The Best Sports Games for Gamers Who Don’t Like Sports

May 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Posted in Features | 1 Comment
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Don’t like sports? There’s a whole segment of video games you can immediately write off, as far as you’re concerned. Or can you? You don’t have to be a comics fan to like Batman: Arkham City, and the appeal of Mario isn’t just limited to plumbing aficionados. Retro Sports Gamer World partnered up with Snackbar Games to help with a list of games you should check out even if they have sports in them, because you’re missing out on a lot of fun.

Here is the link to the feature I co-wrote with Graham Russell at Snackbar Games.

Here are my contributions to the piece:

Punch-Out!! (NES/Wii VC/3DS VC)

More puzzle and pattern recognition than sports game, Punch-Out!! (known in its earlier incarnations as Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!) had you relying more on memory and timing than boxing strategy. It has a famous password system allowing you to re-battle any of the tougher adversaries, and is also unique in that the game utilizes the Start button as an input for star punches. The colorful opponents of Punch-Out!! are memorable and still a part of pop culture today. While there is no multiplayer, the single-player strategic experience is what is most appealing to non-sports gamers. Punch-Out!! would see future releases on the SNES and Wii (both retaining the original’s charm).

Virtua Tennis 4 (360/PS3/Wii)

Tennis games have always inherently embraced the physics of pong games, making them easy to pick up and have a basic understanding of where the ball is going to go. The Virtua Tennis franchise has been around since 1999, and while the most recent releases are less celebrated due to dated controls and iteration fatigue, this basic arcade experience is one that appeals to non-sports gamers today. Virtua Tennis 4 (as with the others in the series) is littered with minigames that can be played as part of your World Tour or in a party mode setting. The minigames flash some RPG elements, as you earn coins to upgrade your created tennis player in the Tour mode, and the games themselves are in short timed bursts, which leads to repeated playthroughs.

Sports Champions (PS3)

While not the first tech demo for a motion controller to use sports as its vehicle, Sports Champions goes the nontraditional route in choosing its sports games to appeal to all gamers. Experienced best with multiplayer, but including a single-player experience that has unlockable mini-games, Sports Champions features six different arenas. Archery, Beach Volleyball, Disc Golf, Table Tennis and Bocce all use motion mechanics that are familiar, but the competition is fresh, because how often do you get the chance to play bocce in a video game? While these more casual experiences appeal to non-sports gamers to an extent, the real ace-in-the-hole here is the sword-slashing Gladiator Duel, which was technically a sport back in Roman times, so I guess it qualifies.

NFL Blitz (N64)

The original arcade NFL Blitz experience was loud, brash (the original arcade machine shouted expletives at times) and hard-hitting. NFL Blitz was a juiced-up NBA Jam for the gridiron, and you needed to understand very little about the game of football to enjoy it. With its own rules and easy controls to pick up, it put more focus on trying to execute a piledriver on an opposing QB than to execute a short-yardage play. Fast-paced and very fun against a friend, NFL Blitz translated well to home consoles. The original Nintendo 64 game was an excellent arcade translation, with future Dreamcast releases emulating the arcade to a T. Today, a slightly tamed-down PSN and XBLA release is available, with updated rosters and the same core gameplay.

Blades of Steel (NES/Wii VC)

Konami’s Blades of Steel was focused on action and timing, often delivering high-scoring games and plenty of sore thumbs afterward. Two key mechanics help it stand out. As you checked other skaters to try to gain possession of the puck, you often quickly went to a fighting mini-game where you mashed buttons in an attempt to knock your opponent down. Also, the direction of your shot on goal in the game was based on where a cycling arrow was located at the time of release. This made defending shots with your goalie fun and intuitive as well. While you can dust off your original Nintendo Entertainment System if you wanted, Blades of Steel was also an early port to the Wii Virtual Console.



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  1. […] gamers.  Check out our complete list – which includes current and retro titles – right here. Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponRedditMoreDiggLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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