10. Monday Night Combat
Monday Night Combat is a class-based team shooter that released on PC and Xbox 360 back in 2010. While the emphasis is on choosing classes, there are also MOBA elements involved as the point of each match is to achieve objectives with AI and player controlled teammates. The thing that really makes the game stand out, however, is its aesthetic which basically pits cloned soldiers against each other in a futuristic replacement for Monday Night Football. These soldiers battle it out for cash, while crowds of adoring fans look on.
The entire concept of Monday Night Combat is a fun idea, and the game worked well in execution as well. Each of the classes were well defined and it felt a bit like a mix between Team Fortress 2 and DOTA. Multiple match types kept things fresh, helping to make Monday Night Combat a different kind of made up sport.
9. RIGS: Mechanized Combat League
RIGS is definitely one of the more unique PSVR titles out there, and it’s all about an over the top, high octane future sport. The title is set 50 years in the future where players take control of mech suits known as “Rigs” in a variety of game modes. Each match has two three-man teams going up against each other, and there are numerous different mech suits with different abilities. One of the game types, known as Endzone, is even reminiscent of American football, tasking players with taking a holographic ball into the other team’s goal.
RIGS certainly does feel like a futuristic sport, being incredibly fast paced and demanding to play. It’s certainly not for those with a weak stomach, however, as it is a VR that has your vision bobbing and weaving all over the place. Still, if this is what sports look like 50 years from now, we can’t really complain.
8. Light Cycles – Tron
Tron is an interesting property, as Tron itself is actually a video game within the first film. In fact, in 1982 Tron arcade cabinets were released to match the movie, and they included four different minigames, one of which was the iconic Light Cycles. The point of this grid-inspired sport is to avoid the electric walls and light trails of enemy cyclists, and force them into your own light trail or the wall to make them explode. In both Tron films the Light Cycle segments were some of the best, and the bikes have made their way into countless video games at this point.
In addition to the original arcade game Light Cycles segments or minigames can be found in Tron 2.0, Tron Run/r, and even Kingdom Hearts II. The best use, however, might be in Tron: Evolution, which has an entire multiplayer mode dedicated to Light Cycle battles. This is one sporting event that’d be as fun to participate in as it is breathtaking to behold, as long as you survive that is.
7. Quidditch – Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
Quidditch may very well be the most famous made up sport of all time, and besides being featured in numerous main Harry Potter games, the sport even got its own spinoff title. Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup completely realized the iconic wizarding sport, letting you control a team, including each individual position, taking them through the entirety of the World Cup.
Things start out at Hogwarts, but quickly move on to the world stage, allowing you to choose from teams around the world including Japan, Bulgaria, Australia, and the United States. The great thing about Quidditch World Cup was how it expanded on the world of Harry Potter, letting you see witches and wizards from around the world. Not to mention that the game was actually quite fun and you zipped around the field on your broom and switched between players. It certainly wasn’t without faults, but this is the closest we’ve ever gotten to fully playing out Quidditch fantasies.
6. Griffball – Halo Series
Griffball is definitely an anomaly, what started out as a fan-made game mode by Burnie Burns of Red vs. Blue, then turned into a huge phenomenon and game type fully supported in Halo games. This absurd “sport” has two teams squaring off on a large open battlefield. Players are given gravity hammers and swords, with the speed increased and gravity reduced. The objective, of course, is to grab the bomb in the middle of the field and take it into your opponents’ goal.
What results is an absurdly fun game, with players dashing around the field blasting each other away while they rush to get a score. It’s easy to spend hours playing Griffball, especially if you can bring along a team of friends or people you’ve practiced with. It’s easily one of the most inventive uses of of Halo’s custom game modes, and its popularity only seems to increase with each subsequent Halo entry.
Windjammers actually has quite a bit in common with Tron, as it’s a sport based around disc battles. This fast paced title takes place on an almost tennis-like court, as two players throw a disc back and forth, trying to score on the other’s goal. With Windjammers, however, there are only two players, meaning you have to act as both the defense and offense, and different movesets for each character even give it a fighting game feel. The game’s vibrant anime art style and over the top special moves make it feel almost like a sports anime.
Over the years Windjammers has become increasingly more popular, and it’s even getting a re-release on PS4 and Vita on Aug. 29. If you haven’t thrown the old frisbee around with a throw called Fire Snake, make sure you give Windjammers a try.
4. The Rites – Pyre
Pyre is the newest game here out of the bunch, but it’s more than worthy enough to stand with the others. Pyre gets double points for providing an entertaining basketball-esque sport known as the Rites, while also making it absolutely integral to the story and lore of the game. These mystical matches have two teams of three facing off, as each team needs to grab an orb and use it to douse the other’s flame.
Part of what makes the Rites in Pyre so engaging is the wide breadth of characters you can choose from, each of which have different abilities, speed, and talents. There’s a fair amount of customization here for different strategies, especially as you try to plan against the team composition your opponents have. You desperately want to win the Rites not only for glory and achievement, but also to help your friends, the Exiles, earn their freedom and make their way back to the world. Those stakes are quite a bit higher than your average baseball or basketball game.
3. Blitzball – Final Fantasy X
Another sport tied closely to the story is Blitzball, the crazy underwater version of soccer/rugby in Final Fantasy X. Within the first few seconds of the game you’re introduced to the concept of Blitzball, as well as the main character Tidus, star player for the Zanarkand Abes. Later on in Final Fantasy X you actually get to try your hand at Blitzball, which turns out to be a strategic and challenging underwater sport.
While you don’t have to play too much of Blitzball to progress the story, there’s a lengthy minigame you can undertake with it, playing through entire seasons against other teams. At the same time you’ll be collecting numerous players, training them up, and building the best team you can based on stats, meaning you can spend hours upon hours with Blitzball while you’re distracted from the main story. The very idea of Blitzball is incredibly fun, let alone how deep and complex the sport actually gets in Final Fantasy X. While the game has appeared in Final Fantasy XIV, it’s a wonder we haven’t seen more of it, even a complete spinoff.
2. The Pokemon League – Pokemon
Pokemon may not be the very first thing that springs to mind when you think of sports in video games, but truthfully the Pokemon League, whether in the games or the show, is just one big sporting event. The League is separated into different Gyms you have to take over, while games like Pokemon Stadium or Pokken Tournament fill the stands with throngs of screaming fans there to see which trainer really is the very best. It goes without saying that the core loop of Pokemon, catching and training your monsters up, is incredibly engaging. After all, there’s a reason it’s one of the most successful video game franchises in history.
Really, Pokemon is the ultimate fantasy of setting out on your very own adventure and meeting creatures that become your best friends and your team. Teams are always important, even more so in Pokemon, turning the games into a veritable esport on top of just being a made up one. I mean really, who wouldn’t jump at the chance if Pokemon were real?
1. Rocket League
Rocket League, the car soccer phenomenon that came out of nowhere to become one of the most popular multiplayer games around. At first glance Rocket League may seem like an utterly ridiculous idea, and it is, but it’s one that works oh so well. Tight controls and ridiculous abilities are what make Rocket League play so well, as you rocket boost into the air, drive on walls, and bat the ball around. It’s one seriously challenging sports game that requires skill and finesse, on top of teamwork for multiplayer modes.
Rocket League quickly exploded into popularity, and has only increased over the last two years, becoming a hotly watched esport even. There’s really nothing else out there like this, and the rocket powered matches are thrilling and tense, both to watch and play. There’s no finer imaginary sport than this acrobatic rocket rally.