Welcome to Christmas Eve, Gabbers. In a few short hours, all the shopping, wrapping, and planning pays off. You'll get to see the excitement and thanks in the eyes of loved ones. Now, my wife decided to start grading my gifts. Not in a malicious way, but she just does. She admitted to me that she generally takes a few gifts into account. I got an A this year, because she picked out earrings she liked and enjoy the Donatello seat pet I got her.
One of my favorite gifts all those years ago were video games. One year IHM, my sister, and I got a Super Nintendo for Christmas. It was probably one of the greatest gifts we got, certainly that I got. We got other systems, but that was my favorite.
Video games remain one of the top gifts for the holidays. I always loved getting them. My purpose today is top give you some of my favorite retro sports games. I will break them into categories as best I can. I haven't owned all of them, but these are the best IMHO.
Basketball: NBA Jam/NBA Jam TE
Basketball games have really come a long way. Early on, they were pretty clumsy with rough movement and blobs for characters. NBA Jam took a different concept: two on two games. The game is far from realistic in terms of play, but it is a lot of fun. The biggest regret with the game is that licensing laws prevented some of the greats from appearing in the game. Jordan was never on a team. Barkley and Shaq were in early versions, but not all. Still, this game had smooth movements and eventually featured decent rosters. We will go ahead and forget the more recent versions of the game.
Baseball: Frank Thomas' Big Hurt Baseball
IHM was pretty psyched when he unwrapped abaseball game featuring his favorite slugger. This game was huge because it featured state of the art graphics. Everything looked crisp. It had full rosters. KEn Griffey Jr. was in the game despite the release of his own baseball game. (Griffey's game came with a special bat controlller for more realistic hitting.) Big Hurt also featured mini games like the home run derby. Mark Grudzielanek could really rake.
Boxing: Mike Tyson's Punch Out
EA has done great things with the boxing game. Heck, I remember some of the old Atari boxing games. They were fun, but were too close to rock em sock em robots. Punch Out brought the name recognition of Tyson with a great storyline about an up and comer named Little Mac. Little Mac had to fight some weirdos just to get a shot at Tyson. The series is so popular it's been remade and Little Mac has appeared in the newest Smash Brothers.
Extreme Sports: California Games
Atari had a lot of great games that were fun despite the sprites and graphics. California Games was definitely one of these. This game was great because it featured a lot of events like surfing, mountain biking, and hackey sack.
Fishing: Fishing Derby
This was a game I loved. It was simple. You had to out-fish the man on the next pier. The complication was that damned shark who lurked near the surface and ate the fish as you reeeled them in. The shark was the equivalent of the dog from Duck Hunt. You loved to hate them both.
Football: Techmo Superbowl
Long before John Madden came to dominate the sports video game world, Bo Jackson and Techmo had it under control. This game was terribly hard for passing, but running the ball brought success, just like the NFL of old. The fun thing was witnessing how over powered Bo Jackson was. You never lost if you picked the Raiders.
Hockey: Blades of Steel
Unlike several games on this list, this one held no association with the NHL. It merely holds the distinction of being the first hockey game to feature fighting. The graphics would make kids laugh today, but it was great to be able to drop the gloves and go at it. That was enough for it to succeed. There's a lot to love about hockey, but fighting is secretly a fan favorite.
Racing: Pole Position
Atari never had a better racing game than pole position. It had great graphics and great coloring. The action was simple, but going off road meant your car would blow up. The plus side is you'd respawn after 3-4 cars went by. It was a really bummer.
Skateboarding: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
The spirit of the early 2000's/late 90's was bottled in these titles. This game combined trick skating and a great sound track into a sure fire winner. Fans could play along and learn the tricks while tuning into the X Games. Fans could choose from skaters like Hawk or use codes to get bonus characters like cops or Spiderman.
Bonus skiing: Ski Free
This was an old computer game. The idea was to rush down the mountain avoiding trees and dogs and hitting jumps. If that wasn't hard enough, they sent the yeti after you past a certain point. No one out runms the yeti. You just had to hit a jump before he reached you. If not, he ate you up. That yeti is still terrifying.
These games and many others have been brightening holidays for years. Did you have a favorite? Be sure to let me know. Merry Christmas Gabbers!