BEST OF THE BEST: Part 14 (11/06)

Sports and Fighting! Two genres that go pretty well together, especially when our sports-based audience are primarily MMA and Wrestling fans. If you’re an SNK or Street Fighter fan, like myself, you’ll be disappointed with the games in the Fighting category. Same with you Madden fans, as I don’t think there’s been a member of the Games staff that has ever liked a Madden game.

With that said, let’s go take a look.

32. Best Sports Game
Award Winner in 2003: ESPN NFL Football 2k4
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Visual Concepts
Release Date: 09/03/2003
Systems Released On: Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation 2

Award Winner in 2004: ESPN NFL Football 2K5
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Visual Concepts
Release Date: 07/20/2004
Systems Released On: Microsoft Xbox, Sony Playstation 2

Award Winner in 2005: Smackdown vs Raw 2006
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yukes
Release Date: 11/14/2005
System Released On: Sony Playstation 2 (We will not speak of the PSP version and its horror)

Award Winner in 2006: Wii Sports
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 11/19/2006
System Released On: Nintendo Wii

What a varied award. If it had remained the original staff, and Sega had been allowed to continue their football games, I think the 2K Sports series would have swept this award.

Bottom line: Madden = rehashed crap with little to no innovation each year. 2k Sports = Holy hell awesome. And I’m not even a fan of football. I think it’s a pussy sport. But man was 2K5 one of the best sports games I have ever played. It’s just sad that EA saw a better game at half the cost and so they went out of their way to obtain the NFL license as an exclusive. But this is all an old story, and so I don’t need to keep rehashing it again and again, as it just serves to make everyone angry and remember why most people hate EA (yet keep buying their games. Go figure).

Smackdown vs Raw 2006 was the first good WWF game in half a decade, and god knows the follow up was awful. It was only an above average game that was too easy for my liking, but it was a lot better than what had come out previously for the PS2. That and Eddie Guerrero being stuffed in a coffin and laid to rest in the game was the biggest “OH FUCK” moment of the year, considering he died 6 days before the game was released.

Wii Sports is simply one of the best sports games of all time. Easy to pick up, crazy addictive and fun for everyone, even if you don’t like sports. I love Wii Baseball and Tennis. I’m crazy good at Bowling, but it bores me after a while. Tennis and Golf are great, but I suck at them.

Although we’re a very sports connected site, we’ve never had a lot of sports gamers. That being said, I really do think we hit it right each year with this award. Which is rare.

ESPN NFL 2k4 (Cory Laflin)
ESPN NFL 2k4 (Lee Baxley)
No review found for ESPN NFL 2K5
Wii Sports (Tom Pandich)

33. Best Fighting Game
Award Winner in 2003: Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega-AM2
Release Date: 08/13/2003
System Released On: Sony Playstation 2

Award Winner in 2004: Guilty Gear X2 #RELOAD
Publisher: Majesco Games
Developer: Arc Developments
Release Date: 09/14/2004
System Released On: Microsoft Xbox

Award Winner in 2005: Soul Calibur 3
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Release Date: 10/25/2005
System Released On: Sony Playstation 2

Award Winner in 2006: Street Fighter Alpha Anthology
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: 06/13/2006
System Released On: Sony Playstation 2

What an eclectic grouping this is. Two 3-D fighters and two 2-D fighters. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of the VF or Soul Calibur games. The complete thrashing of SC2 by the complete IP (then 411) games staff when it came out was deserved. Everyone else was creaming about being able to play as Spawn or Link, and overlooking the fact that the game was way too easy and pretty crappy, even for a 3-D fighter. I was really dismayed SCIII won when Mark only gave it a 6.0.

Guilty Gear has always been one of those weird games with me. I like it and hate it at the same time. Gameplay is good, graphics and sound are well done, but the characters themselves bug me. Too over the top maybe says the guy who likes Yuri, Duck King, and Shingo in SNK games.

SFAA is my favorite of the four, if only because it’s the first time Capcom managed to properly port a Street Fighter game to the PS2. Not just one either: ALL THE ALPHA GAMES. Wow. Compare the quality of this to the SF Alpha Anthology and how bad that was. Or the SF games in the Capcom Classics Collection. Night and day baby. NIGHT AND DAY. Funny enough, SFAA was supposed to be my retirement review.

Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (Alex Williams)
Guilty Gear XX #Reload (Alex Williams)
Soul Calibur III (Mark B.)
Street Fighter Alpha Anthology (Lucard)

And that’s it for today. Tomorrow we’ll be looking at awards about the industry rather than any specific games themselves. Stay tuned for “Biggest News Story of the Year” and “Gaming Lowlight.”