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The Absolute Best NES Sports Games of All Time

Nintendo Entertainment System NES

The Absolute Best NES Sports Games of All Time

Sports-themed video games are available on the earliest systems, like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), one of the finest video game consoles in history. Many people continue to play the classic NES games on these gaming consoles. In this article, we will look into the absolute best NES sports games of all time.

What are NES Sports Games?

NES sports games are video games that simulate real-world sports. Players in this kind of game compete against other players or computer-controlled opponents to win championships or other rewards based on their performance in the game. NES sports games are made to be played by a diverse group of individuals, ranging from young children to older people.

Was the NES Known for Sports Games?

Since its release on July 15, 1983, the Nintendo Entertainment System has amassed a vast selection of sports games. On the NES, you could play great games based on nearly every sport, from popular action sports titles like Punch-Out to cherished classics like Blades of Steel.

Now, let’s look at the top ten NES sports games of all time.

#10. Baseball Stars

screenshot of baseball stars NES game
Baseball Stars allows players to create and manage their in-game baseball franchises.

Baseball Stars is a baseball video game developed and published by SNK for the NES console. The game was released in Japan on May 19, 1989, and in North America in July 1989.

This game allows you to create your squad and compete in custom leagues where you have ultimate control over your players. You can hire new players, terminate their contracts, or sell them. The game’s objective is to defeat all opponents and win the championship. Your pitcher can pitch the ball differently, including curve balls, fastballs, off-speed pitches, and sinkers. Batting is also simple and relies heavily on your timing. You can view your current statistics anytime as you play by going to the Standings Menu.

Baseball Stars features a total of 14 teams. The game is highly customizable, as it allows you to create a team, and you can even choose the attributes of your team. You can also start a season and play a mini-league with your local friends. The game also features a 10-run mercy rule in which a game will be called in favor of the team that is up by ten or more runs at the end of any inning. 

#9. Ice Hockey

screenshot of ice hockey NES game
You can play Ice Hockey in both single-player and multiplayer modes.

Ice Hockey is a sports video game developed and published by Nintendo for the NES console. The game was released in North America in March 1988 and the PAL Region on April 15, 1988. Ice Hockey players can enjoy the game’s realistic controls and gameplay as they play against the computer or their friends. 

This game starts with two players facing each other on the rink. Your objective is to hit the black puck into your opponent’s goal using your player’s hockey stick. Each team consists of five players instead of six in traditional ice hockey. You skate on the ice rink using your player’s ice skates as you play. A game consists of three periods, and the team with the most points at the end is the winner. Whenever two players fight for the puck for too long, their teammates join in, and the player from the losing side will be put in the penalty box for a while.

Ice Hockey comes with three player variations: a weak and slim character perfect for a face-off, an averagely abled character, and a slow character who is unable to perform well in a face-off but is ideal in terms of shooting strength and pushing through opponents. The game also features a realistically designed arena consisting of a marked goal line, an attacking/defending zone, and a neutral spot.

#8. U.S. Championship V’Ball

screenshot of US championship v ball NES game

U.S. Championship V'Ball is a beach volleyball video game developed by Technōs Japan Corporation. The NES variant of the game was published by Nintendo and later released in Japan on November 10, 1989, in North America in February 1990, and in Europe on January 23, 1992. U.S. Championship V’Ball allows players to compete in the in-game nationwide volleyball tournament. 

This game allows you to control two game characters, George and Michael, who occasionally earn a living by playing beach volleyball. You can handle both players individually, play with a teammate, or compete by choosing opposite sides. In the Tournament Mode, you can compete in the nationwide volleyball tournament and win the prize for being the best volleyball team.

US Championship V’Ball features several characters who typically come in pairs. You can play with either George and Murphy, Al and John, Billy and Jimmy, or Ed and Mike. Additionally, the game features three competition modes: Exercise Mode, American Circuit and World Cup. The game is available in both single-player and multiplayer modes.

#7. Ring King

screenshot of Ring King NES game
The more boxing matches you win, the stronger your character becomes.

is a boxing game developed by Neue Design and Jastec for the NES console. The game was later published by Woodplace in Japan on June 19, 1987, and by Data East in North America on September 1987. Ring King players can enjoy rising through the ranks to become the in-game world champion.

The player takes control of a boxer in this game. You aim to become the world champion by defeating your opponents. Numerous offensive and defensive maneuvers are available, and special attacks can be toggled. Your player’s attributes are determined by punch, stamina, and speed. When you win a match, you are rewarded with power points, which you can use to improve your player’s vital attributes, such as stamina, and overall skills.

Ring King features a two-player mode in which two opponents can compete against one another and a one-player mode in which you play against the computer. Additionally, you can select from the three different game modes. The Training mode allows you to improve your skills, whereas the Ranking mode allows you to choose between the Rookie, World, and Japan championships and play them at up to five different degrees of difficulty. The Tournament mode will allow you to compete against various opponents to become the world champion.

#6. Excitebike

screenshot of Excitebike NES game
Finishing in the top three guarantees

you

a position in the Excitebike Championship Race. 

Motocross racing fans have a reason to smile with the development of the Excitebike. The game was made and published by Nintendo for the NES console. The game was launched in Japan on November 28, 1984, in the USA on October 18, 1985, in Canada on February 3, 1986, and in Europe on September 1, 1986. 

To play Excitebike, you control a motocross bike in a side-scrolling game. The game comes with two gameplay modes, Selection A and B. In Selection A, you play solo, while in Selection B, you play against the AI. Your objective is to finish first, second or third in a race.

Excitebike is customizable with the new advanced Design mode, allowing you to create tracks and incorporate the 19 hurdles available. The game also features a turbo boost which will increase your speed. However, using this feature will overheat your engine, rendering you immobile. On the track, there are unique arrows that you can use to cool your engine. Excitebike may be played in both Single Player and Multiplayer modes.

#5. Double Dribble

screenshot of double dribble NES game
When playing Double Dribble, you have control over five players in your basketball team.

Double Dribble makes it possible to enjoy arcade basketball on the NES console. Konami developed and published the game, with the NES variants being released at different times depending on regions.

Your team either plays against the AI or another team controlled by a second player. The game begins like a regular basketball game, where the referee throws the ball at the center of the court. Your objective is to score as many points as possible and beat your computer or opponent before the time limit elapses. Winning a game earns you an extra minute; the more games you play, the more difficult they become. 

Double Dribble comes with various characters, each having a different speed, jump height, and speed. You can choose from four teams, each with similar skills and abilities. They include L.A. Breakers, Chicago Ox, New York Eagles, and Boston Frogs. These teams wear jerseys that look similar to the ones worn by NBA teams. The game features Hotspots in its gameplay, where you are highly likely to take a shot and score. The game occasionally highlights special events like dunks and shots.

#4. Tecmo Super Bowl

screenshot of Tecmo Super Bowl
The game follows a typical NHL season.

Tecmo Super Bowl is an NES game developed and published by Tecmo. The game was released in Japan and North America in December 1991. The NFL licenses the game, guaranteeing football enthusiasts real player names and teams. 

While playing this game, you can access rosters with up to 30 players. A team is made up of eleven defensive players and seventeen offensive players. Additionally, the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are included in the playoffs. Similar to its predecessors, the gameplay is arcade-like. This game highlights significant occurrences such as scores, impressive plays, and injuries. Your objective is to compete with other teams and win the season. If you are playing using one of the two available Pro Bowl teams, you can adjust your offensive formations and do some substitutions. The game also allows editing the team’s roster.

Tecmo Super Bowl comes with more advanced features. Each games starts with a new coin toss. Other features include quarters that last for five minutes, timeouts to avoid ten-second runoffs, data enumeration, NFL records for each season, and custom playbooks featuring eight. You can play this game in single-player and multiplayer modes.

#3. Blades Of Steel 

screenshot of blades of steel NES game

In this game,

each player will have control over multiple attack moves.

Blades of steel is an ice hockey game that was developed and published by Konami for the NES. The release dates of this sports game were different region-wise, with North America having access to the game in December 1988 and the PAL region on November 23, 1990. You can play Blades of Steel to experience how it feels to play in a classic NHL-based game. 

This game is playable in either Exhibition mode or Tournament mode. In Exhibition mode, you play a single game against the AI, whereas in Tournament mode, you play matches similar to those in the NHL playoffs. If two players collide while playing this game, they can battle. If the fight is one-sided, the victim will receive a punishment, but if both players participate, automatic controls will be disabled. The loser is the player who takes five hits and gets penalized. 

Blades of Steel features eight teams from both Canada and the US. Each of these teams is based in cities that housed an NHL team during the game’s development period. Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Montreal are the four cities in Canada, while the four cities in the US include Chicago, New York, Minnesota, and Los Angeles. The new Shoot Out feature helps determine the winner in a tied game. Blades of Steel comes in both Single-player and Multiplayer configurations. 

#2. Pro Wrestling 

screenshot of pro wrestling NES game
You win a round by pinning a downed opponent for three counts.

Pro Wrestling is a fighting game developed and published by Nintendo for the NES console. The game was released in North America in March 1987 and later in  Europe on September 15, 1987. Being the third wrestling game on NES, wrestling fans can enjoy the great experience Pro Wrestling offers. 

Before starting a Pro Wrestling match, you have to select a character. There are six different wrestlers to choose from. After selecting a character, you enter the ring with your opponent. Players can perform kick attacks, running attacks, or even lock up their opponent to perform professional wrestler moves like body slams. You can also make a high-flying attack after climbing on top of the corners. You can also leave the ring so long as you beat the referee’s 20-count, or you will lose the round. Single Player matches last for five minutes, and if there is no winner after this period, the match is declared drawn. 

Pro Wrestling takes the sport to the next level by introducing an in-game referee. The referee can be seen making a count whenever a downed player is pinned, and the referee’s position can determine whether a downed player can break out of a pin. The game also comes with a ringside cameraman who doesn’t necessarily get involved in the fight, but it is an exciting feature. The game comes in single-player and Multiplayer Modes, each featuring a set of different characters, including Fighter Hayabusa, Star Man, Kin Corn Karn, Giant Panther, King Slender, and The Amazon.

#1. Punch-Out!!

screenshot of Punch Out NES game
You can choose from several circuits, each with a different number of fighters.

Punch-Out!! is a sports video game that Nintendo developed and published for the NES console. The game was launched in North America on August 2, 1990, and Europe on August 15, 1990. Punch-Out!! is a great boxing game that sees the player rise through the World Video Boxing Association ranks.

In this game, you control Little Mac, who meets a variety of opponents in each of the three accessible primary circuits. Your objective is to emerge victorious from the Dream Fight final, in which you will face a formidable opponent. You will employ jabs, punches, and uppercuts to defeat your opponents with your assault moves. You can use uppercuts once you have earned a star by hitting many successful blows. However, there are a maximum of three available stars. You may also defend yourself by ducking, avoiding, or using a shield to deflect the attack.

The new Punch-Out edition comes featuring many characters who feature different stats. Some of these characters include Glass, Joe, Punch-Out!!, King Hippo, and Dragon Chan. The game also has a heart counter that decreases when a player is attacked and remains full if the player avoids their opponent’s blows. You can play the Minor Circuit, Another World Circuit, Major Circuit, or World Circuit. However, the game only comes in single-player mode.

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Last update on 2024-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions

Is NES better than Gameboy?

Some think the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was better than the Gameboy, simply because it was more advanced and had more games. The NES had more options for games, like sports and fighting games, as well as RPGs.

What is the maximum number of players you can have on the NES?

The NES supports a maximum of four players with the NES Four Score, but most games only support two players.

What is the NES Super Score?

The NES Super Score is an adapter that Nintendo sold which could connect up to four controllers to the NES for certain multiplayer games.

What is the rarest NES game of all time?

Super Mario Bros. (Test Launch Version) is the rarest NES game of all time. The only known still-sealed copy of the “test launch” version of Super Mario Bros. sold for $140,000 in 2019, and some suspect the game could go for close to $1,000,000 if it was sold on the current market.

Why is the NES so important?

The NES was one of the best-selling consoles of its time, and it was instrumental in the recovery of the United States video game industry from the video game crash that occurred in 1983. It was a pioneer in a business model that is now widespread, which is to grant third-party developers licenses to produce and sell games.

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