With the Super Bowl flying by like a bull in a china shop, I’d like to take a look back at all the games that took the concept of sports and kicked it up a notch. The 80’s and 90’s brought us an interesting twist to Sports games. With the popularity of arcades, developers had to make their games as extravagant as possible to get people coming back and using up all their quarters playing their games. Some games decided to add robots, others cavemen, but the formula remained the same for a while, make it as crazy and as fast paced as possible. As time moved into the new age, however, this idea would slowly start to fade with the demand of realism from developers
Transitioning to the early 2000’s and you start seeing less of this idea of Over The Top sports games, but some key examples still remain. Such as Super Mario Strikers, Nintendo’s over the top, high flying soccer game released in 2005. Another example, but also trying to inject a bit of a more realistic tone was NBA Street, at least the first one. NBA Street, for its time, had realistic graphics, suggesting that is was going for a more realistic experience with Basketball, until you get what the game calls a gamebreaker. With a gamebreaker, you can perform a high flying dunk worth way more points than a regular dunk.
The gamebreaker dunk also had a nice little explosion when the character hit the rim, breaking the hoop if the points gained from said gamebreaker are enough the finish the game. Unfortunately, like all video game trends, they tend to disappear completely and for a time this was the case, until about July of 2015, when an explosive, high flying, over the top soccer slash bumper cars hybrid indie game known as Rocket League.
On July 7, 2015, Indie developer Psyonix studio released Rocket League to the gaming masses gaining critical praise. The premise of the game is that you play not as a famous soccer player or a rookie trying to get his name noticed in the soccer world, but rocket powered cars, with one goal in mind, get the massive soccer ball into the opponents net. The way to do this is rather difficult as it is a multiplayer game and it’s physics-based. Most games of Rocket League last about an average of five minutes.
That’s five minutes of rocket cars flying through the air and performing side rolls or front flips to flick the ball into the net, in which you are rewarded with a nice explosion when the net is completely in the net, knocking back all players from the ball. A tactic I’ve seen in this game is to rocket boost deliberately at an opponent to make their car explode, taking them out of the action for a few moments to allow your team the upper hand. At the time of writing this, the game is only out on the PC and PlayStation 4, but this month Xbox One players are going to get the chance to experience Rocket League for the first time and they couldn’t be more excited about an Over The Top Sports Game.
As time goes on and sports gaming become more and more a race for realism, I look back and miss the days of the over the top mentality of sports games. As amazing as these realistic games are now, nothing excited me more than an explosion of colors when I made a touchdown or scored a goal or when I crossed a finish line. Hopefully, with the popularity of Rocket League, AAA developers will see that this genre of sports games still has a place in modern gaming and it would be a welcomed return to form. People love extravagance and nothing is more extravagant then an explosion in a sports game.