10 Forgotten Sports Video Games (That Were Surprisingly Good)

10 Forgotten Sports Video Games (That Were Surprisingly Good)

With Matchpoint: Tennis Championships expected to arrive on July 7, sports video game fans might be reminded of Top Spin, which dropped all the way back in 2003 and was one of the first truly great tennis games. Top Spin is just one of many titles that have been largely forgotten about as time moves on. Games like these all have their own unique flair that made them stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, as the years passed, these titles faded to the background as newer content was released. Studios like EA Sports and 2K have dominated the sports video game market for over a decade, so it’s easier to recall titles they have produced compared to smaller studios or games that are not part of a series.

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Despite rapidly improving technology and the growth of the gaming market, there are still many games from the past that stand the test of time or were, at the very least, ahead of the curve at one point. These games are tremendously enjoyable, and have a lot to offer, even though they’ve been lost in the crowd as the years go by.

Michael Jordan: Chaos In The Windy City (1994)

Michael Jordan on the title page of the game Michael Jordan Chaos In The Windy City.

This two-dimensional, single-player game puts the player in Michael Jordan’s shoes, who is tasked with saving his teammates that were abducted by a mad scientist. Using a variety of basketballs with different abilities, MJ must defeat enemies and find keys in order to unlock rooms his friends are stuck in.

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Due to the obscure nature of the game, and the fact that the real-life Michael had moved on to baseball during its release, it didn’t gain much attention. However, people who did pick up a copy for their Super Nintendo were treated to a difficult, but intensely entertaining experience. The unique gameplay and environment made Chaos in the Windy City stand out from every other sporting game of its time, and that’s something worth celebrating.

2Xtreme (1996)

The cover to the game 2Xtreme.

Racing might be simple, but it’s also exhilarating. 2Xtreme cranks the intensity of racing even higher by allowing players to kick and hit their opponents in order to gain a competitive edge. There are 12 unique courses, and gamers can ride a skateboard, bike, snowboard, or rollerblades.

This game is the second in a series of three, but it has the best execution of the trilogy. The sequel to it is too similar to warrant being produced, and the prequel is far too unpolished. 2Xtreme has the perfect blend of creativity and exciting gameplay. One of its other great strengths is its high-quality A.I. technology, which was far more challenging and engaging than others of its day.

Cool Boarders 4 (1999)

A skiier in the game Cool Boarders 4

This game gives players the ability to pull off insane tricks on the powdered slopes. There are multiple tracks and maps to complete runs on, and the campaign mode makes it possible for players to try various forms of snowboarding competition, including slaloms, halfpipe, racing, and more. Many of the other snowboarding games of its day did not offer the same experiences.

The variety of playable characters and customizable boards to choose from gave this game an edge over some of its competitors in the industry. Being able to add a bit of one’s individuality into a game makes it feel much more personal. Unfortunately, the graphics were not the most impressive for their time, so many gamers went looking elsewhere for entertainment. However, the exciting gameplay more than made up for the low-quality graphics for anyone that did pick up the game.

Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games (2007)

Mario and Sonic skiing and snowboarding in Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Games

This is the first game in this series, and it’s safe to say the developers nailed it. The atmosphere is fun and the activities are challenging, often requiring players to have great stamina in order to make it onto the podium. Players can compete in an incredibly wide variety of sports including track & field, swimming, gymnastics, and more! It’s one of the best Olympic-themed video games ever produced.

Although it was widely loved upon release, it was left behind once newer installments were available. None of them quite captured the same level of magic that this one did. The unique experience it provided was no longer unique by the time the sequels rolled around. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games truly is one of the few games that provides hours of fun at a time without making players feel like they’ve wasted an afternoon.

NASCAR Heat 2002 (2001)

A car turning over in NASCAR Heat 2002.

This game improved upon the graphics of its predecessor and allows players to race on 19 official NASCAR tracks. There is a large number of drivers to choose from, and the extremely high speeds players can travel at is exhilarating.

At the time of its release, it was praised for its well-balanced blend of arcade-style and simulation qualities. The developers chose to prioritize fun and enjoyment over truth to reality whenever the two clashed. The result is an enjoyable game that appeals to hard-core NASCAR fans and average players alike.

The Golf Pro (1998)

The cover to the game The Golf Pro.

The Golf Pro has only a few courses that can be played on, but the incredible physics make up for that. Since it was developed for PC, players use a mouse to simulate the swing in a side-to-side action. For more accuracy, players need to turn the mouse at certain stages so that the club head moves properly.

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The controls can take some getting used to, but it makes for a far more engaging experience rather than simply tapping buttons or clicking keys. Tons of high-quality golfing games have been released since this one, but The Golf Pro is one of the first to really do it well. It’s essentially the grandfather of great golf games.

NBA Street (2001)

Gameplay of NBA Street Vol. 3

The 3-on-3 streetball in this game is completely different from other NBA video games. One key difference is that players can get away with being much more physical in NBA Street compared to traditional basketball, and it’s also legal to goaltend!

What makes NBA Street so enjoyable is that it doesn’t always limit itself to the reality of physics; characters can jump well above the rim and pull off moves that would never be possible in the real world. With an “anything goes” mentality, there is no end to the excitement. It’s a great game that many people enjoyed in the early 2000s, and it led to the production of three sequels.

NFL Blitz (1997)

NFL Blitz on the Nintendo 64

In NFL Blitz, late hits are no problem, and pass interference isn’t an issue either. Only seven players per team are allowed on the field at one time, in contrast with the 11 that are permitted in real NFL games. There are also no timeouts, but the clock does stop after every play.

Related: The 10 Best NES Sports Games, According To Ranker

This was the first release in what would become a well-loved series throughout most of the 2000s. The hits are bigger and the throws are longer than in traditional football video games. The graphics are a bit wonky, but the game makes up for it because every play is guaranteed to be action-packed.

Backyard Baseball (1997)

Pablo Sanchez of Backyard Baseball

This two-dimensional game has a lot of personality to it. The distinct fields to play on and characters to choose from makes this game stand out from all other baseball titles. Featuring simple gameplay and some goofy soundbites, it’s a guaranteed good time for young kids with a love for baseball.

One of the greatest strengths of Backyard Baseball is its inclusivity; there are characters from various ethnic backgrounds, making it inviting to players from all over the world. The representation in this game was way ahead of most other releases from its time. A game that provides countless hours of fun while also encouraging children to be accepting of others is hard to beat.

Top Spin (2003)

A tennis match in the game Top Spin.

There are multiple different game mode options available within Top Spin, including singles matches, doubles, and career mode. Gamers can choose from real-lif tennis players or fictional characters, and build skills as they advance their careers.

One of the great things about this game is the ability to play against opponents online, something that wasn’t always guaranteed in the period of time in which it was released. The disappointingly long loading times were made up for by riveting gameplay and total control over character movements.

NEXT: 10 Best Sports Video Games With RPG Elements

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About The Author

Grant Bullert
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Grant Bullert is a list writer for Screen Rant and is deeply passionate about all things film. He fell in love with movies at the age of six after watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Appendices that detailed the work that goes into making stories into cinema were especially interesting to him and fueled his desire to one day be a filmmaker. Currently living in the middle of nowhere in Iowa has put a hiccup in that plan, so he instead writes about film (for now).

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