While most hardcore sports fans like to see realism in their sports titles, some games are better off just prioritizing fun.
By Jack Pursey
Published 6 hours ago
Gaming’s sports genre has received a fair amount of bad press in recent years. Electronic Arts and 2K have frustrated fans of their?FIFA, Madden,?and?NBA?series’, with a perceived lack of progression between releases and emphasis on pay-to-win modes like Ultimate Team. Unfortunately, this negatively is hard to argue against, and simulation-style sports games are simply not in a good place at the moment.
Thankfully, officially licensed, simulation sports games aren’t all that the genre has to offer. There are also tons of great games that don’t worry about realism and instead simply try to offer the most enjoyable single or multiplayer experience possible.
The?Mario Kart?series has been a mainstay?of the sports genre since the first game was released in 1992 on the SNES. The series has continuously built and improved upon itself by offering more creative courses, a consistently larger roster of characters, and an ever-growing range of power-ups to either gain an edge in the race or simply?wind up a friend.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?was released in 2017 on the Nintendo Switch and is an enhanced version of the Wii U release from 2014. Fans of the franchise are started to grow frustrated at the lack of a sequel, but?Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?still deserves its spot on this list for being the best game in the series to play today.
Realistically, this entire list could be filled with Mario’s sporting ventures, so for the sake of variety,?Mario Golf?will be the second and last game from Nintendo’s mascot to feature on this list. Mario has invited all of his friends and bitter enemies for a game of many different sports over the years, including Tennis, Baseball, and Golf.
The platformer’s golf game on the Nintendo 64 is still considered to be one of Mario’s strongest sporting releases, and although the visuals have aged poorly, the gameplay is just as addicting today as it was in 1999. A new Mario golf game, titled Mario Golf: Super Rush,?is releasing in June 2021 and will look to recapture the magic of the classic N64 game.
Wii Sports may?fall considerably short of the quality of games like?Halo: Combat Evolved?or?Super Mario 64, but it stands among those games as being one of the most important launch titles of all time.
The Nintendo Wii was released shortly after Sony’s EyeToy had failed to impress, so many Nintendo fans were concerned that the Wii’s motion controls would be similarly underwhelming. However, Wii Sports showed from day one that the motion controls had serious potential, as the game offered hours of fun with its simplistic mini-games that are still a joy to play with friends today.
Whereas the majority of games on this list offer a fun alternative to real sports, Rocket League invents a sport of its own. The concept of?Rocket League?had been attempted before, but never at the scale of Psyonix’s smash hit.
Rocket League?nailed the concept by reaching a great balance of being fun to pick up and play while?also having genuine competitive depth, which?has helped the game?become a leading Esport.
SSX Tricky?was one of many extreme sports games released by Electronic Arts?in the 2000s. The snowboarding game threw almost any hint of realistic physics out of the window and let players perform ridiculously over-the-top moves and tricks as they descended down the game’s?well-designed mountains.
SSX Tricky’s main mode?is World Circuit, which lets players unlock new boards and characters through good old-fashioned game progression rather than?the modern method of entering card details.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2?was released in?August 2020 and, as the name suggests,?is a remaster of the first two?Pro Skater?releases.?The games have a stronger emphasis on realism than the previous entries on this list, though there’s no doubt that the?developers had player enjoyment at the forefront of their minds when creating?skateboarding games.
Pro Skater 1 + 2?offers an excellent update to the original games’ gritty visuals, though the gameplay still doesn’t take itself too seriously, with the extreme tricks and arcade-inspired game modes making a return.
Burnout Paradise?was one of the best street racing releases during the genre’s golden era of the 2000s, though ironically, it played a key role in the genre’s downfall. Data showed that players were more interested in the game’s open world and social features?rather than its events, which sparked a change in the way racing games were developed.
Although the open world and social features marked a shift in direction for the series, Burnout Paradise?still features the extreme?gameplay from previous entries in the series, with players being rewarded for high-speed driving or even crashing in some game modes. Burnout Paradise?was remastered in 2018, making it a great choice to play today.
Blitz: The League II?offers an alternative to the?Madden?series by providing a more arcade-like gameplay experience?and focusing on the NFL’s dark side with a few adult gameplay mechanics.?Blitz: The League II?allows players to intentionally inflict brutal injuries on opponents while also gaining an advantage by taking banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Furthermore, the game’s story?makes a few not-so-subtle references to real-life events, such as the?Minnesota Vikings boat scandal.
Everybody’s Golf is the second golf game to appear on this list, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the sport’s rich history in the gaming industry.
Golfing games have always been well suited to gaming, as they can remove the sport’s more tedious features, such as constantly having to walk after the ball. Moreover, the sport works well with both simulation-style games like the?Tiger Woods?series, along with the arcade-style that Everybody’s Golf has?nailed on numerous occasions throughout its history.?Everybody’s Golf 3?(also known as?Hot Shots Golf 3)?is considered to be the series’ best entry, exemplified by its impressive 85 Metascore.
FIFA Street?differentiates itself from the other entries on this list with its official licensing of top real-world players. However, the game deserves a spot on this list as Electronic Arts’ former label EA Sports BIG?and?EA Canada (now known as EA Vancouver) created a fantastic spin-off to their main?FIFA?series.
FIFA Street?removes the glitz and glamour of the Premier League and World Cup and puts its star players in back alley courts while letting them pull off over-the-top skill moves and combos to gain an edge over their opponents, along with hard-hitting tackles thanks to the lack of referee.
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About The Author
(264 Articles Published)
A gamer since the age of 3, Jack is knowledgeable about virtually every genre of video game under the sun. He has a soft spot for platformers and collectathons though, and still hasn’t given up hope of them making a serious resurgence!
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