Sweet Suite 2016

COMMENTARY: Licensed NFL Games Bring All the Gridiron Action Home

It’s nearing September, which means the start of the 2013 to 2014 NFL season. Among the major American sports, professional football very easily rates near the top; however, unlike baseball or basketball, the NFL is only broadcast three days a week. This raises the question: What to do on those other days when the ol’ pigskin classic isn’t scheduled to be played? With a little help from the National Football League itself, we have your perfect solution: two officially-licensed NFL board games, plus one NFL video game super-sequel that just hit stores.

NFL GameDayThe first board game up is NFL Game Day from Fremont Die, in which two players (or two teams of players) take turns attempting to score points or stop the other team from scoring. The length of a football field is approximated on a neat magnetic board, and the game features magnetic pieces as well as cards for offensive, defensive, and special teams plays. For the most part, game play revolves around one side plunking down an offensive card, while the other side puts down a defensive card at the same time. Depending on which cards are played, the possibilities range from a five-yard gain to something much bigger, no gain to a huge loss in yardage, or even a turnover.

The game play mechanics are straightforward enough that even football novices can pick them up quickly; however, if you already fancy yourself an expert on football strategy, NFL Game Day has the bonus of effectively putting you in the head coach or offensive/defensive coordinator’s chair. At third-and-five, will you run for the first down, go for a short pass, or opt for the play-action? If you’re on the defensive side, do you play the pass or the run, or maybe even go for an all-out blitz?

NFL Rush ZoneA slightly different, but no less compelling football experience awaits NFL diehards and laypeople courtesy of NFL Rush Zone from Techno Source. Like NFL Game Day, it features a game board with customizable end zones for all 32 teams (and plastic uprights that don’t serve a practical purpose, but look pretty cool), but the game mechanics are dice-based rather than card-based. Each side rolls three dice representing a complete set of downs, but if the total of the defense’s dies is higher than the offense’s, it becomes fourth down and the latter must decide between punting, kicking a field goal, or going for the conversion.

If NFL Game Day represents the coach’s point-of-view, NFL Rush Zone is more like the spectator’s. The mechanics are such that despite being active participants, much of what happens on the field is left to chance; any series of downs can go really well or terribly wrong, and it’s difficult to strategize based on the random rolling of three die. Events will transpire as they will, and isn’t that exactly what watching an NFL game (or most any sporting event, for that matter) is like?

In the game I was playing, my hometown Miami Dolphins were marching on offense, but then my opponent (the Seattle Seahawks, for those who were wondering) got a defensive takeaway by rolling three of a kind. They subsequently scored a touchdown and won, at which point, like any true fan and viewer, I called for the Fins’ head coach to be fired and the team sold to parties based out of Los Angeles. Perhaps NFL Rush Zone represents football from the perspective of the team owner as well?

MaddenNFL25Actually, if any licensed NFL product lets users step into the luxury wing tips of their typical franchise owners, it’s most likely EA SportsMadden NFL 25, the latest installment in the video game franchise. It arrived on August 27 for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, and Playstation 3. New features include an “Owner Mode,” which lets gamers run the organization top to bottom, doing everything from selecting players to setting the prices of concessions, to upgrading the team’s stadium. It’s an intriguing form of escapism—running a corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, Madden NFL 25 retains the more traditional game play mode in which users control avatars of their favorite players, and this time around, the simulated action has an unprecedented level of smoothness and detail.

With these licensed games, NFL fans should be able to get their fix well beyond the coming football season.

For more commentary from Phil, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!

Madden NFL 25 Writers Celebrate Game’s Launch with 25-Hour Gaming Marathon

madden-25-release-date-tileTwo official game guide writers, Stephen “SGibs” Gibbons and Zach “ZFarls” Farley, for the upcoming Madden NFL 25 will be playing the new game for 25 straight hours leading up to its launch on August 27. The authors are scheduled to begin playing Madden NFL 25 on Monday at 11 p.m. EST. The marathon gaming session will be viewable online at www.twitch.tv/maddentips.

The two will take on virtual challenges from professional athletes, including Ryan Hollins of the L.A. Clippers, select media, and developers for the game’s publisher EA Sports.

Gibbons and Farley write for Prima Games, an imprint of Random House LLC. They had spent several months in Orlando, Fla., working with EA Sports developers and learning the nuances of the new game.

Electronic Arts to Develop Hasbro Mobile Games

Hasbro_logo_newHasbro and Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) have signed a new agreement under which EA will develop several of Hasbro’s gaming brands for mobile platforms globally. Under the new four-year agreement, EA will continue to develop mobile games for Hasbro’s Monopoly, Scrabble, The Game Of Life, Battleship, Boggle, Clue, Risk, and Yahtzee.

EA’s Pogo.com gaming community will also continue to be a central hub online for digital versions of Hasbro games.

Mattel Launches Masters of the Universe Game App for He-Man’s 30th Birthday

Honoring the 30th anniversary of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe franchise, Mattel and Chillingo, a leading independent games publisher along with mobile developer GlitchSoft, have launched a new He-Man game app. Available in the App Store, fans now have the chance to battle alongside He-Man throughout his kingdom of Eternia in a modern celebration of classic gameplay that will test player’s skill, speed, and agility. Debuting on the iOS platform, the game features side-scrolling playability with powerful “Tap and Slash” functionality through 27 action packed levels spread across seven realms of Eternia.

The star of the 1980s-era He-Man and the Masters of the Universe story, He-Man has been brought to life throughout the years in beloved Mattel action figures, animated television series, comic books, and a live action feature film. Mattel’s partnership with Chillingo, a division of Electronic Arts and publisher of such hit titles as Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Contre Jour, Feed Me Oil, and Catapult King, combines the world’s leading toy company with an established leader in the mobile gaming industry.

As part of the anniversary, Mattel has created a new Masters of the Universe He-Man Facebook page, allowing devotees to connect and engage online with each other and their favorite hero.

Electronic Arts Previews Fall, Winter Games

Electronic Arts previewed its fall and winter game releases at this year’s Hot for the Holidays press event. EA Games Label, EA Sports, Maxis, and EA Mobile and Social demoed the upcoming games, which represent a wide range of ages and interests, from action and sports to city-building simulation and kid-friendly animal games.

Under the Maxis Label, EA is releasing The Sims 3 Supernatural Expansion Pack in September. Players can give their Sims supernatural lives as werewolves, witches, vampires, and fairies. While playing as supernatural Sims, players will discover new abilities, traits, skills, and interactions that enhance their gameplay, including delayed aging for fairies and vampires, innate magic channeling for witches, and lycanthropy for werewolves, which enables them to control their animal instincts and transform at will. [Read more...]

Electronic Arts’ Holiday Sneak Peek

Electronic Arts held its “Naughty or Nice” holiday video game preview in mid-October at a lounge in New York City. At the event, I had a chance to browse all the games and sample a few as well.

The first game I tried my hand at, literally, was Family Game Night 4 The Game Show on the Kinect for Xbox 360. Family Game Night 4 brings the excitement of The Hub network’s TV show right into your living room.

There are a variety of games to choose from, such as Connect 4 Basketball, Yahtzee! Bowling, Scrabble Flash, Sorry! Sliders, Bop-It Boptagon, and Monopoly Crazy Cash. I played Yahtzee! Bowling and Sorry! Sliders, and, in my opinion, both games were awesome and the graphics were great, too.

[Read more...]

Fall Toy Preview: Medal of Honor R/Cs from Interactive Toy Concepts

Interactive Toy Concepts has partnered with Electronic Arts to bring the Medal of Honor brand to life with a series of remote-control vehicles, a tank, a helicopter, a jeep, an assault vehicle, an ATV, and others. Each vehicle will be able to interact with the others, offering game play for up to six people. Each item will have its own unique battle style and damage results. Also included will be mission objectives and game play accessories.

For more Fall Toy Preview coverage, pick up The Toy Book‘s September/October issue!

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Medal of Honor from EA.com

New Product: The World is Your Canvas

From Electronic Arts’ Bright Light studio premieres Create, an open-ended game of puzzle solving and world creation. Players of all ages can solve level-based challenges using hundreds of objects in order to unlock rewards and further customization options. Once a puzzle is solved, it can also be uploaded to the Create website for others to download and enjoy. Create will have a simultaneous release on the PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, PC, and Mac OS X platforms and can be played with the PlayStation Move and Nintendo Wiimote.

Electronic Arts’ New Video Game Lets You Create

I got a chance to view Electronic Arts‘ new video game Create at EA’s Holiday Preview event and thought it was one of the company’s more innovative titles. In Create, players are placed in various floating landscapes that can be altered with hundreds of items collected throughout the course of the game.

The developer I spoke with said Create is about two things: solving puzzles and creating worlds. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of puzzles scattered throughout the floating landmasses that act as canvases for creation. The game’s puzzles ask users to capture or transport various objects to designated points while deflecting rockets and other hazards. In this regard, the game feels like a combination of Capcom’s Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure and 5th Cell’s Scribblenauts in that puzzles have multiple ways of being completed, although the actual completion steps are passive (you don’t control the action so much as you create the setup. For example, a player can place a convertible car under some cannon balls, push play, and watch the balls fall into the car as it speeds away). [Read more...]

Littlest Pet Shop Bundle Coming to Toys “R” Us

In anticipation of the Littlest Pet Shop’s (LPS) newest Nintendo DS game, Electronic Arts (EA) has partnered with Toys “R” Us for a special bundle. The LPS starter pack includes a copy of the new video game, Littlest Pet Shop 3: Biggest Stars, as well as two exclusive LPS toys. Gamers can also expect access to LPS Online features.

The bundle is available exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores beginning October 5 and retails for $34.99. For a preview of the Nintendo DS game, read about EA’s  Holiday Preview.