Weekly Top Ten: Sports Video Games
#10- Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (N64)
This is still one of the most addicting games ever released. I can remember staying up all hours of the night drinking Jolt Cola and trying to accomplish a 1,000,000 point combo. Featuring real pro skaters and a fantastic create-a-career option, this is the only skateboarding game to cross over to a mainstream audience.
9: FIFA ’94 (Sega CD)
The FIFA series of soccer video games might be one of the most slept-on in the world of gaming. Yes, the actual sport of soccer is full of flopping, racism and general boredom. However, the digital version of “the world’s most popular sport” is a fast paced and addicting experience. The intro to the Sega CD version of FIFA 94 was mind-blowing at the time.
8. Blades of Steel (NES)
There was a point when the graphics on Blades of Steel were considered epic, and the fact that you could play a mini-game during the intermission was revolutionary.Plus, the game had actual one-on-one fighting using a power meter, unlike the cartoonish free-for-all fighting in the game Ice Hockey.
Looking back, the annoying voices on the game (TAKE THE PASS) are a bit too much to handle, and the fact that the game did not feature actual NHL teams doesn’t help it’s cause.
7: RBI Baseball (NES)
This game featured actual MLB teams with actual MLB rosters. In addition, you could make lineup and pitching changes in the game. A major step-up from “Baseball” on the NES, this game and it’s sequels set the standard for sports video game licensing.
6: NFL Blitz 2000 (Arcade)
Fact: I spent my entire college fund as a teenager in the arcade. Sure, a portion of my quarters stash went to Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter Two, but my bread and butter was NFL Blitz. Comical violence, players on fire, a maniacal announcer and crazy fast action all made this a favorite of kids in the late 90’s. Images from this game are what keep Roger Goodell up all night.
5: Mike Tyson’s Punch Out! (NES)
An amazingly deep game with many classic characters. You start the game as tiny pugilist Little Mac, a little person determined to prove himself against fighters 10x his size. Your first matchup is with local drunk Glass Joe, who halfheartedly taunts you as he gets his face beat in. Next up, German stereotype Von Kaiser complete with handlebar mustache.
From there you run into the largest Japanese man ever (Piston Honda), a not-so-masculine dancer named Don Flamenco, a morbidly obese king of some sort (King Hippo) and a hopeless soda addict (Soda Popinski) among others. Of course, the ultimate challenge awaits at the end of the game when Mac is forced to fight Mike Tyson at the peak of his powers. One punch from Iron Mike and you are eating canvas, while it takes approximately 1,467 hits in a row to knock down Tyson.
4. Deion Sanders Prime Time Football (Genesis)
This game used the Joe Montana Football engine and featured all the NFL players and teams. The game also kept stats in 40 categories with league leaders and all-time records included as well. The best part of this game, however, was the inclusion of a trash talk button that allowed you to spew phrases like “I OWN YOU” and “SEEEEE YA” at your hapless opponent.
3: NBA Jam (Genesis)
Midway knocked it out of the park with the release of the original NBA Jam, inspired by the classic NBA/Arcade hit “Arch Rivals.” The game featured real NBA teams and players, along with powerups and tons of hidden characters like President Bill Clinton.
The game was also legendary for it’s bonkers announcer shouting out catchphrases like “HE’S ON FIRE!,” “IS IT THE SHOES?!,” and “BOOOMSHAKALAKA.” If you make three baskets in a row with a single player while not allowing an opponent to score, the player is then ‘on fire,’ meaning he essentially can’t miss from anywhere on the floor.
Everyone has a favorite combo from NBA Jam. Perhaps you prefer the Knicks combo of Ewing and Starks. I was always fond of Charlotte with LJ and Alonzo Mourning. Maybe Mullin and Hardaway on Golden State??
2: Tecmo Bowl (NES)
Bo Jackson graduated from legend status to God status after his appearance in this Nintendo classic. The video below is a testament to greatness.
This was truly one of the first games to have full rosters and statistics. I have to imagine Tecmo Bowl is responsible for a lot of broken NES controllers as well.
1: NHL ’94 (Genesis)
If I hadn’t received NHL ’94 on Christmas 1993, I’m not sure what I might have accomplished as an 11-year old. Would I have developed a cure for cooties? Perhaps invented a way to stab a straw into a Capri Sun without spilling juice all over myself? Won back-to-back-to-back spelling bees? I will never know.
What I do know, however, is that I will skate circles around you with Mark Messier, Esa Tikkanen and the rest of the New York Rangers.
This game featured the immortal EA Sports Multi-Tap, which gave gamers the ability to play with up to four people at a time. Previously your buddies had to wait to play the winner of a one-on-one game, but no longer!