As much as we treasure our world of lifelike sims and addiction-inducing indie masterpieces, there are a number of sports that are flat-out underrepresented in the current gaming landscape. All of the following sports have seen significant and well received titles in the past. Keeping with the holiday spirit, we at Operation Sports offer a list of desired presents to both our dear readers and developers: five sports we have high atop our wishlist for future releases.
Low-hanging fruit, but day in and day out, basketball fans wonder what the 2K team could do with an NCAA license. Live rosters and classic teams could make an already captivating sport even more thrilling. NCAA Basketball 10 was the final official EA release, which sounds even further away when one realizes that then-Oklahoma Sooner Blake Griffin was the game’s cover athlete. How would arenas and player models look on current consoles? What sort of presumably microtransaction-riddled March Madness mode would exist? eSports and March Madness sure do seem like a match made in heaven. Regrettably, barring some sort of landmark court case resolving player likenesses, basketball fans will just have to dream.
Presumably, wrangling all of the licenses and top stars would be a financial nightmare that few companies would want to undertake. But Mario Tennis and Virtua Tennis pulled off digital tennis so well almost 20 years ago, so why can’t someone today? Even a budget Virtua Tennis entry that allowed for online play and beefed up performance from the previous console generation’s releases would be welcomed. Once upon a time, Virtua Tennis’s World Circuit mode laid a new foundation for career modes with RPG elements. Five years have passed since the most recent major tennis release on modern consoles, leaving an immensely popular international sport in the dust. Tennis World Tour is coming in 2018, which will fill this void presumably.
Everyone loves a good sim, but part of what made WWF: No Mercy and its predecessors so addicting in the early 2000s was the simplicity and depth of the gameplay. WWE’s only releases for current-generation consoles have been the 2K series. The previous console generation saw WWE Legends of Wrestlemania and WWE All Stars, but both games suffered from a lack of replay value. No Mercy still routinely tops “Greatest Wrestling Games of All-Time” lists despite its release 17 years ago. WWE’s focus on its 2K series is understandable, but if done correctly, a budget arcade title could inject new life for the sport. Perhaps even Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling could invest into independent wrestling’s rise in popularity by releasing a No Mercy clone with updated graphics and endless replay value.
As with the aforementioned college sports games, EA had a formidable, somewhat perennial franchise in the form of Fight Night. The series went out with a bang on previous consoles as Fight Night Champion introduced a very dark story to go along with its brutal gameplay. The game earned a Mature rating from the ESRB and showcased a fascinating narrative concept. Unfortunately, EA pivoted towards UFC and left the boxing world behind once modern consoles took over. As with tennis, boxing was captured exceptionally well on classic consoles. Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and Super Punch Out! demonstrated the power of arcade-style boxing games as well. A new crop of boxing stars (we have yet to see a digital Canelo Alvarez or GGG) matches quite well with a new collection of consoles. Here’s hoping that a steady crop of sports deities and boxing legends (and, perhaps once again, the Burger King as your trainer) can grace a new generation yet again.
No surprise here. Recruiting and building a dynastic program was a blast in earlier releases and is still a wholesomely unique franchise-like experience to this day. In addition to daydreaming about what lavish creation suites could exist to bring one of the most popular sports in the United States to life, simply seeing marquee teams and stadiums rendered on a current console would be breathtaking. How about unlockable mascot teams and a College GameDay presentation style? Even if EA’s throw-in experimental mini-game modes such as the brilliant Tug-of-War could come at a hefty microtransaction price today, they still generated an experience that felt completely fresh from the rest of the product.
What sports are on your list?