2. Tecmo’s “Tecmo Super Bowl” on NES (1991)
While “John Madden Football” by EA Sports was laying the groundwork for simulation football success to come, Tecmo found themselves with greatness on their hands during the early 1990s.
“Tecmo Super Bowl” was the unreal follow-up to “Tecmo Bowl.” It featured true 11-on-11 football with every team and virtually every player with several attributes to boot for each. Tossing in its side camera view and extremely unique gameplay made this game one of a kind. It was simulation reality meets the gameplay of the best of arcade.
The game contained seasonal play and this was all the way back in 1991. It kept track of the season statistics. This was unheard of. It even allowed teams to showcase their unique style of offense as the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Oilers and Detroit Lions all showcased a four WR run-and-shoot offense.
Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Thurman Thomas, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders account for just a handful of studs who simply could not be stopped.
Many put Tecmo Super Bowl No. 1 on the list.
1. EA Sports’ “NHL 94” on Genesis, SNES (1993)
Though it was and always will be a tight call, EA Sports’ “NHL 94” tops our list as the greatest sports video game of all-time.
Tecmo Super Bowl brought the sim to football. EA Sports did the same for hockey around the same time during the turn of the decade (the 90s). However, NHL 94’s gameplay and overall feel is something so unique and excellent that it cannot be fully explained.
The players glided. It actually felt like the game was being played on ice. In stark contrast to ’95, which was still a great game, ’94 featured a true hockey-like feel in every sense.
The crowd was real. Each home arena was unique in the way music was played. Even the Sharks in San Jose played the “Jaws” theme song a couple times a game. During each intermission, an in-game look of other live games would take place (if you didn’t possess the patience of a seven-year-old and quickly resume). This in itself was such a groundbreaking feature it’s tough to translate.
The graphics were breathtaking. The one-timer—which would change all hockey games moving forward—was introduced. It was simply amazing.
Though the game didn’t possess a season mode or even trades (as the ’95 copy did), ’94 is, by far, the greatest of a terrific series. Even some of the more recent NHL games are solid. They simply cannot match up with the 1990s attempts.
Even more impressive is that ’94 beats out “NHL 93,” the version in which fighting and bleeding via player injury were fully incorporated.
“NHL 94” is the greatest sports video game of all-time.