Every year, graphics, gameplay, and physics draw closer to emulating of real life. For sports simulation fans, this means games more accurately portray their real life counterparts.
Already, platforms like iRacing aim to create seamless life-like experiences rivaling NASCAR and rally racing. With such high goals, the gaming industry remains at the forefront of entertainment technology.
Today, much of the gaming industry applies on this same aspiration. As eSports branch off into specific and established leagues worldwide, the prize money and stakes rise considerably. The biggest purses back in 2019 saw winning teams take home up to $11.2 million—and these figures only continue to rise as video games become more detailed and reliable.
Despite the cutting-edge world of modern games, not all titles were worth playing in the past. In fact, some of the earliest simulations available in the 90s and early 2000s were outright trash. Graphics were subpar and confusing, while gameplay features were glitchy and unrealistic.
Regardless, many gamers stay loyal to their favorite titles from back in the day. After all, they spent hour after hour trying to make it to a virtual finals game or just passing time with a friend in multiplayer mode. Even if the games are still trash, they’re somebody’s special trash.
Looking back, here are five of the worst sports simulations gamers love to hate… and maybe even play every now and again.
The Simpsons Wrestling (2001)
Despite being a product of Activision (Europe’s Electronic Arts branch), The Simpsons Wrestling is considered one of the worst video games of all time. However, that doesn’t stop it from being a cult classic with a 70% like rating on Google.
Although most moves don’t pan out given the game’s horrible physics and absolutely mind-numbing graphics, gamers fell in love with the unique moves assigned to each Simpsons character. It was never a good game, but it always delivered a few laughs.
NBA Jam Extreme (1996)
Everyone loved NBA Jam, released by Midway and Acclaim studios, but few people could stand the independent project from Acclaim, NBA Jam Extreme. Gamers either fell in love with the absolutely ridiculous graphics and messy gameplay features, or they attempted to return the game. At least the game’s laughably long loading screen time left a few minutes to rest the eyes.
Mutant League Hockey (1994)
Once again, this sequel fell flat compared to the original release of Mutant League Football. At least in terms of critics’ ratings. Once again, Mutant League Hockey has a high Google-like rating, as well as a cult following on par with The Simpsons Wrestling.
In fact, these titles remain popular because they’re so outlandish and are highly unlikely to ever be attempted again. What developer would sign off on a hockey league between robots, undead skeletons, and trolls? What writer would script the word ‘weenies’ so many times into the game’s dialogue?
WWE All Stars (2011)
This installation is only lacking when compared to the modern projects from WWE. However, it’s the series’ best game by far, which has made it a classic for gamers despite some hating on the graphics and gameplay. There’s a stellar cast of characters and a long list of reasonably realistic moves to try out in the ring.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (2007)
To be fair, this game was considered a success by critics, reviews, and gamers when released in time for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The Wii project brought together Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario to compete in Olympic-style games in an arena similar to those being prepared for the actual games.
The result is a cringe-worthy series of challenges that are cheesy, realistic, and stupidly satisfying. Watching Knuckles the Echidna and Bowser hustle around a track in a modern city shouldn’t be fun. Watching Yoshi swim the butterfly against Doctor Eggman shouldn’t be entertaining for more than five minutes. But it is. It really, really is.
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