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Arcade Games: Where Art Thou?



NBA Street: Homecourt

Some of the best reviewed and best remembered sports games of the past two generations have been of the arcade variety. In fact, these titles were once a staple of the genre. I’ve spent the same amount of time playing NBA Street, NFL Street, the Midway titles, and The Bigs as I have their AAA counterparts. (For this article, I’m purposefully leaving out extreme sports and racing games, which often intentionally straddle the line between sim and arcade).

What makes these titles shine is their ability to capture what we like about sports -- gameplay, player ability, roster management, etc. -- in quick, hard-hitting doses. When playing an arcade title, I don’t care about slider adjustments or statistical realism; I just want to see how the next play unfolds and ultimately affects the scoreboard. In some ways, these games are the purest representations of sports available.

Additionally, these games have often innovated and influenced the genre. Player abilities in games like The Bigs 2 aren't that different from those found in NBA 2K14 -- both kick in depending on situation and context. Building a team in the NFL and NBA Street games mirror what’s fun about modes like Ultimate Team without any kind of micro-transactions. And, while a little crude, the story lines in the Blitz games offered real context to an entirely fictional league.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen these kinds of title disappear from the traditional market. If I look at a list of disc-based sports games from the past two years, only one (FIFA Street) really follow the trend started by these other titles.


The BiGS 2

So where have all of the Arcade titles gone?

For one, arcade sports games have, to some degree, embraced the digital market. We've seen re-imaginings of games like NBA Jam and NFL Blitz debut on the digital stores of the 360 and PS3 -- often to mixed results. These types games have also gained a tenuous foothold on mobile platforms.

Sometimes these experiences have been transferred -- and in the process watered down -- to motion-based games using the Kinect and PS Move. In these cases, the depth has transitioned from roster and game management to mastering often frustrating controls. Kinect Sports is a good example of some nice arcade gameplay limited by the motion-based focus of its design.

It's also the case that these titles have been relegated to the kids’ game sub-genre. Games like Little League World Series Baseball and Nicktoons MLB have contained some of the features I like in my arcade sports games, but are aimed primarily at children. To some degree, this is a natural fit; after all, these titles simplify sports to their most basic elements. However, in the process, some of the more interesting and complex systems are lost.

I would guess this movement from disc-based AAA sports arcade titles is symptomatic of the decline in sports games as a whole. When we are losing core series like NCAA and MLB 2K, it shouldn't come as a surprise that those on the periphery would go first.

I’m not sure if these titles will ever regain the popularity they experienced in the early to mid 2000s, so perhaps it’s time for everyone to check out what made them great -- developers included. A spring NFL Street-type game could easily fill the hole left by the departing NCAA series. A solid arcade experience could be the answer to baseball on the Xbox One. EA may even want to jettison what (little) progress was made on NBA Live 14 in favor of a new NBA Street.

In the meantime, try to pick up some of these games before they disappear for good during the transition to the next generation.


Member Comments
# 1 SHAKYR @ 01/13/14 10:23 AM
I hope arcade game make a comeback because I'm tired of getting hybrid sports games with arcade and sim mixed into the main gameplay instead of having to separate styles in one. I don't see arcade making a major comeback unless you give those fans full character customization and options to keep them interested.
 
# 2 HunterK13 @ 01/13/14 11:25 AM
I miss the NBA and NFL Street games. I played NFL Street 2 more than Madden, and I love Madden. They kind of lost me with NFL Street 3 with the control changes. And NBA Street Homecourt was bad compared to the previous 3 entries in that series. But honestly those games were awesome because you get the fun of pick-up with the ability of the best athletes in the world. Can we get NFL Street 2 and NBA Street Vol. 2 remastered?
 
# 3 eaterofworlds888 @ 01/13/14 11:25 AM
I'm more of a sim gamer, but I really miss the NBA Street series.
 
# 4 scottyp180 @ 01/13/14 02:22 PM
This is a question I asl myself from time to time. Nfl blitz, nhl hitz, and nba street are some of my favorite and I thinl most fun sports titlea of all time. I love sim games but its nice to have a quick easy to play title that you can play with your friends and not have to put much thought into. I think these titles are necessary to contrast the sim titles. I think of it like the movie industry. Everyone loves a movie with a great story that involves some thinking for the viewer (consider this a sim sports game) but sometimes you just want to watch a movie that involves minimal thinking but is a fun movie to watch, typically a comedy or straight up action movie (consider this arcade sports titles). I hope that sports companies will find a new love for such titles because I miss the days of nba street, nfl blitz, nhl hitz, mlb slugfest, the bigs, etc
 
# 5 jhartman01 @ 01/13/14 02:43 PM
I do agree that EA may have more luck re-doing the NBA Street series than trying to push a sim NBA product. In fact, an NBA Street game would probably outsell NBA Live. I can picture it now, NBA Street game with a mode where you could create your own streetball player and play games like you do at the Park in 2K. Now that would be interesting...with servers that actually work. LOL
 
# 6 TheBadazz @ 01/13/14 04:14 PM
I miss NBA Street and NFL Street. I wouldn't mind a update to NBA Jam! I have a Vita and those games would be sweet on that. EA missed out on some easy cash. Mindless fun without buying this and unlocking that.
 
# 7 Bad_Intentions @ 01/13/14 05:39 PM
It's not sports but def jam fight for NY was an amazing arcade fighter. EA destroyed it when they made icon.
 
# 8 Duece @ 01/13/14 11:53 PM
I would love an NBA Street V4... I didn't play Homecourt but NBA Street V3 was NEAR perfect. The game play was fun, the customization was loaded (create players, shoes, courts) and the career mode was long. Really would love to play that series again.
 
# 9 Artur @ 01/14/14 12:11 AM
I pray for authentic NBA Street )
 
# 10 Complex @ 01/14/14 05:04 AM
NBA Street was great. Definitely needs another edition on next gen.
 
# 11 boomhauertjs @ 01/14/14 06:47 AM
The market is there for a 2014 version of Power Pros (or even the Bobblehead game) with the absence of a baseball game on the Xbox.
 
# 12 rtkiii @ 01/14/14 09:35 AM
NBA Street was cool.
 
# 13 barimanlhs @ 01/14/14 07:40 PM
The one thing the NBA Street series had going for it was its incredible amount of fun, no matter how many times you played it. In fact there was a great stretch of time when everything coming out of EA Sports BIG was just fantastic....then something odd happened in the PS3 and 360 era and for whatever reason, video game fun was gone.

NBA Street Vol 2 had a fantastic formula and V3 completed it imo. I wasnt a fan of Homecourt because it didnt seem like a Street game (double dunks aside). Id love to see a true reboot of the Street series and SSX (A real reboot...) but I dont know if thatll happen any time soon.
 
# 14 barimanlhs @ 01/14/14 07:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhartman01
I do agree that EA may have more luck re-doing the NBA Street series than trying to push a sim NBA product. In fact, an NBA Street game would probably outsell NBA Live. I can picture it now, NBA Street game with a mode where you could create your own streetball player and play games like you do at the Park in 2K. Now that would be interesting...with servers that actually work. LOL
I agree with the premise of a new NBA Street game but PLEASE make it online option...not online required lol
 
# 15 dipset2050 @ 01/14/14 08:39 PM
I would GLADLY pay full retail for a remastered NBA Street Vol 2. I miss that game sooooooo much, At that time, I don't think there was a game I played more.
 
# 16 GCHJR @ 01/16/14 02:18 PM
EA HAS REALLY FELL OFF FROM WHAT THEY USED TO BE. ALL THEIR BEST GAMES NBA STREET, NFL STREET, AND DEF JAM VENDETTA ALL SCRATCHED? YOU CANT BE SERIOUS BRING BACK EA BIG AND STOP TRYING TO MAKE NBA LIVE AND GET BACK TO WHAT YOU KNOW BEST. WE ALL WANT A NEW NBA STREET AND DEF JAM VENDETTA
 
# 17 GCHJR @ 01/16/14 02:32 PM
BRING BACK A REALISTIC NBA STREET TO, WHAT I MEAN IS NO STUPID JUMPING OVER THE BACKBOARD DOUBLE DUNKING BS. THE FIRST TWO NBA STREETS WERE THE BEST BECAUSE THEY WERE IN THE REALM OF REALISM, JUMPING TOO HIGH ASIDE, THE TRICKS AND SOME IF NOT ALL THE DUNKS WERE POSSIBLE SO IT WAS EXCITING WHEN PULLING THEM OFF. A MORE REALISTIC STREETBALL GAME IN THE REALM OF NBA 2K14 "THE PARK" MODE WITH THE TRICKS AND DUNKS, ALONG WITH THE REAL LIFE HISTORIC COURTS. ALSO BRING BACK DEF JAM VENDETTA IN THE REALM OF WHAT MADE THE FIRST TWO GAMES GREAT WHICH WAS MORE OF A WRESTLING TYPE GAME AND NOT SOME GOOFY TURN TABLE SLUGGER TYPE GAME WHICH MADE DEF JAM ICON FORGETTABLE AND NOT AS FUN AS THE FIRST TWO
 
# 18 NastySplitty @ 01/16/14 10:02 PM
How 'bout some NHL Hitz from the original XBOX? That was fun, eh?
 
# 19 bmgoff11 @ 01/17/14 02:44 PM
Nba street need to come back

Sent from my SM-N900P using Tapatalk
 
# 20 HAILTOPITT @ 01/17/14 05:48 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by NastySplitty
How 'bout some NHL Hitz from the original XBOX? That was fun, eh?
NHL Hitz was great. So was MLB Slugfest. I miss those
 

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