Retro Gaming UX Fails: Choosing Plays in Great Football

Title screen of Great Football for the Sega Master SystemThe Sega Master System was the 8-bit console of my household back in the day. Without a Tecmo Bowl to be had, Great Football was my American Football game of choice (i.e. the only one). If you haven’t heard of it, that’s not surprising – it doesn’t even have an entry on Wikipedia (yet!).

Great Football was released way back in 1987. For the sake of reference, Windows 3.0 was still 3 years away, and even Mac OS’ System 6 wasn’t released until 1988. Don Norman’s now-classic The Psychology of Everyday Things (later The Design of Everyday Things) wasn’t published yet either. So usability…was a little different back then.

Great Football for the Sega Master System was a pretty typical 8-bit sports game, and to be honest, it hasn’t aged well. There are lots of reasons why, but one thing that particularly stands out as being extra terrible is how the players have to choose a play.

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: Creating a Golfer is a Little Weird

Tiger Woods PGA Tour logoAs of this writing, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is the only version of the classic golf sim to make it to iOS (iTunes link) and Android (Google Play link) platforms. For some reason golf is one of those genres of games that are way more fun than I expect them to be. Of course, this being a game produced by EA in 2013, the in-app purchase nagging is a little bit annoying, but this is still an entertaining diversion.

However, it doesn’t start out on a great foot. Creating your own custom golfer has been a staple of the series since way back in 2004, and it’s a fun part of the Tiger Woods Golf experience. It’s the first thing the game drops you into here, and it’s a little bit clunky for a variety of reasons. Let’s walk through this process.

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Madden 11 (iOS): Never, ever ignore the silent switch!

Madden 11 splash screenThe draw of portable gaming is simple – life doesn’t always make it easy to be tied down to a TV (or your computer) for a full-on gaming experience. Sometimes, you get stuck in the car for four hours and need to play a little Pokemon to relax. Mobile gaming makes it even easier with no lack of quality time-fillers that are already in your pocket.

For many situations, portable gaming means a need either for headphones or for an experience without sound at all. It would, after all, be irritating if everybody in the line at Subway was playing Angry Birds with the sound cranked up on their phone. So most respectful people (that don’t have headphones handy) will switch their phone to silent mode. The problem comes in when disrespectful games choose to ignore this, and play sounds anyway. Like Madden 11 HD for iPad.

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Xbox SmartGlass and Forza Horizon: Cool Tech, When It Works

Forza Horizon logoBack in November 2012, Forza Horizon was one of the first games to get support for Xbox SmartGlass. If you’re unaware, Xbox SmartGlass is Microsoft’s “second-screen” technology for users to enhance their Xbox experience via a tablet. It’s cool stuff that I briefly talked about back in November when it first came out.

Forza Horizon is one of the seven currently-released games for Xbox 360 that actually supports SmartGlass – and the only one that I own – so I was excited to give it a try the other day. Its big feature in the game is to offload the map to your tablet, making it a little easier to navigate the game’s big open world. In my limited testing so far, this definitely falls into the camp of a promising technology that just doesn’t nail the execution.

Read on for more of my experience with Forza Horizon and Xbox SmartGlass

Super Stickman Golf: Accidentally Quitting Mid-Round

Main menu of Super Stickman Golf 2The original Super Stickman Golf by Noodlecake Studios is one of my favorite mobile games (links to stores available here). It’s a simple yet challenging way to pass a few minutes of time. Everybody likes mini-golf, right? Super Stickman Golf 2 picks up right where the first left off, adding a few new features and a bunch of new in-app purchase options.

Merits of the upgrade aside, there’s one particular issue with the game that hasn’t changed between the two versions, and it has caused me a tiny amount of grief a few times now. When playing a single player round, backing out to the main menu doesn’t save the player’s progress, and the game doesn’t do anything to warn them of this either. Just like Microsoft Word prompts users before leaving changes unsaved, games always should tell the player before they lose progress.

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