10 sports video games to keep you sane in self-quarantine

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Ben Bobeck | Senior Staff Writer

There are a wide variety of different sports games that can be played.

By Ben Bobeck, Senior Staff Writer

With nothing but time on your hands and zero motivation for anything school-related, now is the time to unearth that ancient, dust-covered collection of sports video games buried somewhere in your basement. Left behind since you upgraded to that last new console or replaced them with slightly newer but also slightly worse versions, these are some of the best from both today and yesteryear. 

  1. Pixar’s “Cars” the Game

Life is a highway, baby, and there’s no better way to ride than imagining yourself as one of the personified race cars from Pixar’s 2006 CLASSIC film “Cars.” Buckle yourself into the interactive movie-inspired video game from the same year, and you will be blown away by the quality tucked into this open-world racing game. With various game modes both on the track and the backroads of beautiful Radiator Springs, the game delivers an all-encompassing racing experience that you definitely didn’t expect from this movie-inspired title. 

  1. NBA Jam

The two-on-two arcade style game, which you can find playable online, opened the door for these styles of sports games in the mid-’90s. Its hidden abilities, engaging gameplay and easter eggs keep players riveted and always on the edge of their seats. As the years went on, numerous modes and features were added, but the classic is the classic for a reason.

  1. MarioKart

The classic Nintendo racing game never goes out of style. Whether on the Wii, Wii U or classic GameCube, nothing ever gets old about your favorite Nintendo characters careening down Rainbow Road in the midst of a heated, 10th-consecutive running of the Grand Prix. Just be sure watch out for those dreaded blue shells and banana peels on the road. 

  1. 8Ball 

Hidden — or not — inside Apple’s iMessages is one of the most understated and directly interactive pool billiards games available on a mobile platform. 8Ball’s beauty is in its simplicity, ease of access and direct integration into the messaging functionality of your everyday phone. Work your way up to a shark reputation and check out the hard difficulty, which eliminates the ever-helpful guiding lines from your cue ball. If you get bored of billiards, there’s always the free throw, mini-gold or darts modes. You can even get your whole group chat involved in a spirited game of Crazy Eights, which supports at least three players.

  1. Football Manager 2020

If you’re really looking for a game that truly helps pass the time without the inevitable in-game frustrations of, say, EA’s FIFA, look no further than this in-depth soccer managerial experience from Sports Interactive and SEGA. Take the reins at one of thousands of available soccer clubs in the games world or purchase the extra in-game editor for $4.99 for even more abilities, such as editing uniforms, player names and just about every other aspect of your new club that you can imagine. 

When kicking off a new save, you can also take the option to replace a real life club with a name, logo, players and uniforms of your own imagination. Try your hand at managing the vast budgets of a top Premier League or Bundesliga team or find a club buried in the depths of the English leagues to manage all the way up to the big times. The in-depth platform and user interface can be a bit daunting to first-time players, but the helpful tutorials and ability to delegate the more tedious tasks to your staff make things more user-friendly. And if you manage to take American third-tier team Forward Madison FC all the way to the top tier title, you could even receive a personal letter from their real-life manager.

  1. Wii Sports

Strap on your remote, hook up the nunchucks, remake your Miis and return to the wonderful world of Wii Sports. The most basic of Nintendo’s movement-based titles features such classic modes as baseball, boxing and bowling. Good luck getting past Matt though. Alternatively, if you’re looking for more, unearth your copy of Wii Sports Resort. The follow-up Resort edition added more tropical offerings like platform sword fighting, archery, canoeing and wakeboarding, while Wii Fit combined sport-themed gameplay with more total-body movement using the standing sensor pad to make games such as ski jumping and soccer heading.

  1. NFL/FIFA Street

Both the football and futbol Street versions of these sports games from EA bring the classic gameplay to a throwback, street-style game with less players but more fun. The simplistic, old-school gameplay and available rule changes make these editions an easy alternative to the mainstream, yet still great, Madden and FIFA franchises, helping keep things fresh when the big brother games get just a bit too frustrating. 

  1. NCAA Basketball 2009

There is, and for the foreseeable future will remain, a hole in my heart 29.5 inches in circumference. These last few weeks have just not been the same without college basketball. If you need a taste of the good ol’ days — and I mean the real ol’ days when the NCAA allowed video game productions — reach into the back of the closet and brush the dust off your copy of this classic, sporting a Bruin’s blue-and-gold-clad Kevin Love across the cover. If you really want to go for it, follow the internet’s lead and set up a bracket for what could have been in this year’s March Madness tournament.

  1. NCAA Football 2014

There is something about the fact that production of both NCAA games ended so recently that keeps them so fresh in my mind. There is still no game quite like them. The 2014 edition of NCAA Football was the last produced by EA and remains a testament to how good this series was — even with the little glitches that add so much character. 

A new Madden mode with licensed teams in the playoff is a nice reminder, but it’s still not close to the real thing. NCAA played better than Madden does. NCAA felt better than Madden does, and it always will. Starting out in Dynasty mode as a middle-tier offensive coordinator and working your way up to a head honcho Power Five gig is always a good go-to, but don’t neglect the high school to college Road to Glory. And if you really want to get weird, there’s always Mascot mode

  1. Backyard Baseball 2003

There’s simply nothing like it. The 2003 edition of Humongous Entertainment’s baseball edition of its incredible kid-themed Backyard Sports franchise features such legends as Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Johnson and Frank Thomas, among others in their prime, along with backyard icons as Pete Wheeler and, of course, the GOAT Pablo Sanchez. The collective internet brainpower has deciphered a way to run the game, which is now ancient by Internet standards, so set it up, create your own team — I’m going with the black-and-gold-themed Humongous Melonheads — and let the soothing voices of Sunny Day and Vinnie the Gooch settle your stir-crazy mind. 

BONUS: EuroTruck Simulator

Getting a little cabin fever-ish? Spread your virtual wings and unlock the world of European cargo trucking. Yes, that’s right — you may not have pictured yourself as someone who could fall in love with the lifestyle of a virtual trucker, but the race against time to deliver your cargo to its destination on the other side of the continent will suck you in with great graphics and easy gameplay along with a great soundtrack as you drive along.

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