My Top 10 Sports Video Games of All Time
Back by popular demand, (that popular demand being my own brain,) I have decided to make another Top 10 List. This time I’m focusing on my favorite sports video games. I thought of this randomly after running into one of those idiotic pseudo National Inquirer vortexes that the Internet pulls us all into. I thought back to the games I played as a kid on my NES or Super Nintendo all the way up to current generation consoles. Let’s see how this goes.
Disclaimer: Like most of my Top 10 Lists, these are subject to change in order depending on my mood or when a new memory strikes. I’ll do my best to be as accurate as I can. But there will be NO MADDEN GAMES on this list. I make no apologies.
10. Stanley Cup (SNES) – The only hockey game on my list. To be fair, it’s really the only hockey game I consistently played. But it was fantastic. The basic controls, very impressive graphics for its day, pulse-pounding soundtrack, and replay value made it into a regular rotation for most of the time I had my SNES. I gifted my SNES with this game to a friend about 15 years ago. I wonder if she still plays it.
9. Ken Griffey Jr. Major League Baseball (SNES) – One of the first baseball games I ever played with a player’s name and MLB logo on it. The mechanics made the game fast, fun, and easy to control. To my knowledge, the only official MLB player in the game was KGJ. The animations shown whenever a player would strike out was always amusing to me; either shouting at the umpire “Ah, come one!” or cracking the bat in half over their thy.
8. NFL Street (PS2) – The simple concept of playing pick-up games and “Turkey Bowl” games with schoolyard rules controlling NFL players in a video game was a brilliant idea. Every play was a trick play. Developed by EA BIG, it was a toned down version of the arcade classic NFL BLITZ. I remember the taunting that my friends and I would go through in these best 3 out of 5 sets. The most aggressive sports game I’ve ever played.
7. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out (NES) – One of the most classic video games of all time with a cult following that is incomparable to any other classic sports game, in my opinion. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out showed us humorous (though stereotypical) caricature opponents from around the world and (in one instance) a hippo-plant hybrid alien. You play as Little Mac, a diminutive boxer by comparison with the one and only Mario serving as referee. One of the first games I remember to introduce a primitive form of meter and stamina management with a learning curve to boot.
6. Top Spin (XBox) – Hands down the most authentic tennis game I ever played. Though to be honest I didn’t play many, Top Spin was my first formal introduction to the game of tennis and its rules. With the ability to chose from male and female pros like Andy Roddick, Maria Sharipova, Pete Sampras, and a plethora of others, its balance mechanics and character designs made it one the best tennis game of its day and still one of the best sports games ever.
5. MVP 2004 (XBox) – By the time we reached the first generation XBox games, EA and 2K Sports were pumping these things out every year with little to no difference in game mechanics or content aside from obvious roster updates. But this game had a killer soundtrack and just happened to be the first and only baseball game I purchased for my XBox. Albert Pujols graced the cover and he was just as overpowered as you would imagine him to be.
4. NBA 2K11 (XBox 360) – The most recent game on my list. Made by 2K Sports, they had already established themselves as the superb NBA game developer over the much longer-running EA NBA Live franchise. Like MVP 2004, NBA 2K11 just happened to be the first and only NBA game I have purchased to date. I got my money’s worth with this one. Creating five players in Career Mode (one for each position) and playing them all several seasons into their careers. All won NBA titles. All won MVP honors. All were starters during NBA All-Star break. The only thing I was never able to do was break into the top 10 spot of them being drafted. I even completed all the Jordan challenges. It wasn’t until this past year that 2K Sports stopped providing updates to the game’s mechanics and rosters, but I kept playing it.
3. Mario Tennis (N64) – I don’t care what you say, this is one of the greatest party sports video games of all time. Friendships were put in serious jeopardy every time a group got together and popped in this bad boy. Stunning graphics for its day with very forgiving physics, the first Mario Tennis brought rivals and allies together for the most adorable and adrenaline pumping game out there.
2. FIFA Street (XBox) – Another EA BIG game on my list; FIFA Street was a game that (like all EA BIG titles) rewarded you for your tomfoolery. These 4 on 4 matches were always intense. The more tricks you pulled off, the more meter you build to unleash an unstoppable attack or impenetrable defense. Several sequels have been made and then revitalized for the next generation systems, but there’s nothing quite like this classic.
1. NBA Street Vol. 2 (PS2) – A testament to everything you could possibly exaggerate and parody about the game of basketball while it still being basketball. It was like playing through an And1 Mix Tape. There was even an MC calling the “play by play.” You would play as street legends working your way up against other street legends, NBA players, and ultimately, Michael Jordan. These 3 on 3 matches were gravity-defying, smack-talking, and ultimately the most fun I ever had playing a sports video game with my little brother.