The best sports games are the fake ones

Feature Vintage Gaming

-Tom Heath

Later this week all the sports games are coming out. Or at least all the ones people really care about: Fifa 16 and NBA 2k16. Yes, the team rosters have been updated, the mechanics tweaked, someone famous has curated something to do with NBA; it is indeed that time of year again.

Now, it’s probably pretty clear by now that I’m not a fan of these games. I’m also pretty terrible at playing them too, as my fellow editor Charlie Braithwaite demonstrated way back when. He loves his Fifa, which makes sense given he’s incredibly British.

You can’t see it in the shot, but he is in fact brewing a pot of tea while also whooping my ass.

But there have been sports games I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, that I have played on my own rather than exclusively with friends. But there’s a common theme to these particular titles: none of them are real sports.

For my money, I’d rather keep the real sports to, you know, real world places. Some find watching and/or playing football/soccer/extreme-curling incredibly exhilarating, and like to emulate that in their respective video games and that’s fine. Me though, I get a huge kick out of the sheer ridiculousness of a made up sport.

Made up sports such as:

DEAD BALL ZONE (1998)

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Released on the original Playstation, Dead Ball Zone is a game so obscure that Wikipedia doesn’t even have a page for it. Created by the now defunct Rage Software, Dead Ball Zone was essentially like a cross between American Football and Handball, except all the players also had access to chainsaws, bombs and guns.

Kind of like the crowd at an actual American Football game.

Kind of like the crowd at an actual American Football game.

Oh, you want to catch that guy who has the ball but he has a head start? Shoot him in the back. Crash tackled someone, got the ball and don’t want him the immediately rush after you? Cut his legs off. Want to be really strategic? Use clever bomb placements to confuse your opponents, and maybe even trick them into blowing themselves up.

Seriously, Fifa 16 would have to make a lot of creative changes to match this kind of multiplayer experience.

HARRY POTTER: QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP (2003)

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We all know what Quidditch is, and we all know it looks like a lot of fun. The Harry Potter films showed the broomstick sport to be fast, exhilarating, yadda yadda; but you know what they didn’t show us? The international stadiums built into gigantic glaciers!

Now that’s what I call a court sports field pitch!

Now that’s what I call a court sports field pitch!

Yes, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup branched things out a little into the international tournaments, where matches could be played in crazy arenas like the aforementioned glaciers. On top of that, the mechanics were tight, refined and allowed for even novice players to build up to awesome show-off goals.

You haven’t lived until you’ve thrown a Quaffle up into the air then, just before gravity would pull you down, using your broom as a baseball bat to knock it through the goals.

And, funnily enough, Quidditch World Cup was published by EA Games, which I think ought to make it one of the EA Sports games. What happened EA? A butt ton Fifas, Maddens, PGA Tours and NHLs but no more crazy sports? Shame!

ROCKET LEAGUE (2015)

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Come on, you knew this was coming.

Rocket League is probably the biggest sleeper hit of this year. When people ask me what’s a good game to check out on the digital storefronts of the PSN and Steam, I am yet to see someone who is disappointed when I pitch Rocket League.

“It’s like soccer, but every player is driving a rocket propelled car.”

And, much like with Fifa, I’m pretty rubbish at Rocket League. Charlie has also demonstrated that before. But it is still fun even when you’re terrible! Rushing around the field, driving up walls and maybe almost slamming the ball in the vague direction of the goal is much more entertaining than it ought to be.

Anyway, I’m sure a lot of you will pick up NBA and Fifa this week and have a great time with it. And that’s good, I’m always in favour of people having fun. Let me know how it goes, and whether or not Lionel Messi finds his keys.

If you can explain to Tom just what the heck the offside rule is, hit him up on Twitter: @tomdheath. LoadScreen already knows, but you should head over to Twitter, @load_screen, and Facebook to learn more gaming news.

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