watch your step
by Michael Davies
Call me old fashion, but I don’t like the new sports video games that are currently on the market. I don’t want to physically move to play a Wii and I don’t need to play games online. Everything use to be so basic. I miss the video games that only had a few plays or formations to choose from. I played a lot of video games as a kid, so I knew all the right sports games to play. Here are my top ten sports video games of all time.
10. Mario Tennis (N64, 2000) Nobody likes to play tennis as a kid, but throw some Mario characters into a video game and I am sold. Mario Tennis taught me all the rules and strategies of tennis. I originally thought “love” was just Nintendo’s cute way of saying “zero,” but I wasn’t the smartest kid. Like every Nintendo video game, there are ways to unlock characters and levels in this game, which makes the stakes way higher. From my memory, Playing doubles tennis was actually a lot of fun in this game and the different style courts were surprisingly realistic. Plus, I had a killer 100mph serve. The game had a lot of success and even had a sequel come out in 2004.
9. NHL Hitz (PS2, GameCube, Xbox, 2001) This game was just outrageous. Fast-paced four on Four hockey with zero rules. NHL Hitz represents how everyone in America wants the game to be played. We want a lot of scoring, big hits, and zero mercy. It’s great to see actual players in this game, but they are playing the way we expect them to play. Maybe the NHL will consider changing the rules to be more like this game. Oh wait, players can’t even throw a decent hip-check anymore without being suspended. The interesting rule in this game is that any player that loses a fight is kicked out for the entire game. This was such a fun game and the best hockey game I have ever played. I may be a little biased because the intro video had “Rollin'” by Limp Bizkit in it.
8. Backyard Baseball (PC, 1997) I know that there is a whole Backyard Sports franchise, but the baseball games were the best. The game was so simple and easy! The fields were all unique and the players were kids. The game was very diverse and taught us the importance of equal opportunities. It also taught us that the best player on the field was Pablo Sanchez…nice and subtle Backyard Sports. I hated how good Pete Wheeler was! Red heads are not allowed to be good at sports (see Brian Scalabrine). This kid should have been ridiculed and not allowed to have friends. Backyard Baseball improved over the years, especially when they featured professional MLB players in the game. I loved seeing Ken Griffey Jr, Sammy Sosa, Frank Thomas, and Barry Bonds as kids (aka before they took steroids). I didn’t play many PC games and I’d say this one was the best sports game for computers.
7. Joe Montana II: Sports Talk Football (SEGA Genesis, 1991) I think I put this game on the list because it was more funny than entertaining. It was the first game with “live play by play”. It sounds hilarious now, but I’m sure it was ground breaking at the time. The game was more clueless than the people playing it. One second, the announcer says the quarterback has “plenty of time”, but then a second later he says “better hurry” and the quarterback gets sacked. This game was also ground breaking because it showed us why football video games cannot be played from this horrendous angle. I think this video can sum the game up better than I can.
6. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (PS1, N64, SEGA Dreamcast, 1999) The late 90’s were all about being punk, not listening to your parents, and doing rebellious things, better known as skateboarding. This game came out right as the Tony Hawk craze was beginning. Everyone wanted to impersonate a 900 degree spin, but we all realized we were not athletic enough to do it. With the help of this game, anything was possible. You could do all your favorite grinds, flips, and aerial moves! The 1-player concept was brilliant with it’s various levels and missions. The character selection was pretty good as well, especially because each character had their own “special moves”. Personally, my favorite part was putting in a cheat code for slow motion mode and doing a ridiculous amount of moves. This game opened a great franchise of games that was eventually beaten like a horse to the ground.
5. Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr. (N64, 1998) This must have been the first detailed baseball game to hit the market. The statistics and attributes in this game were realistic (even though they didn’t include the impact of steroids). Plus, the game allowed you to play an entire season, play exhibition games, and even play in the ’99 All Star Game and Home Run Derby. I always wanted Griffey Jr on my team. He was so badass, I couldn’t believe it. He was so beast in this game. Overall, the game was entertaining and the graphics were pretty good considering the game was for N64.
4. NBA Jam (SNES and SEGA Genesis, 1993) This game was clearly an arcade game turned into a awesome video game. Two on two basketball with players that can jump high than the hoop. Doesn’t get much better than that. This is another classic game that pretty much took all the rules out of the game. No out of bounds, no traveling, no problems! All the players were pretty much the same, except for Hakeem Olajuwon – he was boss. The game play was so quick and it pretty much made defense irrelevant in this game. Just run up the court, throw up a shot or dunk it. Kind of sounds like the Miami Heat…
3. NFL Blitz (N64 and PS1, 1998) An outrageous amount of fun. Period. This is the funniest, most ridiculous game I have ever played. Who came up with the concept? The players in the game can make tackles from like 10 yards away and try to dance into the endzone from 30 yards away even though they are about to get decked. The game is pretty much scripted and will make sure the game stays within a possession or two – unless you really suck. Interceptions happen all the time because of crazy tipped passes and fumbles happen at random. The playbook is so small and its pretty easy to predict what each play is going to be. There are only 9 defensive formations to choose from and only 18 offensive (except if you create your own plays and give them inappropriate names like “puss pounderz”). This is my favorite sports video game, mainly because I am really good at the game – I have a lethal spin move. I can go one for days about how awesome this game is, but I will just leave it alone and say that it is the best “fun” sports video game of all time.
2. Madden NFL (Any Platform, 1988-present) By far the most dominant video game franchise ever. The game has become so realistic and always has the best attention to detail like player movements, stadiums, weather conditions, sounds effects, commentary, and more. The Madden franchise has created a standard that all sports video games must try to replicate. EA Sports is a dominating company to begin with, but Madden puts them over the top. The game has so much success that it even has it’s own television show determining the best Madden player in the world. The reason it is only #2 on my list is because some of the versions have not been as impressive as the earlier years. Like in 2006 where they had the “QB vision” – what were they thinking? Besides a few new tackles and juke moves, the game really hasn’t changed much over the past five years. The best franchise mode was back in Madden 07 and the game has gone far away from that style of play. Most people who buy the game just get it for the updated rookies and because of the new player on the cover. Don’t deny it, I do it too. As long as the NFL stays as the most dominant sport in the USA, Madden will remain as the best sports video game currently on the market.
1. MVP Baseball 2005 (PS2, GameCube, Xbox, 2005) The entire MVP Baseball franchise was impressive, but many would argue this is one of the best sports video games of all time – and I agree. MVP Baseball 2005 is in a whole different ballpark versus any other serious sports video game. This was the premiere game for anyone who is obsessed with franchise mode. This was the first baseball game to include an entire farm league system. Owners could draft their rookies and watch them develop in AAA or AA. Spring training allowed users a chance to improve their players through mini games. Once the regular season began, it was business time. You had to set prices for concessions, souvenirs, and tickets so you could afford to build your park up to have more seats, more concession stands, and even play places for kids. Besides the intricate owner’s mode, the game play itself is impressive. The custom hot/cold zones for batters adds a whole new feel to the game and makes hitting more advanced. All the players in the game have their own batting or pitching stance to add a little personality to the game. This is by far the most interesting game to play and gives players a lot of control on what happens on their team.
Do you agree with this list? Tell us your favorite sports video game! Get to us on Twitter: @ProjectLandmine