The Nerd: Most of the video games I talk about are... action games, sidescrollers, games that are in the realms of fantasy. But... there's a huge, huge following for games based on sports, and I get a lot of requests for that. And, I'm not really a big fan. Because.. I don't know, I-I guess I like fantasy games more, because it's something that you couldn't do in real life, whereas a sports game, you could... go outside and play sports. It's possible. Not for me, 'cause... I don't know anything about sports. I'm a fuckin' nerd!
The Nerd: Usually, I stick to what I know best. But sports video games have been around since video games first existed. They're not goin' away. How do I ignore it for so long? I can't. There's boxing and racing games; I don't mind those too much, but the ones we're talkin' about are all the ball games, like baseball. Look how many baseball games there are. I don't even know where to begin. "Major League", "All Stars", whatever, always named after players' names, sequels to games-- What the Hell's different this time? It's baseball. And there's basketball. NBA this and NBA that. One of the most popular games of all time is NBA Jam. Okay, it's basketball... again.
The Nerd: Football; don't even get me started! And I'm not talkin' about the kind of football where they actually use their foot. I mean the kind where they slam into each other, like a bunch of barbarians! (pounds fist and grunts)
The Nerd: What I don't understand is why everything is always "bowl". What, like a toilet bowl? Okay, I know at least what the Super Bowl is. It's the most anticipated football game in the season. And with so much testosterone and high energy goin' around, why is the halftime show always some pussy pop group? Get Metallica in there or somethin'; It doesn't make any sense!
The Nerd: All right. Back to football video games. Madden, Madden, Madden. Madden '91, Madden '92, Madden '93, (He starts going through the titles rapidly) Madden '94, Madden '95, Madden '96, Madden '97, Madden '98, Madden '99, Madden 2000, Madden 2001, Madden 2002, Madden 2003-- WHO THE FUCK IS JOHN MADDEN ANYWAY?! He doesn't even look like an athlete!
The Nerd: What is it with football? Everywhere you go, football! Go there; football! Football, football, football! Like, what the fuck?! Sunday football. Monday night football, Thursday football, Football on Thanksgiving! Football on Christmas! And out of all sports, it's the one everybody goes the most fuckin' apeshit over! MAKES 'EM ACT LIKE FUCKIN' MANIACS! (pushes games off the shelf and presses a can of Rolling Rock against his forehead while he screams angrily)
The Nerd: (sighs) Man, I gotta calm down. All right. If I'm gonna play some sports games, I gotta start with the Atari 2600. Yeah! This is when sports games were fuckin' sports games.
The Nerd: Look at these titles! Baseball, Basketball, Football, not this "Madden" shit. Just plain-ass, normal, everyday, no question about it, no NFL, no year, not named after a player, not named after a coach, not named after the referee's pet goldfish, no quarterback, dime-back, Nickelback, simple, ordinary, un-embellished, unmistakable, crystal clear, as frank as Frankenstein, as blunt as an atom bomb, one compound word: It's MOTHERFUCKING, GODDAMNED, SONS-OF-BITCHIN', FUCK-FUCK-FUCKIN', FOOTBALL! (slams cartridge into the system and growls)
The Nerd: Aaand it's one of the worst games I ever played in my life. Are these football players, or are they Stormtroopers? Are they wearing helmets, or are these microwaves on their heads? Is it Team White vs. Team... Naked? Is that a crowd noise, or is it the sounds of the ocean? Is that the entire field? Yeah, it is. And it's surrounded by water, it looks like. Yeah, it's like an island. It's Football Island. (chuckles) In other words, Hell. I'm gonna make it, I'm gonna make it, yeah, yeah...! (scores a touchdown) TOUCHDOWN!
(The Nerd screams hysterically and tackles the camera to the ground)
The Nerd: To be fair, football games had to start somewhere. In RealSports Football and Super Challenge Football, the players look more like people, and the screen scrolls. In Super Football, there's a 3D perspective. Pretty ambitious for the Atari 2600. I'd say play this one...or the latest "Madden."
The Nerd: Basketball, now this is some great stuff. What is this? Purple man can't jump? I love that you're dribbling a square ball. That's right, this was before circles were invented. I like how the players are constantly stomping around, like Les Claypool or Angus Young. Or perhaps like a dog, getting its belly scratched.
The Nerd: Oh, look at this, look at this! Yeah! You can't do that in NBA Jam! You can actually keep playing after the timer runs out. This is a pretty fun game for what it is, but there's simple things they couldn't get right. If you select 1 player, you get the 2 player mode, and if you select 2 players, you get the 1 player mode. I'm not kidding.
The Nerd: When it comes to baseball games, there's a handful of them. Like Home Run. Even though I know nothing about sports, I can tell you one thing. There's only one pitcher in baseball! What the Hell's going on here? They eat the other players! In the same way that Pac-Man eats the ghosts.
The Nerd: Super Challenge Baseball is slightly advanced. By slightly, I mean... it's like a bunch of restroom signs got loose and started playing a game of baseball. The batter's sorta like a letter G that's been stepped on or something.
The Nerd: Nobody has a neck and they balance the balls on their heads. But hey, it looks better than the other game, and graphics don't matter much if the game plays well. And this one... does not. It's shit. I can't figure out how to control the other players. And it's Atari. There's not too many buttons to try. Have you ever seen a game of baseball where the catcher runs out to get the ball? By the time he gets it, the batter has already run to first base, had a cup of coffee, and watched the whole Godfather trilogy.
The Nerd: Then I tried throwing the ball back to the pitcher, but it keeps going through him. What am I supposed to do to continue the game? I guess I gotta go downstairs to home plate.
The Nerd: RealSports Baseball is even more advanced. But the sound effects are awful. Listen.
The Nerd: That is the sound of all-encompassing negativity. Really, what's it supposed to be? The sound of the bat cutting through space and time? Why is the batter naked? I'm not tryin' to be funny, he is naked. You can see all the other players wearing shirts and pants. The batter is naked. And they gave him a dick. Maybe it's the knee, but then where's the other knee? It's a dick. The batter is naked. Concluded.
The Nerd: Ice Hockey. It's somewhat playable. This is a little bit of an economic version of hockey. They can only get two sticks, so when the player passes the puck to his teammate, they have to pass the stick, too.
The Nerd: RealSports Volleyball. Your teammate is your mirror double, and can only copy your every move. When you bend over, you look like a harp. The sound of the ocean is like an atom bomb going off.
The Nerd: The net is like nunchucks, and the sun is like Pac-Man with his mouth shut. In fact, it is. Fun game, though. Very intuitive and playable.
The Nerd: Boxing. What is this? Geodude fighting Mr. Game & Watch in the middle of a baseball field? I gotta admit, I was pretty confused looking at this, until I figured out that it's an overhead view. All along I thought they were crabs or something. (chuckles) This is hilarious. Too bad there's no fall-down graphic, because then we could have seen their whole bodies.
The Nerd: Let's step it up with RealSports Boxing. As the title suggests, this is the real version. The graphics are way advanced, even though you can see through the outlines on their arms, and when they get knocked down, they look like they've been squashed by a steamroller. They punch each other so hard, the sounds of their impacts resonate like a cannon blast. And one more thing: you can select your character. For the 2600, that is pretty innovative.
The Nerd: Tennis. Playable, yes. Graphically advanced, no. Is that a net, or is it a wall? Could they not make a simple grid? Yes, they could! RealSports Tennis actually has a net. And get this: you can enter a name! Not that I care to, but it's another interesting thing to see in a 2600 game.
The Nerd: Grand Pricks. Yeah, it's "prix," but it looks like "pricks." It's a bunch of kazoos flyin' through a cabbage patch. Not too bad. But then try out Math Grand Prix. Your car can't move until you finish a math question! You wouldn't wish this game on your worst enemies.
The Nerd: Karate. What's up with your legs? They're multi-jointed! It's like you're fighting on a giant Combo! You know, those little pretzel bites with cheese in the middle? Yeah, I'm stretchin' now. Before there were combos in Killer Instinct, you were... mashin' the button hoping you'll eventually hit your opponent. It's crap. Moving on.
The Nerd: International Soccer. Have 45 minutes to spare? Ugh, then I wouldn't recommend it. Let's see if Pelé's Soccer is any better. (Laughs) OH, MY GOD! (moans) Oh, man! Which one is Pelé? Let me guess, the round one. This is the only sports game I think I've ever played, where the controls are so broken it's impossible to score! Even if you purposely let your opponent come to your goal, you can't keep your goalie from automatically blockin' the ball! And when you get to the opposite goal, you can't keep your players from automatically kicking the ball all over the place! I'm not even touching the button! Stop kicking the fucking ball!
The Nerd: Golf. (The Nerd watches the game, shocked) This...sucks. You can whack the ball until the cows come home, but that ball is not goin' anywhere you want it to. Every time I try to hit it, it goes straight up or down! I've tried approaching it from every angle possible. The club is useless. It's like the staff in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The Nerd: Oh, c'mon! Oh, my God! Get it over there! (he struggles) FUCK! And the par is 3? How could anyone do this in 3 strokes? I've actually reached 99 and rolled the counter over to 0! If I can get 3 now, would that count?
The Nerd: And this person golfing looks like MIMAL the elf. Now I have to explain. If you look on the United States map, MIMAL is an acronym for Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Spells MIMAL, and looks like an elf. With Minnesota being the hat, Louisiana being the foot. And that's MIMAL playing golf. But am I talkin' about video games here, or US geography? Let's move on.
The Nerd: Let's try Miniature Golf. (The Nerd watches the game, twice as stunned) What the hell, man?! It's like the characters from Pong went to play golf! Ho-ho, good Lord! Oh, it's killing me! Oh, you're a square, pushing a smaller square towards another sq...(laughs) my God... I don't even know what to say about this game! Just look at it!
The Nerd: Well, that's Atari Sports for ya. Some of these games were pretty innovative for their time, and others were... a little crappy. I think it's obvious to say that in all the years since, sports games have gotten better. So if that's the type of game you enjoy, then game on.
The Nerd: Maybe you're the kind of person who remembers which bush to burn in The Legend of Zelda to find the labyrinth, or maybe you're the kind of person who remembers the score to some sports game years ago.
The Nerd: Maybe you like to go around in a Star Trek uniform, or you like to go around in a sports uniform. And I don't mean like a sports T-shirt, but, the same jersey that the players in the game wear. Whatever the case, maybe, somehow, in our own ways, we're all nerds.