For as long as there have been mobile games, sports have always made for a fairly popular genre. Even in the earlier days of mobile gaming, bare-bones arcades simulating popular sports were developed and we started to see small-screen versions of famous games from the past. For instance, EA’s mobile lineup is a pretty extensive example that boasts many of the latest sports titles’ pocket versions and the company even rolled out a phone and tablet version of the classic NBA Jam game a while back.
For a while, sports gaming on mobile devices settled into a state that almost felt lazy. Headlined by several more titles from EA, the most noteworthy mobile sports experiences were those that basically functioned as mini versions of big, beautiful console games. And to be clear, none of them are bad. Games like Madden NFL Mobile, FIFA 16 Ultimate Team, PES Club Manager, and others have done an impressive job of pulling some of the most entertaining features from their console counterparts and optimizing them for phone and tablet users. For some gamers, it’s a way to enjoy their favorite Xbox or PlayStation games on the go. For others, it’s a way of bypassing the bigger games altogether and settling for a cheaper, but still enjoyable, type of play.
Over the years a few more creative sports games have begun to make the rounds in app stores, and the genre is better for it. Again, there’s nothing wrong with the console series spinoffs, but a game that’s designed specifically for phones and tablets can have some advantages. These games are generally smaller and less ambitious, but often excel in other ways. They managed this through fun arcade graphics that appeal to retro fanatics, creative gameplay built within the limitations of a touchscreen, amusing story modes and side elements, and innovative new modes of competition.
Among the best examples of such games are some of the mobile selections from PikPok, which have essentially maximized the potential of point-and-flick motions on touchscreens. The company’s “Flick Kick” series now includes multiple soccer and football games as well as a rugby game, and their “Rival Stars Basketball” has nearly five stars in the iOS app store. These apps are all different, but they share the characteristic of doing a lot with minimal controls. In particular, “Rival Stars Basketball” and “Flick Kick Football Legends” do a wonderful job of turning popular sports into something that almost feels like a playable comic book. There are animated characters, plot-based interludes, and surprising flickers of humor, all within the context of challenging competition in the relevant sport.
As games like these have been emerging, we’ve also seen other alternative takes on popular sports, effectively combining them with other genres of mobile gaming. In particular, this has been something explored by online casino platforms. While some primarily stick to classic casino games, others look to infuse different arcade experiences and themes into the casino environment. Gala Casino’s mobile gaming apps show how this sort of thematic exploration can ultimately lead to some pretty intriguing sports titles. Included among the company’s mobile offerings are games like “Golden Tour,” “Penalty Shoot-Out,” “Tennis Stars,” and “World Football Stars,” to name a few. To be clear, these are not full-fledged sports games, but rather slot arcades that include mini-games and atmospheres based on the relevant sports. They’re not for diehard FIFA fans, but for mobile gamers who are just looking for some sports action, they’re pretty nice alternative.
Then there are independent releases that don’t belong to specific collections and it’s often these that exemplify why mobile-specific sports games can be so much fun. App stores are incredibly competitive, and for any release to rise to a position where you actually notice it, it pretty much has to be doing something right (or spending a lot of money). So, when you do see a sports title that’s not related to franchises like EA Sports, 2k, and PES there’s a good chance that it’s worth checking out. The best recent example is Football Heroes Pro 17 by Everyone, which is a retro-style football arcade that’s simple but very high on the fun factor.
Ultimately, the idea here is that as mobile sports gaming has branched out from console adaptations, we’ve seen a lot of creativity and variety that’s helped the genre to become pretty strong. You may love NBA Live, FIFA or Madden mobile, but explore some of the titles mentioned here and you may find a whole new twist on sports mobile gaming that you can enjoy just as much.