With so many different sports games releasing every season, it’s easy to forget that there were many more just a few years ago. Exclusive licenses, changing times and companies folding took these games away during their primes, but they will live on in our hearts. These are a few sports series I wish I could still play.
Dropping in at number five is All-Star Baseball, published by Acclaim. When the company folded in 2004, so did this title. Originally titled Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball '99, the All-Star Baseball games made it all the way to the 2004 season with All-Star Baseball 2005. Derek Jeter graced the cover, but not even he could save the series. The most recent game included an expansion mode where you could take a team that you created all the way to the big leagues. There was nothing like creating the Wyoming Blasters and taking them to the World Series against the heavyweights like the Yankees and Red Sox. With only two MLB games now releasing each year, those still making baseball games should take some pointers from this now dormant series.
NBA Jam burst into arcades in 1993 and quickly became known by many for its intuitive basketball action and its off-the-wall commentary. It was released on every console imaginable, and President Bill Clinton even appeared in the sequel. The series was repackaged as NBA Hangtime in the arcades, with 3D graphics and updated rosters. The series eventually lost steam and was pretty much scrapped. Midway just released NBA Ballers: Chosen One for PS3 and Xbox 360, but the game is more like NBA Street than its predecessors. NBA Jam may not be returning any time soon, but the lingo will stay with us forever: “from downtown!”
High Heat Baseball
To graphics aficionados, High Heat was a no-go. To baseball purists, High Heat was the place to be. Either way, the game was what simulation baseball was all about. It wasn’t about home run celebrations and flashy fielding; it included only the simplest modes; and the menus were nondescript. High Heat was just simply a baseball game -- a great one at that. It captured everything on the field, including all the little details you might miss like foul tips. It was also one of the first games to include on-field brawls. High Heat is a series that doesn’t get the same acclaim as others but is nonetheless missed greatly by those who played it. The rights to the series were purchased by Microsoft in 2003 when 3DO folded, but we have yet to see what they plan to do with it, if anything.
Starting with Triple Play ’97 and ending with MVP 06 NCAA Baseball, this series has certainly undergone quite a transformation over its lifetime. EA Sports changed the name to MVP in time for the 2003 season to rejuvenate the franchise. Take-Two purchased the exclusive third-party MLB license and EA was forced to move onto college baseball. The last MVP game with the MLB license was MVP 2005, and it still gets plenty of action today. Since the game was released on PC, the series lives on with websites like MVPmods.com. There you can download all new rosters, stadiums and presentations. For everyone else on consoles, they can wait till 2013 when the deal expires.
According to the users at Operation Sports, this series provided the best sports game ever in 2004. So when EA gobbled up the exclusive NFL license, fans were rightfully angry. The series debuted in 1999 when the Dreamcast released. Visual Concepts brought it to Madden every year it released, with 2004 being the pinnacle. Just when you thought the series would eventually pull ahead, the rug was pulled out from under it. It left Madden as the only competitor in the NFL market, thus NFL 2K fans were out of luck. Though All-Pro Football 2K8 was released last season, the game was lacking in a lot of areas. Looking back, no other football game has offered me a chance to play against Carmen Electra. For that I am disappointed, and so are the millions of others who bought into the NFL 2K series.
Which series do you miss the most? Do you think NFL 2K5 is overrated? Did I miss any games you remember playing? Is “BOOMSHAKALAKA” part of your regular vocabulary? Share your thoughts below!
This article was written by Richard Chavez for Operation Sports. Operation Sports is the Internet's leading sports video games resource.