The Best/Worst Sports Video Games of Your Childhood
If there's one thing that every single kid did when younger, it was play video games.
And seeing how most of us grew up idolizing athletes like Michael Jordan, Brett Favre and Ken Griffey Jr., it was only natural for us to pop in the sports game cartridges to distract us from our homework.
That doesn't mean that these video games were always great, though, which is why I'm giving you the best and worst of the bunch from your childhood.
Best: Madden NFL 2005
All Madden games are fun, with the series constantly upping both the gameplay and real-life features each year.
Madden 2005 was just a bit better, though, bringing the hit stick to the game to nail opposing players and an updated Franchise Mode that let gamers take over their favorite franchise and call the shots.
I admit to completing a season every two weeks when in college.
Worst: Mega Man Soccer
With the success of the Mega Man video game series, Capcom believed that it could just put the robotic character into a sports game and kids would eat it up.
Too bad Mega Man Soccer completely sucked, as it gave each character from the previous video games a unique shot that would temporarily disable anyone else that came in contact with the ball.
The title sounds cool, but the gameplay and cheesiness of Mega Man Soccer earns it a red card.
Best: Nintendo World Cup
I've admitted before that Nintendo World Cup was one of the most insane games ever created.
But in its ridiculousness of crazy, special shots and bodychecking to steal the ball was something that was a hell of a lot of fun to play.
The game wasn't much of a challenge—with the user's team given five special shots per half that were goals 99 percent of the time—but it was definitely entertaining.
Oh, and for those who still have the game laying around, type in the code "12911" and you'll get yourself into the championship game.
Worst: Shaq Fu
Under no circumstances should a kid have wasted their time by playing this terrible video game.
Even the biggest fan of former NBA center Shaquille O'Neal has to admit that Shaq Fu was one of the worst ideas in video game history, with it placing the most dominant center in league history as a kung fu master who is on a mission to save a young boy from an evil mummy.
Trust me, it surprisingly gets worse from there.
Best: Duck Hunt
I know that we all "cheated" at this game by pressing the fake gun right up against the TV screen, but it was still one hell of a good time.
Duck Hunt was one of the first video games released on the original, 8-bit Nintendo, giving users something that was both interactive and entertaining.
So while you rarely let a duck get away—but always wanted to shoot that laughing dog when you did—it still helped you pass the time as a kid.
Worst: Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball
I really debated whether or not I wanted to put this as a "Best" rather than a "Worst"—since I played this game religiously when I was younger.
But after thinking a little more about it, it dawned on me just how bogus Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball was, with a single game being so high scoring and lasting over an hour that it actually became boring.
The game didn't even have the rights to use real player names—besides Clemens'—making it lack the validity it probably needed.
Best: NBA Jam
When an announcer uses the term "Boom shakalaka" to describe a player's performance, I have to add it here.
One of the most addicting games for any kid who grew up in the '90s, NBA Jam brought together two players from any team in the league to play against another duo, hitting fireball treys and absurd alley-oop slams.
Sure, every kid wanted to win their game, but even in defeat NBA Jam provided amazing moments.
Hell, it even allowed players to unlock special characters like then-president and vice president, Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
Worst: Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball
That's just about the only word I can think of when trying to describe the entire concept of Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball.
Hoping to profit off of the former Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boy" image and tough style of play, producers of this game earned multiple technical fouls for putting out a game that was more about hitting other players than actually playing hoops.
For feeling more like a hockey game than a basketball ball one, Combat Basketball fails.
Best: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
From the summer before my freshman year of college through the end of the first semester, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 was my jam—with my friends and I even ditching classes to play it.
With 25 different characters to choose from, it was both easy to pick up and fun as hell to play, featuring both real-life and imaginary courses to tee it up at.
As a nice break from the over-the-top, arcade-like style of golf games, Tiger's game broke the mold and became the standard for all future golf video games.
Worst: Michael Phelps: Push the Limit
Did they do any market research before releasing this game, or did they just hope that world-record holding Olympian Michael Phelps' name would be enough to sell it?
There was nothing fun about this game whatsoever, with users sweating it out either on the sticks or using Xbox Kinect to stay above water and compete in a swimming game!
Let's face it, this game could have drowned in the deep end and no one would have called a lifeguard to help save it.
Best: World Class Track Meet
Just like the aforementioned Duck Hunt, World Class Track Meet was one of the three games that was on the first Nintendo cartridge—and dammit, we should all thank to the lord that it was.
Pitting users against some of the fastest digital athletes ever created, the game allowed players to run on their tippy toes to speed through a race, or jump off the side of the Power Pad to get extra length on their long jump.
Oh, and the music that accompanied the game earned a gold medal itself—where's that soundtrack at?
Worst: Kurt Warner's Arena Football Unleashed
Although extreme, fictional football games like NFL Blitz seemed to grab kids' attention, but Midway's release of Kurt Warner's Arena Football Unleashed was sacked.
Nearly identical to the NFL version, this game used little-known Arena League teams and players, making it less appealing to the casual fan.
And the gameplay itself was stupid, with players celebrating longer than a play itself lasted—which is something that no gamer ever wants to have happen.
Best: Mike Tyson's Punch-Out
There's something wrong with you if you didn't like Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, as it was one of those games that was both challenging and fun.
Playing as Little Mac—an underdog competing against bigger, stronger boxers—users went through the ranks to try to beat some of the baddest fighters around on their way to facing heavyweight champ Mike Tyson.
Names like Bald Bull, King Hippo and Soda Popinski probably bring back some fierce memories for those who were as addicted to this game as I was.
Worst: Slam City with Scottie Pippen
Featuring one-on-one battles versus brash streetballers, the game was an air-ball from the opening credits, with Hall of Fame forward Scottie Pippen providing the lyrics to the song.
Even if players got a kick out of Pip's attempt at rapping, once the game started, there was little else to be excited about.
Considering it was released on the somewhat unpopular Sega CD system, there weren't many people who even got to see this game—thankfully.
Best: NHL '94
I was in fourth grade when NHL '94 came out, and I remember pushing aside nearly every other game once I got it.
Even those who knew nothing about, or had any interest, in hockey have to admit that this game was one of the best ever to play.
Amazing gameplay combined with a few special tricks made NHL '94 a cult classic to this day.
And major props for having the glass shatter for a few slap shots that missed the goal.
Worst: Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City
Throughout his entire basketball career, it seems as if everything Michael Jordan touched turned to gold.
Well, the video game Chaos in the Windy City proved that MJ was in fact human.
Instead of competing in a hoops game, players used Jordan as a crime fighter who tossed basketballs as his superpower.
Yes, that's seriously what the game had kids do—just terrible.
Best: Tecmo Super Bowl
No joke, the first question out of anyone's mouth if an original Nintendo around is typically, "Dude, do you have Tecmo Super Bowl?"
That's because it is, far and away, the best video game of my childhood—and those who were born after me.
Sure, it had ridiculous plays—like the Bo Jackson run seen in this video—but the simplicity of the gameplay made it easy and fun for even the most novice of football fans.
Newer football games are good, but Tecmo Super Bowl will always be amazing.
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