Top 10 Sports Anime Games [Best Recommendations]

Ever since the late 80’s and early 90’s, the sports gaming genre has been quite consistent in releasing titles that really demonstrate quality and performance. From classics like Blades of Steel for the NES, to the more funnier casual titles like NFL Blitz and Mutant League, the sports genre brought enjoyment and still continues to do so present day. Now you have the likes of EA releasing strong AAA titles like the popular Madden franchise, along with the competitive FIFA brand, and we simply can’t forget Nintendo’s array of stellar sports titles. Whatever your desired sport, there’s always something out there for you to sink your teeth into and play for hours on end. We’ll be taking a look at some of the more anime centric sports titles and see which one makes its way to the top spot.

10. Auto Modellista 2

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 2, Nintendo Gamecube, Xbox
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: August 22, 2002

Auto Modellista 2 is racing game for the PlayStation 2 that’s pretty much the Gran Turismo of anime, and does a splendid job of staying true to the car designs themselves. Some games like to take the designs of cars over the edge, but the awesome thing about Auto Modellista 2 is that it maintains enough realism to drive you into playing more, while its unique artistic style is visually pleasing. This was Capcom’s attempt in creating a distinctive racing game that stood out from the rest, while implementing some of Capcom’s charm to make the gameplay experience rewarding.

Auto Modellista 2 is perhaps another sleeper title from the PlayStation 2 library and it comes with reason, considering that the PlayStation 2 had such a plethora of insanely remarkable titles that it felt overwhelming at times to choose what game to play. If you’re a fan of racing then this title should be one to try out because while Gran Turismo and other popular titles do hog the spotlight, Auto Modellista 2 still has its own distinctive appeal that can’t be ignored.


9. Snowboard Kids 2

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 64
  • Publisher: Atlus
  • Developer: Racjin
  • Release Date: February 19, 1999

Snowboard Kids 2 was one of those sleeper titles that nobody really paid much attention to in the beginning, but then as you look back at the Nintendo 64 era you realize what a true gem it was. Unlike 1080 Snowboarding and Twisted Edge which both followed a more mainstream and simulated approach to the sport, Snowboard Kids 2 took everything you loved from Mario Kart and threw it into this one crazy package bursting with fun. The characters in the game were drawn in a very goofy manner but it fit so well with the game entirely because quite frankly, the game was very much a quirky game to begin with.

Snowboard Kids 2 wasn’t supposed to be that in your face, realistic experience but rather it was meant to remind you of just how fun being a kid was and not caring about what anyone thought. You’re thrown into this very fantasy-esque world that’s totally far from the norm, with every stage filled with snow and glittering lights that’s wacky yet endearing. As you race down the slopes shooting weapons at your opponent to overtake them, you’re constantly reminded of just how great it was to own a Nintendo console because Snowboard Kids 2 was something you couldn’t get anywhere else but on the N64.


8. Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational

  • System/Platform: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Clap Hanz
  • Release Date: December 17, 2011

Mario Golf was surely a title that stood out as one of the more satisfying golf titles, but Hot Shots Golf just had the extra spunk that gave it the upper hand. Perhaps it’s the beautifully designed courses or maybe it’s the relaxing ambience. Whatever it is, Hot Shots Golf is one golf game that is full of thrill and excitement as you strategically try to score hole in ones and avoid falling into the sandpits.

Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational takes just about everything you loved from its past iterations, and presents incredibly new exciting courses along with fun modes to keep you hooked for hours. That’s the beauty of the sports genre when compared to others, in that it truly doesn’t single anybody out and just about anybody can pick up and have a blast. Hot Shots Golf: Invitational is challenging, invigorating, and truly a game that can transform any bad day into a spectacular one.


7. Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 3
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Games
  • Release Date: December 11, 2014

Hajime no Ippo is an award winning anime series that follows the life of Makunouchi Ippo, who had rough beginnings until he was introduced to the world of boxing which changed his entire life forever. Ever since diving into the gym to refine his skills, Makunouchi grew to become a champion in his weight class and still continues to defend that title in the ongoing manga series. Perhaps some of you may not know that the series did see some video game releases, all of which were fantastic renditions of the series.

Hajime no Ippo: The Fighting follows much of the story from the manga and takes you on an adventure through the tough boxing circuit to ensure Makunouchi retains the title and shines in the ring. All of the best matches are included in the game, such as facing off against the fierce and passionate Volg Zangief, to the epic battle between Ippo and Takeshi Sendo. Fight your way through all of the epic matches that made the series so popular and see if you can rewrite history in the world of Hajime no Ippo!


6. Mario Tennis

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 64, Gameboy, Nintendo Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: July 21, 2000

If there’s one thing that Nintendo does a splendid job of when it comes to games, it’s creating games that speak to just about everybody. Mario Tennis is a golden title from the Nintendo 64 that took all of our beloved Nintendo characters and threw them all onto the tennis court for some extravagant fun. While other prominent titles like Sega’s Virtua Tennis stood at the forefront of bringing a realistic experience to the sport, Mario Tennis stripped all of that realism away and created a world that was truly a blast to play.

Every serve that you hit was uniquely different from each character, and the quirky animations that came along with it made Mario Tennis stand out on its own. Throw in the multiplayer experience that Nintendo is so notable for and you have a sports title that not only is family friendly, but a genuinely entertaining title. In spite of various sequels being released, nothing could ever come close to the original because it introduced new ways of playing Tennis, while still retaining the finer aspects of what makes the sport shine.


5. Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sumo Digital
  • Release Date: November 16, 2012

The racing genre does tend to make up a large chunk of the sports gaming environment, but perhaps there’s a great reason for that. These games allow multiple players to take part in a thrilling experience, while also being able to race through various beautifully designed environments for the eyes to admire. Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed is just one example of a title that incorporates both an extremely enthralling experience, tied with very colorful environments to just immerse yourself in. You’ve got a large cast of Sega inspired characters, all taking to the race course to see who can make it on on top. This is certainly Sega’s answer to Nintendo in terms of a go kart experience, and it truly does a wonderful job of standing out on its own with unique features. Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed is the one title anybody can enjoy for hours, and never grew tired of all the quirky weapons you can use to blast your opponents away.


4. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5DX Plus

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
  • Developer: Bandai Namco Games
  • Release Date: December 9, 2016

Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5DX Plus is the latest in the popular Wangan Midnight franchise, that’s pretty much the main competitor to that of Initial D Arcade Stage. Both games demonstrate a very fast paced and immersive street racing experience, but while Initial D Arcade Stage takes to the mountains, Wangan Midnight takes place around the popular Tokyo Bay. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5DX Plus truly feels more like a street race but with a more upbeat tempo compared to the more straight laced and simulated Initial D.

One area that Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune shines in is its truly diverse car selection along with a solid story to keep players engaged as they play. 5DX Plus also introduces more recent street racing vehicles into the fray such as the Lamborghini and the prototype NSX, that’s truly a gem to both race in and stare at for hours. With a handful of courses to choose from, all of which are impressive replications of the Tokyo Expressway and more, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5DX Plus is one title you definitely want to buckle up to, and race your way to the top spot.


3. Initial D Arcade Stage 8

  • System/Platform: Arcade
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega
  • Release Date: July 17, 2014

Initial D really drew a lot of its popularity from the anime series and to this day is arguably one of the most talked about (and memed) anime out there. What make this series such a remarkable one is that it incorporated not only an incredibly impactful story about a young man with a purpose, but included some of the best eurobeat music to match the intensity of what transpired throughout each race. Your blood pumped and adrenaline rose as you watched Takumi and Project D race across Japan to become the best out there.

Now we have all of that hype and speed in arcade form and boy does it feel good to play. Initial D Arcade Stage 8 is the most recent title out of the Arcade Stage series, with plenty of visual upgrades and gameplay fixes to make any die hard fan jump for joy. With the eurobeat music blasting from each side as you seat in the racing chair, you feel immersed in the Initial D universe as you compete against other racers across Japan to see who the true king or queen of the mountains are. This is one experience you don’t want to miss out on especially if you’re into JDM cars, street racing, or just Initial D in general. If you simply can’t make it out to Japan to play this title, there’s always Initial D Extreme Stage for the PlayStation 3 as well.


2. Super Punch Out!

  • System/Platform: Super Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo IRD
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: September 14, 1994

Nintendo truly dominated the 90’s era of video games because it pretty much had a strong hold on all the major developers back then. While Sega was surely a formidable foe, Nintendo just had so many heavy hitters that it was hard to ignore. While the Sega fan in us weeps a tear while writing this, we can’t help but admit that pound for pound Nintendo came hard with some fantastic games and one of those was Super Punch Out! This classic title still makes waves today despite being well over 20 years old and it’s due to its thrilling and challenging gameplay.

You star as Little Mac, a rookie boxer that’s hungry to make a name for himself in the big leagues and so you make your way into the circuit to take out any foe who stands in your way. With the help from your coach and a little timing on your end, Super Punch Out! is a game that tests your patience, but rewards you splendidly with an experience that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Every boxer you encounter comes with their own quirky personality, which makes the fight even more satisfying as you pummel them into the ground and watch their funny animations.


1. Mario Kart 64

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: December 14, 1996

The N64 had so many fantastic sports titles that truly deserve a spot on this list, but none stand out more than Nintendo’s legendary Mario Kart 64. Racing its way onto the scene back in 1992 for the Super Nintendo, the Mario Kart series has seen countless sequels all of which come with new features that only create a positive long lasting impression. While we’re dedicated fans of Diddy Kong Racing and it’s extremely wonderful cast of cute characters along with a stellar soundtrack, Mario Kart 64 just had this aura that you couldn’t really explain but knew once you played it, you were hooked for hours.

This was the game that really took kart games to the next level and really stayed in its own lane in terms of creativity, fun factor, and overall character diversity. Mario Kart 64 was that type of game that would draw attention simply by its name only, and didn’t require a long explanation as to why one should play it. If you had friends over this was the title everyone would reach for, because it created not only a friendly competitive experience, but moreso a social environment where you all could come together and share your passion about the things you love.


Final Thoughts

We did mention Diddy Kong Racing in the earlier paragraphs, but it’s such a classic title that it deserves more praise. Let’s not forget Mario Golf, Super Mario Strikers, Ready to Rumble Boxing, and a load of other brilliantly crafted sports titles that simply can’t be ignored. The sports genre will still continue to unload a ton of titles year after year which is splendid if you’re a fan, so we hope to see more diversity in the genre. With more recent titles like Steep showing us how impressive extreme sports can be, it’s safe to say that sports will not be dying out anytime soon. Let us know which sports anime games you enjoyed in the comments down below!

As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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