NES Play Action Football

Nintendo for NES – Sports – 1990 – Rating: 4/10

Across the spectrum of video gaming, there’s something you learn fairly quickly: Nintendo can’t do sports games. They really can’t. Only on rare occasions could they create a really great one; definitely Ice Hockey on the NES, maybe Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort definitely qualify. These are rare exceptions to the rule.

For the sake of this review, the important thing to know is that this videogame is not Tecmo Super Bowl. This is NES Play Action Football, NOT Tecmo Super Bowl.

Thank you and goodnight!

What, you want more? Why? What would be the point? Play Action Football sucks. No, really, it sucks like a bilge pump. It’s a shame, actually; you can tell that it’s a game Nintendo put great effort and time into. I will give them that much credit. The graphics, the whole visual presentation, are top notch. Not only do you have players that are large and drawn nicely, but numerous animated scoreboard sequences appear after crucial plays. You have something that, in the modern mindset, would be a strong foundation for future versions.

But here’s the problem. Well, the problem after the fact that it’s not Tecmo Super Bowl. It’s just this game doesn’t play very well. It’s incredibly slow and choppy. Do you remember those old Game and Watch handhelds that Nintendo made in the early ’80s? Play Action Football moves exactly like that. I can’t even call it animation, really. The players don’t move. They just shuffle from one still pose to the next down the field.

Perhaps the NES just couldn’t handle speed with a field full of players, I thought. But then I clicked on…you know, that other title, wink, wink. And that game plays fast and smooth with no problems.

Then consider that Play Action Football switches to a faraway aerial view for pass plays. See those screenshot on the back of the box? Forget it. The close-up view is replaced with tiny ants. And they still move in patches. So I really don’t know what Nintendo was thinking. Either the programmers were too inexperienced, or the game was designed way over in Japan, where no one in their right minds has any clue what the heck “American Football” is all about.

But then, once again, we have Tecmo. So those excuses are thrown out the window.

And have I mentioned that I couldn’t find the running plays for my offense? There’s only a handful of plays in the entire game, and I can’t find any running plays. Which only adds to the confusion when the computer runs the ball. And then it just hikes the ball to the running back, which confuses me more. Did the programmers even know what this sport was, or did they just watch a videotape of a British rugby match one Saturday afternoon? Maybe they watched a commercial on TV once. Harumph.

At least the scoreboard clips are nice. Whatever. Tecmo Bowl smokes this effort by a country mile, and Tecmo Super Bowl leapfrogs the lot of ’em. Hang onto your cash for that little gem, folks. And somebody tell Nintendo to stop making bad sports videogames, not until they can learn the rules.

Oh, No! It’s DEVO

Devo, Oh, No! It’s Devo (1982)

I don’t honestly know if you have to have lived through the New Wave era of the early 1980s to really appreciate how cool Oh, No! It’s DEVO is. Probably not. This is one of those rare albums: a perfect snapshot of its era, and somehow ahead of its time. You have to keep one eye on Weird Al’s Dare to be Stupid, the other on industrial music.

I think I’m feeling nostalgic for those days, the early days of MTV (back when MTV played nothing but music videos, all of them good), Atari, Pac-Man, E.T., Rubik’s Cube, the Space Shuttle. It was a great little point in history, so filled with the joy of life and the energy of youth. Well, I was in early grade school, the early part of “youth.” But it was a fun time, the New Wave era. It’s been completely swept under the tide of corporate-sanitized history, desperate to sell brainless 12-year-olds on some vapid saltwater consumerism.

Ugh, today’s pop music sucks. It hasn’t been this bad since the hair metal days of the late ’80s. It might be worse; I don’t know if another Saint Cobain could come along and smash it. If there was ever a time for a band like Devo, it’s here and it’s now. If such a band is truly out there, somebody needs to unlock them from the garage and set them loose.

There’s always been a great degree of subversive attitude from Devo. Essentially an art-house band, they sought to criticize the modern culture and the devolution of our civilization, but wrap that within some killer pop music. There are a lot of souls who listen to Devo songs, never suspecting just what is going on. They’ll toss aside as mere fluff. Even critics, who should know better, look upon it as a big joke. Generation gap, children. The spuds are smiling, but they’re baring the fangs, and they’re laughing at you.

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Sony PS-X75 Biotracer Turntable

Sony PS-X75 Biotracer Turntable

I still miss my Sony PS-X75 turntable. It had just the perfect combination of awesome performance and stylish looks. To my eyes, this is what a great turntable looks like. Today’s designs are far more stripped down and basic, since vinyl records are a small niche. But back in the 1970s, when millions of turntables were sold, Japanese manufacturers were able to devote their considerable engineering skills to the craft.

Sony’s PS-X75 represented the third generation from their golden age of turntable design. The PS-X5/6/7 series began the peak, it then continued with the X50/60/70 series, and then the great X65/75 tables. They continued to refine this design well into the early 1980s, when Compact Disc arrived and sent all the engineers scurrying away to master the new format.

This PS-X75 features Sony’s unique tonearm, dubbed the “Biotracer.” It began on an earlier model (PS-B80 in 1978) and was nearly perfected here. The Biotracer uses magnets and electronic parts for its automated movements, promising shiny touch controls. Just press a button and Biotracer takes care of everything; you never have to lay a finger on the tonearm.

The Biotracer design also tackles tonearm resonance, one of the oldest engineering challenges in turntables. Most tonearms must be matched properly with the tonearm, so resonances do not interfere with the musical signal. Sony’s design essentially eliminates this problem. In theory, you should be able to play any kind of phono cartridge on the Biotracer, regardless of its mass or compliance (the adjustable Vertical Tracking Adjustment helps greatly).

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