Sometimes it’s not enough to simply enjoy a sport; to play it, watch it and wave a novelty flag while cans of beer are strapped on either side of your temple. Sometimes it’s necessary to indulge your inner geek in the most athletic way possible. Cue the humble sports game.
FIFA – Soccer (or “football” for purists, Europeans, and those British backpackers down at the pub who keep harking on about “the Motherland”) (1995-present) Multiplatform
For lovers of football, it is impossible to look past FIFA, especially the upcoming FIFA 10. Striking the perfect balance between football simulation and arcade gameplay, FIFA delivers an accurate representation of a real football match. It has won over many football lovers with its attention to detail and all the licensed teams that gamers can play as and, in its latest iteration, has been said to have surpassed its main rival, Pro Evo.
NBA Jam – Basketball (1993) Multiplatform from 16bit era
One of the first playable arcade basketball games, NBA Jam pumped the ball-dribblin’, player-jumpin’, slam-dunkin’ action greater than or equal to the max. Featuring some of the most recognised licensed teams of its time, NBA Jam allowed players to defy the laws of human physics and play the game in the way we wanted to — exaggeratedly, amazingly and awesomely.
Tiger Woods PGA 10 – Golf (2009) Multiplatform
Golf: a somewhat sedentary sport that has the potential to procure epic amounts of snoring when turned into a video game. But no snores will be had with Tiger Woods PGA 10, with the game being so immersive and accurate (when combined with the Wii Motion Plus sensor) that you actually feel like you’re there, trying (and failing so hard) to get that hole-in-one. Admittedly, golf isn’t for everyone, but for those who fancy a bit of virtual pro-putting, PGA 10 looks and handles the best.
Top Spin – Tennis (2003) Original Xbox, PC, PS2
While it’s hard these days to find a tennis game that doesn’t require you to waggle like a maniac to execute simple serves and backhand moves, we can thank our Wii-mote damaged plasma screens that there’s always Top Spin. A relative oldie but a definite goodie, you could play as licensed athletes through a fast-paced career-mode or enjoy an equally fast-paced quick match. The game shone in the choices it offered players and even allowed us to change our athlete’s DNA. Gotta love eugenics.
Football Manager – Football (2005-present) PC and MAC
Like a soccer star who has fractured too many ribs or a netball player with messed-up knees, sometimes all the sporting action—even that of the virtual kind—is just too much to handle. But if you love the sport, then, like many former athletes, you can try your hand at managing a team. Playing with numbers, stats and organising your team, Football Manager lets you step into the shoes of a manager to buy players, organise how your team will play, and then watch it all unfold in 2D. Subdued, yes, but utterly riveting for those whose loins are stirred by their passion for football.
Ashes Cricket 2009 – Cricket (2009) Multiplatform
Cricket: another sport that has so much potential to be dull in video game-form, but has defied the odds in Ashes Cricket 2009 and turned out to be an engaging video game that can satiate the appetite of fans and pique the interest of newcomers. It’s easy enough to pick up and play but also provide enough depth to keep gamers playing for the entire duration of a test.
UFC 2009 Undisputed – Mixed martial arts (2009) PS3 and Xbox 360
Admittedly, it’s difficult to talk about UFC Undisputed without making some kind of reference to the (sometimes) distractingly suggestive man-on-man action, because it really could be taken the wrong way. Thankfully, here at Gizmodo, we have nothing but clean minds, so we’ll just say that this is an accurate depiction of the hardcore fighting championship and will give fans of technical fighters something to salivate over. And we’re not kidding when we say it’s technical; button-mashing will only get you so far.
California Games – Misc. Sports (1987) Multiplatform from 8bit era
California in the 1980s: Big hair, equally big shoulder pads and an even bigger sports game that found a place in the hearts of gamers everywhere. There was an unparalleled joy that could be found in competing on the west coast in sports that were purportedly popular in the sunny state — freestyle footbagging, skateboarding, surfing, roller skating, flying disc and the ever-extreme BMX riding. The hours that people spent trying to impress the virtual judges in the game are a testament to how good it is.
Skate 2 – Skateboarding (2009) PS3 and Xbox 360
Skateboarding isn’t easy and it doesn’t get much easier just because it’s in a videogame. But, unlike real skateboarding, which tends to solicit broken shins, bruised limbs and a tad blow to the ego, Skate 2 gives players a chance to ease into the sport of riding your own set of wheels, performing stunts and tricks and feeling like you’re really there, being cool. Thank goodness for games.
Track and Field – Athletics (1983) Multiplatform from 8bit era
There’s button-mashing and then there’s button-mashing. This Olympic-themed arcade game was the original “smash the same button over and over again until you win!” sports title, and while senseless button-mashing may be frowned upon these days, there was something undeniably fun at the time about bashing a key to achieve athletic victory.
Playing With Balls is Gizmodo AU’s week-long look at the technology behind the sports we love, from the jerseys to the balls and everything in between. Go Hazelbrook Under 5s!