Quintessential Sports Games

I'm not a sports fan by any means but I do like a good competitive sports video game, especially the ones that tap into the simple to learn/hard to master pool. With so many annualized franchises, what are some sports games you feel are must plays?

Here's a few I like to get things going:

  • 1. International Superstar Soccer 64 [N64]
  • 2. Wayne Gretzky's 3D Hockey [N64]
  • 3. ESPN NFL 2K5

  • BONUS: Here's Tim's review for NHLPA Hockey 93 by EA (https://insertcredit.com/2012/10/30/re-ten-super-nintendo-games-for-under-100-each/)

    1 Like

    I'm not a huge sports game guy, but even with my limited experience it feels like NBA Jam is a must play.


    I do love how sports games offer a look into a very specific snapshot of a sport at a given time. NBA Jam isn't just a basketball game, it's a basketball game for the exact set of teams and players that constituted the NBA at time of release, you know?

    @TheFragranceOfDarkCoffee#7753 NBA Jam TE was pretty much glued into my SNES over a summer. There are several versions to pick from:


    I'm a football (or soccer, I hate that word, ugh) fan and I grew playing a lot of ISS64/98 and the PS2 era PES games with my brother.

    I think PES 6 maybe is the greatest football game ever made, its mechanics, system complexity and variety of licences made that game a must one. Those were the years when FIFA games were boring even when they had more licences than PES, took them a long time to surpass PES tbh.

    An obvious chance but Virtua Tennis is mandatory

    Tecmo Super Bowl. So good folks still update the rosters.

    I‘ll reiterate NFL 2K5 because it deserves it. It’s mentioned briefly in the video you posted but these weekly Sportscenter segments are the coolest feature ever in a sports game, in my opinion. Season/Franchise modes in games almost always feel lifeless and fail to capture the storylines a real sports season produces. Like your team exists in a vacuum and you just face off against whatever team happens to show up next on the schedule. It definitely had its limitations and you'll hear repeats and stuff after a while but it was a fantastic effort for its era and has essentially never been reproduced.


    EA lost the MLB license after the release of MVP Baseball 2005 (another great game) and subsequently released college baseball games the following two years before they stopped making baseball games. With baseball kind of being the odd man out among collegiate American sports it's kind of a unique dressing on a baseball game, and recruiting players and building your program in the dynasty mode is a fun time.


    I think cooperative modes in sports games are an underserved market and the Captain Your Country modes of FIFA 10 and 14 World Cup are fantastic. Up to four players create their player and play through the qualification stages of the World Cup to the tournament itself whilst being ranked against each other and earning their spot in the squad. I've ran through many of these in a night with fans and non-fans of soccer alike.


    And some that are just plain fun:

    Virtua Tennis
    NFL Blitz 2000
    NHL Hitz 2003
    NBA Street Vol. 2
    Arena Football
    MLB Power Pros
    Everybody's Golf (2017)

    I don't play sports games often because:

  • - I don't like realism that much
  • - I don't know have a deep knowledge of the rules of most sports
  • - I don't have attachment to the actual teams

  • But!!! I am of course abstractly interested in sport and want to see what people say about real sports games in here. And then after that I'd like to start a thread about alternative sports games, which I do like a lot - windjammers, baseball stars, Dear Boys, et cetera.

    ESPN NHL Hockey aka NHL 2k4

    This game sticks out to me for a few reasons:

  • 1. This was the first year the 2K series went EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVELY at EA's sports games by pricing them at $20 brand new on top of them all being far better games.
  • 2. This is the first NHL game I remember having TV-esque presentation that felt super impressive. It all made me feel really nostalgic about how exciting it was when hockey was given a rare slot on ESPN growing up. Sharks baybee!!!
  • 3. This was the first one that was online I believe and I fully slammed that PS2 network adapter on and plugged in my phone line and played a massive amount of it.
  • I also remember REALLY liking those Mario Tennis and Golf RPGs that Camelot made on the GBA!

    @exodus#7778 I think those qualify. No need for realism (I prefer arcade sports games), just fun games with with some semblance of traditional (or xtreme) sports in the DNA. One of the goals of the thread is to find titles across the spectrum that might be overlooked or unknown since there are so many. I would say Rocket League, Mario Power Tennis, Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD 1+2 and SSX 3 also fit the bill!

    Ken Griffey Jr on the SNES was the only one I could tolerate “back in the day” - it felt solid and understandable unlike many others at the time….I really like the oddities like Mutant League Football, Mega Man Soccer, and Base Wars…plus “Crash 'N the Boyz” :joy::rofl:

    Konami’s Give and Go basketball on the Super Nintendo is a long time favorite of mine. Some nice chunky pixel scaling going on and mode 7 court to dazzle the senses. Funky Konami tunes compliment the alley-oop action.


    Oh boy. I‘ve been playing sports video games for about as long as I’ve been playing video games. In fact, they might have been all I ever really played, if I never learned about JRPGs! But that's another discussion entirely.

    NHL 94 and NHL 96 (but _not_ NHL 95) on the Genesis were endlessly playable back in those days. They are all-time classic video games, in my opinion, and don't get discussed often enough.

    NBA Street Vol. 2 is also fantastic, and I'm glad @Jax mentioned it. It really shines as a two-player game, especially, because it works as a basketball simulation, but also allows for a good amount of player expression with all the crazy dance-like moves you can make your players do. Plus the commentary and the soundtrack always put you in a smiling good-mood zone.


    Mario Strikers is a good arcade-style soccer game, which completely nails the "simple to learn/hard to master" style. I especially like the GameCube version.

    More recently, I've been impressed by the Super Mega Baseball series, which also features cartoonish characters and made-up teams, but features extremely deep sim elements. It also lets you customize really granular aspects of the baseball experience, from overall AI difficulty to pitch speed to batting power and player exhaustion.


    Another very old but all-time favourite of mine is Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball on the NES (Softball Tengoku in Japan). This game lets you pick your team from a bunch of Peanuts-looking kids and weirdos, many of whom had unique or idiosyncratic traits, kind of like the fat-dude skinny-dude dynamic in NES Ice Hockey. I could never find this game to purchase, but I must have rented it ten or more times non-consecutively.


    Finally, I'll mention Fight Night Round 4, which captured the brutality and excitement of boxing, and had nuanced controls that were also easy to learn but tough to master.


    @whatsarobot#7788 wowwwww I’ve never heard anyone talk about dusty diamond and I was starting to think I dreamed it, it was the baseball game we played the most when I was like 6 years old

    @reilly_a_cat#7790 Cool! I‘ve also never met anyone else who’s played it! Nice to meet you, fellow Dusty Diamond rememberer.

    Windjammers is entertaining af, have you played Street Hoop? it was developed by Data East too.

    dunno if these are quintessential. Also I'm not including moto-sport.

  • - Links: The Challenge of Golf
  • - SkiFree
  • - Super Spike V'Ball
  • - SSX Tricky
  • - Mario Golf
  • Fight Night Round 3 was pretty amazing on the 360 even if it was a little bare-bones. I was watching Hajime No Ippo at the time (of which there are several games) so it was pretty fun to role-play. I also loved Super Punch-Out!! more than the original. Ashame all of the boxing games are gone

    Sports Talk Baseball on the Sega Genesis is a really good game. And I hate baseball!


    @Jax#7771 I’ll reiterate NFL 2K5 because it deserves it

    completely agree. Might have my info confused but my understanding is that the quality of 2K5+it retailing for $20 is what got EA to buy the NFL license and freeze out the competition


    @exodus#7778 I don’t know have a deep knowledge of the rules of most sports

    > I don’t have attachment to the actual teams

    I have kind of a strange admission to this point: every couple of years I get really into Football Manager. I have never played soccer, never watched an entire game, and still don't know most of the rules, but FM does such an elaborate job of building a huge world and this enormous web of details and variables it becomes more like playing a paradox grand strat/alternate history game. It works great as sort of passive game, where you just wind up as much as you want, then watch the games play out in cool little 3d dioramas.

    The game has you participate in press conferences, I'm up there answering questions knowing what maybe 25% of the soccer words mean. I have to make strategic decisions during a crucial game, I'm just winging it. Fans are mad at me? I don't care. Might as well be a made up sport like Windjammers for all I know. Windjammers Manager, that would be good


    @whatsarobot#7793 Dusty Diamond rememberer.

    +1 on this count. Take a look at the manual if you haven't seen it

    @yeso#7801 I just googled it. There are descriptions for every character! What a joy this is to find on a random Tuesday in 2020. Thank you!