?The Maddens, FIFAs and MLBs of the sports videogame stock are just too serious nowadays, with their manager modes, impossible online matches and up-to-the-minute rosters. But alternative sports videogames usually offer a break from most of that time-sucking garbage, ignoring traditional rules for the sake of good, dirty fun. Roasting goalkeepers, dismembering referees, roundhousing faces – you can get really messy in the name of victory.
Non-human sports videogames offer all of the above, and also the idea that winning doesn’t mean fair play. We’re not talking the Mario and Sonic types; they have several humans and humanoids. We’re talking sports games loaded exclusively with ogres, robots, alien races and the like. So here are eight worth trying for at least a match or two.
How the hell do you beat Teleroboxer in less than 6 minutes? Good question. In this robot boxing game for the Virtual Boy, scientists control hulking scraps of metal and duke it out until their opponent explodes. In the end, you defeat a cat-controlled machine, and when the credits roll, you get a few swipes at the game’s production crew. Whee.
This is a warped take on basketball, with Asterians, Slorillians and other alien races brawling as they chuck a luminous orb around the arena. Rule the season by effecting combo-style fighting moves on opponents and, of course, hitting the goal; various special attacks include the mucus blast and the spine splicer. The graphics overall — yeah, they’re questionable, but equally pleasing as other games on the original PlayStation, such as Professional Underground League of Pain and Speedball 2100.
6) Lego Soccer Mania
Breezy and perhaps designed more for elementary players, last generation’s Lego Soccer Mania is the only true sports videogame from the toymaker. The plot: Your team chases thief Brickster through several matches, kicking its way to outer space for the final showdown. Just pardon the cheese factor – it’s one of those paint-by-numbers games you can pick up anytime, and it’s a nice break from FIFA 2010, especially if you’re getting whipped in the latter game’s online leagues. When in doubt, though, try R1 + Circle for the Lego power shot.
5) Megaman Soccer
While they’re featured in a bevy of fighting games, few iconic videogame characters get the sports treatment, and this one indeed came as a weird yet entertaining surprise in 1994 on the SNES. In this case, Megaman trades fortresses for indoor soccer fields, challenging Robot Masters such as Cut Man and Fire Man for the Capcom Championship. Use those walls for passing and dribbling assistance, and the characters’ special shots for an occasional goal, which isn’t exactly a fluid process. (Hint: Try a special shot at kickoff.) There’s no blood here, but slide tackling from behind is acceptable.
4) Blood Bowl
Of the non-human sports games here, the recent Blood Bowl is an update of a football board game – an HD-flavored, fantasy-tinged spin on bruising videogames like Mutant League Football and Pigskin 621 A.D. You can hark back to the tabletop version via turn-based mode, or ramp up the fun via real time mode, employing lizards, goblins, etc. for touchdowns and destruction. What it boils down to is a microcosm of Warhammer on the gridiron.
3) Base Wars
? Robots rule the playing field in this easy, 24th Century-themed NES game. A player can totally suck at hitting and pitching, but, like other alternative sports games, Base Wars has a rule where either player can win solely by kicking ass; anytime a tag-out comes into question, the runner fights the baseman. So, we’re looking at, say, Tank Vs. Motorcycle. Kill three opposing robots, and the game’s over. Fighting is more fun than hitting home-runs into outerspace, which the fucking computer does all day (at least to me).
2) Mutant League Football
This classic for the Sega Genesis is more about the brutal antics than the playmaking, giving losing opponents something laugh about. The gridiron is heavy metal mayhem loaded with pits, mines, spikes and ogre gibberish, showing us the sweat and blood of post-apocalyptic superstars like Bones Jackson and Scary Ice. The best “nasty audible” of all has to be “Kill Ref,” the peak of the game’s absurdity.
1) Mutant League Hockey
Chainsaw-wielding ogres, demon goals, spike-studded goalies – this game surpasses the gore of Mutant League Football. It’s bloodier. It’s funnier. In fact, it’s like Tales from the Crypt collided with NHL ’94. If a player can hit an opposing goalie with an exploding puck, they have a serious advantage until the next whistle. The fight scenes are cool, but nothing’s more awesome here than a goal-scoring, break-dancing skeleton.