The 10 Greatest Sports Video Games of All Time
Every year, we as capitalist consumers are bombarded each year by more and more sports video games.
Madden 10, MLB 2K10, NBA 2K10, NHL 10, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, NHL 2K10, Blitz: The League.
However, a certain few stand out from the crowd. The crown jewels of the sports video game world. Most are created by EA Sports, but the best ones aren't.
If you feel I've left any games off the list, leave me a comment.
Honorable Mention No. 1: Fight Night Round 4, EA Sports, 2009
I have this to say about the most recent addition to EA Sports' great Fight Night series: being able to make Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali eat the canvas is a great feeling. In Round 4, the most realistic graphics ever seen in a Fight Night game, you actually feel like you're knocking out one of the greats.
The announcing in Round 4 is spectacular too, as you hear new phrases many, many bouts in. Fight Night also has excellent graphics. However the "Total Punch Control System" almost gave me blisters on my thumbs.
Honorable Mention No. 2: Blitz: The League, Midway, 2005
Blitz: The League is one of the very few sports games that ever received an "M for Mature" rating in the United States. It was even outlawed by the Australian government, a feat usually accomplished by games that involve weaponry, such as most Grand Theft Auto games.
Blitz was Midway's first football game after EA Sports bought the exclusive right to produce NFL games in 2004.
Not to be bogged down by silly NFL rules, the creators of Blitz created their own league, complete with unique stadiums, uniforms, logos, names, and players. Penalties were removed, and players were allowed to perform "dirty hits," which often caused injury. First downs were placed 30 yards from the line of scrimmage, pass interference was allowed, as was outlandish (and often vulgar) celebrations.
Hilarious cutscenes, a good backstory, and quick-to-learn play gets my favorite sports game on here as an Honorable Mention.
Honorable Mention No. 3: The NBA Jam Series, Midway and Acclaim, 1993-1999
Due to popular demand by the commenters, the NBA Jam series is now on this list as an Honorable Mention.
The game that started out as an arcade-only game by Midway and exploded on to every early-90s home console and into a series with Acclaim. It produced a ton of sequels using the NBA Jam engine, and coined several phrases such as "He's on fire!", "Razzle Dazzle," and "From Downtown" that are mainstays in NBA broadcasting today.
NBA Jam is considered the first action-ish sports game, and what led to subsequent action-ish sports titles by Midway such as NHL Hitz, MLB Slugfest, NFL Blitz, the Blitz: The League series, and RedCard 20-03.
Spend seven minutes of your day watching this SNES NBA Jam highlight vid:
10. MLB 09: The Show, Sony Computer Entertainment, 2009
The Show has been the one of the greatest games to hit the market annually since its creation in 2006 with MLB 06: The Show.
The graphics are excellent, and the updates to the "Franchise" mode, which now includes the addition of the waiver wire and salary arbitration, are great.
But the selling point for The Show series has always been its "Road to the Show" mode. Similar to the "Career" mode in other games, RTTS lets you control a player who you created all the way though the minors and majors with the ultimate goal of reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 2009, SCE added new training features to RTTS includung batting practice and fielding practice, both of which are well done.
9. MVP Baseball 2005, EA Sports, 2004
MVP Baseball was the greatest baseball game ever made. It featured several new updates, which included a revamped "Dynasty" mode, Single-A minor league teams, and a fantastic (and difficult) "Owner" mode.
In Owner mode, you take complete control of an entire MLB organization. You control everything from what the color of the outfield walls of your new stadium will be down to who's playing third for your Double-A team.
8. NHL 09, EA Sports, 2008
EA Sports revolutionized hockey (again—more on that later) with NHL 09. An immediate upgrade over NHL 08, including the option to play the original classic EA Sports hockey game NHL '94 with modern teams, team logos, and players. It also includes the fantastic "Dynasty" mode featuring several European leagues, including the now-defunct Russian Superleague.
It even had a special team to commemorate the 100th season of the Montreal Canadiens, called Centennial Canadiens. Centennial Candiens featured several of the greatest players ever to don a Canadiens uniform.
NHL 09 won several Best Sports Game of 2008 awards, including those handed out by IGN, Gamespot, and the Spike TV Video Game Awards. Is was also nominated for best overall video game at the Gamespot awards.
7. The FIFA Series, EA Sports, 1993-Present
I don't know how many soccer fans EA Sports' fantastic FIFA series has created, but I know I'm one of them. Ever since I played FIFA 08 at my cousin's house a few years ago, I've been hooked on soccer—and my own copy of FIFA.
Addictive gameplay, the excellent "Manager" mode and multiple teams in multiple nations, almost all with licensed kits and real players, makes FIFA one of the greatest sports video games of all time and a must-have for all sports gamers.
Seriously, if you hate soccer, any FIFA game will force you to have a change of heart.
6. The Madden Series, EA Sports, 1988-Present
The Madden series revolutionized the way football is played (digitally). With excellent "Dynasty" modes and new updates every year, Madden is one of the greatest video game series of all time.
Madden also holds the honor of the producing the last game for the original PlayStation (Madden 2005, released in 2004) GameCube (Maden NFL 08, released in 2007) and for the original Xbox (Madden NFL 09, released in 2008).
Madden has achieved greatness with almost all of its yearly titles, and it looks to continue its success in the new decade.
5. NBA Street Vol. 2, EA BIG, 2003
Many of you will likely call foul for putting NBA Street instead of NBA Jam on here, but I believe that Street is the better overall game.
Boasting 23 NBA legends (from Moses Malone to Nate Archibald to two Michael Jordans—one from 1984 and another from 1996), along with then-current NBA players and some freakishly talented "street legends" (most of whom would've been offered NBA contracts by now) NBA Vol. 2 became an excellent and addictive game for hardcore hoops fans and casual fans alike.
4. ESPN NFL 2K5, SEGA, 2004
2K5 has been called the greatest football game ever (you'll see why it's not later).
The final installment in an NFL series not made by EA Sports was great, and ESPN added to that. A SportsCenter feature during the "Franchise" mode is hosted by Chris Berman and Trey Wingo, Mel Kiper hosts the draft part of the mode, and Suzy Kolber reports from the sidelines.
There's also a "Celebrity Minigame" featuring Carmen Electra, Funkmaster Flex, Jamie Kennedy, Steve-O, or David Arquette.
The best feature of all, though: its starting price on the day of release was just $19.99, when the usual release price for video games in 2004 was $49.99 and today is now $59.99. 2K5 was the last true football franchise exclusively for fans.
3. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, Nintendo, 1987, 2009
The original Punch-Out!! is classic. When it was updated and re-released for the Nintendo Wii in 2009, it brought the game to a whole new generation of gamers.
The new Punch-Out!! also provides a workout for the users, as shown below:
2. NHL '94, EA Sports, 1993
NHL '94 took out fights and bleeding, two of the best features of NHL '93, but added three things to replace it: an NHL license, an NHLPA license (first game ever to receive both a players union and a league license), and the one-timer.
The addition of this shot created some great, highlight-reel scores for NHL fans everywhere. It was even mentioned in the 1995 movie Swingers, where the main characters have conversations about who was the best player in the game, which eventually led to shouting matches.
NHL '94 also had some of the smoothest graphics that you will ever see on a 16-bit console. Even without the fighting, NHL '94 is the greatest hockey game of all time.
1. Tecmo Super Bowl, Tecmo, 1991
Only one game could ever be so great that fans are still modding it to have current teams, logos, and players. Tecmo Super Bowl is that game.
Its gameplay is fun and addictive, and TSB was the first game to be licensed by both the NFLPA and the NFL.
The game added a "Season" mode, a Pro Bowl, stat tracking, player attributes, player injuries, editable playbooks, and substitutions.
Oh, and the producers of the game thought Bo Jackson was Jesus in shoulder pads:
Players got so good at TSB that the computer-controlled team couldn't stop them:
Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest sports video game of all time, Tecmo Super Bowl.