The Best Basketball Games Ever
While FIFA may be the most dominant sports video game franchise on the planet, many forget that several legendary basketball games have graced our consoles over the years.
Whether it be the 2K series, NCAA games, or even Super Mario, there have been tons of world-class basketball games that have let you get in on the action. These are the best basketball games ever.
NCAA March Madness
Not a singular game, but a series, the NCAA March Madness series is the video game version of one of the most exciting events in college football, March Madness. The games not only gave you the same excitement as the event, but also let you play with the college versions of some of the NBA’s biggest superstars.
Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin all featured as covered players in the games for their respective colleges. However, there hasn’t been an NCAA game for over ten years now, and it’s a shame; they were incredible.
First released in 1993, NBA Jam was a long-running series that took a more exaggerated approach to basketball games. The arcade-style games allowed you to choose all of your favorite players, but they were able to jump three times as high, pull off physics-defying dunks, and just generally be super-human.
While the games may look a bit dated and cliché now, they were the go-to when you were in the arcade and are still the best four-player basketball games around. If you want a hit of nostalgia mixed with a great basketball game, NBA Jam is for you.
NBA Live 2005
The 2005 edition of the NBA Live series featured Carmello Anthony on the cover and is regarded as one of the best games in the Live series. While it allowed players to choose from all the teams and compete in the championship, 2005 added new features that many enjoyed.
A new mechanic was added to allow for more extreme dunks and air, as well as tip-ins. You were able to take part in All-Star Weekend, and this was the first game in the franchise that added player customization. It is very well-balanced, fun, and doesn’t feel like a game released in 2004.
Released back in 2001 for the PS2, NBA Street changed the dynamics of the typical NBA 2K game. It combined the players and skills of the NBA, but with the feel and rules of streetball. The 3-on-3 mode also added streetball-only features.
Players were able to collect trick points by dunking, shot-blocking, pulling off steals, and more. If you gained enough points, a bar would fill, and you would get a Gamebreaker bonus. This bonus is a shot that earns you more points while also taking points off your opponent.
NBA Street Vol. 2The second volume in the Street franchise built on the success of the first game. Much like the previous game, you could choose any one of the 29 NBA teams available to play in 3-on-3 games.
New tricks and dunks were added to the game and new game modes such as Pick Up Game, NBA Challenge, Be a Legend, and Street School. You were also able to unlock NBA legends such as Larry Bird and Julius Erving.
NBA Street Vol. 3
Volume 3 was when Street peaked. Building on what made Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 so successful, Vol. 3 had ironed out the creases in the previous titles and perfected the modes, movement, and players.
You could still enjoy the same 3-on-3 action as before, as well as the modes that were added in the previous title. Fans loved that more legends had been added that you could unlock, one favorite being Magic Johnson.
Mario Party 6
While not a basketball game by itself, Mario Party 6 had a minigame called Dunk Bro’s, a Super Mario and NBA Street hybrid of sorts, mixing the best of both worlds to give players an over-the-top but incredibly fun experience.
Released back in 2004, Mario Party games have always been loved because you can play all the great minigames with friends. It’s worth picking up or revisiting if you’re lucky enough to still have a functioning GameCube.
NBA 2K1 is part of the NBA 2K series and when it was released in 2000, it received universal acclaim. The game added two new features that proved to be a game-changer. The first allowed players to play outside of stadiums at famous street courts such as Rucker Park, Franklin Park, Goat Park, and the Cage.
The second feature, and probably the biggest, was the addition of online play. 2K1 was the first game that allowed players to play other real people and not just the computer, and this revolutionized gaming and the 2K series as a whole.
If 2K1 was the game-changer, 2K2 was the perfect version of it. Featuring the legendary AI Allen Iverson on the cover, 2K2 was released in late 2001 across multiple platforms, including Dreamcast, GameCube, Xbox, and PS2.
New street courts were added, namely Mosswood, Fonde Rec Center, and Venice Beach. Legends teams were also added, led by giants of the game Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Michael Jordan.
Enjoy these excellent basketball titles
As mentioned in the beginning, NBA and basketball games don’t get the same love they once did, which should change. These aren’t just the best basketball games ever made, but some of the best sports games that ever existed. If you haven’t played any of them before, you should change that as soon as possible.