We’ve already covered First Person Shooters and Third Person Action games in this”Our Generation” series about games that you might have overlooked, and this time we’re looking at the sports genre. This one probably gave us the hardest time in thinking about what was a missed gem because when you think sports you tend to think of the yearly updates like FIFA, Madden and Tiger Woods, all of which sell by the bucket load with each iteration, and generally score quite well too. But then, when you look past the big name titles, you suddenly realise that the sports game genre has some of the biggest variety to it in terms of the broad styles it covers, and they’re the ones that don’t really hit the headlines like the others. We’ve picked several of our favourite sports games from the last 7 years, but there are hundreds out there that we’ve not played, so if you’ve got one that you think is potentially a forgotten classic, put the game and reason why in the comments below.
Roger – Sports Champions
When I think of memorable sports games of this last generation, Sports Champions comes to mind. Haven’t heard of it? That’s because it was a Playstation Move exclusive. Yes, I bought a Move controller, and Sports Champions has been the main game I have used it on. While it was not exactly the “killer app” for Move, it did offer some fun game play. In the box are a total of 6 game types ranging from table tennis, a gladiator duel, archery and my favourite, frisbee golf. Each of the game modes took advantage of the Moves’ motion sensing to control how you played the game. Everything from the tilt of your wrist to the force you applied to your swing were perfectly calibrated to represent a realistic feeling experience. With lots of game play and several different modes for you to tackle alone or with a friend, Sports Champions is a fun motion game that you may have overlooked. Is it worth going out and buying a Move for? Not necessarily, but if you already own the peripheral, you can pick the game up for rather cheap now, so give it a go!
Matt – High Velocity Bowling
I’d played quite a lot of Wii Bowling with my family, something that’s great because all the family could join in, but was pretty much pot luck on who would actually win down to the inaccuracy of the controls. When High Velocity Bowling got released on the PS3 I jumped at it because I was intrigued at how using the dual shock 3 controller could proved the fidelity and precision needed to create a really interesting experience.
There’s nothing ground breaking about the game, it’s very much a straight 10-pin setup with the requisite ten frames played and highest scorer wins. There’s progression in the form of playing against increasingly difficult AI opponents, with a few quirky characters and a small variety of bowling locations. What does shine is control response and accuracy afforded by the dual shock 3 (and latterly the Move system when that was patched in a couple of years later). Every single movement of your hand and arm is matched almost to the millimetre, and you’re able to control the bowling ball in near enough the same way as real life, placing it where you want it, and even adding significant spin for trickier shots. The power of the PS3 system allowed a decent physics engine and under the settings you could even select how much friction you wanted from the lane, adding a new dimension to any game. What’s more, you could play online with no lag and maintain a decent voice chat, something that wasn’t possible in most games in 2007. I spent a lot of hours with this game and never really mastered it, but really enjoyed what it delivered as an experience. It’s going for about £12 for the complete edition on the PSN at the moment if you fancy it.
Graham – MotoGP 08
I know what you are thinking; how can a game based on the pinnacle of motorbike racing that has an annual release be classed as a hidden gem? Well answer this have you played it? I guess the answer is probably not and this is the same answer for most non motorbike fans. It is a game that mixes enough realism to satisfy MotoGP fans but also just enough arcade appeal to be an excellent pick up and play game. It is the latter that means you don’t have to know a lot about the sport or the rules to have a great time playing it, you can just choose to have a quick play without having to dive head long into season mode.
If, like me, you are a MotoGP geek you will appreciate the teams, riders and ultra realistic circuits. The fact that when accelerating hard you have to push the analogue stick forward to simulate putting weight over the front wheel is some great attention to detail. Again when you are slowing down for a corner you need to ‘sit up’ to assist in the braking process. If I had to pick a fault it is quite easy to go from last to the front in a few corners but it is something that has got better in more recent versions. So why 2008 and not 2009 or 2010? Well the MotoGP 08 was the first time in recent years that it included the 125cc and 250cc classes, if you know these series you will be aware that it is generally a bunch of 16 year olds going in 6 abreast at the final corner – the game is the same. It also gives you a good chance to learn the bikes and the circuits before going out of the full 200 mph bikes. 08 was also the final year Kawasaki was part of the championship, having them and also the now departed Suzuki meant the game reflects the MotoGP of old and not the dull procession that some would class it as today.
Andy – Rockstar Table Tennis
What can I say about Rockstar Table Tennis? It’s basically Pong for the Xbox 360, but don’t let that put you off! The game was a budget release back in 2006 as it was basically a technical demonstration of the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) which powered GTA IV and Red Dead Redemption. The game looked great and had a simplistic play style that was unbelievably addictive! You moved your character with the left stick and selected your shot type with the face buttons or right stick, it was that easy. Soft shots and focus could be employed as you got the hang of things, but the game was so well crafted that I found myself playing for hours on end as I played through the few tournaments available. Rockstar Table Tennis was proof for me that complicated game mechanics and intricate plot are not always required for total immersion, sometimes simply having fun is enough of a hook!
Join us for our next foray into the world of great average games when we’ll be choosing our favourites from the open world genre.