
NHL 2011, PS3, 2010 (1)

Wii Sports (Tennis), Nintendo Wii, 2006 (1)            vs.
Super Mario Cart, SNES,  1992 (1)

Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, NES, 1987 (1)                 vs.
FIFA ’10, Xbox 360, 2009 (1)

The Darkwing Duck Division:

Madden ’95, SNES, Dec. 31 1994 (2)                     vs.
RBI Baseball, NES, 1988 (2)

NBA Live 95, SNES, 2002 (2)                                vs.
Blades of Steel, NES, 1987 (2)

Pong, Arcade, 1972 (2)                                            vs.
Sega Soccer Slam, Various, 2002 (2)

Street Fighter II, Various, 1991 (2)                           vs.
Super Off-Road, Arcade and NES, 1989 (2)

The Speed Racer Division:

NFL 2K5, Playstation 2, 2004 (3)                            vs.
MLB High Heat 2003, Xbox, 2003 (3)

Top Spin, Xbox, 2003, (3)                                        vs.
Paper Boy, NES, 1984 (3)

NBA Street 2, Playstation 2, 2003 (3)                      vs.
NHL ’99, Nintendo 64, 1998 (3)

Mortal Kombat 4, Arcade and N64, 1998 (3)           vs.
Kick Off 2, Various 1990 (3)

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