Revisiting the five best sports video games ever

Aside from playing sports and watching the professionals and college athletes participate in them, another way for people to connect with sports is through video games. 

There are many classic sports games many can enjoy today by themselves or with friends, along with newer additions that are still fun to play. Let’s look at five of the best sports video games to ever be released.

5. NCAA Football 2004

The NCAA Football franchise is one of the most beloved sports video game franchises for good reasons. The gameplay allowed players to play an open style of football that is lacking in many Madden games. On top of that, players can take control of their favorite schools or alma maters and lead them to dominance in the fantastic career mode. 

NCAA Football 2004 has these features and much more. The menu cycles through each school’s fight song, a feature not present in most of the later editions of the franchise. Also, you can rewrite or relive history by playing classic moments such as former Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie’s hail mary throw at the University of Miami in 1984. The game also allows gamers to play as mascots. The gameplay still holds up today and it remains my favorite in the franchise. 

4. Mario Superstar Baseball

This is the one game on the list that does not involve professional players being represented in a video game. Mario Superstar Baseball is one of the most fun Mario franchise games out there, as it takes baseball and makes it ridiculously fun like Mario Kart does for racing games. While the basic rules are still the same, there are drastic differences. First, the main characters — Mario, Bowser and Daisy — have their own power-ups, allowing for unique pitches and hits. For example, Mario can pitch fastballs and Daisy can hit a ball that turns into flower petals on contact, making it nearly impossible for fielders to catch. 

On top of that, the fields are usually chaotic with crocodiles at the Donkey Kong Jungle that inhibit the speed of fielders and baserunners, chain-chomps in the outfield at Wario Palace and blocks everywhere at Peach Garden. With the special abilities of the characters, such as the balance of Mario, the power of Bowser and the speed of Yoshi, the game becomes unpredictable and fun with every play. 

3. Madden NFL 07

While I have roasted Madden in this column already, Madden NFL 07 is one of my favorite sports games of all time and the best in the franchise. My issue with modern Madden games is that the gameplay feels stale and simulated, preventing my skill from dictating the outcome of each game. 

Madden NFL 07 does not have this issue as the gameplay is very free, allowing the user to sprint in the pocket and the backfield while finding the best course of action during each passing play. Also, the defense is balanced, allowing one to actually read plays and not give up 80-yard touchdown passes every single time an offensive player gets slightly behind the defender. This game allows defenses to have a fighting chance and as a result, games feel dramatic. 

The biggest reason this game works so well is the Superstar: Hall of Fame mode. You control a player who gets drafted into the NFL and slowly work your way through the league as you attempt to build a Hall-of-Fame career. It is very interactive, with the main lobby being the player’s house and you have a calendar to do whatever you want. It allows the player to create a great story and with the organic flow of the career, it remains one of the best gaming modes in all of sports gaming history.

2. MVP Baseball 2005

This is the perfect baseball game that will never be topped. MVP Baseball 2005 provides players with a smooth and satisfying baseball-gaming experience that still holds up today. The game introduces hitter’s eye, allowing the player to see the pitch on a level camera and read the pitch to decide whether to swing or not. The fielding and mechanics are better than those on MLB: The Show 20 as it doesn’t feel simulated at all. 

What truly makes this game legendary is the unlockable players feature and the menu music. The player can earn MVP points while playing games, unlocking legends of the baseball world, such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Walter Johnson. This rewards players for grinding and lets them control any player they prefer. Also, songs like “Let it Dive” by And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and “We Got the Noise” by Donots, make scrolling through the menu an entertaining experience each and every time. 

1. NBA 2K14

When I think of sports video games, I think of NBA 2K14. It is the perfect sports game as the gameplay is tremendous, the menu music is the greatest of all time and the career mode is amazing. Like many modern sports video games, modern NBA 2K games feel simulated and clunky, eliminating the fun. Like normal, shooting relies on timing but in 2K14, the chance of the shots going in is impacted by defense. Also, alley-oops are the best in this game as transition offense is the smoothest of any NBA 2K. The menu music is perfect with bangers like “Now or Never” by Kendrick Lamar featuring Mary J. Blige and “Not Afraid” by Eminem to make simply launching the menu a thrilling experience. The career mode is realistic, allowing for satisfying player development and tense rivalries as opponents play up to their potential. In every way, it is the perfect sports video game.