Sports games

The best Sega Mega Drive sports games of all time

Retro sports games are a different beast from modern games. The Sega Mega Drive was home to some of the best, making it the perfect place to hunt for old gems.

Modern sports games have their good sides. The realism and graphical fidelity displayed really puts you in the moment to enjoy the sport you love so much. However, it’s safe to say that this commitment to realism has seen much of the fun sucked from the genre. What was once full of team-to-team arcade battles is now more of an “experience” than a game.

So what about old sports games? Well, they were simple bursts of sports action. The visual quality is certainly nothing to shout about, but these little games were really enjoyable to play with friends on the couch. The Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis if you’re from the US) had a slew of these games, so picking out some of the best was a breeze.

The greatest heavyweights

When you think of boxing games, Punch-Out!! This is probably the first game that comes to mind. It’s a great game but it’s less of a boxing game and more of a rhythm game. You have to memorize the patterns and press the buttons at the right time. Greatest Heavyweights is more complex than that, giving you a bit more strategic depth in your strikes. Moreover, it allows you to play us legendary boxers like Muhammad Ali.

Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe

We never said these sports had to be real. Imagine a little handball, a little ice hockey and a lot more violence, and you have Speedball. You can score points by hitting targets with the ball, but why would you do that when you can just hurt your opponents to score points instead? It’s a weird game, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll give you lots of laughs among friends.

NHL ’94

If you want a sports game that’s been hailed around the world as one of the best ever, look no further than NHL ’94. It’s one of the best encapsulations of frenetic hockey action and had such a good control scheme that it’s still an option in modern NHL games. In fact, an emulated version of it is still available on modern systems.

Madden NFL ’95

The Genesis Madden games all had their charms, and which one is your favorite will probably come down to personal preference, but they’re all such brilliant NFL simulations. They don’t have the high levels of collision simulation or animations that modern games have, but the core gameplay loop is still virtually identical.

WWF Royal Rumble

Old 2D wrestling games are a bit strange now, but if you’re only used to 3D games, it’s worth giving this one a try. The controls may be incomprehensible when you first start playing, but you’ll quickly be impressed with how well all those iconic moves are rendered in 2D. It could be argued that the art style of these later 2D games did a much better job of portraying these colorful characters than the early 3D games were ever capable of.

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition

This NBA style of play has always been much more fun due to the lack of realism with which it treats the sport. These slightly over-the-top 2v2 matches offer far more fun than a realistically simulated modern match ever could. There’s no tactical boxing of opponents in there, as they’ll jump right over your head and dive it halfway down the field.

PGA Tour 3

To many, the idea of ​​a golf video game was laughable, so much so that The Simpsons poked fun at it a year later with the fictional game, Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge. Still, if you were someone who was willing to shake off the mockery, you were in for an enjoyable PGA Tour 3 golfing experience with great visuals for the era and all the great golfers of the day.

FIFA Football ’95

With EA’s classic series losing the FIFA brand name next year, it’s worth returning to the first FIFA game to make a big impact. It was the first football game to use an isometric camera perspective, something that would stick around until the advent of a 3D camera in the series. On top of that, the physics felt closer to reality than ever before, with a heavy ball that behaved as expected.

Written by Ryan Woodrow on behalf of GLHF.