We’re all familiar with the big sports games franchises. FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K, and a couple of others rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year and are played religiously by countless gamers all over the world. In some cases, these titles are even more popular than the sports they’re trying to emulate.
But if you’re like me and you don’t enjoy watching sports, those types of games probably seem very unappealing. No reason to play a football video game if you don’t enjoy watching football, right? I know exactly where you’re coming from, which is why today we’re going to talk about a slightly different brand of sports games.
Similar to pretty much any other genre, sports games come in a wide variety of flavors. For every title that tries to portray sports in a realistic manner, you’ll find several games that take things in a slightly different, and often weird, direction.
With that in mind, join us as we take a look at 15 of the most unusual, funny, and sometimes downright crazy sports games out there.
1. Blood Bowl II
Warhammer games have expanded to pretty much every genre at this point, from RPGs to 4X games and everything in between. Still, a Warhammer-themed sports game would be a bit too much, right? Well, as it happens, one of the very first Warhammer video game adaptations was, in fact, a sports game.
First released back in 1995, Blood Bowl is a football game taking place in the Warhammer Fantasy universe. The original wasn’t all that groundbreaking and Cyanide Studios’ 2009 revival of the game was only slightly better. Blood Bowl II, however, is quite spectacular.
Blood Bowl II features all the brutality you would expect from a Warhammer game but combined with tons of humor and a fantasy football setting. The game has tons of different races you can play us, each with its own unique ways of crushing the skulls and breaking the limbs of their opponents.
A sequel known simply as Blood Bowl 3 is set to launch sometime in 2022.
2. Rocket League
Rocket League is easily one of the most popular sports games out there, so you probably already know what this one is all about. But just in case you don’t, Rocket League is a soccer game where you use cars instead of human players to hit the ball.
If that premise alone wasn’t already weird enough, it’s worth noting that the cars you’re driving are rocket-powered (hence, the name) and capable of doing all sorts of crazy aerial maneuvers. As well as blowing each other up on occasion.
In addition to the regular soccer-themed game modes, there are a few others based on sports like hockey and basketball. Oh, and there’s also a mode where the cars have superpowers. Yes, you read that right.
Despite being more than six years old at this point, Rocket League still has a massive player base and an impressive competitive scene. Moreover, it’s one of the best cross-platform games around and highly addictive, especially if you’re playing with friends.
Less of a game and more of a cruel joke designed to frustrate and enrage players, QWOP is a ragdoll-based browser game where you get to control an athlete bearing the same name. The goal of the game is, for a better description, to simply get QWOP to move forward. In practice, though, there’s nothing simple about that.
In most games, you only need one button to get your character to move forward. Here, you need no less than four – two for his thighs and two for his calves. That’s right, you have to control all that stuff individually. To make matters worse, simply standing still causes QWOP to topple over like a drunk. Getting him to actually run is downright impossible.
For the longest time, I thought this was just a running game. But while doing some “research” for this article I learned that it’s actually a long jump game. Apparently, QWOP needs to run 100 meters and then jump into a pit of sand. Good luck with that! My current record is 3.7 meters.
As a side note, the same guy who made QWOP (Bennett Foddy) also brought us Getting Over It, a game that somehow manages to be even more frustrating.
4. Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions
Captain Tsubasa is a popular soccer-themed manga and anime series that started in the early 80s and is, incredibly enough, still ongoing in various forms even today. Including in video game form. Close to two dozen Captain Tsubasa games were released over the past few decades, many of which never made it outside of Japan.
The most recent entry in the series, Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions, did make it to the west and we’re glad it did because it’s pretty good. It’s essentially still the over-the-top interpretation of soccer we’ve come to know and love, complete with physics-defying movement and reality-defying special attacks. Plus, the graphics are easily miles ahead of any other Captain Tsubasa game.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions came out just last year for PS4, Nintendo Switch, and even Steam. In fact, this is the very first Captain Tsubasa game released on PC so far. Interestingly enough, the PC version ended up getting better reviews than the console ones. Go figure.
5. Sumotori Dreams
This is one of the most obscure sports games out there, and also one of the dumbest. But that’s exactly what makes it so fun. Sumotori Dreams is a ragdoll-based fighting game loosely based on sumo wrestling. I say loosely because it starts off like a match of sumo wrestling before deviating into complete chaos.
In Sumotori Dreams, you take control of a colorful blocky wrestler and have to do your best to push your opponent off the map. At least that’s what the game seems to be about. In reality, you’ll be flailing uncontrollably while trying to figure out how to control your character and occasionally bumping into the other blockman.
The game has several maps, each more ridiculous than the last but the objective is always the same. You can add up to four characters per match but only two of them can be controlled by human players. Unfortunately, there’s no online multiplayer but the game does support Remote Play Together on Steam.
The developer of Sumotori Dreams also made a soccer game called Goofball Goals, which somehow looks even more absurd.
6. Hellish Quart
It’s debatable whether Hellish Quart should even be on the list, but we’re playing things fast and loose with this one so we figured, why not? Hellish Quart is a Renaissance-themed fencing game with realistic physics. It plays just like a fighting game but instead of punching and kicking you do a lot of slicing and stabbing.
The setting alone is quite unique, with Hellish Quart taking place in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the 17th century. Outside of a handful of grand strategy games, you’re unlikely to stumble upon a title that even mentions the PLC.
Pretty much everything in the game is period-accurate, including the weapons, clothing, and even the fencing techniques. Probably the beheadings and dismemberments, too. Hellish Quart can be quite bloody, as you might expect from a game revolving around duels to the death.
Hellish Quart is still in early access as of this writing but the game is already shaping up nicely. If you’re a HEMA enthusiast like me or if you love sword duels but find Olympic fencing boring (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) you’ll definitely want to check out this game.
7. Dead or Alive Xtreme 3
Hate sports but love bikini-clad babes playing beach volleyball? Say no more because we have the perfect game for you right here. Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is less of a sports game and more of an excuse to show female characters from the DoA series wearing as little clothing as possible.
To say that this game is a bit tacky would be an understatement. Most of the promotional material revolves around highlighting jiggle physics and exciting game modes like “butt battle.” There’s also a photo mode that lets you take gravure pictures of characters in a wide range of poses and swimsuits. And yet, somehow all of this isn’t nearly as offensive as Dead or Alive 6 and its 400+ pieces of DLC. But I digress.
Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 might be a dumb game but at least it’s an honest one. If you’re into half-naked digital ladies playing volleyball and doing butt battles on the beach, you won’t be disappointed by what Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 has to offer. Or so I hear. I wouldn’t know from personal experience. *Ahem* Let’s just move on.
8. What the Golf?
What the Golf fits in perfectly with the other sports games on this list considering it markets itself as “the golf game for people who hate golf”. And just like many of the other titles on this list, What the Golf isn’t really a sports game per se.
Best described as a physics-based golf parody, the only thing the game has in common with the eponymous sport is that you have to shoot a thing into a hole. On occasion, that thing is a ball, but more often than not it’s a completely unrelated object like a car or a couch. Sometimes even a human.
What the Golf offers hundreds of levels to complete, each more incomprehensible than the last. If you somehow manage to beat all of them, there’s a level editor that lets you create even more. If you try hard enough, you might even be able to create a level that resembles actual golf. But, then again, why would you?
What the Golf is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, and iOS.
9. Kunio-Kun No Nekketsu Soccer League
Kunio-Kun might very well be one of the longest-running series of video games that (almost) nobody plays. At least in the west. If the name didn’t already give it anyway, Kunio-Kun, or River City as it’s often called in North America, is a Japanese series. The series started in 1986 and includes around two dozen games along with quite a few ports.
Most of the Kunio-Kun games feature a very similar (and very iconic) art style and involve lots of punching and kicking. However, not every installment is strictly speaking a fighting game. In fact, quite a few of them are sports games. You’ve got Kunio-Kun dodgeball, basketball, baseball and, my personal favorite, Kunio-Kun No Nekketsu Soccer League.
If you’re familiar with Captain Tsubasa or Shaolin Soccer you should have a rough idea of what to expect here. It’s a soccer game, but you fight people as you’re playing and everybody has special power shots that transform the ball into strange objects, such as a pencil, a shuriken, or a wiggling banana. Look, I know that sounds ridiculous but trust me, this game is lots of fun.
Excitebike is a retro side-scrolling motocross racing game that few people still remember these days. But since a lot of us around here are old farts, we definitely remember playing this on the NES back in the day. Excitebike was designed by the master Shigeru Miyamoto himself, who later used that same game engine to develop a little series you may have heard of – Super Mario Bros.
Despite its age, this is still a very enjoyable – if somewhat simplistic – game where you race across various tracks while avoiding obstacles and jumping over hurdles. You can race either alone or against three other players and there’s also a game mode that lets you create your own tracks. Pretty basic stuff but sometimes that’s all you need to have fun.
Excitebike was ported to a wide variety of platforms since launch, including the 3DS and Wii U. Moreover, you can even play it on the Switch if you have an online membership. Alternatively, you can simply play it on PC in your browser.
11. Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Zombie Ninja Pro-Am
When a game has a title like that you already know you’re in for something special. Initially released back in 2007 for the PS2, Aqua Team Hunger Force: Zombie Ninja Pro-Am is based on an Adult Swim series about the adventures of three anthropomorphic food items. I know, things keep getting weirder and weirder.
Aqua Teen is sort of a mix between a golf game and a beat’em up with some occasional kart racing thrown into the mix. The basic premise involves fighting giant grabs and other monstrosities on your way to the ball and occasionally squaring off against a boss.
It’s all complete nonsense and the game is overall not very good but, then again, it’s pretty hard to make golf interesting even with anthropomorphic food items and zombies.
If you’re a fan of the series and still own a PS2 you might as well check it out. It does have its fun moments every once in a while.
12. Mutant Football League
Not a big fan of football? Sure, I can see that. But what if instead of human players you had aliens, undead, orcs, mutants, demons, and all sorts of other weird and wonderful creatures? Already starting to sound a bit more interesting, right? Mix that with some toilet humor and tons of gratuitous violence and you’ve got yourself Mutant Football League.
The game is an over-the-top interpretation of football that draws inspiration from the likes of Blood Bowl, NFL Blitz, and its spiritual predecessor, Mutant League Football. Which, amazingly, was developed by Electronic Arts. Remember when EA used to make cool games? Very few people do.
In any case, the contemporary version was made by Digital Dreams Entertainment and came out just a few years ago. Mutant Football League has been overlooked by most people so far but maybe it’s time to change that. You can check out a free demo of MFL on Steam and you can also find the game on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Re-Volt is a cute little game where players get to race around using RC cars. During races, you can find various weapons that can be used to shoot opponents and knock them off the track, not unlike in Mario Kart. However, the tracks here are a bit more unique as you get to race around supermarkets, museums, construction sites, and more while driving your little car.
Re-Volt isn’t nearly as weird as some of the other games on this list, but it is just as fun. Particularly when playing modes like Battle Tag or Clockwork Carnage. There’s also a stunt arena and an editor that lets you customize cars or even create brand new ones using 3D Studio. How many games do you know that let you import assets created using third-party software? I’m guessing not that many.
Despite launching back in 1999 and not being available to purchase on any marketplace, Re-volt still has an active and dedicated player base. Thanks in no small part to the efforts of a handful of gamers who took it upon themselves to put together websites where you can download the game and race against other Re-Volt enthusiasts.
Not just that but the community has been consistently updating this game for two decades now, which is quite an impressive feat.
14. Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball
This one is pretty much what it says on the tin. You’ve got pirates and ninjas playing dodgeball while occasionally also using various powers to spice things up. If you’re not a fan of pirates or ninjas you can instead play as robots or zombies because why not.
Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball was apparently inspired by an internet meme that was popular in the 2000s. I don’t remember that ever being a thing, but Wikipedia says it was, so it must be true. As you might imagine, this isn’t a very good game but you might have a bit of fun with it if you set your expectations very low. And if you don’t look too closely into the storyline.
Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball was only released for the Wii U and Xbox 360 so it might be a bit tricky to get your hands on a copy of it these days. No PC ports or emulators either.
15. Regular Human Basketball
Regular Human Basketball is a party game where you control a giant, vaguely human-looking contraption that uses magnets and rockets to play basketball. I think. I’m not really sure how to describe this one because it’s incredibly weird. But also incredibly fun.
Two giant robots going head-to-head in a game of basketball sounds like a pretty interesting idea in and of itself. But it gets even better. Instead of controlling the machine as a whole, you’re playing as a little human who’s controlling it from the inside. Kinda like in Pacific Rim but with a lot more running around and flipping switches.
You can check out Regular Human Basketball for free on Itch.io. Alternatively, you can check out the enhanced Steam version that comes with a bunch of extra features, including online play.