Every year, new editions of Madden, NCAA Football, NBA 2K, and countless other sports video games are released. It is big business in the United States, consumers spent $24.75 billion dollars on videogames throughout the world last year and a huge bulk of that is spent on sports titles.
Some games are classics, and some are awful, but the cyclical nature of gaming means that every single year there are new games to digest, discuss and rank. But once in a while a game comes along that changes the entire landscape and makes us reassess what came before. Here is a look at ten sports titles that changed the game.
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! - The main character, Little Mac had the heart of the champion. The game featured opponent's with hilarious names such as Glass Joe, King Hippo, and Mister Sandman. Little Mac was a quarter the size of his opponents, allowing the player to really feel the role of underdog.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater - The release of Pro Skater coincided with the rise of the X Games in popular culture in America. It allowed kids discovering the half-pipe on television to try out their best ollies, grinds and flip tricks at home. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater was also the game that introduced the idea of popular music soundtracks to video games. The first Tony Hawk was filled with music from pro-skaters mix tapes and the idea of selling music through gaming was born.
NBA Jam - Nearly any child of the 90's, gamer or not, knows that when someone is heating up, and when they are on fire! thanks to the ubiquitous, maniac of an announcer in NBA Jam. The game was an arcade hit before it was ported to consoles and its multiplayer format and quick simple gameplay have made it a staple.
Madden NFL 2004- The king of sports gaming, period. Madden has reigned supreme as the top moneymaker in American sports gaming. The FIFA Franchise is the only sports title that can rival Madden for sales figures. Ask any fan his or her favorite title and you will get responses running the gamut of the 26 years this title has been around. The 2004 Madden, with Michael Vick on the cover, is generally seen as the best however.
FIFA 11 - If Madden is the king of US sports gaming, FIFA owns the rest of the world. EA Sports entry into the world's favorite game has staked out a claim similar to Madden. The 2011 game, which had Kaka and Wayne Rooney on the cover, is generally seen as the best by fans of the series.
NBA 2k11 - NBA 2K11 redefined the basketball video game. It took the focus from teams to players. It was the first to include greats from history, (like the Jordan challenge) and the first to allow player to create a single avatar and follow an entire NBA career in their sneakers.
Wii Sports - Initially, Wii Sports was a free game included with the purchase of the Wii system and that might have been the stroke of genius that made the Wii so popular. Wii Sports allowed players to mimic tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing via the motion controller. It was a huge success and drove sales of the Wii.
Super Tecmo Bowl - A sequel to the wildly popular Tecmo Bowl, this was the football game in the early 1990's while Madden was still finding its audience. The game has maintained a cult following and is still played very widely for a 20 year old game. It is most famous for Bo Jackson's ability to run through anything with the simple, repeated smashing of the A button.
MLB 09: The Show - The game that made career mode into an art form. The Show was everything other baseball games were, Franchise mode, Exhibitons, Home Run Derbies, but it had something else, The Road to the Show. RTTS was a game mode that allowed players to create themselves as a double A prospect and then play out their major league dreams. It was the most in-depth career mode ever and has spawned many imitators.
NHL '94: One of the great classics. It was the first hockey videogame to actually look like hockey with the inclusion of blood, broken panes of glass and the ability to shoot a one-time shot. The only thing that was missing was fighting, which had been removed for 1994 after featuring in the 1993 version.