I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today, so I’ve decided to compile a list of the five most memorable sports games the Nintendo Entertainment System has ever graced us with. These nuggets of 8-bit glory were on the cutting edge of home entertainment back in the eighties, and I’m sure you all have your own fond memories of growing up with these gems.
As this was a tough list to narrow down, a couple of honorable mentions deserve some recognition before we get started.
Ice Hockey (1988): What an awesome little game. The premise is simple, yet oh so addictive. Create your four man squad out of the three available templates- The skinny guy is the fastest, but also the weakest. The huge guy, who looks like a pixelated Eric Cartman on ice skates, is the slowest but most powerful. Then you have the well-rounded medium guy, with a balance of speed and power.
The trick is to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each character and create the team that best suits your style of play. 2 Skinnies, 1 Chub Scout and 1 Average Joe was my bread and butter. And let us not forget the ridiculous, whole-team slugfests that break out no less than eight times per game, with bodies flying around the rink in every direction.
Skate or Die! (1987): The only game of its kind when it was released, Skate or Die! allowed us to let loose our inner anarchist by raising hell on those fat, old-school skateboards of the eighties. The “story” consisted of you trying to defeat Lester (the big shot in the Skate or Die! universe) and his posse in a handful of skateboarding minigames.
You start out in the skate shop, where a mohawked ex-Marine named Rodney sends you off on your board to compete in events that are borderline suicidal. From downhill, no-holds-barred racing to all-out pool jousting, this game was the epitome of mindless entertainment, and I loved every minute of it.