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Monday, May 23, 2005
The virtual cutting room

By Brian and Andy Kamenetzky
Special to Page 2

The only thing sports geeks might take more seriously than their sports are video games about sports. We can hardly blame them, considering a Hawks-Bobcats game is at least 10 times more exciting on NBA Live than actually live. So it wasn't surprising that the new sports titles at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which closed Friday after a four-day run at the L.A. Convention Center, created buzz larger than Maria Sharapova would at a nude beach.

In a few short months, sports gaming types will have the opportunity to be blown away by the next generation technologies of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and serious improvements in games for the "old fashioned" Xbox, PS2 and GameCube. The big boys of software are ready with new features and story lines, in the traditional franchises (EA's Madden), new spins on old ones (Midway's "Blitz- The League." Think Playmakers, digitized), and totally new creations (989's "Road to Sunday," where football, gambling, organized crime, and underground fighting competitions form a happy union), among others. And that's just pigskin. We have seen the future of video game sports, people, and it is freakin' sick.

But for every surefire hit, there are dozens more concepts that are simply the gaming equivalent of drafting DeSagana Diop. A really bad idea. So we decided to dig a little deeper to find those titles that never made it out of development. As it turns out, there are plenty of interesting sports games that will never see daylight. A sampling:

HOLDOUT! The Terrell Owens Contract Game
The Game: It's you, T.O., vs. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. Your mission? To overcome years of Philadelphia history and make your holdout pay off. Our "agent action" feature allows you to control Drew Rosenhaus, writing his press releases and conducting his interviews to become a master of "spin meistering."

Special Features: Use our "holdout downtime" feature to create exciting '05 end-zone dances and design even tighter fitting Under Armour.

Kellen Winslow's Motocross Follies
The Game: The brash TE insists a motorcycle can be mastered on the fly? Let's see what he's really got. Follow Kellen's antics as he takes on Jeremy McGrath, Nate Adams, Travis Pastrana, et.al., without a lick of instruction. The more dangerous, the better. For bonus points, try to rewrite your contract to receive bonuses after accidents!

Special Features: Why limit Cleveland's highest profile ACL tear to one extreme sport, when so many others can senselessly blow his knee out? See Kellen skate a half pipe, ski jump or ride a bull. There are a million ways to crush his bones. Find them all.

Latrell Sprewell's "Feed My Family"
The Game: Join Latrell Sprewell as he attempts to feed his family on a $14,625,000 salary. Move with Latrell as he negotiates the exciting world of food shopping, including bargain cheeses, TV dinners, and "jam" sandwiches. Fully licensed by Costco; advanced gamers will also experience the dizzying heights and terrifying lows of bulk shopping while trying to stretch a dollar during lean times.

Special Features: Customized scissors for digital coupon clipping, online contests for the best Top Ramen recipe, and a guest appearance by U2's Bono, who will help gamers organize a benefit concert for the Sprewell family.

Ron Artest's Anger Management
The Game: Join Ron Artest as he moves through his season-long suspension and his league ordered counseling. View inkblots through the eyes of a temper challenged lockdown defender. Schedule awkward meetings with David Stern. Attempt to tell Jim Gray with a straight face that your temper truly is under control now.

Special Features: Play online and win extra points if you can actually find someone with an authentic proof of purchase for a CD of Allure, the Artest produced R&B group.

Adventures of The Whizzinator!
The Game: With Congress breathing down their necks, hoards of professional athletes face life altering drug tests. With the evil "Pee Gatherer" in hot pursuit, they have only one place to turn – The Whizzinator! You will control the drug masking superhero, responding to the cries of professional athletes, sneaking through airports and wetting your dried urine pouches when appropriate.

Special Features: Design your own Whizzinator personality, in the size and color of your choice!

Darko Plays!
The Game: The fans want it. Ownership wants it. Even his teammates must be a little curious. But Larry Brown won't let Darko Milicic on the court. Your mission: Find ways to disrupt the Pistons and work Darko into the game. Force Big Ben to let opposing guards blow past him. Have 'Sheed revert to his technical foul and ejection ridden past. Hire thugs to kidnap Antonio McDyess, break Darvin Ham's femur and plant a tainted urine test result on Elden Campbell. Don't rest until the phrase, "Milicic Time" has swept the nation.

Special Features: Create masks, mustaches, and other disguises Darko could wear to pass as teammates. What's a "Tayshaun" wig, you might ask? Only your imagination knows for sure.

Kansas City Wasteland
The Game: It's 2546. For the last 500 years, Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City has been a wasteland. Roving gangs patrol the dugouts, and even they fear to tread in the upper deck. You are a Cybernetic clone of Mike Sweeney. Your mission? To scour the stadium for signs of the glory years. Scrape shower stalls for DNA left over by George Brett, Frank White and Dan Quisenberry. Engineer a new Bret Saberhagen from skin cells found in his old cleats. Reconstruct the Royals and lead them to a championship.

Special Features: "Fountain Cam." Control your view through the last remnant of the Golden Years, the centerfield fountains, now a repository of nuclear waste.

Make Barry Smile
The Game: The least humorous man in sports, Barry Bonds, must have a sense of humor buried somewhere inside. Your mission is to find it, and force a laugh out of him. Dirty jokes? A good pratfall? Well-placed tickling? You choose your style. Points are awarded based on Barry's reactions, with smirks earning less cheddar than chortles or a straight-up guffaw.

Special Features: Assume the identity of Bonds' controversial personal physician, Dr. Arthur Ting, and perform surgery reconstructing Barry's funny bone.

NHL Lockout '05
The Game: The NHL has closed its doors for the '04-'05 season, but there's plenty of work to be done. Your job? To bring fans back to the arena. You'll warm up in Canada, where the game is an institution. Your next challenge? Cities of the Original Six, where hockey roots run deep but entertainment options abound. Level 3 gives you Carolina, Nashville, and Pittsburgh. If you can resurrect the game there, the NHL just might have a job waiting for you!

Special Features: The Glory Machine: When in doubt, stuff naysaying former fans into this special time machine, putting them square in the Edmonton Coliseum during the Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Fuhr years.

Cappyland: The New York Knicks Salary Cap Game
The Game: Isiah's made a mess of the team's reportedly $105,000,000 payroll. Your job is to get them out of luxury tax territory. Try to move Mo Taylor and his $9 mil salary out of Gotham without taking a lousy contract in return. Can you buy Allan Houston out of his $20 million dollar crippler? And can you make all your moves without giving up Ariza or Sweetney?

Special Features: The Isiah "gag" feature during simulated front office meetings allows you to make sensible moves the New York GM wouldn't make himself.

OTHER REJECTED TITLES: Spit Off! The Sunflower Seed Game; The Continuing Adventures of Commander Cream and Colonel Clear; Bunts, Bunts, and More Bunts; Gramaticas vs. Sauerbrun: The Revenge; I Want to Coach The Atlanta Hawks!!!