Today, the Los Angeles Rams are getting set to annihilate the terrible Tom Bradys and send them off into a blood red sunset of their own making. At halftime, you could watch a bad concert or a hastily pieced-together wrestling showdown, or you could fire up one of these games featuring a sport that should’ve been huge.
5) The Overall Premise of Frozen Cortex
Sure, the devs have been on the record saying this was a conceptual failure. Failure or not, it kinda worked for me. I didn’t sink more than 10 or so hours into it, but the slow-burn strategy football-light game with robots feels like it should’ve been a bigger deal.
Was it a stretch from Frozen Synapse, a much safer tactical strategy game with a higher audience? Yeah. Folks weren’t ready for when their favorite strategy game became “sportsball” or whatever people who can’t reconcile the popularity of sports for some reason call it. Was it an experiment that deserved more attention? For sure!
I’d watch Frozen Cortex as an esport way before I’d watch your typical MOBA match. I don’t think I’m alone!
I might actually be alone.
4) Wipeout Mode in Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2
The folks behind Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 should’ve expanded upon its excellent Wipeout mode rather than taking a hard right into the ridiculousness that was BMX XXX. Early 2000s ragdoll physics were truly something to behold. They were at their stupidest here.
Wipeout mode had you and a friend take turns hurting your player character as much as possible on one of its many unsafe courses. Was the scoring system completely opaque? Yes. Did I spend more time examining replays of my best crashes than playing the actual Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater-style main game? Absolutely.
The Skate series dabbled in this, but I want all the flourishes from Dave Mirra. Give the mid-air bail, the Kermit the Frog arms, and the ability to grab any surface on your way down for extra hilarity. I want to see this at the Staples Center every year.
3) Tag from Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA
The stunt course in Rush 2 was a playground for unofficial minigames for my friend group in high school. The course allowed free driving without race mechanics and basic scorekeeping for stunts, but the ability to play a rudimentary version of Tag with my friends was unbelievable.
And sure, we have Rocket League now, but sometimes it’s fun to play games in ways the developers didn’t intend. That can be a sport, right?
2) 4-Player Elimination from WCW/nWo Revenge
Okay, so professional wrestling is already a sport depending on who you ask. If it’s Southeastern commentators from the 80s or Ric Flair, it’s a sport. If you’re anyone else, it’s entertainment parading as a sport.
Editor’s note: professional wrestling is perfect either way.
What isn’t a sport is 4-player elimination battle royale in WCW/nWo Revenge. EVO can act like it’s the be-all and end-all of fighting game competitions, but until it allows four unacceptably rowdy friends to face off in the N64 masterpiece, I call shenanigans.
Additional editor’s note: WWF No Mercy is in fact not a superior game but featured a hotter (not better) roster in the middle of a hotter (not better) period of time in the professional wrestling canon. Thanks.
You should fire it up now, because it’s even more fun than you remember.
1) Blitzball from Final Fantasy X
Of the 250 hours I’ve spent in Spira, about 100 of it has been spent building the perfect Blitzball team. I’m unashamed of this. Blitzball from Final Fantasy X, not X-2, is the perfect video game within a video game. It also happens to be a masterful sports game.
Part water polo, part rugby, part soccer, part professional wrestling, Blitzball is at the heart of several narrative strings from X. The dev team had the foresight to turn it into a full-fledged management sim, where Tidus (the GM and likely star player) circumnavigates the globe recruiting novices and veterans alike.
Oh there’s a rando in Guadosalam who doesn’t even like Blitzball? Stick with it, kid, she’ll become the finest midfielder to ever Nap Pass.
You could even have 5-on-5 multiplayer matches and still retain the strategic, turn-based goodness of the original. Just get at me, ESPN. I have the design doc to prove it.