Sports games have forever been in great demand; such demand has been filled by publishers seeking to provide gamers with a virtual representation of their favorite sports. Of course, this representation often comes in many flavors; the wide-ranging tastes of the sports gaming public have permitted experimentation regarding sports game development. The results of such experimentation have yielded two general forms of sports games: simulation and arcade. Both represent a developer’s attempt to replicate a particular sport with varying degrees of authenticity. But striking a balance between realism and fun has proven quite difficult; while developers on the whole have attempted to cater to a diverse set of sports gaming desires, relatively few have been successful. So today I welcome you to aid me as I venture forth in the hopes of discovering the 25 greatest sports game of all time.
Before we set sail, know that the games on this list are Top 25 Greatest Sports Games in History And now, let’s begin our voyage, and cruise through the countdown.
25. Backyard Baseball
Attempting to re-create the experience of playing baseball as a child, developer Humungous Entertainment created the wildly successful, family-friendly series known as Backyard Baseball. Originally released in 1997 for Macintosh and Microsoft Windows, Backyard Baseball represented an early attempt at fashioning a baseball game that was accessible to young children. Sporting colorful graphics, crazy power-ups, and simple, intuitive gameplay, Backyard Baseball became a major hit. Its success spawned multiple sequels; the series later incorporated “child” versions of MLB stars, proving to be wildly marketable. In the late 1990s, Humungous Entertainment expanded the series, developing sister-titles including Backyard Football and Backyard Basketball. Later installments of all titles expanded popular features; traditional season modes allowed users to act as a manager over their squad, leading their team to a championship in their respective sport. The series later released on multiple platforms, including the PS2, Wii, and Xbox360, although its popularity has waned greatly since the early 2000s.
24. NFL Street
Developed by EA Tiburon and released in 2004, NFL Street was EA’s attempt at arcade-style football. Similar to NFL Blitz, NFL Street featured seven on seven ironman football, boasting fast-paced gameplay with few penalties. EA possessed the NFL license, meaning users could select from all NFL teams. NFL legends were even playable in the game’s “Pickup Game” mode, which acted as a fantasy draft play now, permitting rivals to pick from a pool of 40 NFL players. The gameplay was derivative of EA’s primary arcade franchise, NBA Street, featuring style points that could earned through completing style moves or gratuitous taunting. Enough style points would reward the player with a “game-breaker,” an outlandish increase in stats to your team for an entire drive, which would render your team near unstoppable. While the game offered limited single-player modes, its influence can still be felt in EA’s simulation football series today. The concept behind Street’s Power Tackle, which was a high-risk, high-reward tackling system, would help give birth to Madden’s Hit Stick, an extremely popular defensive mechanic that remains an essential tool when playing defense. Additionally, NFL Street’s decision to move the ability to sprint to the shoulder buttons eventually creeped into EA’s other football titles, providing greater functionality to an ever-more complicated control scheme.
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