Feature

Ten Sports Games Worthy Of A Remake

by Matt Bertz on Oct 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM

This console generation hasn’t been friendly to sports gamers. While many of the mainstay franchises are still releasing high-quality editions, the one-time sea of sports games has dried up into a wading pool. Fans only have one option for NHL, NBA, and NFL simulations, we lost NCAA basketball games altogether, and arcade-style experiences are becoming increasingly rare. To reverse this bad trend, we’d love to see some of these dormant sports franchises come off the bench to give the genre a spark.  

10. College Hoops

The NCAA tourney is the most entertaining sports tournament this side of the World Cup, but ever since both 2K Sports and EA Sports pulled the plug on their NCAA basketball games fans haven’t had a proper simulation experience to enjoy. Given the studio’s massive success with its NBA 2K franchise, we nominate Visual Concepts to turn the lights back on in the virtual Cameron Indoor Stadium. The various lawsuits pertaining to player likenesses currently being litigated likely makes this a non-starter for the time being, but if today’s teams are off the table the studio could tap college basketball’s rich history to create a virtual 64-team tourney featuring best teams of all time. 

9. NFL Head Coach

This EA Sports series for the Xbox 360 never found its footing, but that doesn’t mean the concept is worth trashing altogether. Given the fact that millions of fans obsess over fantasy stats, tune in to watch the scouting combine, and spend three days watching the NFL draft, there is no reason we shouldn’t have an NFL equivalent to the Football Manager simulations that are so popular in Europe. Give us a deep experience that has us juggling player personalities, managing injuries, outlining gameplans, and leading scouting efforts like the hard-working NFL coaches who sleep in their offices each week.

8. Baseball Stars

Somewhere along the way, developers lost their appetite for making off-kilter arcade sports games. If any of the beloved NES-era titles deserves resurrection, it’s Baseball Stars. Featuring customizable teams, player skill upgrades, stat tracking, and a team full of ninjas, this entertaining slugger was well ahead of its time. We would love to see a remake on a smaller scale that preserves the charm and accessibility of the original. 

7. Blitz: The League

We don’t necessarily need another NFL Blitz game, but The League scratched the surface of a gold mine just waiting to be tapped in sports games: story-based role-playing. With the help of the former writers of ESPN’s short-lived but celebrated Playmakers show, The League used cutscenes to show us the seedy side of football the NFL never wants to see glamorized. We’d love to see a company pick up where Midway left off and create a true role-playing single-player experience that doesn’t just gloss over the locker-room drama. Give us the off-field distractions, positional rivalries, and coaching disputes no league would endorse appearing in an officially licensed game.

6. NBA Street

Fans were overjoyed when EA picked up the rights to NBA Jam and delivered an authentic arcade remake. Now the company should redirect its efforts to bring back this long-dormant streetball series. The NBA is freshly infused with new star talent that would be a perfect fit for the three-on-three arcade dunkfests. If EA made this an affordable downloadable game we bet more people would be willing to throw down some cash for throwing down windmill dunks.

5. Mutant League Hockey

Who doesn’t want to see zombies, robots, and trolls strap on skates and slash each other to bits? This Sega Genesis combat hockey game from EA had a Garbage Pail Kids sense of humor, with spoof names like the St. Mucus Ooze (instead of the St. Louis Blues) and the Montroyale Cadavers (instead of the Montreal Canadiens). Fans threw weapons and power-ups onto the ice, and if a player was killed the game went on, with his corpse becoming a new obstacle to skate around. Kill enough of the opposing team, and they have to forfeit the game. What’s not to love?

4. All-Pro Football

When EA signed an exclusivity deal with the NFL, 2K Sports made this underrated game. With no license for modern players or team emblems, it recruited an impressive roster of NFL legends and allowed users to customize their own jerseys. If EA were to emulate this approach but take it to the next level with retro NFL jerseys, full legend rosters for each team, and historical teams that we could pit against one another similar to the NBA’s Greatest mode in NBA 2K12, I would pre-order the game as soon as they announced it. Let's call it Legends of the Gridiron.

3. Base Wars

Some people find baseball boring. To turn up the action a few levels and help these close-minded jock-haters see the beauty of the sport, Konami and Ultra Games created Base Wars for the NES. You still pitch, bat, and field like a regular baseball game (albeit with robots instead of human players), but when a throw to first base is close, the tie just doesn’t go to the runner. Instead, the fielder and the base runner engage in combat to the death. As you win ball games, you can equip your mechanical athletes with more advanced weaponry to improve your chances of winning these close calls. How has this not been remade for XBLA or PSN yet?   

2. MVP Baseball 

Thanks to Sony’s loophole agreement with MLB, PlayStation 3 fans get to enjoy the superb MLB: The Show games year in and out. For everyone else, your only option has been the woeful MLB 2K series, which is the equivalent to having the Houston Astros as the only baseball team you can watch on TV. Instead of making fans suffer with this underperforming baseball simulation, the MLB should cut EA a sweetheart deal to bring back MVP, which was just hitting its stride with great features like three levels of minor league team management and a ballpark manager when the company was forced to pull the plug in 2005.

1. ESPN NFL 2K5

Competition breeds innovation, and no sports game rivalry spoke to this maxim more than the grudge match between NFL 2K and Madden. EA’s franchise is finally finding its footing after years of struggling, but eight years later 2K5 still has many features – like SportsCenter highlight packages, weekly training preparation, tiered defensive playcalling, and player tendency profiles for online matchups – that would make any football simulation better. The chances of seeing this franchise resurrected are slim to none given the NFL’s preference for exclusivity deals, but in a perfect world this rivalry would continue for the most popular sport in the country. 

Those are our candidates for remakes. What sports franchises would you like to see resurrected?