Earlier this month, Justin posted an article recommending some classic sports games. While I have no doubt that they’re great fun, they’re the exact games that you likely walk straight past if you’re a fantasy or sci-fi geek. You go video game shopping for those about magic and lasers! Step aside, Madden 25! You’re out to get a copy of Lightning Returns or Bravely Default, and be transported far from the world you live through everyday.
But what if you want to meet that sports fan in your life halfway for a night of gaming? You need something that appeals to your taste for the fantastic, but still scratches their itch for the traditional games and rules he or she knows and loves.
Well, dust off your old consoles. Plenty of classic games combine real sports with things way more spectacular.
Super Baseball Simulator 1,000
If no one told you SBS1K was basically baseball played by wizards, the box art for the game wouldn’t help you figure it out alone. To all appearances, it looks like another way to enjoy your favorite sport inside your house on a rainy day.
And yet when you pop the game into your Super Nintendo, among the team options offered are several “Ultra Teams”. Pick one of these teams and you’re armed with a variety of super pitches and swings powered by a pool of Ultra Points. Make your pitch burst into flames with a 180 mile per hour fastball, or hit a tremor ball out into the field to stun the other team if it hits the ground before it’s caught. You can even handicap a player with fewer Ultra Points per game if one of you is way better than the other.
Mega Man Soccer
Crossing a legendary action platformer franchise with soccer might not be the most immediately obvious combination, but Mega Man Soccer pulls it off somehow. Just don’t try to make too much sense of why Mega Man is facing down Dr. Wily’s Robot Masters on a soccer field instead of blowing them to bits with his arm cannon.
The Championship mode in this game is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon of single or co-op play. You and a friend can take a team full of Mega Man robots, and work your way through classic series bosses in an order of your choice. Each time you beat a team, you recruit one of that team’s players to join your side in the same way you take a weapon from a defeated boss in the main games. Every robot has different stats and super shots, so you can distribute them strategically to the positions on the field where you think they’ll fit best.
Kirby’s Dream Course
Kirby’s Dream Course is a game with an identity crisis. Its playful characters and bright colors from great Kirby games say, “Hey, come hang out and have fun playing golf with your friend!” Its competitive two player mode on the other hand, turns into a Kirby-sized fireball and blasts that friend off the course and into an abyss.
When you start a hole of Dream Course, there actually isn’t a hole at all. Instead the course is littered with enemies. You’ll need to knock your Kirby into them with classic golf game mechanics you’ve seen before. Knock out all but one of those enemies, and the last one turns into the hole.
It’s easy to set up your swing to spin, slice, or hook just the way you want it to. The challenging part is setting yourself up to take advantage of special enemies that give you a one time ability to transform Kirby mid-shot. You might start off hitting a guy that lets you become a racing tire, then trigger that just as you’re rolling to a stop to hit the ice guy you need so that you can skate across the water trap in the same shot. Or if you’re feeling devious in two-player mode, you can use those same powers to blast a friend’s helpless ball on your turns. Do enough damage and he’ll lose a turn, offering you a chance to set up for a clean shot at the hole.
And the best news? This classic is available on Wii and Wii U virtual console!
Base Wars is baseball played by robots who fight to the death over how plays are called. It sounds like the kind of idea that would come out of an eight year old amped up on over-sugared breakfast cereal, and it is exactly as awesome as you’d expect it to be.
This NES classic has you outfitting a robot baseball team with weapons and gear to play what looks like pretty standard baseball, but anytime a robot is tagged out, the game switches into a side view fighting game to decide the outcome of the call. And when I said ‘fight to the death’ in the paragraph above, I wasn’t exaggerating. A robot that takes a hard enough beating can actually explode, removing the player from your roster for the rest of the game. Lose too many robots, and you can be forced to forfeit on account of being unable to field a full team. This one’s also great for single player seasons, offering a chance to upgrade your team with better gear as you win matchups.
The above games are just a sampling of some of the more fantastic sports games out there. Others, like Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball, or the much more recent Blood Bowl also come to mind. If you can think of any other great games that fit the mold, make sure to share them down in the comments so we can keep indulging our far flung sports fantasies.
Need some more modern games for local multiplayer fun? Check out Matt’s list of great suggestions!