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If you are reading this article and you are on this website, then chances are at some point in your life you have played a video game or two. There is also a fair chance that if you have indeed played video games, you’ve played at least one or two sports titles in your lifetime. There are a ton of great sports games out there, from the Madden franchise to FIFA and a great sports game can really be a lot of fun to play. Heck, you could get so absorbed playing Madden franchise mode that you look at the clock and realize that you’re suddenly 32 years old and still living at home.
But that’s neither here nor there, because we’re here to talk about a, well, different kind of sports video game. Every now and then a video game company will try to come up with something a little more, shall we say, “original” than what you might be used to. Needless to say, “original” is usually a codeword for “bizarre and horrendous” when it comes to sports video games.
Back in the early 1990’s, sports fans were caught up in the whirlwind of excitement that was Shaquille O’Neal. The Diesel had just recently burst onto the scene in the NBA, and the towering behemoth was not only shattering backboards seemingly every other week, but he was doing his best even then to become a larger than life personality both on and off the court. Apparently not content to just embarrass himself with an ill-fated acting career, in which he unleashed crap like Steel and Kazaam upon an unsuspecting public that chose to look past those and love him anyway, but he also put his name on one of the most ridiculous and horrible video games of all-time. We are, of course, talking about Shaq Fu.
The concept came about, we’re guessing, because someone found out that in real life Shaq actually studied martial arts while growing up, and thought it’d be pretty cool to see him fight in a Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat style game. They were wrong. The story centers around Shaq, on his way to a charity basketball game, stumbling into a dojo in Tokyo and being swept away to another dimension, where he has to save a young boy from an evil mummy. The moral of the story, we’re guessing, is that you should avoid doing anything for charity since apparently it often leads to taking part in a nonsensical video game storyline.
Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City
Apparently 1994 was a great year for star basketball players to try to destroy their images with ill-conceived action video games, because the same year that saw Shaq Fu hit the shelves also witnessed the steaming pile of crap that was Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City find its way into video game stores. Like Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan has always been a larger than life basketball personality. He’s got the shoes. He’s got the Gatorade commercials. He’s got the McDonald’s commercials. He had Space Jam. And we’re guessing he probably only wishes he had a time machine so he could go back and stop himself from ever signing away his name and image for use in Chaos in the Windy City.
Just like Shaq Fu, the storyline for Chaos in the Windy City also involved a charity basketball game, though this time Michael has to save fellow players, because saving a little boy from a mummy is apparently beneath him. This “action” game sloppily incorporates basketball elements into its fighting, with Michael Jordan having access to different kinds of balls, each with their own special powers. Michael can also dunk, which is apparently another form of attack. The bottom line here is that when a video game is actually more embarrassing than a bizarre stint in minor league baseball, you know it’s got to be just god awful in so many ways.
Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden
The original Charles Barkley Shut Up and Jam was released in, you guessed it, 1994, though it was actually just a straightforward basketball game that was trying desperately to emulate NBA Jam, but which failed miserably. In that game, you play a bunch of streetball games on various inner city basketball courts, and you just try to dunk the ball really hard. But that’s not the game we’re here to talk about. No, the game we are here to talk about didn’t come out until 2008, and instead of playing basketball on outdoor courts, Charles Barkley spends the game…well frankly, we’re just not sure what the hell is going on in this game. We’re just convinced that whoever came up with the concept was on a lot of drugs.
This role-playing computer game takes place in a post-apocalyptic society and features Charles Barkley wandering around fighting cyborgs and, eventually, even Wilford Brimley. You read that correctly. Wilford Brimley features as a monster called the “Diabeastie.” Also showing up in the game are Michael Jordan, a Vince Carter cyborg, Bill Cosby, and the fictional character Juwanna Mann, from that awful, awful movie of the same name. Oh, and you may be wondering just how Charles Barkley winds up in a post-apocalyptic New York City. Well, according to the game, Charles unleashed such a monstrous dunk that the force literally killed millions of people. Nice going, Chuck.
Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball
Bill Laimbeer was one of the “Bad Boy” Detroit Piston teams. He was the big, lumbering white guy with the punchable face who liked to take cheap shots and throw a lot of elbows. You know the guy. He was that one that everyone on the planet who ever watched a game of basketball was actually openly rooting would get injured. He also beat Shaq, Jordan and Barkley to the punch – quite literally – with a ridiculous and bizarre video game, called Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball.
Unlike the other games we’ve mentioned, this one actually does take place on a basketball court, and Laimbeer doesn’t need to go around fighting mummies, saving his fellow All-Stars or killing millions of people with a Chaos Dunk. Instead, it is set in the year 2030, when only robots (and Laimbeer, of course) are allowed to play basketball, and referees no longer exist. Because of that last part, players wear full body armor, are allowed to beat the ever loving crap out of each other, and fans even throw weapons onto the court because really, who doesn’t love some good old fashioned bloodshed? It does apparently have one connection to one of the other games on this list, though. Supposedly, the plot of this game played a large part in the development and eventual plot of Barkley Shut up and Jam: Gaiden, which means that the people who came up with that game more than likely did so while dropping acid and playing Combat Basketball.
Mutant League Football
Okay, finally, here’s a game that does not feature a single NBA player and the point is to actually play football, and not fight monsters. Well, actually, maybe you’re supposed to fight monsters a little. But at least you do so while also trying to win an actual football game and the most important thing at the end is the scoreboard.
This 1993 title for Sega Genesis was actually designed using the Madden ’93 engine, so it actually plays, for the most part, like a real football game. The difference, of course, is that the games take place in a post-apocalyptic future and the players are humans mutated into ghastly abominations by toxic radiation, skeletons, aliens, robots and trolls, and the field is littered with landmines and fire pits. Frankly, we wouldn’t be surprised if Vince McMahon was playing this game when he came up with the idea for the XFL.
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