The best sports video games of all-time – CBC.ca

We’ve come a long way from Pong, everybody. This is how you market a sports video game in 2015:


In honour of the Madden franchise releasing their latest ridiculous commercial on Friday, we thought it was a good time to take a (totally biased) look at the best sports video games of all time, as categorized by sport.

Sport: Hockey

Video game: NHL ’94 (1993)


Why it’s the best: One-timers. Team-specific organ music. Breaking the glass with a shot. Controlling the goalie. You could not do these things before this cartridge was released and it was a revelation. This game is why the EA Sports catchphrase is “If it’s in the game, it’s in the game.”

It still holds a special place in the hearts of hockey fans, as well as the league itself: The NHL was even NHL ’94-ing it’s highlights for a time:


It may also feature the best sports video game theme of all-time.

Totally arbitrary rating: A hat trick of cut-in-from-the-face-off-circle-and-beat-the-goalie-glove-side goals.

Honourable mentions: Ice Hockey (1981), Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey (1996).

Sport: Football

Video game: NFL Blitz (1997)


Why it’s the best: Smash-mouth football? NFL Blitz is the definition of that phrase. This arcade classic features 7-on-7 action with ridiculous plays, legalized pass interference, excessive celebrations and bone-crunching (late) hits.

Some recommended reading would be this Vice article on how the game (produced by the same team as Mortal Kombat) got made…despite the NFL’s objections to associating itself with a violent product. Okay, then.

Totally arbitrary rating: 21 after-the-whistle leg drops.

Honourable mentions: Mutant League Football (1993), Tecmo Bowl (1987).

Sport: Basketball

Video game: NBA Jam (1993)


Why it’s the best: Lots of reasons, but mainly because everyone loves to say “He’s on fire!

Totally arbitrary rating: 23 boom-shaka-lakas.

Honourable mentions: NBA Live ’95 (1994), Hoops (1989).

Sport: Baseball

Video game: Baseball (1983)


Why it’s the best: Sometimes, simplicity is the key to a great game. And there’s no baseball game more simple than this self-titled offering from the early 80s. Want your pitcher to throw the ball fast? Push down when you throw it. Want him to throw it slow? Hold up when you throw it. Want to swing? Press one of the two buttons on the control pad.

Just don’t expect your fielders to be very cooperative. The sprites are occasionally scared of ground balls and will actively get out of the way, leading to much yelling at the TV screen…just like real sports!

Totally arbitrary rating: 15 seizure-inducing home run cheers

Honourable mentions: Little League Baseball: Championship Series (1990), Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball (1994).

Sport: Soccer

Video game: FIFA ’15 (2014)


Why it’s the best: Smooth graphics make you feel like you’re dribbling the ball yourself, But mostly because it features the most up-to-date “injury” theatrics.

Totally arbitrary rating: 54 rolls of Pele-endorsed wax paper.

Honourable mentions: World Championship Soccer II (1994), International Super Soccer (1997).

Well, that’s what we had. But what do you think? What are your favourite sports video games? Let us know in the comment section!

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