When it comes to video games, fiction has a huge role to play.
Of course, there are games like Skyrim, which play like a good fiction story. Elements of Bethesda’s classic could be likened to Game of Thrones, with a power struggle in a fantasy world playing out in front of your eyes. However, even games based on realism rely a little on fiction or your ability to create your own.
Sports games are a great example of this. In real life, sports stories are often described as stranger than fiction, especially when massive underdogs go on to win big. Think about the Cincinnati Bengals; according to Bleacher Report they were the worst team in NFL a couple of years ago but made the Super Bowl this season.
Ok, so they were the underdogs in the betting odds on Coral going into the game, but they were still one of the two best teams in the US in 2021. So would it be so strange to see them go on and complete the story next season? It would be classed as a “story you couldn’t write” if they did.
Sports video games are sold on the belief you can write that sort of story yourself. How many Bengals fans have already won Super Bowl by playing through Madden 22 on their home consoles? How many have created characters based on themselves and become NASCAR champion or the US Open winner? Plenty, because even reality needs a little fiction.
However, the truly outstanding sports titles that often slip through the cracks are those that write a fictional story and package it as a sports title. There have been some wonderful examples in recent years, but here is our all-time top three alternative sports video games.
If you’re a gamer of a certain vintage (over 40), then you’ll likely remember this classic from the Bitmap Brothers. Speedball 2 was based on a futuristic sport not unlike football, where two teams battled for supremacy on the court. It was brutal in the extreme; the team you were given control of were even called Brutal Deluxe. The game pushed the boundaries of technology available at the time, with a great soundtrack and advanced gameplay. It even created a great narrative around the sport. It’s definitely one we’d love to see remade in the future, with the benefit of cutting-edge gaming technology.
If you’re a gamer of a certain vintage (déjà vu), then you may have spent your younger years fantasizing over ideas for games. Imagine someone telling you that you could take part in a game of soccer, but with cars powered by rockets that bashed a huge ball all over the place, set against a thumping soundtrack. It wouldn’t surprise you, sitting in front of your late eighties’ television screen, to know the game would become so popular it even turned into an eSport. Welcome to Rocket League!
100ft Robot Golf
When it comes to stretching disbelief within the sports game world, little can compare to 100ft Robot Golf. After all, many great works of fiction have theorized what the future might hold; this game just takes it to a different level. This isn’t a golf sim with mechanical protagonists, though. No, it is very much anti-golf, featuring destructive environments and a task to complete the hole the quickest, not channel your inner Tiger Woods. They say real life can be stranger than fiction, but if you ever see a 100ft robot smashing up a golf course trying to finish in record time, we’ll be very surprised. Even the Bengals in a Super Bowl final isn’t as strange as that.