HI there and welcome to my ___th edition of ____ the ____: The Wonderous __ of _____. Yeah, still don’t have a name. It happens. My name is Matt and I’ll be your host, as per every time you see an article that says “By me.” So as you are hopefully well aware, this is technically a sports article. However, as much as I have a ridiculous passion for sports, I also have a passion for gaming. Video gaming. Now say that last part the way James Bond introduces himself and it sounds kind of cool. OK, stay on topic…
So, having a passion for both of those things can only mean one thing. I have a passion for sports video games. And it’s true, that is what that means. I freaking love sports video games. And the beautiful thing is there’s so many! From football to basketball to limited baseball to…rugby?! Yes, there’s a rugby game for some reason and I rented it once like an ignorant American and had no clue what I was doing. I lost a lot. Anyway, think about how much sports video games have advanced since, say, the OG Nintendo games. CARTRIDGES like TECMO BOWL or ICE HOCKEY! Those games were just so simple…2 buttons and a D-pad were all you needed to have the time of your life. I’m somewhat embarrassed, but I can’t even remember which buttons did which. In Tecmo Bowl, I assume one was pass and one was…tackle? I have no clue. But of course, NOW I certainly know that as a ball carrier, A is protect ball, X is dive, B is spin, Y is hurdle, RT is speed boost, and RS is your jukes. Actually, saying that out loud makes me wonder what the other 3 buttons do. Maybe I’m missing out on wins.
Anyway, Tecmo Bowl was wonderfully simple. Yes, you could pick different plays, but once you picked one, you were stuck with it. Fortunately, the game was so simple that THAT wasn’t a problem. Just throw to your receiver, hope to catch it, run in a zig zag pattern till all the defenders wildly dive near you and miss terribly, then let Bo Jackson run it in for the TD. I mean, we all played as the Raiders back then just to use Bo Jackson, right? Today that would be blasphemous…unless they cloned Bo. Don’t think we have the technology yet for that, I think. But now? WOW! Now we have ENTIRE PLAYBOOKS to use, and it’s not just ONE GIANT NFL PLAYBOOK, it’s pretty much every single GD playbook for EVERY TEAM! You have plays by formation, by situation, by personnel, by play type, etc. Then, once you get to the actual action screen, you have MORE OPTIONS! It’s REAL FOOTBALL that you CONTROL! Good Lord I sound like I’m selling a game. I’M NOT! I’m just really impressed.
How about baseball? Remember back in the day? When batting you could A. Swing or B. Bunt. Now you can do both of those, but choose a direction you want to aim for, swing for contact or power, aim to hit a high potential homerun or sacrifice fly or keep it on the ground, DRAG bunt…you can do EVERYTHING a REAL BATTER CAN DO! Ok, let’s look at defense. Picthing? Used to be pretty much a fastball that you could either throw right down the middle or bend it to the left or right a bit. Today you can throw ANYTHING THAT HAS EVER BEEN INVENTED BY MAN! Slider, curve, slurve, sludge, sherm, fastball, 2-seam fastball, roadhouse, sickadoo, knuckleball, junkball, Papa New Guinea, sinker…it’s got em’ all.
So this is a roundabout way of saying that what I would like to do is go over my TOP FIVE sports video games of all time that I can currently think of off the top of my head! Here goes…
5. Basewars (NES)
Does anyone remember that one?! You got to play baseball as FREAKIN ROBOTS! I mean, the game looked pretty rough but you were ROBOTS and you played BASEBALL! YES I REPEATED THAT! When you got on to base, you had to BATTLE A ROBOT WHILE PLAYING AS A ROBOT TO REMAIN SAFE! I apologize for the caps, but I just don’t understand how the game hasn’t been remade yet with today’s ridiculous technology. SERIOUSLY CMON!
4. NBA Jam (N64? Maybe Super Nintendo? Whatever)
To this day, this is still one of the greatest basketball games of all time, and they have done a LOT with basketball games. This game was all about dunking…you could jump above the damn RIM to slam it down and catch on fire, which makes sense if you’ve played it. BOOM SHAKA LAKA! I have no idea if I spelled that right…I don’t think I’ve ever had to do that. Anyway, fantastic game.
3. NHL Hitz (Xbox)
You might not have played this one, but if you haven’t, jump off a roof. No, don’t do that. This was basically the NBA Jam of hockey. Mostly unrealistic but too much fun for it to matter. Players saw 3-on-3 battles with a red, glowing puck flying around the ice with fun and easy passing and crazy shooting. But, like the name, people played this for the HITS or HITZ as the cool cats at Midway called it. The hits were ENORMOUS and AMAZING! And the fights were super cooltastic too. I need to find this again…
2. MLB Slugfest 2004 (XBOX)
Like the last 2 games, this was another ridiculous Midway title that made my childhood that much better. Hockey, you add huge hits and goals…basketball, you add ridiculous dunks and blocks…baseball? Well of course you add the ability to punch the first baseman when you get on base. This right here might be the greatest baseball game of all time. Though unrealistic, it was so much fun to play. Big hits, hilarious, acrobatic catches, stupidly fun pitching, really funny commentary, and as mentioned, you can punch people. Whether you’re a fielder or baserunner, you can just punch people. That’s really just great. You can also power slide in hopes of knocking the ball out of the defensive players glove, which is just the best thing ever. Good God do I miss this one..BRING IT BACK! AHHHHH!
1. NFL Blitz (N64)
Cmon…do I need to explain why? I guess, if you have never played it. NFL Blitz (Yes, from Midway, the makers of the last 3 games I mentioned) was a 7-on-7 football game featuring real NFL players who looked abnormally and unrealistically ENORMOUS. The stiff arms were amazing as they just destroyed defenders when well timed, the catches were crazy, the spin moves actually worked somehow, but it was the TACKLES that kept players wanting more. They were CRUSHING and HILARIOUS and you could drop straight ELBOWS on players AFTER the play was dead! IT WAS AMAZING! If you have never played, find a way…or, just like all the others, let’s hope they bring it back…again.
HONORABLE MENTION: Pro Evolution Soccer around 2004 or 2005 for PS2…
To me, this is nostalgic. I used to play this with my college roommates and their friends and we would have HUGE tournaments and just have the greatest time ever. Really good soccer game.
Ok, so what do you think? How’s this list? I think it’s good…obviously, I used mostly non-realistic games but that’s what made it so fun. Being able to play sports the way we would like to be able to play them in real life with no repercussions. Punching people in the head while rounding bases? FANTASTIC! Anyway, if you think I may have forgotten something, or think something is just way better, let me know on Twitter: @Souporsizemore. Thanks for reading and LET’S PLAY SOME SPORTS GAMES SOMETIME, HUH?!