The Top 10 Video Game Sports Teams of All Time
This year marks the 20-years since the release of Tecmo Bowl on the Nintendo Entertainment System—the game that showed there was a lot of money to be made off kids sitting too close to the TV, and controlling their favorite NFL teams.
In honor of the game that started it all (and to avoid thinking about how long ago 1989 was... and how old I am now...and the fact I'm thinking about the impact a 20-year-old video game had on my life) here are the 10 most dominant video game sports teams of all time.
My Top 10 includes....
10. Tecmo Super Bowl San Francisco 49ers
If Jerry Rice caught the ball in Tecmo Super Bowl, he probably scored.
In the second (and far superior, while not as groundbreaking) version of Tecmo Bowl, Rice ran the equivalent of a 2.2 second 40-yard dash. Fly route: touchdown. Slant across the middle: touchdown. Quick out: brief scuffle with defender, touchdown.
Rice alone was plenty for opposing defenses to handle, and with the likes of Montana, Craig and Lott in the mix, it was never easy to beat the 'Niners.
9. NBA Street Dallas Mavericks
It's not too often you hear the words "superstar Shawn Bradley" uttered in the same sentence, but that's what video games are for—to make the impossible, possible.
In a move that shows the folks at EA Sports have:
A) limited sports knowledge
B) an incredible collective sense of humor,
Bradley was designated as a "superstar" player on the NBA Street version of the Mavs.
Just to be clear, that's a 7'6" guy with a reputation for getting dunked on, garnering the "Superstar" tag over Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and an in-his-prime Michael Finley.
But Bradley (who averaged a whopping seven points during the 2000-01 season, just before this game was released) lives up to his "superstar" billing in the game. Unlike his real-life self, Bradley can jump in NBA Street, meaning he can dunk, board, and block anything that gets near the hoop. With Bradley parked in the paint, the Mavs are tough, if not impossible, to beat on a consistent basis.
So if you're searching for "dunks over Shawn Bradley" on YouTube, you'll find plenty of real game footage, but no embarrassing NBA Street clips. Take that, Shaq.
8. Madden NFL '95 Dallas Cowboys
It's hard to tell what number was higher: Troy Aikman's consistently near-perfect quarterback ratings, or the blood pressure in my 11-year-old veins following constant defeats at the hands of "America's Team."
With Aikman, Irvin, Smith, and Norton Jr., not even Leon Lett could slow this team down.
7. NBA Jam Tournament Edition Orlando Magic
While the actual Nick Anderson will forever be remembered for missing four straight free throws in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals, his video game counterpart in NBA Jam T.E. misses nothing.
Anywhere beyond the arc, Anderson is virtually automatic, as are Penny Hardaway and Dennis Scott. With Horace Grant (recognizable with his bright blue goggles) available to patrol the paint, the Magic could kill anyone with their inside-outside game...that is, if there is such a thing as an inside-outside strategy in a game in which players perform somersault dunks while a commentator yells "Boomshakalaka."
6. NHL '94 Pittsburgh Penguins
Yes, the Detroit Red Wings were good in NHL '94, but the Pittsburgh Penguins (Lemieux, Jagr, Ron Francis, Larry Murphy, Kevin Stevens) were pretty close to unbeatable. Lemieux could slip through any defense, and opposing goalies had no answer for Jagr's one-timer.
If you were going to have a chance against the Penguins, you needed to score at least five goals...by the end of the first period.
5. NFL Blitz Pittsburgh Steelers
Thanks to some of the most blatant CPU assistance in the history of gaming, and a 75 percent recovery rate of onside kicks by the kicking team, pretty much every game of NFL Blitz came down to the last play.
So who did you want under center, down by four points, with 65 yards to go and three seconds on the clock?
Kordell "Slash" Stewart.
Combine the speed of Usain Bolt, the hops of a rookie Vince Carter, the arm of John Elway and the jersey of Santonio Holmes, and you had Stewart in NFL Blitz—the most dominant player on the most dominant team.
With Stewart, players could master the jump pass, in which Stewart evades defenders by leaping toward the sideline, throws the ball while airborne, and finds either Jerome Bettis or Yancy Thigpen in the back of the end zone.
Trust me, it works more often than you'd think.
4. R.B.I. Baseball St. Louis Cardinals
There are three sure things in life:
1. You will pay taxes
2. You will die.
3. You have never, and will never, throw out Cardinals left fielder Vince Coleman stealing second base in the 1988 Nintendo game R.B.I. Baseball.
It was impossible to throw Coleman out at second, and really hard to get him stealing third, meaning if you could get the guy on base, you get a runner on third without swinging the bat.
In addition to Coleman's speed, this Cardinals team had Ozzie Smith, Terry Pendleton, Jack Clark, Willie McGee, and Tony Pena. Needless to say, they didn't lose too often.
3. Madden NFL '04 Atlanta Falcons
Since "arrest in connection to dog fighting" isn't a defensive play in Madden '04, there's only one way to stop Michael Vick: injure him.
Opposing defenses were forced to dive at Vick's knees, hoping to take out No. 7, because let's face it—if Vick was in the game, there's no way the other team stood a chance.
Whether it was hitting Alge Crumpler across the middle, finding Brian Finneran with the deep ball, or scrambling for anywhere from 11 to 98 yards, Vick is the player that broke the Madden system.
2. Tecmo Super Bowl Los Angeles Raiders
Bo knows baseball.
Bo knows football.
And Bo knows Tecmo Super Bowl.
Bo Jackson (or "Tecmo Bo" as he was referred to by some), couldn't be tackled, and that made the Los Angeles Raiders pretty good, by most standards.
With way too little practice, players controlling Jackson could choose to evade tacklers on runs that would last entire quarters, or rack up double-digit touchdown totals for the Raiders back.
Does it really even matter who was on the rest of the team?
1. NBA Jam Charlotte Hornets
Before feuding, leaving Charlotte, and each player opting to add a lot of weight, Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson represented the most dominant team that NBA Jam—and debatedly all of video game sports—has ever seen.
While it was Johnson and Kendall Gill in the arcade version, once NBA Jam hit consoles, LJ and Zo were the dynamic duo chosen to represent the Hornets.
For some reason, neither player could miss three-point shots from the corner, and neither player could be blocked. That makes a team pretty hard to beat.
They're on fire!