By this point the app stores are so big that they almost have to be divided into categories to be explored properly. For instance, gamers can no longer simply search for the best gaming apps or the top of the charts. Rather, they’d do better to search within a specific category or timeline of releases that interests them. In this piece I’m seeking to provide this sort of sub-genre breakdown, in this case for the best gaming apps for sports fans. Given how many people love sports and how many play games on their phones, this is actually a fairly significant corner of modern tech to keep an eye on.
It goes without saying that there are literally hundreds of sports-related mobile games that did not make the cut here. Some of them, undoubtedly, are fantastic. But these are the ones that stand out the most following a fairly in-depth exploration of the sub-genre.
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NBA Jam is one of the most beloved sports arcade games of all time, and has been reproduced faithfully in mobile form by EA Sports. The game comes with everything you’d expect from a console version, including representation for all 30 NBA teams, classic and modern players, a familiar game style, and excellent graphics. It’s not free, and some will balk at the $4.99 price tag. However, if you have nostalgic appreciation for NBA Jam or you just want an over-the-top basketball game that allows you to dunk so hard the rim catches fire, it’s worth considering.
Football Manager Touch 2018
There are numerous games – dozens, in fact – that allow you to simulate professional football (or soccer, in the U.S.) in various ways. The Football Manager Touch series, however, is more comprehensive and allows you to focus more on the actual development and management of a team. It’s perhaps the best management simulator out there in all of sports gaming, and while this is reflected with a hefty $19.99 price tag, it’s that extensive and enjoyable a game for football lovers.
This is more or less a boxing game, though it feels more like an arcade combat game (such as Street Fighter) in certain ways. This is largely because of a tastefully pixellated design, but also because the gameplay focuses on more than just professional boxing matches. You also get to train your fighter and battle through a prolonged story mode that basically amounts to avenging your murdered father. It’s just an excellent retro-style game, and a treat for boxing fans as well.
This isn’t a game in the traditional sense, but rather one of a few daily fantasy sites that have gained massive popularity. Real money is involved (though you can play free contests or play for as little as $1 or $2), but ultimately it is quite game-like. You get the chance to pick a roster of real players for a sporting competition and attempt to beat other players’ rosters based on how your players perform in real life. Clearly there’s a degree of chance involved, but it’s ultimately one of the more enjoyable sports games available.
RBI Baseball 18
As with football, baseball has produced a lot of different games, most of which seem to be updated every year. Truthfully there are several that are very high quality games, but RBI Baseball 18 may just stand above the rest. It does what a lot of other games do – presenting real players, teams, and stadiums, and allowing you to play through entire games and seasons – but it just does it in a slightly more authentic and comprehensive way.
Easy to pick up yet frustratingly hard to put down is how this game has been described, and it just about says it all. Essentially it’s a touch-based, first-person target shooting game. And there are several different specific competitions, from battling other digital archers in real time to trying to score as high as you can on a target in a set amount of time. Granted, archery is a little bit of a fringe sport, but given that caveat this is a thoroughly entertaining game.