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Top 25 Sports Video Games of All Time on ESPN.com


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ESPN published the article of #1 earlier this week by accident. Tecmo Super Bowl, of course. The Tecmo gang was all over it:

http://tecmobowl.org/topic/54670-tsb-1-sports-game-espn/

frig bud...i had that inside information. I was gonna look like a genius but now you've ruined me.

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#2 all-time... Not bad, even if it's off by one from the truth:

http://espn.go.com/espn/playbook/story/_/id/9233144/jon-robinson-ranks-best-sports-video-games-all

2. NHL 94

Systems: Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo

Year Released: 1993

Superstar Status: The introduction of one-timers has forever changed hockey video games, not to mention classic moments old-school gamers can't wipe from their memories like that random dude in the stands who would pound on the glass. The demand to play this game is still so great, EA Sports even included it as an extra in "NHL 06."

And don't forget, for the time, "NHL '94's" graphics were amazing, right down to the shimmering ice. Players celebrated after goals, off-target slap shots shattered the glass, and you could even play four players at once, making this one of the best party games of its generation.

"This was the first hockey game ever that had both the NHL and the NHLPA license, resulting in the first time that hockey fans could truly replicate the sport that they love using both the team uniforms and the players," says "NHL 13" producer, Sean Ramjagsingh. "The great thing about this game was that you truly felt like you were in control of the action on the ice. As many fans over the years have said, this was the first time in a hockey game that you could do what you want, when you wanted to do it."

Dev Talk: Ramjagsingh says, "For me, 'NHL 94' represented bragging rights and maybe more importantly, the honor of watching my roommate do the chores around our university dorm. It was the high stakes game of choice for deciding who did the dishes, vacuumed and who would have to clean the toilet. With stakes that high, you could imagine how heated the games became."

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TSB is a fine choice for #1. For what it's worth, they've got a larger online community, there are more tournaments, and I don't see professional documentaries being made about NHL '94. And it probably doesn't hurt that there's a "Tecmo Bo." Sure, '94 has Roenick, but the delicious wordplay is not there.

As someone who played both games in online leagues (although I quit Tecmo back in like 2002 or something, so it's been a while

I'll say that as far as actual gameplay goes, I think '94's gameplay is better for two reasons:

1) Player switching on defense.

2) Turnovers in Tecmo are BACKBREAKING.

Since it's a short game, having a guy fumble in Tecmo can be absolutely brutal and there's little you can do about it short of trying to run out of bounds every single time. There's not really an equivalent in '94. The closest thing would be like giving up a cheap goal because your own guy skated it into his own net accidentally or something like that, but even then it's only one goal and can be recovered from.

Still, '94 didn't develop quite as strong of a culture as TSB did, and '94 developed a strong culture! Obviously, a list like this is going to take that sort of factor into consideration, which is why '94 finished as high as second in the first place. Both games came along at the right time. The technology was starting to mature but expectations on sports games weren't that high.

TSB was the first game that let you play a full season with real teams and players and it had lots of memorable touches and quirks-things like some absolute monster players, the ability to run around with the ball while 8 defenders chase helplessly, full statistical tracking, 90-yard throws, and even the cut scenes. It had great music and graphics, for its time, were a nice advance on what had come before.

'94 was more of a high point in a series since '93 brought a lot to the table as well, but the addition of one-timers and goalie control made it into a masterpiece. The pace is just the right speed, the player control is slick, there are several viable ways to score (and viable ways to prevent scores), real teams, players, and playoffs (though full season play would have to wait for '95.) The sound of the skates and the organ music, the glass breaking, and other touches like that helped make the game much more than it might have been otherwise.

So don't get upset about TSB being ahead of '94. Just be glad that the author recognized that these two games just touched a nerve in ways that other, more modern games haven't and honestly can't just because our expectations are much higher these days. TSB and '94 were revolutionary while today we're pretty much just getting evolutionary.

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Pretty great list. Love how Mike Tysons, NHL and Tecmo were the top ones.

I have been playing a lot of tecmo lately and they are both great games. I think NHL 94 loses to tecmo for a couple reasons.

1. NHL is not as big as the NFL so less people played it.

2. NHL series release a version every year while Tecmo Super Bowl on the NES wan't a yearly release. So NHL'ers split their vote a bit between all the great games.

Game Play is great on both games, but Tecmo is a bit deeper as you have to figure out how to stop each play (8 plays to choose from in the game, and you can pick a variation of plays before the game starts) In NHL 94, while still deep, there are less plays you need to stop. I think NHL 94 was a better pick up an play right away feel to it though.

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I'm not too crazy that Mike Tyson's was #3, simply because it was a 1 player game and somewhat limited in it's longevity. Diminishing returns after 100 plays. '94 and Tecmo (and all other vs. sports games) continue to be interesting after thousands of games.

2 great points by segathon about why Tecmo wins out. Football is the more popular sport in the US. Considering a hockey game is #2, it's pretty amazing.

Little surprised to hear you think Tecmo is deeper. I can't really speak to that as I'm not knowledgeable enough in Tecmo. Just seems like the constant action, speed, simultaneous offense and defensive awareness, switching players, no set plays/formations, etc. would make '94 the more strategic game, but again, I'm not qualified to make that assessment (YET).

Suffice to say, there is no doubt that these are the top 2 sports games of all time...they both have their dedicated sites and leagues after 20+ years!!!

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Little surprised to hear you think Tecmo is deeper. I can't really speak to that as I'm not knowledgeable enough in Tecmo. Just seems like the constant action, speed, simultaneous offense and defensive awareness, switching players, no set plays/formations, etc. would make '94 the more strategic game, but again, I'm not qualified to make that assessment (YET).

Suffice to say, there is no doubt that these are the top 2 sports games of all time...they both have their dedicated sites and leagues after 20+ years!!!

Yeah I guess how I would explain it is the "drones" the guys the cpu controls do more variation in tecmo. You kind of always have an idea where the center is going to wind up in NHL when he is a drone, while in Tecmo with the plays the drones do different actions on each play (WR goes deep on this play, DB's won't cover on some plays, guys get boost/descrease in ability according to what play you pick.

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Congrats boys. I am glad we have a worthy, retro opponent.

I've been tagging your page as much as possible. Hope you don't mind the mild trash talk. :D

Love it! Thanks for the reps, it's much appreciated. Even got a nice hockey debate going on your FB page! ;)

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I reckon hockey is the best sport as far as video games are concerned. skateboarding is pretty good, and the other big team sports are respectable as well. tennis is probably the worst. fencing would be interesting.

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Ahem.

As the world champion of Playchoice-10 NES Tennis for nearly ten years as seen here: http://replay.marpirc.net/r/pc_tenis I strongly disagree with your argument that video tennis is terrible.

Also, Mario Tennis is amazing and has a fantastic soundtrack, especially the Game Point and Set Point music:

Game Point:

Set Point:

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I'm not too crazy that Mike Tyson's was #3, simply because it was a 1 player game and somewhat limited in it's longevity. Diminishing returns after 100 plays. '94 and Tecmo (and all other vs. sports games) continue to be interesting after thousands of games.

I think this is pretty valid... I have very fond memories of Punch Out, but you're right. I'd have been a little disappointed not to see it on the list at all, but I #3 is high.

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