Does Madden NFL 09 Rank Among the All-Time Best?

From the Hardwood to the Gridiron, the Best Sports Video Games Ever Made


Published: August 28, 2008

Once the clock struck midnight on Aug. 12, thousands rushed to participate in what has become an unofficial holiday, the release of “Madden NFL 09.” In its 20-year history, the “Madden NFL” series has broken sale records, spawned cover curse rumors and caused unintentional inner-dorm rivalries throughout the nation. The series has gone through major changes since its early days on the Apple II to become the elite sports video game year in and year out. There is no arguing the significance of “Madden’s” impact on sports video games, but would it rank among the best of the best sports games in history?


5. NBA Jam (Arcade, SNES, Sega Genesis)

The game that gave sportscaster Stuart Scott half of his trademark phrases tops the list at number five. Many quarters were spent at the arcades as players played an addicting yet greatly exaggerated version of two-on-two basketball. The game introduced a style of action-packed yet unrealistic game-play into the mainstream in 1993. The most entertaining aspect of the game may not be in its high-flying dunks, turbo moves, or the privilege to hear the announcer go “Boom-shakalala” after pulling off a ridiculous move. The game allowed the player to foul with reckless abandon. Feel like pushing off a player completing a dunk? Go ahead and push away. “NBA Jam’s” influence can be seen in countless games from “NFL Blitz” to the “NBA Street” series. Above all other things, the game’s just a bunch of fun to play.

4. Wii Sports (Wii)

Some may question why a game released as recent as late 2006 would even be considered in a list of the very best. However, “Wii Sports” has broken both barriers in game-play and social stigmas about video games. Being that the game that was bundled with every Wii purchase, the game was expected to utilize the motion capabilities of the Wii. The game did exactly that, giving players the ability to pitch a ball, shoot off a tee or box their best friend without breaking any noses (intentionally). With its simple controls and its pick-up-and-play ability, the game evolved into a party game for all ages. You can find “Wii Bowling” tournaments going on at slumber parties, bars and nursing homes. Lastly, the game provided potentially awkward situations between loved ones, especially if your grandma laid the smack-down against you in “Wii Tennis.”

3. RBI Baseball (NES)

“RBI Baseball” may not have been the most realistic baseball game ever made. For what it lacked in pre-Super-Nintendo graphics, it possessed in simplistic game-play. Instead of having a three-button system like in most modern baseball video games, “RBI Baseball” used a straight-forward one-button pitch system, using your control pad to control the location and speed. With its simplicity and replay ability, the game laid down the foundation for most baseball games going through from “Baseball Stars” to “MLB Power Pros 2008.” Lastly, the game featured accurate statistics and ratings for eight major league teams from the 1986 season. However, that includes the 1986 World Series teams, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets. Yes, Red Sox fans, Bill Buckner is able to make errors in the game.

2. Mike Tyson’s Punch-out! (NES)

There is only one game where you could legally fight and defeat a famous boxer and convicted rapist without leaving with a black eye and some lost teeth: “Mike Tyson’s Punch-out.” The game took the underdog story and placed it in the arena of boxing. You play Little Mac, a pesky 17-year-old kid from the Bronx, as he attempts to make his little boy dreams come true and have a dream fight against Mike Tyson. The game provided unforgettable characters, entertaining cutscenes, and a great soundtrack. Though uncomplicated in its game-play, “Punchout” provided such a challenge that former players of the game still remember the cheat code to go straight to the final bout as well as their PIN number and their wedding anniversary (007 373 5963). Made in 1987, “Punchout” required players to use rhythm and combinations long before “Dance Dance Revolution” was around.

1. Tecmo Super Bowl (NES, SNES, Sega Genesis)

If “Tecmo Super Bowl” wasn’t as innovative as it was, there would be no “Madden,” period. As the sequel to the successful “Tecmo Bowl,” “Tecmo Super Bowl“ pulled out all the stops possible in 1991, introducing a full season mode with injuries and stat tracking. In addition, “Tecmo Super Bowl” introduced what “Madden” implemented years later: play-book editing. Despite the changes, “Tecmo Super Bowl” didn’t lose the uncomplicated game-play the original game put into place. 17 years later, “Tecmo Super Bowl” tournaments are being held with players wishing for both the cash prize and a Tecmo revival. Without the numerous features “Tecmo Super Bowl” put in place in the early 1990s, “Madden NFL 09” would have never become the “golden calf” of modern sports video games.