Five Wide Fullbacks: The Video Game Edition

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Welcome to another edition of Five Wide Fullbacks. I'll be your host today as we take a look at five burning questions surrounding college football and the greater landscape of life.

But really I'm just here to talk about video games.

Let's do this right.

1. Who is the most underrated individual opponent on the 2012 schedule?

This is easy, it's upcoming BYU junior receiver Cody Hoffman. The Cougars passing game was pretty hit and miss last year but Hoffman put up some big numbers (61 receptions, 943 yards, 10 touchdowns) and is getting some All-American love from certain media outlets.

There's no doubt he's the most dangerous player Notre Dame will face that our fan base has probably never heard about before. You can expect Hammond and Mayock to bring him up incessantly during the game broadcast.

2. In honor of EA Sport's release of NCAA Football 2013 this week, give us your top ten video games of all-time.

I spent way too much time on this because I didn't want to leave a deserving game off the list, so I got it down to 19 games. The nine that just missed the cut are Super Mario Bros., GoldenEye, RC Pro-Am, Bad News Baseball, Days of Thunder, The Karate Kid, Bases Loaded, Paperboy, and NBA Jam.

Here are my top ten games in no particular order:

*Super Mario Bros. 2

The least popular of the series, but for some reason I always thought this was such a weird game---but weird in a good way. I think it's low popularity was due to such a long time between the original Super Mario Bros and the release of this game, but then SMB 3 releasing relatively quickly following SMB 2 and this got lost in the shuffle. That, and it seemed to be developed by people tripping on acid. I favored being able to play with more than just Mario myself and I think this has the best soundtrack and the most creative levels out of all three games.

*Grand Theft Auto Vice City

I've had four distinct video game phases in my life: Nintendo in the late 80's to early 90's, Sega Genesis into the mid-90's, a series of years without playing anything, a brief PS2 phase in the early 2000's, and XBox 360 since 2005. GTA IV comes in as my favorite game of the PS2 phase. San Andreas was probably the better overall game with a larger and more creative map, but Vice City was awesome to play early last decade and is largely responsible in me becoming interested in video games outside of the annual NHL/NCAA releases.

*Mike Tyson's Punch Out

We didn't have a Nintendo in my house for a while compared to some of my friends so a lot of my early gaming experience was spent away from home. This is the one game that I wanted to play so, so bad as a little kid but there would always be 5 kids waiting to fight their way to Tyson. As a result, I never played it as much as I wanted but I still love everything about it. This is one of the best games ever in terms of entertainment to simple gameplay ratios.

*Tecmo Super Bowl

How well does this game hold up today? There are times where I'd rather play this than whatever current edition of Madden is out. I don't think you can build a better football game, or a more entertaining football game with the side view like TSB did. I just love this game so much, and I can't see anything improving it's arcade style action.

*Sonic the Hedgehog

Sega was the first system I actually owned myself so I spent many hours playing Sonic. It's still a really fun game to play. Remember how shiny and fast this game was when it first came out? This is probably near the bottom of the my Top 10, but it's still a classic. The amount of hours poured into this game forces its way into my list.

*Contra

The most bro-awesome game ever created. It's legendary and lives up to the hype to this day. There's nothing else to say.

*Super Dodge Ball

I bet not many people have heard of this game and even less who actually played it. Well, I thought it was a damn fun game traveling all over the world throwing balls into people's faces. I always remember the soundtrack to this game too, it had a great international flavor. Quietly one of the most underrated video games.

*Mortal Kombat

I feel like it's been diluted over the years with so many new editions coming out, but this original was mind blowing at the time. It got boring quickly---as do most fight games for me---but the initial reaction to this game has to put it inside the Top 10. Like Sonic, it was played so much that it has to make my personal top 10 list.

*NHL '94

The most played game in my life, and I don't think it's close. So ahead of its time---it felt like playing a hockey game from 2002 with how frustrating hockey games were before this. Any kid who played this still has the customized arena organ still fluttering in their head. There were so many new enhancements to this game that it really made the next 2 or 3 years of the NHL series pretty obsolete because the designers had nowhere to go given their graphic and memory limitations.

*Marble Madness

I didn't play this game a whole lot, but it still intrigues me to this day. I can't think of a game that was both so simple and yet so fun to play---not to mention challenging. If you haven't played this game before, go online and try it out through a simulator, I guarantee you will be addicted.

3. With the 2013 recruiting class over two-thirds full, who are the remaining top targets on Notre Dame's board?

First, let's start off by removing the positions the Irish are done at using 247's rankings: Quarterback, tight end, offensive line, and linebacker. A receiver may grow into a tight end or a defensive linemen may play outside linebacker, but for all intents and purposes Notre Dame is done there.

According to my estimation, that leaves approximately 13 top targets for 5 or 6 spots in the 2013 class.

Running Back

(CA) Khalfani Muhammad

Wide Receiver

(GA) Demarcus Robinson

(IL) Laquon Treadwell

Athlete

(OH) Marcus Ball

(TX) Torii Hunter, Jr.

Defensive Line

(NY) Ebenezer Ogundeko

(IL) Demetrius Cooper

(NJ) Dajaun Drennon

(NJ) Alquadin Muhammad

(FL) Jordan Sherit

Defensive Back

(FL) Mackensie Alexander

(AZ) Cole Luke

(AZ) Priest Willis

In my opinion, all but perhaps one or two of the final commits will come from this list. We'll see how Notre Dame does heading towards next February which is still a LONG ways away.

4. What did you think of last week's Notre Dame Hate Week over at Off Tackle Empire, SB Nation's Big Ten blog?

I found out that most of Notre Dame's detractors have stale arguments and a thousand little grudges. I found out that the humor on Notre Dame isn't very funny, and that weakened what I am assuming is half the point of hosting such a week.

I found out that they love to call us "Golden Domers" or simply "Domers" as if that's supposed to be derogatory, and then turn around and hate on the fan base for using a nickname only they themselves as haters use.

I found out that people become literally brain dead when Notre Dame schedules are brought up and conveniently selective with college football history when bringing up the BCS and postseason.

Most importantly, I learned that there's still a ton of disrespect for Notre Dame and that most people project their own school's insecurities on to the Irish---good enough reason to never, ever, ever join a conference full of such characters.

5. Back to video games, if you were head of the creative team for NCAA Football, what changes would you institute for next year's game?

My changes would be mostly outside of the actual gameplay, but I would suggest some new additions there as well.

  • For example, I'd get rid of the long and tedious team introductions that everyone skips after a couple games anyway. In its place, I'd throw up some team graphics with stats, a quick look at the top players on each team, all encompassed by the announcer saying things like, "Notre Dame has won 8 straight over Washington and are looking to win their 12th straight home game."

Other than that, my changes to the gameplay would be tiny in comparison to the rest of the game. I'd add 85 man rosters, team specific positions, and all the usual complaints, but I'd go deeper into the dynasty mode of the game.

  • The first thing I'd do is introduce new budgets and finances. There'd be an operating budget from the athletic department and it would be realistic where the University of Notre Dame takes a chunk of that money whereas at Alabama it all stays with the football program. Then, you'd have to pay for your coaches, budgets would be introduced to recruiting, and attendance and concessions would be totaled from games for profit.
  • I'd introduce athletic directors into the game and there'd be correspondence between all the AD's about the financials concerning series of games that you want to sign---no longer can you play anyone you want on a year to year basis as long as they're "open" that week. The AD can also give the user (coach) the choice of several series to sign for the short or long-term.
  • I'm tempted to create mini-press conferences for recruits when they commit, but that would be too much work. Instead, I'd have a little "ready to commit" icon next to their name and once you click on it the screen takes you to three logos and one gets highlighted for the team the recruit chooses. We need a little more drama in there.
  • I'd also introduce decommiting and a more realistic approach to recruiting---with position coaches being assigned different ratings based on their success at luring players to your school. Instead of the user controlling the recruiting (which takes forever), I'd make the computer smarter and have the assistants suggest a list of players from each region (yes, you have to send the coaches out to different parts of the country) and have them largely run the recruiting based on their expertise. The assistants can give updates on the recruits ("Hey, we should move on," or "It's time for a in-home visit from the head coach") that leave the user on the periphery but still with final say and control.
  • I'd introduce donors and boosters who donate money but can become unruly and harm your school's reputation if you continue to accept too much money without creating enough of your own wealth. Be wary of the big donors who keep asking for much in return!!
  • I'd create an entity like the NCAA that hands down fines and scholarship losses for rogue boosters. I'd force academics into the equation and have grades be a part of recruiting. If you go for someone with poor grades and he ends up failing a class and you don't sit him for the proper time---you'll hear about it at the end of year review from the NCAA. Bowl bans and postseason bans will be handed down in extreme cases.
  • Further, I'd add in spring games, height/weight changes over time, and a fall camp after which the coaching staff explains which players improved the most and who the new starters should be.
  • Of course extra profit can be had from uniform contracts which are directly linked to your merchandise sales. But be careful, because signing a new deal with Nike and creating new uniforms/merchandise might cause the fan base to get angry. You might get $2 million a year from the Nike contract, but you'll lose $8 million from pissed off fans.
  • In fact, I'd add a whole new dimension with the inclusion of a fan base. They can have their own set of expectations in contrast to the AD, and those expectations can effect the hiring/firing of coaches. Want to add on to your stadium or build an entirely new one? Better check with the fan base first. Want to raise prices on drinks and tee-shirt sales? Make sure you don't upset the fans and all those donors!
  • Lastly, I'd beef up the stat work and memory. You'll be able to go back and look at old games from prior seasons with scores, attendance, and revenue. The computer will keep a tally of your record against all the teams you play, and better organize all the awards your team wins over time. And you can be assured that there will be a recreation of the Heisman Trophy presentation at the end of each season.

Greatest video game ever?

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