Tuesday Treasures: Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey

Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks on winning the Stanley Cup last night! It was an arduous post-season, one that saw the Hawks down to their rivals the Detroit Red Wings three games to one in the second round of the playoffs. This Blackhawks team is truly one of the toughest squads I’ve ever seen in any sport, and it was a joy to watch them. Excellent job, guys!

YEAAAAAAHHH

YEAAAAAAHHH

Now for the business of the day. In 1996, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky hit the arcades with Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey, a fully 3D sports game. Developed by Atari and released by Williams, WG3D is an action-sports title rather than a hockey simulation. The game features licenses by both the NHL and NHLPA, and includes (at the time) all 26 teams as well as team logos and nicknames. Each team has 17 players who all play their actual positions.

WG3D’s gameplay pits two teams of 4 players (including the goalie) against each other over 3 two minute periods. Players can shoot, pass, and defend with the assist of a turbo button to quicken and strengthen their actions. Footage of the game (captured by N64Guide) can be seen below.

WG3D’s gameplay is similar to its contemporary NBA Jam, the action-arcade basketball title. Both games focuses on fun and chaos while following only the basic rules of each game’s respective sport. Physical play is encouraged in WG3D, and fights can break out just like the actual sport. As in NBA Jam, if a player scores three goals in a row, they become “on fire” and are awarded with an infinite turbo meter.

Perhaps the goofiest thing that can happen during a game is when a goalie turns into a brick wall.

In November of 1996, Midway Games ported WG3D exclusively to the Nintendo 64 console. This version of the game retains the arcade version’s 3D polygonal look and features support for up to 4 people for multiplayer matches. Penalties can be turned on or off, and there is a choice between playing an arcade-style game or a simulation-style game.

In 1997, a sequel to WG3D was released, the Midway published Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey ’98 for the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStationDeveloped by Software Creations, the sequel also included a simulation mode that sought to more accurately recreate an actual game of hockey.

In 1998, Midway published the Treyarch developed Olympic Hockey Nagano ’98, which uses the WG3D game engine but did not feature Gretzky’s endorsement. Instead, the game features Olympic and NHLPA licenses. OHN’98 has the unfortunate distinction of being gaming site IGN’s lowest rated game ever with a score of 0.0

Again, big congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks for the victory, and respect to the Boston Bruins for fighting hard during the Stanley Cup finals. Maybe the Blackhawks’ success will influence a certain baseball team on the city’s north side.

Sigh… until next time.

Peace & Pucks

Superman’s Video Game Debut

As many geek culture aficionados know (and I embarrassingly just found out), Superman turned 75 two months ago to the day. A lofty milestone indeed, considering that the character is still active, his latest exploit being the film Man of Steel, which currently dominates the worldwide box office.

There are a few other anniversaries the Man of Steel has or will be celebrating this year. The black-and-white Superman serials turned 65 this January; the Richard Donner film Superman turns 35 in December; the film Superman III turned 30 yesterday; the animated 1980s Saturday morning cartoon show Superman turns 25 in September; and both the comic book storyline “Reign of the Supermen!” and the television show Lois & Clark will turn 20.

But this being a video game blog, interactive electronics are the topic of the day. Not only can Superman celebrate his comic book debut this year, the character can also celebrate his video game debut which took place thirty-four years ago.

In 1979, Atari published the game Superman for the Atari 2600. Designed by John Dunn, the game featured the titular hero as he attempts to repair a bridge by damaged supervillain Lex Luthor. Using his powers of flight, super strength, and X-ray vision, Superman must apprehend Luthor and his associates, then become Clark Kent and return to the Daily Planet in the shortest amount of time possible. Luthor thwarts Superman by spreading Kryptonite–the radioactive pieces of Superman’s homeworld Krypton — throughout the city of Metropolis. If hit by Kryptonite, Superman loses all his powers and can only replenish them by kissing Lois Lane.

Superman features a two-player mode in addition to it’s single-player campaign; one player can control Superman’s left and right movement’s while the other moves Superman up and down. Such a control scheme likely caused a riot during family time (especially if you had any bad cousins come visit; not that I know such a fate).

I’ve never personally played Superman, but thanks to the glory of the Web, I found this gameplay footage.

As you can see (and hear), it’s… rough, but this game was released over three decades ago. Interestingly, the game does try portraying both Superman and Clark Kent as figures, which doesn’t happen often in gaming. I wonder what the latest Batman title would be like if you had to play as both Bruce Wayne and Batman in the same game. What if you had to investigate the threat of corporate espionage within WayneTech and then go on patrol as Batman knowing your business may be compromised by a possible mole?

Perhaps I got a little beside myself there…

It’s a miracle that any comic book character can exist for 75 years and still be profitable. Here’s to 75 more for Earth’s favorite alien, and hopefully some better Superman games!

Peace & Pixels

A Trip Back to the Wasteland?

Now some people (as in three and maybe a third) may read this title and think:Classic game blog; he must be talking about Fallout“. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that, good guess. However, before Fallout was even thought of, there was a source for that franchise’s inspiration. The wellspring of which many post-apocalyptic fiction flows.

That source is of course Mad Max.

Firstly, I love the Mad Max movies. Those three films form the perfect sci-fi trilogy (that could have been you Star Wars) and convey a wonderful sense of isolation, survival and desperation. If you haven’t seen any of these movies, by all means check them out.

Despite the great lore of the Mad Max franchise, it hasn’t had a great presence in video games, at least not directly. The only official video game that has ever been released is Mad Max, which was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1990.

But that game is getting some company. I thought I was dreaming because I was half asleep when I saw it, but a new Mad Max game is coming soon.

I’m stoked for this. The chance to play a new game based on the Mad Max franchise is one of the best things I heard from E3. Hopefully, the game’s developers get it right. Too often have games based on movies fallen short, and it would be a shame if that happened to this new Mad Max game. One thing that is concerning is that Max’s signature vehicle, the Interceptor, is stolen in the game. I hope that the player doesn’t lose that car for long, because it’s one of the greatest vehicles in cinema and would be absolutely great in a game due to its raw horsepower. Here’s hoping for the best.

Peace & Pixels

Edit: I had heard this briefly last week, but apparently Avalanche Studios, the developers of this game, were going to use an American voice actor to voice Max. Fans of the Road Warrior were having none of that, and created a petition on Change,org which garnered over 2,800 signatures. The petition worked, even though it was just over 2100 signatures shy of its goal. Max will now be voiced be an Aussie.

A Few Things…

I’ve been away for a little while, and quite a bit has happened.

The Chicago Blackhawks are going to the Stanley Cup Finals!! YAAAAAAAAAAYYY

I saw the Rolling Stones in concert for the first and perhaps final time (thanks to the House of Ormsby).

I found out that the Xbox One’s used game policy may not be as austere as once believed, but still questionable at best. If the decision to let a third party decide what a consumer chooses to do with his or her own purchased goods, Microsoft can expect bigger troubles in the very near future.

Kiefer Sutherland has been revealed as the voice of Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Let me say that again, in slight more sensationalist terms… Jack Bauer is now the voice of Snake.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is happening on Monday, and it should be an intriguing watch. Each of the video game industry’s big three– Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo– have different stake in regards to the next generation of gaming. Nintendo will not have a large press conference this year, but rather a social media driven experience powered by Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. Whether or not this approach is successful remains to be seen, but it’s clear that with the struggles of  its Wii U console, Nintendo has got to do something to convince both the gaming public (and game developers based on the lack of third part development) that the Wii U is worthy.

Sony official introduced its PlayStation 4 to the gaming world in February, and has billed its system as a game-centric console. This is a switch in approach from the PlayStation 3, which has described in advertisements as the system that “does everything”.  After two generations of video game dominance, Sony lagged behind Microsoft and Nintendo for much of last generation. With the Wii U struggling and early discontent with the Xbox One, Sony is certainly looking to pull ahead with any advantage it can get.

Microsoft did well last generation, and established itself as a major force in the home video game market. Now, Microsoft is looking to build on its success with the Xbox One, and all-in-one gaming console. Microsoft already has had some bad press with new system. In addition to the used game issue, there was the May 21st conference in which the console was introduced, which caused a backlash against the system on Twitter.

We’ll see what tomorrow holds. It’s too early for me personally to pick any winner in the new console race, and in anything can change. I’m excited nonetheless, though. Until next time.

Peace & Pixels