From The Ref’s Office: July 31, 2016

From The Ref’s Office: July 31, 2016

Greetings, everybody!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have checked out the site in the latter half of July. It’s been good to have some time (and some content ideas) to get some writing in, and I’m hoping to have a bit more time in August. Over the last couple of days, I wrote and published this piece about EASN— the Electronic Arts Sports Network– over the weekend, and put the finishing touches on another piece, which is scheduled to publish on Monday afternoon (August 1st).

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The EASN piece is the first in a series that I’m calling In The Booth, and the series will focus largely on presentation values in sports video games. While most people (understandably) are most concerned with how a game looks and plays, I’ve had a fascination with how the game is presented. I am interested in stat overlays, commentary, graphics packages, and a presentation style that’s close to what I watch on television. I have some ideas lined up already for the next two or three installments of In The Booth, and I hope that at least some of you will enjoy reading them.

The piece that’s going up on August 1st will launch another new series, called 1st and 10. These are lists– in random order– of my favorite games that are bound by a certain theme or topic. The first 1st and 10 will be on arcade sports games, which are easily my favorite games. I had a lot of potential games to choose from, and I could only pick 10. (Hence the “10” in “1st and 10”.) Lists are fun to do, and there are plenty of potential topics. I already have the next three topics in my head, so I am pretty confident that this series will pick up steam.

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Another piece that I’m working on is a Scouting Report on Frank Thomas Big Hurt Pinball, which recently released within the Pinball Arcade application for iOS, Android, and Steam. I’m a huge pinball fan, so it’s pretty much a dream scenario to play a pinball table that revolves around sports. I’ve been capturing some photos from my iPad which are pretty clean, and after a few more playing sessions, I should have enough experience to get some words typed out about it.

Aside from that, I do have some things that I’d like to cover if time allows in August. The NFL Preseason will be underway, and with Madden NFL 17 coming out on August 23rd… I’m hoping to do some Scouting Reports or After Further Review pieces on some of the pigskin games in the Retro Library. Football will probably be a pretty consistent theme for August and into early September, leading up to the NFL’s opening weekend.

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Some have been asking about my YouTube channel, and where the new videos are. While I want to do some more videos, the weather has not been cooperating. More than half of the month of July saw temperatures in the 90s, including 8 of the last 10 days, as of this writing. It’s impossible to film with my air conditioner and fan making a racket. That said, I did power down the cooling equipment for a special thing that I shot for a friend of mine– and, yes, I’ll link you to it when it goes live. When things cool down, I will be back in front of the iPad to shoot some new stuff. I miss doing it.

Finally, I want to start talking about RetroWorld Expo 2016, which is going to be happening on October 15th and 16th in Wallingford, Connecticut. Last year was the first RetroWorld Expo show, and I had an absolute blast. That was only one day, though– this year is a two-day extravaganza. The guest list for this year is already filling up nicely (I’m psyched to finally meet Pat the NES Punk!), and there’s going to be a nice selection of exhibitors selling great retro games and consoles. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you’ve still got time… but it’s always nice to buy early and start saving money to take with you on the trip. I’ll be at the Retroware booth once again this year, so I really hope to meet some of you.

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That’s all I’ve got for now. Be sure to check back on August 1st for the premiere of 1st and 10!

 

In The Booth: A Look Back At EASN

In The Booth: A Look Back At EASN

From the Ref’s desk: In The Booth will be a new series of pieces discussing presentation values in sports video games. Commentary, graphics packages, instant replays, and more will be covered in this series.

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One of the things that I remember most about my first Electronic Arts 16-bit sports game– John Madden Football— was the EASN intro sequence that preceded the main menu when first booting it up. The TV screens that created a kind of video wall animated the background as still images of baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and other sports surrounded it on the intro screen for the game.

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The idea of a sports network-style presentation intrigued me as a budding sports video game fan at a young 19 years of age. NES sports games had very rudimentary presentation packages. There were score overlays and a few stat lines, but rarely did they carry that TV-style presentation that connected me with watching sports like I did back then.

Pre-game analysis was an EASN staple. John Madden, Ron Barr, and Bing Gordon took their turns hosting “pre-game shows”. Team matchups were highlighted, with bits of general analysis for each team in terms of their skill sets, strengths, and weaknesses.

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EA’s introduction of user-controlled instant replays was a step in the right direction. While many people often used instant replay as a way to rub it in when playing against friends, I liked to use it to relive special moments. As a very recent example, I was playing John Madden Football ’93 recently, and a pass that got tipped and looked to be incomplete was somehow snatched out of the air by my receiver. I just had to see it again, if only to try and understand how it happened. Instant replay was great for EA’s NHL games, too– especially in later years (beginning with NHL ’94), after a sweet one-timer set-up or breakaway chance on goal.

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The EASN brand dominated the 1992 and 1993 sports years– or 1991 and 1992 in calendar years– for Electronic Arts. While it was a smart brand concept, it was a little too close to ESPN for the Worldwide Leaders down in Bristol, Connecticut. A name/trademark infringement suit was filed against Electronic Arts by ESPN in 1993, and EA settled out of court. According to former EA employee Michael Wilde, “As part of the settlement, EASN changed its name to EA Sports, and in return ESPN gave EA free media time. EA Sports’ first TV campaign was on the air and quickly established EA Sports as the leader in sports video games.”

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Electronic Arts didn’t miss a beat with the brand name change, and EA Sports remains as the dominant brand in sports video games 23 years later. EA also kept working on its sports network-style presentation as the years went on. Thanks to CD-ROM used by the PlayStation and Saturn, EA implemented full-motion video introductions and pre-game shows, as well as running commentary. Seeing James Brown in the studio running down each week before handing off to Pat Summerall and John Madden in Madden 97 was closer to a sports game telecast than ever before. NHL ’98— one of my favorite hockey games of all time– has commentary from Jim Hughson and Daryl Reaugh that blew my mind back in 1997. (Also, the intro video is amazing.)

The 1998 sports year also saw EA Sports use Ernie Johnson as its studio personality for NBA Live ’98 and PGA Tour ’98, as well as giving Verne Lundquist commentary duties for NBA Live ’98. In addition, NBA Live ’98 used the NBA on TBS broadcast graphics package for in-game stat lines and scores. This marked the first time that EA used another network’s graphics package.

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As for EASN, the story came full-circle in 2005, as Electronic Arts and ESPN signed a 15-year deal that allowed EA Sports to integrate ESPN content and graphics into its games starting in 2006. Although ESPN had won the battle a dozen years prior, EA eventually won them over. Interestingly, though, EA rarely used ESPN graphics packages for its games. The last few years of the NCAA Football series was the exception to this rule– along with NCAA Basketball 10, which was a presentation tour-de-force.

In this modern era of sports video games, where we’re about to see weekly commentary updates for Madden NFL 17 and where Visual Concepts and SCE San Diego continue to set the bar high for basketball and baseball video game presentation values, it’s interesting to look back 25 years at the early attempts from Electronic Arts to bring the feel of watching a sports network home. Presentation in sports video games has come a long way over that span, and In The Booth will be looking at bits and pieces of that progress in the coming weeks.

After Further Review: Peter Jacobsen’s Golden Tee Golf (PlayStation)

After Further Review: Peter Jacobsen’s Golden Tee Golf (PlayStation)

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My first experiences with Golden Tee Golf were either at bowling allies or at bars during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Golden Tee Golf is an addictive– and money-hungry– arcade golf game that uses a trackball controller instead of the customary joystick-and-button combination to execute shots. Roll the trackball back for the backswing, than hammer it forward and watch the ball fly. It’s a fairly easy game, with red numbers (scores under par) often in the double digits.

The one gripe that I always had with Golden Tee was the cost. $2 for 18 holes quickly adds up, much like full games of NBA Jam and NFL Blitz did. NBA Jam and NFL Blitz got home ports, though… and these were very good. It turns out that, in September of 2000, Golden Tee Golf got a home port for the PlayStation, as well– and that’s what I’m going to look at today. Golden Tee Golf was an under-the-radar release; the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 were competing for everyone’s attention, while games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 and Chrono Cross were keeping PlayStation owners busy. For some review background, GameSpot gave Golden Tee Golf a review score of 2.3 back in September of 2000. IGN didn’t review it, and Metacritic doesn’t have a page for it.

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The first question that experienced Golden Tee Golf players will probably ask about the PlayStation version is, “How can you play without a trackball?” It’s a fair question; the coin-op centers around the trackball for control. There are nuances in terms swing power and ball trajectory that the trackball allows players to accomplish. Using a controller is different– but not awful. In fact, the using the digital controller option allows for even more precision in terms of shot power. Shots are executed by pressing the X button to begin the backswing, and then the triangle button to complete the swing and hit the ball. For the first four courses, the course map during the backswing will show the expected distance that the ball will travel; this makes it easy to know when to follow through with the triangle button. The last two courses in the game– Pearl Bay and Echo Canyon– disable the distance display, making for much more challenging rounds of play.

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Applying draw or fade to shots is a bit less precise, as players use the shoulder buttons to shape shots pre-swing. Adding draw or fade lends to more unpredictable shot results, and feels less controlled because the shoulder buttons offer fewer degrees of shaping than the trackball allows. Some players will lament this lack of shot-shaping control. That said, the loss of the trackball does not ruin the PlayStation version of Golden Tee Golf. It does require a bit of practice and adjustment, but once players master the controller-based swing mechanic, it’s an acceptably similar experience. For those players with Dual Shock controllers, an analog swing option is also available. I’m not a fan of this option, as it utilizes both sticks and feels unnecessarily imprecise and complex.

Putting controls are the same as swing controls. Press X to begin the backswing and build power, then press the Triangle button to follow through. While this works well for relatively straight putts, considerable breaks to the left or right are almost too difficult. Without the trackball to guide putts to the left or right, players are instead left to use the shoulder buttons to guide the trajectory arrow incrementally left or right. It’s not as accurate as it should be, leading to missed putts at times– and painful added strokes.

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Once players come to grips with the controls, though, Golden Tee Golf for the PlayStation is a pretty good representation of the arcade game. All three courses from Golden Tee ’97 are here, as well as three original courses. The courses range from forested challenges (Pine Creek) to golf in the high desert (Red Sands). Part of the allure of Golden Tee Golf is the selection of risk-reward holes that the game offers; the hole layout on these often shows a narrow window that players can navigate shots through in order to shoot low numbers. The catch is that bad shots can leave players in the water, stuck in trees, or left with poor approaches to the hole that can inflate scores significantly. While it’s certainly possible to shoot low scores without being too aggressive on these risk-reward holes, the temptation is sometimes too strong to resist. Skilled Golden Tee players can often shoot -18 or better, thanks to being aggressive on these holes.

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The main gameplay modes in Golden Tee Golf are Tournament and Stroke play. Tournament play is where most players will spend their time. Unlike most tournaments in other golf games, the goal here is to beat a certain score on each course. As these scores are matched or beaten, it unlocks a mirror version of the course. This doubles the potential number of courses from six to twelve. There are no tournament leaderboards or trophies to win here, although the best scores and other top performances are logged and saved to memory card. Stroke play is more casual, as it’s just the players and courses. When playing with multiple players, Skins and Bingo-Bango-Bongo (points for first on the green, closest to the hole, and first to get the ball into the hole) are other fun options for play. Two other modes– Speed Golf and Golf Roulette– round out the package. Speed Golf is the more fun of the two events, but neither will hold a player’s attention for long.

Visually, Golden Tee Golf on the PlayStation is unimpressive. Granted, the game is using courses and visuals from a 20 year-old arcade title… but the frame rate often suffers during shots and there’s a bunch of pixelization that can be seen. The ground occasionally looks like it came from a Super NES game. The graphics do get the job done, and don’t necessarily interfere with the game’s playability, but there are better-looking golf games for the PlayStation available. There are, occasionally, some funny player animations… such as after a missed short putt, when the player drops to the ground in agony.

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In the sound department, Golden Tee Golf performs adequately. Peter Jacobsen supplies some lines of encouragement or advice on occasion, and what are presumed to be on-course commentators add a few (repetitive) lines about a player’s performance here and there. The swing of the club, the impact of the ball on surfaces, and the reactions of the crowd are all here and are fairly standard for golf video games. There isn’t much music, and what there is comes from the Golden Tee ’97 coin-op.

It’s worth remembering that Golden Tee Golf is an arcade game… and there aren’t a ton of extras here to add replay value. Once players unlock all of the mirrored courses, the only thing left to play for is leaderboard status for each course. There isn’t any kind of cumulative tournament or career structure, and this is on a console that doesn’t have any kind of online functionality to download global leaderboards or stats to compete against. It’s best to play Golden Tee Golf in short bursts– a couple of rounds at a time at most– and then move on to something else.

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So… what do I think of Golden Tee Golf overall? It’s got flaws, for sure, but it’s also a decent representation of the arcade game that ate so many of my quarters back in the late 1990s. The scores are low, the controls are fine (after adjusting to them) for the most part, and it maintains the feel of the arcade experience. The course designs– especially the risk-reward holes– are the big draw, and players will be hard-pressed to not try and go for it on holes that are inviting for eagles. As a Golden Tee game, I enjoyed playing it.

After further review, I don’t believe that Golden Tee Golf for the PlayStation is nearly as bad as the 2.3 review score that it got 16 years ago, and I give it a 6.0 score. It’s an average golf game, but I give it an extra point for doing a decent job of bringing the arcade game home… and saving me $2 per play.

Scouting Report: Brett Hull Hockey ’95 (SEGA Genesis)

Scouting Report: Brett Hull Hockey ’95 (SEGA Genesis)

Accolade’s sports video games– especially during the 16-bit era– often had strong presentation values, but average (or worse) gameplay. Brett Hull Hockey ’95 for the SEGA Genesis is a textbook example of this trend.

The game excels in the presentation department. Al Michaels provides commentary (as he did for some of Accolade’s Hardball! games for the Genesis, Super NES, and PlayStation), and… it’s not too bad. It’s a little bit stilted and it repeats quite a bit, but given the limitations of the cartridge format, I found it to be more than adequate. There’s also a nice scoreboard animation that pops up from time to time to show scoring details, penalty information, and power play time remaining. At the end of each game, Brett Hull provides some feedback about each team’s performance.

Al Michaels, before Cris Collinsworth drove him crazy.
Al Michaels, before Cris Collinsworth drove him crazy.

Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t hold up. For starters, the isometric view is a real pain to adjust to. A delay between pressing (or holding down) the shot button and the actual shooting process on the screen is annoying– especially if your player is being hounded by the other team. Passing is rather inaccurate, and I struggled to complete any one-timers. Switching between skaters is, thankfully, a bit easier… but this is a minor relief.

When shooting does work, goaltenders tend to be a bit shaky. Playing as the Boston Bruins in my very first game, I scored six times on Felix Potvin– including an Al Iafrate hat trick. (No, really. Al Iafrate. The guy who had the hardest shot in the NHL before some Zdeno Chara guy came along.) The funny thing about Iafrate’s hat trick is that only one goal was scored on a slap shot. Meanwhile, Bill Ranford was a stone wall in my net until he gave up a pair of fluky “The CPU is losing, so let’s make it more interesting” goals in the third period. Granted, goalie AI back then wasn’t stellar or anything… but this seemed a bit too haphazard for goalie performance, especially when measured against EA’s NHL series, or even SEGA’s own NHL All-Star Hockey ’95.

Macinnis SCORES!
Macinnis SCORES!

Visually, Brett Hull Hockey ’95 is okay. Isometric shenanigans aside, the players all wear the correct colors (there isn’t an NHL license here, only an NHLPA license) and the animation moves along at a decent clip. It’s not quite as smooth as EA’s NHL games tend to be, but it’s certainly a very playable game. In terms of sound, once you get past the commentary from Al Michaels and some pretty good organ music, the on-ice sound effects fall kind of flat. The puck makes a “tink”ing noise on the ice, as if it’s made of glass. Players grunt and groan, but that’s to be expected.

Raise your arms if you're SURE!
Raise your arms if you’re SURE!

Brett Hull Hockey ’95 isn’t going to unseat NHL ’94 or NHL ’96 as the best hockey games on the SEGA Genesis. That said, I do appreciate Accolade’s general attention to presentation value in trying to create a broadcast-style event. It reminds me of what Konami would do in the early 2000s with its line of ESPN sports games; the games were average (or worse), but the TV-style presentation was really impressive for the time.

PriceCharting lists a loose cartridge of Brett Hull Hockey ’95 at $5.25, as of this writing. That’s probably a bit steep for this game, especially since NHL 95 and NHL All-Star Hockey ’95 are both cheaper. That said, if you can find it loose for a couple of dollars (like I did) and you like hockey video games, you could do a lot worse.

New to the Lineup: July 2016

New to the Lineup: July 2016

It’s time to talk about some recent additions to the Retro Referee’s sports video game library. Let’s look at the list of what’s new in the lineup:

  • American Gladiators (SNES)
  • NBA Live ’98 (SNES)
  • Suzuka 8 Hours (SNES)
  • Brett Hull Hockey ’95 (Genesis)
  • FIFA International Soccer (Genesis)
  • FIFA Soccer 95 (Genesis)
  • FIFA Soccer 97 (Genesis)
  • Newman-Haas Indy Car Racing (Genesis)
  • Triple Play 96 (Genesis)
  • World Series Baseball ’96 (Genesis)
  • Top Gear Overdrive (Nintendo 64)
  • NCAA March Madness 2003 (PlayStation 2)
  • NHL 2005 (PlayStation 2)
  • Madden NFL 10 (Wii)
  • Madden NFL 12 (Wii)
  • NCAA Football 09 All-Play (Wii)
  • Need For Speed Undercover (Wii)

The two PlayStation 2 games are significant because they complete their respective series on the console. That means that NCAA March Madness 2002 all the way up to NCAA Basketball 09 are now in the library, as well as NHL 2001 through NHL 09. Having complete series like these means that I can play each game and see how the series changed from one year to the next.

That's certain-Wii Madden.
That’s certain-Wii Madden.

The Madden games for Wii are filling in holes in the series for that platform. I already had Madden NFL 09 All-Play and Madden NFL 11, so Madden NFL 10 and Madden NFL 12 fill in some holes. I haven’t yet tried the motion-controlled Madden games yet, so it’ll be interesting to see how much different it is from the usual controller play that I’ve been used to for more than 25 years. Need For Speed Underground isn’t a sports game, per se, although some will argue that racing is a sport. Your mileage may vary.

On the Genesis, yes… that’s a lot of soccer/football. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience with soccer video games. That said, the FIFA series is huge for EA these days, so it’s neat to try these 16-bit games and see the series at its earliest stages. I’m also terrible right now at them. I need to learn the intricacies of the game, because all I’m doing right now is just kicking the ball all the way downfield and hoping one of my players catches up to it before the other team does. (I know. I’m doing it wrong.)

The biscuit is in the basket!
The biscuit is in the basket!

As for the other Genesis games, Brett Hull Hockey ’95 stood out to me for $2. I spent some time with the game over the weekend and wrote a Scouting Report on it (which will go up not long after this does, if it’s not up already). World Series Baseball ’96 and Triple Play 96 caught my eye as I didn’t own either, and the Indy Car Racing game is a game that I will be going into completely blind.

Turning to the Super NES games, NBA Live ’98 completes the rather short NBA Live series run on the SNES for me. By the time the 1998 sports year games were coming out, the fifth console generation was already well underway and the 16-bit games were basically afterthoughts. American Gladiators on the Super NES is the third game in that franchise that I own. The NES game is perhaps the most notable, since it came from Incredible Technologies… the development company that would later create a little game called Golden Tee Golf, which you might have heard of. Finally, Suzuka 8 Hours is a port of a Namco coin-op. It’s heavy on the Mode 7, and it has a steep learning curve– if you’ll pardon the racing pun.

Mode 7 at work in Suzuka 8 Hours.
Mode 7 at work in Suzuka 8 Hours.

Last, but not least, there’s Top Gear Overdrive for the Nintendo 64. This game is a curiosity for me, mainly because of the development studio who put it together: Snowblind Studios. Snowblind Studios is perhaps most well-known for developing Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, Champions of Norrath, and Champions: Return to Arms during the sixth console generation. These aren’t sports games, but they’re some of my favorite non-sports games for the PlayStation 2 console. So, I’m curious to see this effort… which is a stark contrast from hack-and-slash dungeon crawls.

That’s all for this installment of New to the Lineup. Look for more content soon!

Scouting Report: Moto Racer (PlayStation, 1997)

Scouting Report: Moto Racer (PlayStation, 1997)

1997 was my favorite year in console video game history. Big non-sports games like Ace Combat 2, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, PaRappa the Rapper, and Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation were complemented by what was arguably EA Sports’ best year of releases for the platform… especially NHL ’98, which is one of my all-time favorite hockey games.

Another EA-published game from 1997, Moto Racer, had flown under my radar until just recently– thanks to a $2 find at a local video game store– and it’s a shame that I missed out on it until now, because my first impressions of it are really quite positive.

Moto Racer is a motorcycle racing game from Delphine Software. Delphine might sound familiar to you; it’s the same development studio that delivered Another World, Flashback, and… Shaq-Fu. Shaq Diesel is nowhere to be found in this game, however. It’s an arcade-style racing game that feels a little bit like Ridge Racer on two wheels to me. It’s fast, it’s smooth, it’s forgiving, and it’s fun to play.

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The track design is pretty interesting, ranging from mountainous roads to dirt and sand courses to a track along the top of the Great Wall of China. The default bike that I used had really good handling, so navigating turns was fairly easy… with proper acceleration control. The dirt and sand courses try to be a little too much like BMX, with lots of hills and opportunities to get air; unfortunately, I didn’t find a way to preload before jumps, so there were spots where speed really suffered on groups of jumps and a once-commanding lead was trimmed considerably before I was able to find a groove again.

Visually, Moto Racer really impressed me. Most of the time, the frame rate is pretty smooth and there’s a decent sense of speed. There are times when things slow down a little bit, especially on dirt and sand courses when there are a lot of racers on the screen at once, but this tends to smooth out once most of the other bikes are out of the way. Crashes usually throw you off the bike in pretty painful ways. The sound is fine, highlighted by “YAAAHOOO!!!” when your racer catches air, and the music is decent.

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Completing the game’s Championship Mode unlocks reverse layouts of some of the tracks in the game, adding to the challenge. I didn’t spend any time (yet) tinkering with the other bikes or bike settings. The CPU opponents usually keep things close for the first lap or two before players will often get the best of them.

I think the comparison to Ridge Racer is apt, save for a lack of drifting and the decidedly different soundtrack choices. The courses twist and turn, the vehicles are fast and generally handle well, and the game is very accessible to players of all skill levels. I was able to pick up and play the game without reading the manual or going through any kind of tutorial, and that was a big plus.

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I’ll certainly revisit Moto Racer in the future, and am looking forward to trying out Moto Racer 2 when I have a bit more time. I can say, though, that if you can find the game on the cheap… give it a spin. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s no Road Rash or Moto GP, but it’s fun to play.

From The Ref’s Office: July 13, 2016

Yes. It’s been quite some time. Three months, in fact. I want to address three questions:

First: So, what happened with the Retro Referee?

When I started this site back in March, I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted it to work. Talking about old sports video games was a pretty niche thing, and it’s something that I enjoy doing. The problem was that I was launching the project in the middle of a semester of college– and that was poor timing. A full course load left me with little free time and I was unable to update the site often after the first couple of weeks. Moreover, I jumped from the throes of the spring semester into a trio of summer classes… so I’ve been buried under schoolwork ever since, including writing 10-page papers every week since the first week of June. It’s been a challenge.

Simply put: I haven’t had the time that I thought I would have had to add new stuff here. If I could go back in time and do things differently, I probably would have held off until after school was done– but it is what it is. Lesson learned.

Second: What about your other projects? Why did you abandon them?

I’ve received complaints (and harsh words) about past projects of mine that I failed to continue after a certain point. While I understand the criticism, my decisions to move on and try new things are mine to make. I’ve had my reasons, ranging from analytics on YouTube to brand consolidation to time availability. Could I have done better at following through with those past projects? Sure. Should I have stayed with them and made them work? Perhaps.

If people are unhappy because of my failings with past projects, or don’t feel that they see enough effort, that’s their prerogative and they can move on from my work– no big deal. I get that there’s going to be some unhappiness and/or disappointment.

That said, I’ve heard enough and talked enough about it. Future comments or complaints about this issue on this site will be discarded without response, harsh as that sounds. This is the last time that I will address this topic.

Third: So what happens now?

At this time, I can’t promise a timetable for updates. I will be expanding the spectrum of content updates here beyond just sports video games, however; recent game pickups, links to and comments about content from other sites, random impressions of games that I’ve been playing, and, yes– retro sports video games– are all in play. I will stick with the Retro Referee character, because I think it’s a pretty good one.