It took me a month, but hey, I finally got around to this. It’s not a classic review, it’s more of a… video game/philosophy argument, and it makes me feel like Marquis de Sade a bit, except, I’m not writing about weird sexual fetish stuff, (Although, if you’re into that stuff, check out this weirdo anime game!) I’m just writing like an insane person in a tiny corner office that might possibly be a prison cell. (I’m not quite sure yet, they said I could leave, but the sun is outside, and last I heard, that thing was trying to kill me.)
One of my favourite things about video games is that they let you do things you can’t do in real life. Baseball is NOT one of those things you can’t do. I mean… CC Sabathia is a baseball player, so, don’t ever blame physical fitness on being able to play sports. Sabathia is an amazing baseball player because he’s got magic throwing powers, but, his physical fitness definitely shows this is a game almost anyone can play with his friends. However, Super Mega Baseball 2 isn’t about taking the world’s most boring sport and keeping it in contention for the highest concentration of hotdog related heart attacks, no. This game firmly sits in what I like to call, Sim-phoria.
So, before I start explaining why Super Mega Baseball 2 is the bee’s knees, I want to explain Sim-phoria a bit more. Basically, you’ll be hanging out with a friend, and he’s like, “how would you like to play some Tennis?” and you’ll go, “That’s silly, mate, nobody wants to play Tennis, what am I, some kinda fancy pants guy who wears sweaters around my neck?” and he’ll go, “No, MARIO Tennis.” and you’ll agree and spend the next 10 hours trying to turn that 40-All game into a decided victory against your former bestie, who can die in a fire, but only after you beat them at Tennis. Basically, the idea is that you take what is normally a boring game, like… Baseball, Tennis, or operating a guitar, even, and turn it into something worth doing… sort of. I mean, sure, a fist fight on a floor covered in Ice while wearing shoulderpads and kitchen knives on the bottoms of your boots isn’t anything like playing Blades of Steel, but, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? (Note: I would TOTALLY play hockey IRL)
“a game or activity that simulates a real-life activity in such a way that it is inherently more engaging and fun than the actual activity that it is supposedly simulating through arcadification.”
(..and we’re going to have to define arcadification, I think, because you’re probably asking, “What in the fuck is Arcadification?”.)
The process in which the basic components of an activity are reduced to a simple control scheme. (…and sometimes, the activity is then expanded through the addition of extra gameplay elements.)
Sim-phoria is Simulation, and Euphoria, put together as one word. Because… the game’s a simulation of an activity, but, it makes that simulation euphoric. I mean, “a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness” is exactly how I would explain playing a Sim-phoria game, but not a sports game.
I know, you’re probably thinking, what’s the point of this?
Really, there isn’t one, and this is just a bunch of letters arranged in a somewhat thought-out order, but, you know that you’ll never play a Nascar game, or iRacing, because, simulation of real life car racing sounds boring as dogshit, right? But… what about Mario Kart? It’s a simulation of real life car racing, except the basic components of the activity are reduced to a simple control scheme. Mario Kart is real life car (kart?) racing arcadified, including the addendum of being expanded through the addition of extra gameplay elements, such as shooting shells at each other or dropping banana peels.
Super Mega Baseball 2 might not be the first game to fit this definition, but, it definitely fits the definition. It has all of the baseball type stuff in it, and they’ve even meticulous and stuff with the statistics, enough to give your average “The Sandlot” character a boner, anyway. But, there’s enough arcadification for people like me, and the person who helped come up with the phrase “Sim-phoria”, Plague, to determine that we needed a term for it. So, this is why this isn’t a traditional article, and it’s a 1,500 word script of madness about a new term that we needed to explain how sports games are fun even though actual sports kinda blow.
Plague and I played a lot of Super Mega Baseball 2 together, and, I’m pretty sure we’re nowhere near done with it.
Most of the time, we play co-op in Season mode with our “Masondogg Studios” team. That’s a team we made where we based the characters on our friends at a video game studio we both hang out with. I think the characters are pretty cool looking, and feel alive, despite the cartoon graphics.
The game’s difficulty is based on “Ego” – a system of how much the game helps you to make proper plays vs. your character’s stats. If you’re good, you need higher ego, if you’re bad, you keep that ego low. So far, we’re still messing around on 14, because we’re pretty bad. The game’s pitching isn’t just throwing a ball and choosing a speed, it involves skill, timing, and a little bit of luck. Batting is about the same, you just gotta take it as it comes, and be patient. It’s like real baseball in that sense, except, you aren’t going to fall asleep sitting in right field because nobody’s going to hit the ball to you.
The graphics – as I said earlier, are great. The characters feel alive and the animations are fun. Watching someone get hit in the face with a baseball from your power-batter is probably the most fun thing on planet earth when we’re thinking about baseball, and the addition of female characters who play right next to men is great from an inclusive standpoint. They didn’t over-sexualize the female characters, and, my only real complaint about it is that they have less hair and body options than the male characters, who, are also kind of lacking in that department. It’s possible to make ME in this game, but, if you’re sorta normal looking, you’re gonna have a hard time making yourself distinct from someone else.
All of these little concepts by themselves, good graphics, a weird difficulty system, even the create-a-character aren’t by themselves indicative of a good game. The fact that it’s based on baseball certainly doesn’t make it a good game. I mean, I have a copy of Ken Griffy Jr. Presents Major League Baseball on the SNES, and that game’s totally lame. I can’t exactly put my finger on what makes Super Mega Baseball 2 loads of fun. I can’t tell you why Hot Shots Golf is fun. I just know that these are games that are representative of the sport they claim to be simulating, while totally changing the way those sports are being represented.
You might want to make the argument that sim-phoria could represent any game. All games are roughly arcadified versions of real life activities, but, I’d disagree with you. I think Star Citizen probably makes it more difficult to fly a spaceship than it would take in real life, and, I’m almost 100% sure that I’d rather live AND work in a restaurant than play Diner Dash ever again. There are tons of arguments here, and sure, the definition is pretty spotty, but, you’re gonna have to just accept that for now.
Megaman Soccer is a fun game in it’s own right, it’s got high quality gameplay, characters I already enjoy, and even is kinda fun, but, only for one game. It’s just not… anything special. There’s no euphoria in the game, and as a simulation goes, it’s okay, but, it’s kinda meh.
Another example, and this time, in the same series…
Def Jam Vendetta is amazing fun. It’s a wrestling game where you play as rappers, I don’t know how to explain it beyond that without this turning into some review for it, but, it’s awesome, especially when you have someone to play against. Def Jam Vendetta: Fight for New York was pretty good, not quite as good, but still loads of fun.
Then… Def Jam Icon happened. They took all the fun out of the game, it was just a shitty fighting game. It lost what made it sim-phoria. The magic left the games. You could tell that Def Jam 2 was moving that direction, but Icon ruined it. They tried to make it too realistic, from the graphics, to the style… it lost the hip-hop superhero gameplay that made 1 and 2 so great.
What do you guys think? Can you think of a game that exhibits signs of sim-phoria? Do you think the term is appropriate? Is there a better way to word it? Comment below, I totally read them all.
Developed and Published by: Metalhead Software Inc.
Go ahead and follow Plague on Twitter.