Table of Contents:
Best Sports Game

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Boxing has been around since the dawn of video games. So why do so many people remember this classic over the others? Probably because it rules! The first game to feature boxers with real personality, young Little Mac (who is such a wuss that he wears a shirt in the ring) has to face off against such eccentrics as hunky Super Macho Man, mysterious Don Flamenco and the rotund King Hippo. Each fighter, including Tyson himself at the end, has special improbable moves (including Bald Bull's Bull Charge attack and Flamenco's uppercut barrage) that Mac has to counter with the variety of basic punches he has at his disposal. In-between rounds, the fighters exchange such witty banter as "Do you like my new trunks? They are size XXX large! Ha, ha, ha!" If only real boxing was so interesting. Tyson's NES game has aged far better than the beleaguered boxer himself. 

Runners up:

Tecmo Bowl

The NES' library is chock full of genre definers, and the sports field is no exception. Video football's been popular ever since the 2600 days, but it took Tecmo Bowl for the possibilities to truly be realized. Most previous games erred on the side of either fast action or deep strategy; Tecmo Bowl hit the mark dead-on, with only four different plays and full control over all 11 of your players. Most importantly, the game moved fast, allowing two players to have a blast shooting through several NFL matchups in one sitting. The sequel, Tecmo Super Bowl had extra coach and season modes and is still played today in colleges across America. Not bad.

Super Dodge Ball

Anyone who's played this game before remembers it instantly--how many other titles do you know that simulate dodgeball deathmatches like Super Dodgeball? Playing the captain of the six-man US Dodgeball Team, you have to defeat eight international teams, climaxing in a decisive battle against the fearsome Russians. You might have played this game in elementary school, but I doubt you could do the special moves these players can--hooks, curveballs, even funky inviso-balls that reappear just before they slam you in the face. Sports games should all be this funky. 

Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey satisfies all three rules of classic sports games: the title is the same as the sport it simulates, the rink is shown from an overhead view but the players are drawn from the side, and the crowd consists of patterns of people who flash colors whenever a goal is scored. If you don't let that bother you, you'll find a great multiplayer game that has a reputation for starting fights around the office. Real NHL players? Substitutions? Pulling the goalie? As if! The only hint of strategy in Ice Hockey is the ability to choose the size of your four players, balancing your team between speed and checking power. The right combination (one of our favorites is one skinny dude and three fat guys) can spell success and victory against the Russians in the championship. Realistic? No. Fun? Yes! 

Baseball Stars

SNK's foray into the extremely crowded world of NES baseball (with over a dozen different offerings) was the first to offer a real owner/manager mode, allowing you near total control over your team. You can still play good ol' arcade baseball if you want, but the League mode, which hands you a decrepit team (or your own custom-made one) and some dough and challenges you to win the pennant in a simulated season, is near legendary in NES circles. Throughout the season, you'll get the chance to trade and get rid of players, as well as buy new talent from the draft pool. As the season wears on, your players will fall into streaks and slumps, and you'll have to decide who stays and who takes a walk to balance your budget. The game gets pretty easy once your players are powered up, making Baseball Stars accessible to nearly everyone. Nice. 

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My Two Cents:
"Mike Tysonís Punch-Out!! over Tecmo Bowl and Super Dodge Ball? It is 
a sad, oh so very sad moment to be a editor when glue sniffers are allowed to vote in our polls."

Stephen Kleckner
Previews Editor

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