games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Non Serious Sports Games – WWE All Stars, NBA Jam, More

July 31, 2018 | Posted by Marc Morrison
WWE All Stars

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about sports games, specifically non-serious ones. What I mean by this is that the games in question are about popular sports, football, baseball, soccer, etc., but feature exaggerated moves, cartoon characters, or basically an arcade-like approach to the sport in question. Also, I would put Amped 3 on this list but I tend to talk about that game too much already. Enjoy:

#8: Mega Man Soccer

Mega Man Soccer isn’t a “good” game. The isometric view and laggy controls make it a pretty mediocre title, all told. What it does have is Mega Man, Proto Man, Cut Man, Guts Man, Fire Man, and a whole host of other Robot Masters, up till Mega Man 4 as characters to play soccer with. In this game, each character also has their own signature shot which can stun the opposing team if they get hit with the ball. Considering this game came out in 1994 WAY before any of the Mario sport games came into being, I imagine this is where Nintendo might have borrowed the idea for having characters having custom moves, but that’s just a theory. Mega Man Soccer might not be a good game but it is one I still enjoy to this day.

#7: Mario Tennis

There are a lot of Mario sports franchises out there, Strikers, Hoops, Olympics, Golf, and Sluggers just to name a few. I’m picking Mario Tennis just because I think I enjoy it the most, and it’s the franchise I’ve played the most. The N64 version was good, the Switch version seems great (if slightly unbalanced), but the version I actually played the most was the Virtual Boy one. Yes, I was one of the 8 people who owned a Virtual Boy growing up, playing Mario’s Tennis, Red Alarm and uh….more Mario’s Tennis. Later Mario Tennis games added needed complexity like power ups (or custom shots), or an actual single player, but the original Mario’s Tennis on the Virtual Boy was still one of the best games on the system and was fun to play.

#6: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

This is probably the one “weird” game on this list, but hear me out. Tony Hawk was released on September 30th, 1999, just 4 days after another game was released called “Thrasher: Skate and Destroy”. Thrasher had weaker graphics but was a much more simulation-focused take on the skateboarding genre, really requiring players to practice on stages in order to complete goals. The somewhat funky control system helped with this, requiring you to keep pressing X to get any speed at all. By contrast, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was challenging in spots but was almost the definition of “pick up and play”. A new player immediately got the hang of jumping with X, doing holds with circle, flip tricks with square and grinds with triangle. The goals and some of the sensibilities were more laid back as well. Tony Hawk generally went off in a goofier direction, notably with THUG 2 culminating in a prank war between Tony Hawk and Bam Margera while Thrasher…went nowhere. There was only one Skate and Destroy game in the series.

#5: WWE All Stars

WWE games are garbage and have been for years. The last half-decent main series one was WWE ’13 and that’s largely because of its story mode and the “create a” suite the games had. Since then, the main WWE games have been getting increasingly worse, and for every one new thing they add, the aging gameplay systems continue to fail. This was not the case when THQ released WWE All Stars in 2011, however. The big reason the game was good was because Yukes wasn’t developing it, and it didn’t need to adhere to some form of “realism”. Wrestler jump 15 feet in the air to do specials, they bounce off the mat like crazy and whenever you do a finishing move, it is some of the most over-the-top animations put in any game. So, of course, it flopped with the actual wrestling fan-base. It also had one of the best single player campaigns in a wrestling game and a really unique “Fantasy Warfare” scenario where current WWE wrestlers would have a feud against a WWF classic wrestler, complete with some great intro videos.

#4: Super Mega Baseball

I’m putting the first Super Mega Baseball on here simply because I haven’t played the second one. Baseball, to me, is a pretty boring sport that seems to drag endlessly. Super Mega Baseball, on the other hand, is a pretty speedy game that has a good cartoon aesthetic. Plus, you can bean any player when you’re pitching and that feels great. Pitching is a fine system but I really enjoy the batting in the game. You can either hit normally or charge your power swing to really knock it out of the park. You really have to get good at the timing as you could screw up the swing and get an easy out. Super Mega Baseball might not be as lengthy as other baseball games, but when a sport has over 160 games in any season, I consider that a big plus.

#3: NFL Blitz

The football version of NBA Jam sums up NFL Blitz. Late hits, pass interference and goofy celebrations are all welcome in Blitz, along with a slimming down of the players on a team and some of the mechanics of football. While the arcade versions of NFL Blitz got all the attention I actually dug its successor franchise Blitz the League more. It was way more violent, funny, and drug-filled which was helped by not having the NFL license anymore. Still, even the old versions of NFL Blitz made the NFL scared, especially with how they made EA neuter the revival game in 2012. If you can find a copy of the old arcade versions of Blitz, you’re in for a good time.

#2: Everybody’s Golf

Everybody’s Golf (or Hot Shots Golf) isn’t as crazy or zany as some other games on this list. If anything, Everybody’s Golf does play it a tad too straight, but that’s just my own feeling. Everybody’s Golf is just a really fun and enjoyable game, the actual systems of hitting the ball and putting are really enjoyable in a relaxing way. There are a few power ups, like the twister hole but that’s rarer than you might think. I also really dig the overall personality of the game, like how your clubs level up the more you use them or the camera cuts when you make a “Nice Shot”. It might be interesting if Sony and Clap Hanz did more sports games, aside from Tennis which was only on the PSP and PS2.

#1: NBA Jam

NBA Jam might not have been the first arcade-style basketball game but it was the first that was pretty crazy and exaggerated. Players make shots from halfway across the court, they could leap dozens of feet in the air for dunks and if you were really doing well you could get on fire, increasing your attributes and making your dunks even crazier. Also, NBA Jam was just simple to play, instead of having 5 players, you just had 2. You only have three buttons to concern yourself with: turbo, shoot (or block shot) and pass (or steal), depending if you were on offense or defense. Sure, the AI would cheat like crazy, but it was an arcade game trying to suck money from kids, so what do you expect? The 2010/2011 EA Jam games were “fine” but they didn’t quite capture the speed and sense of fun the first arcade games did.

For comments, list your favorite non-serious sports games and why.

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Top 8 Sequels Better than the Originals

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison