The 5 Best Sports RPGs
There are many sub genres of RPGs out there, and it seems like more and more of them are attempting to incorporate RPG elements as core mechanics. A prime example comes in the form of the modern sports game. Most franchise games – from Madden to FIFA – include a career building mode in which the player creates his or her own athlete and then progresses their attributes and experience throughout, until an ultimate level of success is attained.
I love a good sports RPG, and the Switch is already home to a couple of great ones. This sub genre was more or less responsible for introducing me to RPGs as a kid, and I still get excited when another one is announced. After some influence from fellow SwitchRPG writers, I’ve decided to present you with a list of the greatest sports RPGs EVER created! (Note: For the sake of the genre, sports franchise games that feature career builder will NOT be included.) HERE. WE. GO!
5. Golf Story
Sidebar’s quirky golf/ adventure RPG managed to borrow influence from some greats with its golfing mechanics, but the rest of the game felt like one of the more unique gaming experiences I’ve ever had. From the moment you set foot into Wellworn Grove it becomes very clear that Golf Story doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the game truly thrives on this premise. You’ll find yourself laughing almost as much as your actual time spent playing golf itself. Courses are wildly varied and utilize some gorgeous color palettes. Golf Story is the most aesthetically pleasing retro style game on the Switch, other than Octopath Traveler. Disc Golf aside (grrrr), Golf Story is still one of the best releases the Switch has seen to date.
4. Inazuma Eleven (DS)
For anyone that has ever played Soccer, you realize, after a while, that it is a thinking man (or woman’s) game. Every dribble or pass should be carefully thought out and executed in order to get the ball in prime position for the best shot at the goal.
What a stroke of genius it was to put this in video game format, alongside some teenage angst and a touch of competitive banter. Inazuma Eleven allows the player a chance to plan out a player’s actions before they happen by using turn based AND strategy RPG mechanics. If you haven’t tried a game in this series, you’ll be surprised at just how addicting they can be.
3. Legend of the River King
One of the many Game Boy RPG classics – reviews for River King are all over the place but I’ve yet to meet someone that didn’t at least enjoy it a little bit. You set out on an epic quest to catch a legendary fish that will, hopefully, provide a cure for your ailing sister. The story is solid, providing a great excuse to explore the game’s multiple lakes, streams and rivers while catching many different species of fish with various lures along the way.
The Legend of the River King also offers the player a really neat Pokémon-like mechanic in which you’ll catch a baby fish and raise it in your aquarium. The job doesn’t come without responsibility however, as you’ll have to care for them well, else the fate of a Tamagotchi could befall your aquatic friend. You can read more about why we need to see The Legend of the River King on Switch in Ben’s article here.
2. Jade Empire
Wait, Tim! KARAtE ISnT ReAlLy a SpoRt! Well…as a regular viewer of ESPN 8 “The Ocho”, as well the occasional 3AM segment on ESPN 2, I beg to differ! This gem from BioWare allowed the player to switch between 3 karate styles on-the-fly while unraveling an unforgettable tale of power and deception. It included the typical BioWare fanfare, such as branching dialogue and multiple romance options. The game STILL has more than a cult following, and there are legions of fans that want to see the series return to the modern era (myself included).
1. Mario Golf
This is where it all began – Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color had it all: the mechanics of a great golf game, player progression that unlocked new courses, equipment, and numerous opponents. Courses were so unique and memorable, and in typical Mario Sports game fashion, each course offered secrets and shortcuts that were rewarding to discover and exploit. There have been many iterations of Mario Golf since this original release, but none of them have captured that same sense of progression found in the original.
Mario Golf saw a brand-new release on the 3DS eShop a few years ago, and it was as if the game still “fit right in” as a newer retro-styled indie release. The addiction factor was still there after all these years, and I still find myself playing through the game every now and then. That’s why it’s the #1 Sports RPG of all time, and I truly hope it finds its way back to the Switch eShop soon!
What do you think? Did we forget a game? Did we discount one that you think should have been rated higher? Let us know in the comments.