Whether you like to shoot hoops, block and tackle, or hit it out of the park, the NES probably has a sports game for you. There are plenty of great titles in this genre for the console, but which are the best NES sports games?
Of course, this is entirely subjective, but we’ve had a go at listing the top 10. Here are the best sports games for the NES.
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10. Tecmo Bowl (1989)
For many, Tecmo Bowl is the best football game of all time, let alone one of the best NES sports games.
The game has a quirky aesthetic, a catchy soundtrack, and a decent roster. Just get the ball to Bo Jackson and you’re in business.
I can still vividly hear the shouts of “hut hut hut hut hut hut” in the back of my mind whenever someone is going to snap the ball.
9. Tecmo NBA Basketball (1992)
Tecmo were the masters of NES sports games, and here’s another great one in the form of Tecmo NBA Basketball. As with the previous game in the list, this game has solid visuals, great sound effects and music, and addictive gameplay.
Times have changed to where we are now with the 2K basketball games, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. The charm that came with Tecmo NBA Basketball is unmatched in modern hoopfest video games. If you can get multiplayer on the go, the fun is multiplied tenfold, too.
8. Double Dribble (1987)
Double Dribble is a no-nonsense basketball game by Konami. There are few teams to select from, and not many game modes. But if you can get over that, you’re in for a world of fun.
The controls are highly responsive (which was not a given in the NES era), and there are some cool animations when you get to dunk on your opponent.
Granted, the music is a bit meh, but that doesn’t detract from the gameplay, and you’ll soon be too engrossed in this lovable b-ball game that helped solidify Konami as a serious player when it comes to the best NES sports games.
7. Baseball Stars (1989)
Baseball Stars is a pioneering baseball game that was developed by SNK. In terms of graphics, it is very basic but very smooth with a good amount of detail. The colours are well balanced and the animations are accurate.
One of the great things about Baseball Stars is that you can customize your teams fully, which can lead to some fun experimenting if you’re playing with friends. The music is pretty run-of-the-mill NES sports game music, but the sound effects in the game are quirky and agreeable.
This is the best baseball game for the NES in our book.
6. Tecmo World Wrestling (1989)
Here is another Tecmo entry to the list (and not quite the last one, either). Partly because I was a huge wrestling fan back in the day, but mainly because this game is completely awesome, Tecmo World Wrestling is an easy contender as one of the best NES sports games around.
For the time, there is a good number of wrestling moves available to execute, and the animations all look smooth. Moves include bear hugs, suplexes, clotheslines, and figure fours, but there are many more. There are also some great cutscenes for finishing moves that add to the impact and drama of a match.
Graphically, the game is more than sufficient for what it is, and coupled with a strong music score and some quirky commentary, Tecmo World Wrestling goes straight up there with the best sports games for the NES.
5. Blades of Steel (1988)
As NES sports games go, there aren’t many as fun as this 8-bit ice hockey classic, Blades of Steel. It is thoroughly enjoyable at all times and still stands up well today.
Like all great retro ice hockey games, fights were a big feature of Blades of Steel. But it was so much more than that, too. The game appeals to all kinds of gamer – action, sports, platform, beat ‘em ups, etc – and it does this with a charming aesthetic and frantic gameplay in which scores may more likely resemble that of a cricket match.
It’s impossible not to have fun with Blades of Steel, and if you’re not a fan of this game, I need to know why in the comment section below.
4. Tecmo Super Bowl (1991)
It’s not often that a successor ends up outperforming the original in a series, but Tecmo Super Bowl does so in emphatic fashion, which is no easy feat.
There are 12 NFL teams to choose from in total, and although the team names aren’t official, Tecmo Super Bowl was the first game to get the official licensing for NFL player names.
More importantly, though, the gameplay is a cut above any other football game for the NES. It is fast, smooth, and crisp, and although the graphics aren’t anything to write home about, the sound more than makes up for it.
If you haven’t tried this one yet, make sure you do if you’re a fan of NES sports games.
3. Nintendo World Cup (1990)
For those of us soccer fans out there, Nintendo World Cup was as good as it got for the NES. But that’s okay, because this game was easily up there with the best NES sports games.
The game is equal parts ridiculous and fun. The first thing you’ll notice is how incredibly violent the game is. Indeed, you can tackle someone so hard that their eyes pop out…
Yet, if you don’t think of this as an out-and-out soccer game, and perhaps rather as a battle royal wrestling match on a football field, you’ll likely get more out of Nintendo World Cup. I certainly did.
2. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (1987)
Punch-Out is one of my favorite sports games of all time, let alone for the NES. Dodging and weaving with protagonist Little Mac kickstarted my love for boxing in a way that I’m sure it did for many others, too.
Your first few opponents are a breeze, and you’ll whizz past Glass Joe without issue for sure. By the time you get to King Hippo you’ll have had a fair few tough fights already, and they only get harder. In fact, I think I’ve only completed the game fully once.
The game’s goofy artstyle and quirky boxing styles will keep you coming back for more though. This is easily one of the best NES sports games around.
1. Super Dodge Ball (1989)
For anyone who has played Super Dodge Ball, it will be no surprise to see this top the list of the best sports games for the NES.
The game was developed by Technos Japan and it just oozes fun out of every orifice. With a killer soundtrack, unique venues, and frantic gameplay, Super Dodge Ball is a thrill-a-minute sports game in which its simplicity helps it.
One button passes the ball, and the other throws the ball forward. Pressing both buttons together will cause the player to jump. Although Super Dodge Ball is great as a single player, there is real fun to be had in the multiplayer mode.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best SNES sports games ever made.
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For a full playthrough of Super Dodge Ball, check out the great YouTube video below by NintendoComplete.