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What’s the next Rocket League?

By on @pastapadre

Rocket League has combined the best aspects of video games – wild, impossible-to-do-in-real-life fun – and sports – spirited competition between equal groups on a level playing field – and put them together in a package that has captivated thousands of fans. Naturally, that prompted us to ask a question to our Hit The Pass contributors:

What fringe or fictional sports video game concept would you create if given the opportunity?

What fringe or fictional sports video game concept would you create if given the opportunity?

Pete Skerritt

Whatever happened to robotic sports games? How about a new take on Cyberball, where robots literally killed each other on the field while trying to prevent scoring plays? I know that Konami is pretty much on the outs, but how cool would a trip back to Base Wars be? No force outs– just fights. Even an updated Super Baseball 2020 could work well with an HD coat of paint and online play.

I know these aren’t original ideas, but they’ve been dormant for so long that they just might work well… drawing from nostalgia while also capitalizing on modern technology to make the original formulas even better. I’d certainly buy any or all of these.

What would be your idea for a new hybrid sports game?

Dylan Favorite

Mixed martial arts games were something I wished would get made well before it ever happened. The main reason was for others to discover an appreciation for Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the same way that I have. Unfortunately, that aspect of the sport seems to be thrown in as an afterthought in the games that have been created to date.

If I was able to design a BJJ game it would likely be a simulation/arcade hybrid. Even as a fan of the sport I have to acknowledge that it can be slow at times. I envision a game controlled with both analog sticks simultaneously. A stamina system at its core that is driven by positional advancements and well-timed reversals. Submissions would be dictated by the building and proper execution of a fighting game-like super meter that the player would have to expend at just the right moment.

There is no feeling in gaming like the struggle for survival that takes place in a BJJ match. If a developer was able to capture that some how, they may hold lightning in a bottle.

Bryan Wiedey

We’ve already seen it in a movie. Of course I’m referring to the classic comedy “BASEketball”.

Actually, that would make for a dreadful video game. So what combination or variation could offer pure fun and have widespread appeal?

This idea is actually based on something that was in talks to happen years ago as a Madden spin-off and unfortunately didn’t come about. We need sports games but in LEGO form.

That would attract a new audience to sports – the various LEGO games are extremely popular – while still offering fun and amusement for the simulation crowd since they’re not meant to be taken seriously. We don’t get nearly enough unique, purely enjoyable takes on sports through video games these days.

I also like the though of cel-shaded sports games, but LEGO has such a strong brand that it would be instantly identifiable to consumers and bring in a new crowd to the genre that could later graduate to the simulation games.

Dr. Ken Parker

Living in Australia, most of the sports played here would give Rocket League a run for its money in terms of absurdity. Rugby League, Rugby Union and Australian Rules Football rival the most odd arcade sport fantasies. These sports have already made admiral translations to video game form so my pick would be the Irish game of hurling. An amazing combination of hockey and lacrosse, the perfect simulation of hurling would be as arcade-esque as NBA Jam. Completing the experience, in-game commentary would only be available Gaelic.

T.J. Lauerman

I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently due to the success of Rocket League. I would love to see the return of the FIFA Street series. However, the one big change I would make is starting from scratch. The FIFA Street series lost me when it was taking FIFA and trying to tweak it into FIFA Street.

The way for FIFA Street to come back is to start from scratch with an arcade angle. In EA’s most recent attempt, FIFA Street (2012), the controls were the FIFA controls with added complexity which made the game less fun. If a new FIFA Street took notes from games like Rocket League and Super Mario Strikers, I think it could make for a great gameplay experience.

Rich Grisham

While this may not be answering the specific question, it’s something I’ve spent countless moments contemplating – how can you distill the best parts of a sports game into a contained experience that maximizes the “fun factor” for the largest number of people? It’s easy to say, but pretty hard to do.

To me, it comes down to the most important moments of a playoff baseball game. Nothing is as intense. We’ve all witnessed the tense, pitch-by-pitch experience of a Division Series or LCS game; the battle takes place on multiple levels. General Managers work all season long to assemble a roster for the posteason. Managers put together lineups to take advantage of strengths and weaknesses based on the up-to-the-second feelings of their roster. Players are inserted into impossibly tense moments. Fans live and die with every pitch, with the weight of their favorite team’s history hanging over their emotion.

What I would do is to take all of that and turn it into a five minute emotional roller coaster. While I love everything about MLB The Show, there’s no denying that you need a PlayStation 4 and a solid hour to play a game – and that assume you’re in control of your team’s roster and where they are in the context of a season or franchise mode.

Remove 90% of that, though, and just trot out your best pitcher against three great batters in an intense five minute battle for supremacy – you’ve got yourself a hell of a video game. Everything is based on percentages and execution. Lefty versus lefty, power versus contact, strength versus weakness. Situations are randomized between three spots – it’s always extra innings, and you’re up by a run, down by a run, or tied. You’ve got five chances to win, and everything is a combination of baseball smarts, execution, and luck.

It may not hold up in the long term like MLB The Show, but I’d bet that a short, intense, and baseball-savvy minigame that lets you put together a roster to take to the World Series would be a welcome addition to any fan’s stable of games.