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10 Retro Sports Games We Never Stopped Playing

Realistic graphics are great and all, but sometimes the number of pixels or polygons doesn’t mean a better gameplay experience. Honestly, some of the older retro sports games are more fun to play because they rely on ingenuity and design to make the game fun!

So get ready for some nostalgia. Here are ten retro sports games that we never stopped playing. Game on!

10. Tecmo Bowl

Tecmo Bowl

Tecmo Bowl was released as an arcade game in 1987 and ported to NES in 1989. It was the first console game to be licensed by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and feature real players. Tecmo Bowl is considered one of the best sports video games of all time.

Fans today still rave to the real players about their personas in the original Tecmo Bowl and their seemingly superhuman abilities. The unrealistic gameplay, sometimes ludicrous, is at the heart of what made this game addictive and still beloved today. For authenticity, get Madden. But for pure fun, try Tecmo Bowl.

9. WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game

WWF Wrestlemania

WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game was released in 1995. Although based on professional wrestling, the play leans more toward a fighting game. The fast-paced action is simple to control. The cartoonish and outlandish presentation tamped down hyper-concerns over game violence at the time, actually making it more fun.

The attention to detail adds to the realism of WWF WrestleMania. It features real-life promoter Vince McMahon providing commentary, along with Jerry “The King” Lawler. The inclusion of the best superstars at the time truly made it special: Bret “The Hitman” Hart, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Bam Bam Bigelow, Yokozuna, Doink the Clown, and Lex Luger.

8. Punch-Out!!


Punch-Out!!, originally called Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, was released in 1987 and was the first of this boxing series. It’s adapted from the 1984 arcade games. Many consider it one of the greatest video games of all time. It’s the ultimate underdog experience. The gameplay allowed the player to become a master with enough training.

Players of Punch-Out!! play as Little Mac, a young boxer fighting his way up the ranks. Little Mac battles a series of fictional opponents in three circuits and must win the championship in each. Then, Little Mac advances to a “Dream Fight” against Mike Tyson. After licensing with Tyson expired, he was replaced by the fictional character Mr. Dream.

7. Double Dribble

Double Dribble

In its time, Double Dribble was the best basketball simulation game available. The arcade version emerged in 1986 and the NES version in 1987. Realistic detail was given to gameplay, the players, and sound. The action was fast-paced and featured innovative, cinematic slam dunks. Players who mastered the game found the designated hotspots that guaranteed any shot taken went in.

Double Dribble was simple enough to play and addictively entertaining. Players could compete against three computer skill levels or a second player. The game was not NBA licensed, and featured four fictitious teams (Boston Frogs, New York Eagles, Chicago Ox, and Los Angeles Breakers).

6. R.B.I. Baseball

RBI Baseball
Atari Games

R.B.I. Baseball was released in 1987 and was the first console video game to use actual MLB player names, having been licensed by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). It was also one of the first games to release sports titles annually, much like Madden. The gameplay is straightforward, and each player has special abilities, adding depth and replay value.

Not being licensed by the MLB itself, R.B.I. Baseball couldn’t use team names or logos. The eight teams were listed by location, i.e., California. Famous players from non-featured cities, such as George Brett of the Kansas City Royals were only playable on the All-Star teams.

5. Super Dodge Ball

Super Dodgeball
Technos Japan

Super Dodge Ball was released for arcades in 1987, and then on Nintendo in 1989. The original Japanese version had a scene where a passing thug struck Kunio with a dodgeball and his teammates chased after the thug. The North American version removed that plot line.

Super Dodge Ball begins with Chicago versus Dallas to see who will represent the United States in a worldwide tournament. The winner faces off against England, Iceland, China, Kenya, and Japan. Additional options in the NES version are Versus play, a two-player competitive mode. Probably the most fun is Bean ball, a free-for-all mode for one or two players.

4. Excitebike


Excitebike is a 1984 motocross racing game released on arcades and Nintendo in 1985. It also generated X Games vibes a decade prior. The game is a side-scroller but with an almost overhead view. Overall, the game had a low learning curve, making it fun for anyone to play. Later releases were made for Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles, as well as Nintendo Switch Online.

Players race over jumps and obstacles while avoiding using too much speed and overheating their engines. Not landing jumps perfectly causes wipeouts. Experienced players learned the trick of forcing other players to run into the rear of their bikes — which made them crash.

Read More: The 10 Best-Selling Nintendo Games Ever

3. NBA Jam


NBA Jam is the game that kicked off the NBA Jam series. The game got its start as an arcade console in 1993 and was platformed to Super NES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear, and Sega CD. It featured two-on-two basketball. It was one of the first sports games to feature NBA-licensed teams and players, and their real digital likeness.

What made NBA Jam fun to play was its exaggerated nature of play, where players could make extremely high jumps to achieve slam dunks. These human- and physics-defying capabilities and lack of rules and violations (other than goaltending) made for exciting, aggressive play.

2. WWF Wrestlefest

Technos Japan

WWF Wrestlefest is a professional wrestling video game released in 1991, and a sequel to WWF Superstars. This version added a variety of different wrestlers, enhanced graphics, and improved sound. WWF ring announcer Mike McGuirk voiced commentary and pre-match introductions. Announcer Gene Okerlund is featured in the voiced cut scenes.

What makes WWF Wrestlefest a classic is the roster of real WWF wrestlers returning from WWF superstars, including Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, Big Boss Man, and Ted DiBiase. Wrestlefest adds Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Earthquake, Mr. Perfect, Sgt. Slaughter, Demolition Smash, and Demolition Crush. There are also the legendary tag teams of the Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) and Demolition (Smash and Crush).

1. Madden

Electronic Arts

It’s nearly impossible to name which Madden game from this retro series is the best. Starting with John Madden Football in 1988 and running through Madden NFL ’96 before that 32-bit era began — they are all winners. By 1996, Madden was the best-selling sports video game franchise, having sold more than 8 million units overall (at the time).

What makes all the games in the Madden franchise stand out is their realism and attention to detail. Early on, the developers were having trouble, but legendary coach Madden said, “Hey, if there aren’t 11 players, it isn’t real football.” Madden provided realistic plays by giving Electronic Arts (EA) the 1980s Oakland Raiders playbook.