A few short days ago, Andrew suggested we make a list of our top 10 sports video games for the site. We discussed dozens of games, some of which were our favorites while growing up, and some we just distinctly remembered because we rented and conquered them over the course of a week. While many were good, some were on our lists because they actually revolutionized the video gaming industry, and in some ways, changed the courses of our lives. I had a few chuckles, and remembered “the good old days” (playing Super Nintendo for hours on end in grade school), but decided to leave the subject for just Andrew to write about.
That all changed Thursday night in three short words - Batman: Arkham Asylum.
This game, while obviously not sports related, has raised the bar. The gameplay is seamless, the graphics are insane, and the controls are surprisingly intuitive. As you glide around Arkham City, the prison city built at the center of Batman’s fictional Gotham City, you see subtle hints telling you which sections of the prison are controlled by which villains, and begin various side-missions that you will need to finish in order to achieve 100% completion in the game. I’ll take just a second here to note that while the side-missions are plenty, they are far from repetitive. They are actually quest chains, such as answering random payphones you find ringing, solving puzzles that the Riddler created for you, or studying crime-scenes and victims whom have been slaughtered by a secret villain to discover later.
The main story-line is brilliant, and it’s authenticity is capped-off by the voice-actor for the Joker, Mark Hamill, who not only was the greatest Jedi to ever live, but also the voice of Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. Joker’s voice alone brought me back to my childhood making it that much more enjoyable for someone who grew up loving Batman cartoons like myself. Now I could go on about this game for thousands of words, but this is a sports-themed blog, and I try to keep myself from getting too far off target. Anyone who is interested in reading about comics, movies, video games, and everything else that prevents geeks from getting laid, just check out some of my work on the site that a few friends and I have called Progressively Aggressive.
Now, as far as my top sports video games go, I’ve decided to mix things up a bit. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are just too many good sports games to be able to make an absolute ‘Top x List’, so instead I am going to list the top 4 games for each of the following sports: Football, Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Tennis and Soccer, a category for fighting games, and lastly a wildcard category made up of racing games and other sports. Next, I’m taking one team from each sports category and placing them into their own divisions, and finally into a playoff bracket.
How it works: Through feedback from friends and family and hopefully some of you, games will advance through their brackets until I have reached a single game that will be crowned the Fourth Down Stand Sports Game Champion. I will create a post about one division every day, reviewing key ‘games’, announcing the winners of each round and finally crowning a divisional champion. Thursday November 10 I will write about the Final Four, and will crown the Fourth Down Stand Sports Game Champion on my birthday—Friday, November 11.
Here are the games I’ve chosen for the tournament:
Title, Featured Console, Year, (seed)
Tecmo Super Bowl, NES, 1991 (1)
Madden ’95, SNES, Dec. 31 1994 (2)
NFL 2K5, Playstation 2, 2004 (3)
NFL Blitz, Nintendo 64, 1998 (4)
Honorable Mentions: Tecmo Bowl, NFL QB Club ’97, NFL Game Day ’99, NCAA Football 2003, Madden ‘06
MLB ’09: The Show, Playstation Systems, 2009 (1)
RBI Baseball, NES, 1988 (2)
MLB High Heat 2003, Xbox, 2003 (3)
Ken Griffey Jr Presents MLB, SNES, 1994 (4)
Honorable Mentions: All Star Baseball, World Series Baseball, MVP Baseball ’05, Triple Play 2000, Pete Rose Baseball
NBA Jam, Arcade and Various, 1993 (1)
NBA Live 95, SNES, 2002 (2)
NBA Street 2, Playstation 2, 2003 (3)
NBA 2K1, Sega Dreamcast, 2000 (4)
Honorable Mentions: NBA Inside Drive 2002, NBA Jam (SNES), NBA Live ’03, NBA 2K9
NHL 2011, PS3, 2010 (1)
Blades of Steel, NES, 1987 (2)
NHL ’99, Nintendo 64, 1998 (3)
NHL Stanley Cup, SNES, 1993 (4)
Honorable Mentions: Bret Hull Hockey, Mutant Hockey League, NHL Face Off, NHL Hitz Pro
Wii Sports (Tennis), Nintendo Wii, 2006 (1)
Pong, Arcade, 1972 (2)
Top Spin, Xbox, 2003, (3)
Virtua Tennis 2, Sega Dreamcast, 1999 (4)
Honorable Mentions: Mario Tennis, Virtua Tennis World Tour, Top Spin 2
FIFA ’10, Xbox 360, 2009 (1)
Sega Soccer Slam, Various, 2002 (2)
Kick Off 2, Various 1990 (3)
Nintendo World Cup, NES, 1990 (4)
Honorable Mentions: 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, FIFA ‘09
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, NES, 1987 (1)
Street Fighter II, Various, 1991 (2)
Mortal Kombat 4, Arcade and N64, 1998 (3)
Fight Night Round 4, Various, 2009 (4)
Other Honorable Mentions: George Foreman’s KO Boxing, UFC Unleashed, Wrestlemania 2000, WWF WrestleFest, WWF RAW, WWF Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain, Capcom vs. Marvel
Super Mario Cart, SNES, 1992 (1)
Super Off-Road, Arcade and NES, 1989 (2)
Paper Boy, NES, 1984 (3)
Excite Bike, NES, 1984 (4)
Honorable Mentions: Forza Motorsport 2, Wave Race 64, Gran Turismo (series), Need for Speed (series), Burnout (series)
Stay tuned for the divisional breakdown and results from the 4th seeded division in just a few minutes.